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Three Herero women.
|Regions with significant populations|
|Traditional faith, Christianity|
|Related ethnic groups|
Three Herero women.
|Regions with significant populations|
|Traditional faith, Christianity|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Herero is an ethnic group inhabiting parts of Southern Africa. The majority reside in Namibia, with the remainder found in Botswana and Angola. About 250,000 members are alive today. They speak the Herero language which belongs to the Bantu languages.
Unlike most Bantus, who are primarily subsistence farmers, the Herero are traditionally pastoralists and make a living tending livestock. As cattle terminology in use amongst many Bantu pastoralist groups testifies, Bantu herders originally acquired cattle from Cushitic pastoralists already inhabiting Eastern Africa prior to Bantu settlement in the region, from where some Bantu tribes later spread south. Linguistic evidence indicates that Bantus also likely borrowed the custom of milking cattle from Cushitic peoples; either through direct contact with them or indirectly via Khoisan intermediaries who had themselves acquired both domesticated animals and pastoral techniques from Cushitic migrants.
The Herero claim to comprise several sub-divisions, including the Himba, the Tjimba (Cimba), the Mbanderu and the Kwandu. Groups in Angola include the Mucubal Kuvale, Zemba, Hakawona, Tjavikwa, Tjimba and Himba, who regularly cross the Namibia/Angola border when migrating with their herds. However, the Tjimba, though they speak Herero, are physically distinct indigenous hunter-gatherers; it may be in the Herero's interest to portray indigenous peoples as impoverished (cattleless) Herero.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2011)|
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Herero migrated to what is today Namibia from the east and established themselves as herdsmen. In the beginning of the 19th century, the Nama from South Africa, who already possessed some firearms, entered the land and were followed, in turn, by white merchants and German missionaries. At first, the Nama began displacing the Herero, leading to bitter warfare between the two groups which lasted the greater part of the 19th century. Later the two peoples entered into a period of cultural exchange.
During the late 19th century, the first Europeans began entering to permanently settle the land. Primarily in Damaraland, German settlers acquired land from the Herero in order to establish farms. In 1883, the merchant Franz Adolf Eduard Lüderitz entered into a contract with the native elders. The exchange later became the basis of German colonial rule. The territory became a German colony under the name of German South-West Africa.
Soon after, conflicts between the German colonists and the Herero herdsmen began. Controversies frequently arose because of disputes about access to land and water, but also the legal discrimination against the native population by the white immigrants.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, imperialism and colonialism in Africa peaked, affecting especially the Hereros and the Namas. European powers were seeking trade routes and railways, as well as more colonies. Germany officially claimed their stake in a South African colony in 1884, calling it German South-West Africa until it was taken over in 1915. The first German colonists arrived in 1892, and conflict with the indigenous Herero and Nama people began. As in many cases of colonization, the indigenous people were not treated fairly.
Between 1893 and 1903, the Herero and Nama people's land as well as their cattle were progressively making their way into the hands of the German colonists. The Herero and Nama resisted expropriation over the years, but they were unorganized and the Germans defeated them with ease. In 1903, the Herero people learned that they were to be placed in reservations, leaving more room for colonists to own land and prosper. In 1904, the Herero and Nama began a great rebellion that lasted until 1907, ending with the near destruction of the Herero people. “The war against the Herero and Nama was the first in which German imperialism resorted to methods of genocide…” It has been determined by experts that roughly 80,000 Herero lived in German South-West Africa at the beginning of Germany’s colonial rule over the area, while after their revolt was defeated, they numbered approximately 15,000. In a period of four years, approximately 65,000 Herero people perished.
Samuel Maharero, the Supreme Chief of the Herero, led his people in a great uprising on January 12, 1904, against the Germans. The Herero, surprising the Germans with their uprising, had initial success.
German General Lothar von Trotha took over as leader in May 1904. In August 1904, he devised a plan to annihilate the Herero nation. The plan was to surround the area where the Herero were, leaving but one route for them to escape, into the desert. The Herero battled the Germans, and the losses were minor. It was when they had escaped through the only passage made available by the Germans, and had been chased away from the last watering hole into complete desertion, that casualties grew to insufferable amounts. It was then that the Herero uprising changed from war, to genocide.
At the 100th anniversary of the massacre, German Minister for Economic Development and Cooperation Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul commemorated the dead on site and apologized for the crimes on behalf of all Germans. Hereros and Namas demanded financial reparations, however in 2004 there was only minor media attention in Germany on this matter.
