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The film of The African Witchfinder and I reflected in a Himba toddler's eyes. Kaokoland, Namibia.

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Once again, there isn't much rhyme or reason to this collection of photos ... the only theme behind it is "Shara's favorites" taken while filming "The African Witchfinder" -- the same theme as Part 1. Faces that I love ... they're cute or beautiful or interesting, etc., or portray either a slice of typical life, or sometimes a unique or rare moment. How about we start with "cute."

This little sweetie is the daughter of one of Ndjinaa's caretakers. Just a little bundle of sunshine -- maybe the yellow dress adds to the "sun" impression, but she was joyful and quickly became a little ham once Susanne took off her hat and gave it to her to wear and pose in.  I posted the pic of her in the hat on Facebook and one of the comments was that she surely thought she looked beautiful, wearing the foreigner's hat. That makes her darling pose all the more precious when you think about her feeling that way. 

Little Himba girl in yellow. Kunene region of Kaokoland, Namibia.Little Himba girl in yellow and a floppy hat. Kunene region of Kaokoland, Namibia.

Susanne's hat was pretty popular in the village, and circulated around a few kids before she got it back. This is Ndjinaa's grandson, Tjihenguva, wearing it now. (he happens to be watching the stick fight involving Berrie in this photo)

Ndjinaa's grandson wearing Susanne's hat. Kunene region of Kaokoland, Namibia.

I guess I find the young girls more captivating to photograph than the boys because of their hairstyles, which I am very fond of -- the two braids down the front of their face. I wonder if that hairdo would look good on me?? Hmmmm. Of course I don't have any red mud around here to pack them with. But here are a few captures I like of the boys. The first one is Tjihenguva again. He's the only person I ever saw with that particular hairstyle of two braids hanging down the back of his head. Most of the traditional Himba boys and men wear the one big braid, as the boy in front in the second pic. 

Himba boy, Kunene region of Kaokoland, Namibia.Two Himba boys in their kraal, Kunene region of Kaokoland, Namibia.

I like this capture below for a couple reasons -- one is the pensive pose and expression of the boy sitting in the doorway, the other is the glimpse into the hut behind him of people just "being people," so to speak, doing their own thing and not conscious of cameras. 

Boy sitting in the doorway of a traditional Himba hut, Kunene region of Kaokoland, Namibia.

I have fewer pictures of men largely because there are not usually as many of them hanging around the kraal, which is where we conducted interviews and where photographers who bargain with the chief to photograph them do so (like my guide did two years earlier). But I found a few sitting outside this day. I wandered around more on my own while the film crew was doing things like setting up the interview spots (arranging chairs under trees), talking with Berrie and our translator, Juanine.

The first man has a cap for his one big braid, which many men have, although more commonly it fits only onto the braided part, as in the second photo. If you look closely at these two men (especially the second), you can also just make out another signature trait of the Himba, which is the removal of several bottom front teeth. This is a sign of beauty for them. Which is funny to me because in America if a person is missing their front teeth, we tend to find it rather unattractive (perhaps because here it typically indicates poor health or hygiene). Yet there, they go through excruciating pain to knock out their permanent teeth for the sake of beauty. The third man has his own unique hairstyle and quite the winning smile. 

Himba man with traditional braid and cap in his kraal, Kunene region of Kaokoland, Namibia.Young Himba man with traditional braid and cap. Kunene region of Kaokoland, Namibia.Himba man sitting inside his kraal, Kunene region of Kaokoland, Namibia.

I like this capture of a Kavango man in the Caprivi Strip sitting on the bench outside a compound, though you might agree with me that the traditional Himba are more compelling to photograph with their interesting hairstyles, their copious jewelry and ancient wardrobe of loincloths and cowhides. 

Kavango man sitting waiting for a ride. Caprivi Strip, Namibia.

