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The Ovahimba, their skins rubbed with red ochre, have the appearance of having been forgotten by the rest of the world, but this is only as a result of their extreme isolation and conservative way of life. They derive originally from the Ovaherero nation, collecting in the mountainous regions of Kaokoland. Long spells of drought forced them to live off the land, collecting wild fruit and digging out roots.

They then fell victim to the marauding Nama who had settled at Sesfontein. The Nama raided the majority of the little livestock that remained and most of the Ovahimba fled across the border into Angola. The Ovahimba in later years, hearing that the war between German forces and the Ovaherero nation had ended, moved back into Kaokoland where they remain today.

Many of the younger generation have accepted some of the changes and are being educated in the Namibian national system, and will in time, abandon many of their older customs and traditions. However, most of the older generation still cling to their traditions and when their children return from school or visits to town, strongly encourage them to dress or undress, according to traditional style, and to live like a true Ovahimba.

Visiting the Ovahimba is possible through a number of tours, but this should be undertaken with sensitivity and respect for their traditions and lifestyle.

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