• June 6th, 2020

Himba dance and sing for coastal Christmas trade

 Donna Collins

Singing and dancing has always been part of the Ovahimba way of life, and more so now that they are putting their unique culture on show in Swakopmund, where in their own lifestyle ‘village’, they regularly perform to tourists and locals as a means of make a living. 

The Ovahimba Cultural Group in Swakopmund, which started last year, comprises of a group of around 18 men and women who have settled in the coastal town, and are hoping to cash in on the festive season, by offering their dance performances at markets, beachfronts and gatherings.  Recently the group offered an enthralling performance at the COSDEF Arts & Craft entrance, where excited tourists took photos and admired their ochre covered bodies as they swirled, jumped and exuberantly clapped their hands. 

The Ovahimba Cultural Group form part of the ‘ Cultural Village’, next to the Martin Luther Museum, displaying traditional Ovahimba lifestyle in a ‘mock’ village setting, which is open to the public from 6h30 to 18h00, to catch the tourist busses on their way in and out of town. The Ondjongo dance at the ‘Village’ every Saturday is a huge crowd puller, and one of the group’s main attractions while women also sell their craft like calabashes, leather work, traditional attire, and bangles.

Daniel Mupurua (Secretary Ovahimba Cultural Group) said they would spend a lot of time at the village over the Christmas period, to make the most of people visiting the coast during the season. Furthermore, they will also take their dancing to the beachfront areas where the holidaymakers are relaxing and having fun. “By dancing in open places, we can introduce the Ovahimba to people who might never have a chance to meet us or learn about our culture, if you haven’t travelled to far places like Opuwo,” said Mupurua. “We always dress in our Ovahimba attire when at the ‘village’ and performing for the public, with includes the ladies putting on their fresh ochre and keeping their dreadlocked braids,” he maintains.

 “Some of the ladies wear their traditional clothes all the time, but some of them have dropped their cultural dress to suit the modern town lifestyle, and cover their bodies with blankets and wraps in public because they were being harassed,” Mupurua explained, saying that in their ‘village’ they feel safe and protected against people with criminal thoughts. They rotate their dance performances and appearances amongst the group, even welcoming other Ovahimbas who have recently arrived at the coast. This way they get a chance to also sell their craft and earn some money whilst they are in town, with some revenue being ploughed back into the village. 

“We are waiting for the official opening of the ‘Cultural Village’ next year, and are still shaping it by adding new huts, plus putting on fresh cow dung to give all the huts a neat appearance, so when tourists come and take videos, they can show the world what an Ovahimba setting is like.”

The fenced village currently comprises a large open area, seven huts for sons and daughters as well as the holy fire and chief hut, with not much more at this stage. The activities offered at the site are dancing, singing, drum playing, weaving of traditional items such as baskets, and preparing of traditional food on a fire. 

Staff Reporter
2018-12-14 12:13:32 | 1 years ago

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