Tjisemo Family

Village: Omingodo, Namibia

Population: 200

Elders: Utiziua Tjisemo and Uakutirua Tjisemo

17°56'36.7"S 13°50'25.0"E

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About the family

My father and my uncle were chiefs, and I was their heir. I moved here to escape people, jealousy, and witchcraft.

Utiziua Tjisemo, the family elder, built the village of Omingondo and moved there with his family in 1993. Recently he moved back to Okaterngenye, the village where his father died. He wants to die there too. The elder of Omingondo village is now his son, Uakutirua Tjisemo.

What's in a name

Older people in your family can give you a name whenever they want. If it sticks, then it sticks.

Himba children get names throught their entire childhood, and into adulthood. Relatives might add a name based on observations of the child, or events from his or her life.

Uejaumue Tjingai Tjisemo

Uejaumue’s second name, Tjingai, means “woman full of dust.” When a woman doesn't apply ochre properly, to look beautiful, they say she is “full of dust”.

Uakurauka Tjisemo

Uakurauka’s name means “corn” as she is an only child without siblings, reminiscent of the way a solitary cob of corn grows on the stalk.

Uahetrako Tjisemo

Uahetrako was named by his uncle Ndarere. The first time his uncle held baby Uahetrako, he remembered the joy of holding and playing with young children, so he gave him a name that means "people play with him".

Coming of age rituals

The teeth were in my mouth for too long.I couldn't wait to take them out, and it didn't hurt.

At sixteen, Uakutirua had his four lower teeth knocked out, a beautifying ritual performed by the Himba, alongside four other children from the family. He recalls: “The day the teeth were removed, I couldn't eat meat because of the tradition... and because of the pain. You can only eat yogurt and milk.”

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african pipe man

A family feud

I will be buried herenext to my son and start a new family cemetery.

Uakutirua’s brother Kairengerue joined the army after finishing school. He was shot and survived but later died from illness. The family wanted him to be buried next to his grandfather, Katuezu Tjisemo, but the uncle, Uamiti Ruhozo, claimed he was from a different bloodline and fired his gun at people trying to dig the grave. In the end he was buried some distance away.

Marriage to Uahenisa

I didn't want another guy to take her.

According to Himba tradition, it’s the father who goes to ask a family for permission for his son to marry their daughter. But Uakutirua went to get his wife Uahenisa himself, because he thought that his parents were taking too long.

How Utiziua’s father died

As soon as he moved to this compoundpeople bewitched him.The only ceremony in this holy fire was his funeral.

Utiziua’s father was the chief of all the villages in the Okaterngenye area. Utiziua says that when his father moved to Okaterngenye the villagers were envious of him and they killed him with witchcraft.

Life in Omingodo

Tjisemo family members

About the project

MyHeritage is proud to present Tribal Quest, a unique mission to record and preserve the family histories of tribal people around the world. As a global leader in helping people discover, preserve and share their family history, we believe that every story counts. Across a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds, our lives and family traditions are shaped by the generations that came before us, and we all have much to learn from our ancestors. People living in remote locations with limited access to modern technology don't have the tools to digitize their rich family histories, and they are often left unrecorded. Our vision is to help create an ever-expanding database of these invaluable stories. Our teams will visit tribal communities around the world in order to use the tools we have developed to help preserve their family histories for future generations.

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