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African Life

This evening the BBC showed a program about a British family who went to live with a semi-nomadic tribe in Namibia for two weeks, leaving behind all their home comforts. That was the idea anyway. The family was divided over the experience before they even left home, the Dad, Arthur, was really looking forward to an adventure, while the Mum (Jane) and eldest daughter (Jodie) were not at all keen.

When they arrived, the tribe made them very welcome, had a big party to welcome them and honored them by slaughtering a cow, not something they do very often. The Dad joined in and was really making an effort at first, while his wife and the children seemed horrified by their new home. They really were far too used to their western comforts and complained about the state of the hut they were given to use. Now, the people were making a great effort to welcome the family and provide somewhere for them to stay, and what did they do? The Mum cried her eyes out and refused to sleep there! So they were given tents which were pitched outside the village, and they cooked tinned food on their own fire!

After a while, Glen made a bit of an effort to interact with the Himba people, and Jodie became friends with Elizabeth, one of the Chief's four wives, while the others (including Arthur who had initially been so enthusiastic) seemed even less inclined to participate.

As harsh as it might sound, this programme had me in fits of laughter. The Hedgecock family were really rude to the Himba people, and it astounded me that they didn't realise it. Even if you know nothing about the culture, you might guess that refusing to sleep in the house they've provided for you and leaving the village without a word, just might be seen as an insult!

They seemed to have very little idea of traditional ways of life. They have probably seen documentaries or films about Africa, but never really thought about the actual every day realities of the traditional ways of life. Jane seemed horrified that there were flies eveywhere, I guess she's never been camping in this country before, let alone Africa! The chief summed it up well when they left: "They are a stupid family and not worth knowing".

Having been lucky enough to briefly visit rural Tanzania, I would love to visit the Himba people and explain that not all westerners are like this!

Posted by Megan on Wednesday 06th Jul 2005 (22:31 UTC) | Add a comment | Permalink


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