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African Beauty Culture

THE MUHILA

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The Muhila (or Mumuhila) is a semi- nomadic group living in southern Angola. They belong to the Nyaneca-Humbe group and are one of the oldest groups in the country. The Muhila live in south of Lubango in the Huila region and up to the region of Humpata and are one of the first villages of Bantu origin that settled in the area. The Muhila ethnic group is mainly engaged in agriculture and livestock. They are animists and practice, therefore, the cult of their ancestors, with the belief of a supreme being.

Muhila women’s hairstyles are clearly a sign of their strong identity. These hairstyles mark us in many cases the marital status of the woman. As young men, Muhila girls adorn their heads with small reddish dreadlocks decorated with colorful beads. The adult Muhila woman makes several braids called nontombi. These braids are covered with a mixture made of animal butter, oil and the bark of a tree called eunbao that gives the yellowish color. A good starting point to visit the Muhila is Lubango, capital of the province of Huila and some Muhila move to sell some of their animals to the local population.

A few kilometers from Lubango we have the population of Chibia a beautiful and quiet town that maintains remains of colonial architecture. In Chibia begins a track that will take us to Jau and from here to Humpata. The whole region is dotted with villages of the Muhila ethnic group that, although some are located very close to the main track, have access by foot through a dense vegetation.

In the heart of the Muhila region and halfway between Chibia and Jau is the road that will give us access to Hungueira Falls. The waterfalls of Hungueira have a difficult access and are located in cliffs of granite rock. Up to these beautiful surroundings come numerous Muhila women from nearby villages to collect water.

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