African Hut 01

African Hut 01328
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One Essay Response

  1. tirangoldstein says:

    In the following commentary on Rachel’s photo, African Hut 01, I will refer to the hut’s influence on familial structure. Since the photo’s location is ambiguous, I will describe the social structure and ethical dilemmas of the Himba people, a culture who lives in huts in Namibia.
    The Himba familial structure inside the hut is of a mother and her dependents, usually children. The father, while still considered part of the family unit, is gone for most of the year, grazing the sheep and returning seasonally, usually once every several months but at times being gone for a year. Couples are generally monogamous but have been known to exchange partners. This trait is more common among the men then the women. Males who stay with their wives, are considered less worthy because they are unable to herd the cattle, and they become dependents to their wives. The women are the homemakers in this society. They cook and care for the children, and they build a community of women.
    Today, Namibia struggles to incorporate these more primitive people into society. They are uneducated, lack access to infrastructure and live the poverty line. The dilemma the government has is one of an ethical nature: at what cost should the government try to preserve this lifestyle? On one hand, it is unethical to force someone to concede to the rules of the society of others, yet on the other hand, they have a responsibility towards these people living within Namibian borders who lack basic necessities. Their herding nature has affected other Namibians, most commonly farmers. In the last decade, a wealthy man purchased a large plot of land as a reserve for the Himba to, in order that they may maintain their lifestyle without protruding into the well being of other Namibians.
    This dilemma plagues many governments with a range of communities, Namibia has one of the most advanced African economies living alongside bushmen, who maintain ancient traditions. Should the government invade the lifestyle of the Himba in order to give the Himba a better life? What do the Himba people want? What are the limits of government interference? These are critical questions the Namibian government must answer.