Travelling to Namibia to portrait the Himba people
A few years ago Klaus had travelled to the very north of Namibia in the so called Kunene region (Kaokoland) which is homeland to a number of Himba who still preserve a traditional lifestyle.
Klaus had taken some of his studio equipment and actually portraited a few of them in front of a backdrop that was attached to his car. One thing was sure, he attracted a lot of interest especially from the younger crowd.
One of the most favourite images that happened was the portrait of an old Himba man (Ngupa) with missing front teeth.
I personally also like this image a lot – his laughter has its own beauty.
Inspiring drawing by John Wangendo
A recent situation of inspiration came up early this month when I was contacted by a self-taught artist from Illinois, USA. John Wangendo had asked me kindly permission to draw one of the portraits that Klaus had taken from the Himba in Namibia many years ago.
Within less than a week, John Wangendo created this beautiful pencil drawing of the two Himba siblings who Klaus photographed in Namibia.
John Wangendo originally from Kenya is based in Illinois, USA, has taken up drawing again during the pandemic. He hadn’t been drawing since high school years but it looks like he has found a new calling.
I am very proud that John has chosen Klaus’s photograph and I am grateful to have built a new connection here.
This has brought back my attention that besides the main photography of wildlife Klaus had also a strong talent of portraying the people of Africa.
Portraits of the Himba people
Klaus was always a “people person” – he could easily connect to locals and other travellers as he liked to get to know their story and personalities. And when he then cracked a joke or two the ice was mostly broken 😉
I realised that in the portraits of the African tribes Klaus combined the travel in Africa with his talent to portray people like he used to back in his commercial / fashion photography years.
Always a natural approach and a brilliant output.
Background facts on the Himba people
The Himba are an ancient tribe in Namibia, closely related to the Herero. Their language is “Otjihimba” and their population is believed to be 20000-50000 people.
They are semi-nomadic, pastoral people who breed cattle and goats.
Woman tend to carry out more labour-intensive work. They are also famous for rubbing their bodies with “otjize”, a mixture of butter fat and ochre to protect their skins against the harsh climate. The red mixture that they also like to cover their hair in is said to symbolize earth’s rich red colour and the blood that symbolizes life.
But the hairstyle also symbolizes age and social status.
The Himba still adorn themselves with traditional jewellery according to ancestors customs.
Men and women like to wear large numbers of necklaces and arm necklaces made from ostrich eggshells, grass, cloth and copper.
To learn more facts visit:
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