Making a living from Himba dolls

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Opuwo

Queen Elizabeth Uvatera Ngombe earns a living from selling hand-made Himba dolls to the hordes of tourists that flock to Opuwo in the Kunene Region. She also sells a range of traditional arts and crafts, such as accessories, dolls and traditional perfume powder. Her stall is located at a parking lot near a major grocery store.

A Himba, who maintains her traditional lifestyle, the mother of 11 children said many tourists visit Opuwo from all over the world and support her business. “Our Himbas accessories made of metal, seeds and beads are uniquely designed. You can never find hand-made works of art like ours outside the country,” she said smilingly.

Ngombe ventured into the business in 1999 with her mother and today can financially support her eleven children with her income. Her dolls, made to resemble Himba women holding babies or expectant Himba women, are great for house decoration.

Ngombe says although not all tourists speak English, she tries hard to communicate with them, despite the language barrier. “Don’t worry about language problems, because some of our members are tour guides and they can speak not only English, but also French and German,” she said.

Ngombe said she has over the years built up a good relationship with visiting tourists and from time to time acts as their tour guide.

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