Afreeka stands between the past and the future.She is leaving girlhood and entering womanhood as her plaited shoulder length braids signify her new adult status. She is a member of the indigenous Himba people of Namibia in southern Africa. Her body glowing with butterfat and red ocher she is the living embodiment of “traditional” Africa and yet she can read and write and faces a future of 21’st century possibilities. Drought and war struck her country in the 1980’s and it looked as if her people might die out but inbred resiliency carried them through dark times in which she had to eat the hides she was sleeping on. Peace and rain came in the 1990’s and the Himba’s cattle herds started to replenish. Their children started to learn English in mobile schools the newly independent government provided and Afreeka no longer had to resort to making baskets for tourists. She could return to farming and raising goats and cattle, the true source of the Himbas’ prosperity. Now she is looking forward to her upcoming wedding day and having children because girls become full adults only when they have offspring. Himba mothers are highly honored because they are seen as possessing the power to give life. Afreeka feels greatly blessed!
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