Herero

The Herero arrived in Namibia around 1550. Migrating from the great lakes of East Africa they moved through Zambia and southern Angola and settled in the Kunene Region. After 200 years a large left the Kaokoveld and settled in the northern central areas of Namibia. The descendants of this group are most commonly referred to as Herero, while the groups left in the northwest are called the Himba and the Tjimba.

The Herero are pastoral cattle breeders of the Bantu language group. They follow a dual system of descent in which status, residence and tradition follow the paternal line while movable property and cattle follow the maternal line. Influenced by missionary wives the Herero women developed elaborate Victorian style dressed with the characteristic headdress that represents cattle horns.

The colonial wars with the German occupiers lead to the near extinction of the Herero. During battles in the Waterberg area the German General Lothar von Trotha ordered the extinction of the Herero. German troops started driving Herero men, women and children towards the desert of Omaheke. Large parts of the Herero population died in this genocide while only a few escaped into what is modern day Botswana. After the German rule the Herero slowly returned to the Waterberg area.

Today the Herero speaking Namibians number about 130 000, who still honour their traditions during the annual Herero Festival on Maharero Day.