29 September 2010
The Himba of northern Namibia, who survived deadly droughts, guerrilla warfare, and attempted genocide by German colonial armies, are bracing for a new fight.
After a series of delays, Namibia and Angola are moving forward on a planned $1.1 billion Baynes Dam hydropower plant on the Kunene River that runs along their common borders.
“Angola needs power; Namibia needs power; southern Africa needs power, so the development of a hydropower station is gaining momentum,” NamPower director Leake Hangala said this month during a meeting in Windhoek.
The planned dam will flood the valleys where the Himba live and their burial grounds. Approximately 18,000 Himbas live on the Namibian side of the border, with another 9,000 on the Angolan side.
“If they build the dam, they’ll kill us,” said Muhapikwa Muniombara, who wears traditional necklaces and bracelets over her skin dyed reddish with otjize, a mixture of butter fat and ochre.