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The Himba, northern Namibia

Namibia boasts a rich ethnic diversity and cultural heritage. One of the most distinct ethnic groups is the Himba, semi-nomadic pastoralists who live in scattered settlements throughout the Kunene Region of northern Namibia.

The Himba are an animist society whose belief system is based on the "cult of the ancestors." Arguably, one of their most interesting rituals is that of okoruwo (sacred fire), which serves as a medium for communicating with the ancestral spirits.

The oldest living member of the patrilineage segment ("headman") is designated as Omuini Wokuruwo ("Keeper or of the Fire") and must preside at all functions pertaining to it until his death. At that time, his hut is destroyed, the fire scattered and his family dances in mourning throughout the night. Then, a fresh mopane tree is lit from the embers of the old fire and the fire is passed on to its new keeper.

To each successive generation the Fire is known as the "Fire of the most recently deceased Keeper." His name will be invoked during the prayers to the deceased. In theory, the living Keeper, together with the deceased Keepers (whose names will be successively invoked as far back as they are known) form an unbroken chain stretching from the living generation all the way back to Makuru or God with whom it is believed the origin of humankind began. The ancestors, in turn, will bless the living via the Fire and its Keeper. Thus, in addition to serving as a spiritual medium the fire is a powerful tool in maintaining the Himba's genealogical connections and cultural identity.

Although the Himba are a nomadic people, there are potential opportunities for interaction in the remotest reaches of Namibia. Skeleton Coast Camp, within the Skeleton Coast Park, one of our planet's most inhospitable yet hauntingly beautiful places, offers activities that may include a visit to Himba kraals. Serra Cafema Camp, an unexpected oasis of comfort and sumptuous spaciousness perched on the Kunene River, is often visited by Himba families, which gives guests the opportunity to learn firsthand about their lifestyle and traditions.

Gallery Tours in Gauteng, South Africa

Due to popular demand four new tours have been introduced in and around Johannesburg, which will appeal to those interested in viewing and/or purchasing indigenous fine arts. These include a Johannesburg Art Gallery Tour, a Johannesburg Art Gallery & Soweto Tour, a Pretoria Art Gallery Tour, and a Pretoria Art Gallery & Voortrekker Monument Tour. Please contact us for detailed information

The Cape Minstrels' Carnival in Cape Town, South Africa

A vibrant and colorful spectacle, the annual Kaapse Klopse (Cape Minstrels' Carnival) is a traditional New Year's celebration which originally marked the one free day a year that slaves were granted by their masters. The modern day event (held on the 2nd of January) is a flamboyant affair involving costumed dancers, a spectacular parade, live music, and other entertainment. The Carnival takes place in the streets of Cape Town City (close to District Six) and and ends at Greenpoint Stadium.

Colonial High Tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa

The Mount Nelson has updated a British colonial tradition by designing a specialty tea menu in collaboration with Mingwei Tsai and Joel Singer of Nigiro Specialist Tea Merchants. The tea is presented in a glass infuser, and there is a selection of tea-themed cakes and confectionery to complement the new tea menu, such as Vanilla Tea Fudge, Rooibos Strawberry and Vanilla Mousse Cups, and Green Tea Cake. A series of differently themed Afternoon Teas will be offered each month: Fruit and Spice Route (November); and Cool Yule (December). Reservations are recommended.

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