A constant thirst tortures me and sunrays strike me like heated arrows as my shoes hit the dust on a non-existent path to a remote village. At this moment it was unknown to me that this little expedition would lead to “deep thoughts” at midnight and ultimately inspiration turning into action. A tour guide escorts me and my family into the hotspot of a typical Himba village. Cone-shaped huts dot the plain, juvenile goats stare at us in curiosity and little children race between our feet. During this hour I learn about century old customsthat are still practised today in the Kaokoland.
During my holiday visit I was particularly intrigued by how little the Himba owned and despite this, still survived. A women’s possessions consist of: a pot, a mat, a jar of handmade perfume and one or two other items. Her wardrobe, at most, contained three clothing articles and a couple beaded jewelry pieces. The diet is very simple;“pap” for breakfast, “pap” for lunch and“pap” for dinner. Luxuries, such as meat, are only enjoyed once or twice a week.
I was left bewildered after counting the possessions of the Himba people on two hands and comparing the amount to my array of bountiful belongings. Since this encounter with the content Himba people,I find myself thinking twice before adding more items to my stack of belongings.With every new addition, I feel as though a new burden is being laid upon me. These are the questions that play out in my mind during a shopping scenario: is it absolutely necessary to buy this exfoliating gel? Will it miraculously transform my skin as it claims to do? Will it fulfill any of my needs or grant me more than momentary joy and satisfaction? Could I spend this money on something that has more significance? This process may or may not take a brief moment. More often than not, I endure the awkwardness of leaving the store empty handed, but still feeling content!
To me it is phenomenal and delightful to see that in some regions of Namibia campfires, instead of LED lights still illuminate the sky.When journeying my arid, yet awe-inspiring homeland, I love to encounter authentic conversations with people from all walks of life. Throughout my travels, the hours I formally spent watching movies,are replaced by listening to entertaining real life stories. Instead of texting, I engage in face-to-face discussions.I have realized that possessing and utilizing fewer electronic devices has prompted meto shift my focus to my real aspirations and the people I cherish.
Himba people and other Namibian cultures encourage me, to de-clutter every aspect of my life, with the ambition of becoming a minimalist. Having observed their uncomplicated lifestyles, has stirred me into re-evaluating my own priorities. They remind me that my relationships, my health and aspirations are of higher value than anything I will ever possess on earth. My whole focus and life mission has changed, since I broke the link in my mind, which connects joy with possessions.I strive to not have more than sufficient. I feel a liberation from stressful concerns which arise from endless maintenance since I have turned to a minimalist approach.By ridding myself from excess, I have gained freedom from the trappings of the careless consumer culture,modernists have built around their lives. Instead of stuffing my existence with material things, I aim to invest my time and money into gathering memorable experiences.This kind of lifestyle permits me to hand out with a cheerful heart.
Instead of chasing after more “baggage”, I pack my bags with just enough to continue our family camping expedition through Namibia. My eyes are open to all new inspirations lurking behind Namibian trees, dunes and rocks and my heart is open for what I can learn from my fellow Namibians!
by Zamira van Wyk