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The Cimba [tʃimba], also spelled Tjimba, are a remote, Herero-speaking hunter-gatherer people of the Kaokoveld desert in northwest Namibia and southwest Angola, in the mountain ranges bordering the Kunene River. They continue to use stone tools, and use Adenium boehmianum to poison their arrows.[1]

Their Herero neighbors portray them as Herero who have lost their cattle and are therefore impoverished, but they are a distinct people, both culturally and physically.[2] Indeed, physically they seem to be a remnant of an indigenous population of a southern African type—along with the Kwadi, the Kwisi, and the Damara—that are unlike either the San (Bushmen) or the Bantu Herero.[3] The mitochondrial DNA of Tjimba who have been genetically tested is similar to that of Himba, Herero, and Damara, suggesting that they descend (at least maternally) from the same Bantu ancestors.[4]


  1. ^ Neuwinger, Hans Dieter. 1996. African ethnobotany: poisons and drugs : chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, p. 97.
  2. ^ McCalman, H.R. and B.J. Grobbelaar. 1965. Preliminary report of two stone-working OvaTjimba groups in the Northern Kaokoveld of south West Africa. Cimbebasia 13:1–39.
  3. ^ Blench, Roger. 1999. "Are the African Pygmies an Ethnographic Fiction?". Pp 41–60 in Biesbrouck, Elders, & Rossel (eds.) Challenging Elusiveness: Central African Hunter-Gatherers in a Multidisciplinary Perspective. Leiden."Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-01-26. Retrieved 2011-10-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Oliveira, Sandra (2018). "Matriclans shape populations: insights from the Angolan Namib Desert into the maternal genetic history of southern Africa". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 165 (3): 518–535. doi:10.1002/ajpa.23378.