Compelling photographs of the members of an African tribe.
Publishers WeeklyCanadian journalist Shields and photographer Campion, funded by the International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development, spent two months with the Himba people of northern Namibia. In the name of development, the Namibian government had been proposing a dam and hydroelectric plant on a nearby river, opposed by some vocal Himba as it would submerge an important grazing area for their livestock as well as certain tribal graves. Apart from the dam's specific impact, the project raised questions about the desirability of modernization: what do traditional cultures sacrifice by accepting electrification, land ownership registration and other aspects of "progress"? The Namibian government has suggested it might be a human rights offense not to offer electrification, and, as Shields and Campion soon discovered, Western tourists, fascinated by the "primitiveness" of the Himba, have already invaded with their Cokes and cameras. Himba tribespeople regularly pose and charge for pictures, which was a problem for Campion, who'd wanted to snap candid moments. But his photos and his wife's journal do capture some ironies of modern Himba life: a woman in traditional (un)dress checking out her ash-braided hair in a modern mirror; airplanes flying above a soothsayer inspecting goat entrails before performing a healing ceremony. Beyond the ironies, the relationship between the Himba and even benign visitors like Shields and Campion is complex. The authors are wise enough to offer only observations, not answers, in this handsomely produced, thought-provoking little volume. 60 b&w white photos. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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