The Himba men harvesting wine from Namibia’s Makalani palms and these photographs by Kyle Weeks makes me long for the warm never ending sun-kissed days, heading to meet the boys on the dhow in the early morning to see what they had caught for the restaurant that day and chasing crabs on the white shore drinking tipo tinto, a local rum closer to paint thinners than anything else.
Whilst Namibia may be closer to home, just one look the Himba men running up the palm trees reminds me of my first day in Mozambique. A young man working at the hotel I was consulting for said “Come Mr Llu, I’ll show you how we collect the (welcome drinks) coconuts…3 minutes later he’s 7 meteres above me swinging emerald green hard shelled coconuts, all to be panga-d open to reveal the MOST refreshing water, it was as if i had been trekking for days in the desert, i craved the life that this water gave.
In these photographs, a story by Kyle Street these men take part in an illgal act of wine tapping Makalani palms which are protected by Namibian law.
“The process begins by selecting a well-aged, male palm. Its size and proximity to ground water will determine the amount of sap it produces, with some palms secreting over one hundred liters. Once selected, the trunk is then pierced with stakes carved from harder wood that act as steps upward toward the leaves and flower at the top. In order to attain the sap, the men behead the palm by cutting its crown from the trunk. This sacrificial act will eventually cause the tree to die, but first the white sap rises upward filling a hollow carved into the trunk. The secreted sap is sweet and alcohol free but due to naturally occurring yeasts it quickly ferments and produces an alcoholic drink traditionally known as ‘Otusu’,”
-explained Kyle (photographer)
For More of Kyle’s work visit http://www.kyleweeksphoto.com/ or follow him on Instgram