For the Himba, deeply embedded cultural symbols—traditional daily way of life, traditional beliefs about the sacredness of cattle, and religious beliefs of ancestral worship—are of ancient origin and have been retained in their culture throughout all of recorded history. While they still exist in Himba society today, some scholars have observed a potential widespread generational shift in adherence to these core cultural values and beliefs. This study presents the findings of 41 in-depth interviews with members of the Himba tribe in northern Namibia—specifically Opuwo and Otutati—ages 18 to 65. It examines the degree to which cultural differences are emerging as a result of exposure to various influences including modern media. Special attention is given to differences among generational groups—young, middle-aged, and older Himba—that have occurred in the Himba daily way of life. Cultural differences are indicated by beliefs regarding dress and living style, cattle, and ancestral worship—the three major, deep-rooted Himba cultural symbols. Three theoretical explanations for culture change are discussed in order to explain observed differences among generational groups. Implications for culture change are provided as well as areas requiring future study. This study is unlike any other conducted among the Himba in that it formally addresses the degree to which cultural change of core cultural values exists. Himba culture has proven to be resilient to foreign influences, but some observers suggest that this is changing. Given the resources, times, and methodological restraints involved in this study, it was necessary to limit its scope to just an exploration of the existence of a potential widespread generational difference in Himba cultural values, and not an in-depth exploration of the reasons behind it. This research hopes to provide a foundation of research from which subsequent researchers can progress in our collective understanding of what Himba generational changes are occurring and how these potentially unprecedented changes have occurred.



College and Department

Fine Arts and Communications; Communications



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Document Type





Himba, Namibia, media influence, television, culture change, cognitive dissonance, urbanization, social learning theory, broad and narrow socialization



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Communication Commons