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As part of her ‘Wild Born’ project, Alegra Ally spent the last four years travelling to remote corners of the world where she lived with isolated tribes. Through film, photography and writing, this project documents the ancient ways, intimate ceremonies and rituals of tribal women. One of those tribes was Namibia’s Himba and these images explore the Himba girl’s ascent into womanhood as well as aspects of her everyday life.



A young Himba girl plays with one of her short plaits of hair. According to tradition she will grow her plaits, arranging the two front plaits forward so they grow over her face, until she reaches puberty. from then on her hair will be swept back in multiple plaits which are adorned with butterfat and ochre. ©Alegra Ally


Goats play a large role in the life of the himba, providing meat and milk, as well as skins used for clothing and decoration. ©Alegra Ally


Relaxing beside a traditional Himba mud hut after a day of milking goats, collecting water and other such tasks. ©Alegra Ally


Goat skirts are a common form of dress for girls and adult women. ©Alegra Ally


Girls gather in a small structure for an initiation ceremony to introduce a girl into womanhood at the start of her menstrual cycle. As part of this ceremony, and on regular occasions, the women burn various roots and herbs to create aromatic smoke that is used to perfume their body. ©Alegra Ally


Otjize, a mixture of butterfat and ochre that is rubbed regularly onto a woman’s skin. It is also used in their long, plaited hair. In this arid land where water is scarce, the Himba seldom wash with water. The mixture serves to protect and scent the skin and hair, as well as enhance their appearance. ©Alegra Ally


As part of a Himba girls initiation into womanhood, a traditional leather crown is mounted upon her head as a symbol that she is marriageable. ©Alegra Ally

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Posing for the camera on a tributary of the Kunene River which forms the border between Angola and Namibia. ©Alegra Ally


A young woman carries baby goats in search of their mother so that they can be fed. Anklets decorate and protect women’s legs from venomous animal bites. When a mother passes away her daughters will remove one anklet from the left leg for a year. ©Alegra Ally


While men are away tending cattle or looking for work in the towns, women remain in the household of their mother’s clan or, if they are married, their husbands clan. ©Alegra Ally


Himba woman wearing her wedding head cover. Himba are traditionally polygamous and a married woman will often share the household with her husbands other wives and extended family. ©Alegra Ally


Young mothers carrying infants in traditional baby carriers look over the Kunene river. There are distinctive baby boy and girl carriers. If a woman only has boys and wishes for a girl she will borrow a baby girl carrier from another woman. According to belief the ancestors will hear her heart wish and deliver a baby girl. ©Alegra Ally

Click here to read about Ally’s time with the tribe in ONE MONTH WITH THE HIMBA (takes you to another page in this magazine)

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  • Marilyn Kerns

    I have painted portraits of four Himba women – they are so regal and beautiful. Marilyn Kerns, Durban Republic of South Africa. I was given permission from the photographers. Ally’s photographs are superb

  • Maria Manuela Fernandes

    Beautiful photographs !

  • António Henrique Ales Monteiro

    The real life. The life with nature. In my mother language due to my English is not so good – O modo como os Himbas encaram a vida, o modo como lutam pela sua sobrevivência, merece de todos os outros povos, tribos ou sejam quem forem, o maior respeito. Conhecedor deles e da sua vida, fiquei feliz, muito feliz, com a reportagem da Jornalista e as suas bonitas fotos. Para ela e pelo seu generoso trabalho em prol de algo, que mesmo sendo conhecedor, endereço-lhes parabéns e um grande obrigado. Para a Alegra Aly com votos de agradecimento, aguardo outro belo trabalho. À África Geographic obrigado E, and GOD bl you all for the beloved job you people did for something special.

    • antony orango

      what a natural life. i love it.How i wish the whole world could imitate the HIimbas’ lifestyle, with water scarcity, they have managed to improvise the alternatives of keeping themselves decent. it’s called adaptive mechanism. with the increasing water crisis in various parts of the world, my country Kenya included we all need to come up with alternatives to water

  • Giờ Hoàng Đạo

    Beautiful photo. Beautiful people and Beautiful place! Love it!

  • Evans

    Nice photographs and illustration.

  • Liberal_80

    Beautiful fitted bodies. And then they say that women’s fitted bodies are just a western civilization fashion. Thin women bodies are beautiful since EVER because it means and it is the result of health and exercise. That’s why they are beautiful. And fat bodies mean non active person. Or eating too much to be healthy. There are people here saying “what a beautiful and natural way of life”. And at the same time they say that a curvie (fat) woman is a real woman. Well, it is not. It is a western civization woman who can not stop eating food. A REAL woman is the one in this article. Workers, wild, active, fitted woman… REAL and NATURE beauty.

  • JuicyFruit

    If they/we are so beautiful then why does the white man tear them down at every chance he gets