Browsing Desert Plants, Volume 28, Number 2 (December 2012) by Authors
Indigenous Use of Mopane (Colophospermum mopane) in Northwestern NamibiaBainbridge, Holly; Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics, The University of Arizona (University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 2012-12)The ability of people to adapt to limited resources is particularly remarkable in areas dominated by only one plant species. In the case of one indigenous people of northwestern Namibia, the Himba, often the only readily available plant material is that of the mopane ( Colophospermum mopane) due to harsh soil and weather conditions. By interviewing various Himba in seven different compounds located around Epupa Falls, Namibia, I was able to grasp the wide usage and cultural importance of mopane. They use nearly every part of this tree for various purposes spanning from construction to pain relief clearly showing the Himba's ability to maximize its potential. From personal interaction, it was clear that not only is the mopane ingrained into their daily lifestyle, but also into the Himba culture, as the basis of religious communication with the afterlife. Additionally, based on observation of the area, the cultural importance of mopane for the Himba may unintentionally protect it, given the close relationship between the people and the tree. Based on its myriad of uses, mopane plays an important role in the preservation of a traditional culture that is at the brink of modernization.