 Although I think the Himba are so photogenic -- exquisite and exotic, gorgeous and unique -- one thing about them is a much smaller ranger of color than the rest of the Namibian people. Perhaps just because they have so much more bare skin, all the same color, and black or red mud-packed hair, and their cowhide skirts are brown, too. But even their loincloths seldom have the bright color of fabrics worn by other Namibians. Maybe they're just plain dirty, haha, I don't know. Without washing machines, you know.  But it's always so cheery to see a refreshing patch of color. 

Mother with a toddler and infant, colorful clothes, Kavango region of Namibia.

This lady is cheerfully clothed, but I'll be honest, she kinda freaks me out. Just a little. With what I presume is one missing eye, the other one seems particularly penetrating. And the smile with a missing tooth which looks very different between the left and right side. But she is an important lady in the area, she oversees a lot of  local tribal court cases ... which, incidentally, are usually negotiated and sentenced underneath a mopani tree -- that being true of all village matters in this region. She and the man above in the blue shirt were both sitting outside her compound waiting for rides (and we ended up being the people to give her a lift). While Berrie was talking with her and some other people, a pickup truck came driving up and stopped where we were all gathered. I looked in the back of the truck and there was a whole skinned goat in there, head and everything. A tad creepy. 

A village head woman, Caprivi Strip, Namibia.

The primary splash of color among the Himba is their jewelry, which I quite admire. Even though the copper is not colorful, I really like the stacks of copper rings the women wear on their arms and ankles. They're so shiny! haha. Because bright colors are few and far between, all it takes is one bracelet or one bead to really pop out. 

Two Himba women working on another's hair. Kunene region of Kaokoland, Namibia.

Switching gears over to the little Himba tykes in the kraal of Chief Kapika, this kid cracks me up with his gestures and expressions. He looks like such a little man -- so serious, pondering life's deepest questions (or maybe he's just mesmerized by the shiny copper), and looking like an accomplished orator, preparing his lectures or impassioned speeches.  Young Himba child looking terrible wise and thoughtful. Kunene region of Kaokoland, Namibia.Young Himba child seemingly delivering a wise speech. Kunene region of Kaokoland, Namibia.

Talking with the Himba adults sometimes is a little intimidating because it's hard to tell if they're paying any attention to you. When you ask a question, they have a way of listening and pondering with their eyes closed that worries you into thinking they've fallen asleep or into private reverie. Then suddenly they answer, but you often feel neglected. It makes them more opaque than the average person ... because it's very hard to discern what's going on behind those closed eyes and placid face ... I don't know if they are transparent to one another and just not to me (or any of us Westerners), or if even between themselves they are a mystery. 

Eldest wife of Chief Kapika, Kunene region of Kaokoland, Namibia.

In contrast, this dear woman in the Kavango region, near the Caprivi Strip, wore her heart on her sleeve. Read a little more about her unfortunate circumstance in "The Peace in Human Touch." How is this not one of the best smiles on the whole planet? 

Grandma in northern Namibia, accuse of being a witch.

She and her granddaughter listening to Berrie talk, scolding the granddaughter for accusing her grandmother of witchcraft. 

Grandma in northern Namibia, accuse of being a witch.

Oh, but I got detracted from the kids! Well let's end part 2 of this Faces of Namibia series with a couple of my super favorite kid pics. (I foresee one more installment to this, but probably not until 2017) I posted a similar profile of the bottom girl in the last post, this one's a tad different and a tad more preferred. One thing I'm very curious of, and should I have the privilege of visiting the Himba again, I want to feel the weight of their necklaces. They look burdensomely (sure, it's a word) heavy. But I don't know what they're made out of; it could be light material? Or not? I suppose the almighty Google could tell me, but why ruin the hope that I'll feel it myself someday to figure it out? :) 

Himba toddler in traditional village, Kunene region of Kaokoland, Namibia.Himba girl with traditional two braids down the front of her face. Kunene region, Kaokoland, Namibia.

*

See more faces of Namibia in Part 1 and Part 3

Read more articles from Namibia II archive

 

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