Thank you for your comments.
We didn't "give" money to the Himba. We traded. We gave them maize, tobacco and sugar and they gave us their time and hospitality. The Himba are nomadic herders and have to trade to get the few things that they need and want that they can't grow or produce themselves.
They had a camp near our lodge and our guide, who knew the tribe and their language, was comfortable bringing us to them so that we could visit. This is quite a bit different than giving a tip to a street beggar so that you can take their photograph. These are very proud people, and we had a great visit with them, as you can see from the video. Everyone had fun.
What you didn't see much of in the video were the kids, who had a ball driving across the sands dunes in the Land Rovers. A unique experience for them, I'm sure.
thank you for taking the time to reply.
I do know quite a lot about the Himbas because I have a German friend who is married to a Himba woman.
He told me that even those "good" tourists who respect the Himba do have a heavy impact on the way they live. More and more tribes give up their nomadic lives to stay in one place (or at least one small area) to make sure the guides and the tourists can easily find them.
I realized from your video that you did everything to respect the Himbas. I also tried to do that when I was in Namibia. But I'm sad to say that I think you've seen a traditional way of living that is going to vanish very soon. Perhaps there is nothing we can do about it.
The tourists and photographers change their way of living just by visiting
them. There are already "show-villages" that are completely staged for the tourists, but a lot of tourists say "I want to see a non-staged village" and hire a guide do lead them deep into Kaokoveld... We were told that there are all kinds of villages in between "totally staged" and "completely natural", but the number of the natural ones keeps lowering.
We visited the bushmen called "San" in the eastern part of Namibia (east of Etosha), and went to a completely staged village ("living museum"). The San there were like actors. We had a strange feeling about that. I'm still not sure if I think it's a good thing, although they now can afford health care and clean drinking water for everyone in their village...
We have also been to Katutura ("township", part of Windhoek). I haven't taken any pictures there, I wanted to talk to the people. Have you been there?
The question I ask myself over and over again is this: We have a responsibility for these people we photograph, but how can we act to be responsible and not to destroy their way of living?
I've traveled alot, but I still don't have an answer. (I also think there is more than just one simple final
I think you, Michael, have far more expirience with this than me, perhaps you can write an article about that? (Or do you have it written already and I haven't found it?) Or perhaps you can discuss that with one of your fellow travellers in the next issue of the VJ?