• Rosslyn
  • The himba story (poetry on skin 1)

    Africa—the cradle of our evolution—can also be thought of as the womb that gave birth to the human species. Mia Florentine Weiss’s grandmother was born here, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, and she lived nestled closely to the Usambara mountain range. Right up to her death she liked to tell the artist the Tanzanian fairytales. Here the artist also came into contact with the culture of the African continent, with its various tribes and customs. But it was the Himba that fascinated her most of all. The Himba are a people known for their use of red colouring on their entire body. A sheer coincidence brought the artist to a Himba village during her travels for her installation “What is your place of protection”. An old matron—the eldest of the tribe—saw her and soon returned with a bucket containing a viscous red fluid: a mixture of blood, oil, and earth. She stared at the artist until the artist understood her gaze and began to disrobe. With her withered hand, the old mother set the first blot of red right on the artist’s heart. And she continued until the artist looked like a Himba woman with blond hair. Thereafter, the Himba girls adorned her with necklaces made of woven bast fibre and took her to a wooden cage located up on a hill. As the performance—for that is what it had become—slowly drew to a close, the artist used her sweat to write down her impressions on her body. Poetry on skin was born!

  • Poetry on Second Skin Himbas