The Hereros are traditionally cattle-herding pastoralists who rate status on the number of cattle owned. Cattle raids occurred between Herero groups, but Herero land (Ehi Rovaherero) belongs to the community and has no fixed boundaries.
The Herero have a bilateral descent system. A person traces their heritage through both their father's lineage, or oruzo (plural: otuzo), and their mother's lineage, or eanda (plural: omaanda). In the 1920s, Kurt Falk recorded in the Archiv für Menschenkunde that the Ovahimba retained a "medicine-man" or "wizard" status for homosexual men. He wrote, "When I asked him if he was married, he winked at me slyly and the other natives laughed heartily and declared to me subsequently that he does not love women, but only men. He nonetheless enjoyed no low status in his tribe."
The Holy Fire okuruuo (OtjikaTjamuaha) of the Herero is located at Okahandja. During immigration the fire was doused and quickly relit. From 1923 to 2011, it was situated at the Red Flag Commando. On Herero Day 2011, a group around Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako claimed that this fire was facing eastwards for the past 88 years, while it should be facing towards the sunset. They removed it and placed it at an undisclosed location, a move that has stirred controversy among the ovaherero community.
Despite sharing a language and pastoral traditions, the Herero are not a homogeneous people. The main Herero group in central Namibia (sometimes called Herero proper) was heavily influenced by Western culture during the colonial period, creating a whole new identity. The Herero proper and their southern counterparts the Mbanderu, for instance, wear garments similar to those worn by colonial Europeans (see photo at top of article). Traditional leather garments are worn by northwestern groups, such as the Himba, Kuvale, and Tjimba, who are also more conservative in other aspects such as not buying bedding, but rather sleep in bedding made of cow skin. The Kaokoland Herero and those in Angola have remained isolated and are still pastoral nomads, practicing limited horticulture.
The Herero language (Otjiherero) is the main unifying link amongst the Herero peoples. It is a Bantu language, part of the Niger–Congo family. Within the Otjiherero umbrella, there are many dialects, including Oluthimba or Otjizemba—which is the most common dialect in Angola—Otjihimba, and Otjikuvale. These differ mainly in phonology, and are largely mutually intelligible, though Kuvale, Zemba, and Hakaona have been classified as separate languages. Standard Herero is used in the Namibian media and is taught in schools throughout the country.
Omuroi is a herero noun that is believed to be someone who is suspected of been a witch who flies at night, or someone who performs witchcraft or rides people at night. More sort of a ghost person, some believe in and claim to struggle with sleeping when a certain person is around due to their belief of that person possessing omuroi. Others claim to also believe that such beings talk at night and when such voices are heard, a shout may scare them away.
Others resort to sleeping with candles on, believing that the omuroi fears or hates light. Some may even bring in spiritual doctors to perform ceremonies to chase this omuroi away. Even though it seems very superstitious, it is a belief that has been passed on from generations hence creating some sort of room for it in the culture of the herero people.
There are a lot of animal in the world in which there are divided into two categories which are wild animals and domestic animals. The Herero making a living out of rearing domestic animals and these domestic animals are:
Cattle are most valued domestic animals in the Herero culture, therefore cattle herding is the most significant and substantial activity for the Herero people. In the Herero culture the cattle herding and cattle trading activities are only conducted by males whilst females are responsible for milking cows, carrying out household chores, harvesting small field crops and taking care of the young children.As women are responsible for milking cows, there are also responsible for preparing the delicious sour milk called"Omaere". Although males are responsible for the cattle trading activities the females do most of the trading such as bartering for other goods.
The Herero people take pride in their cattle hence the culture of Herero requires women to wear hats shaped of cow horns so as to show importance of cattle in their culture and they also believe that the more cattle one has the richer he or she is, so cattle is used as symbol of wealth in this culture. In call for celebrations such as marriages cattle is normally used for meat consumption whilst for carrying out religious or ancestral ceremonies, ancestors are honored by sacrifice of cows or animals.
Goats and sheep are also used for meat consumption, and the goat milk is used to make dairy products. The goat skin has a significant use as it can be used to carry babies on the back and create household ornaments. In the Herero culture the goat dung is a used for medicinal purposes as it is normally used for healing chicken pox.
Horse and Donkeys are normally used for transportation. In cases of herding or searching for lost domestic animals the Herero people engage horses to carry out these activities. Herero people consume donkey meat too but rarely consume horse meat.
When males go for hunting they use to dogs to help in hunting for purposes and also for herding. The Herero people tend to hunt to acquire meat,hides and horns so as to barter for goods such as sugar, tea and tobacco. Chickens are kept for meat consumption and breeding eggs.
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