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The Namibian Tribe Where Sex Is Offered To Guests.

Meet Ovahimba, The Namibian Tribe Where Husband Gives His Wife to Guest to Spend the Night.

Ondjonga dance game by young women in the late afternoon, Etanga, Kunene Region. ©Rina Sherman

Ever since Namibia’s independence in 1990, a growing stream of visitors have been to the Kunene North region, or Kaokoland, home to the Ovahimba people who live on both sides of the Kunene River that marks the border with Angola.


The savanna landscape and zebra-striped mountains of this semi-arid locality is sensational and the Ovahimba cattle farmers are friendly people with a rich cultural heritage and strong traditions that have resisted western influence and agitation.


The saying, "Give the honor to whom it is due" is applied differently in this tribe. When a visitor or stranger comes knocking, a man shows his approval and pleasure to see his guest by giving him Okujepisa Omukazendu treatment.


This practice literally means that his wife or adult daughter is given to the guest to spend the night while the husband sleeps in another room. In case there is no room available, her husband will sleep outside.


This transmitted tradition has its “advantages” in the community: it reduces jealousy and promotes relationships. The woman has little or no opinion in decision making, however, she has the option of refusing to sleep with the guest though she must sleep in the same room as him. She is also entitled to give her friends to her husband when they visit but this rarely happens.


The Ovahimba form part of a large group of Otjiherero language speaking communities that live in the Namibe and Cunene Provinces of southwestern Angola and northwestern Namibia, as well as central Namibia and Botswana where large groups of Ovaherero communities live.


They are cattle farmers that follow a dual descent system, matriarchal and patriarchal. Their large herds of Nguni cattle are passed on through the maternal family lineage and the name, material goods, and location are inherited through the paternal lineage.

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