• Valerie


When traveling through Namibia, we met the Himbas, a semi-nomadic people who spend their days herding cattle. While many indigenous populations began to migrate to cities, the Himba mostly avoided contact with modern culture. Now things are changing and we were surprised to see them running to us when we stopped on the road to have our picnic.

Their rules or beliefs are so different from ours that they seem impossible to understand. For generations they’ve lived very closely connected to Nature and with very little contact with the outside world, so of course their “truths” are very different from what we assume to be our “truths”, like washing our teeth and having a shower every day, protecting our skin, going to high school or college to have a good job, working hard to be successful, doing a 9 to 5 job, placing our elders into homes, leaving our kids in the care of others, sitting in front a of screen all day long, having little contact with mother Earth, taking pills for our stress or any physical ache, over eating and then over exercising… all this would seem very strange to them.

We all have our different unique rules and beliefs. But whatever their differences and their own specific “truths”, this spiritual community seems to be guided by a deep sense of happiness and wisdom.

The Himba people don’t see the world like the rest of us. Many studies have been carried out with them and they seem to have a different perception of reality. One example: the illusion of “corners” seem to be specific to us, as we tend to spend out time indoors, in “boxes”, defined by “corners”. The brain has learnt to process this perspective and to estimate size at distance, magnifying some parts and shrinking others.

Another astounding finding is how they view colors. Surrounded by a lot of green but no “blue”, the Himbas don’t see the color “blue” if you show them a picture but their eyes will show many different kinds of green, which they refer to using different words.

All this shows that our brain is very much influenced by the society and environment we live in, and our perception is shaped by our culture.

(to be continued...)

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