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i-con2Ethnic Groups in Namibia : Herero

The third-largest group with about 150.000 members, are the Herero. They belong to the Bantu-speaking people and came probably in the 18th century on the search for pastureland into northern Namibia. A smaller part of them stayed behind in the Kaokoveld, the bigger part moved on towards the south.

The Herero have a language of their own called Otjiherero. It contains some click sounds from the Khoisan languages.


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Photo: Herero woman cooking traditional maize porridge.
Ethnic groups in Namibia Nama Rehoboth Baster Herero San (Bushmen) Damara Caprivians Kavango Ovambo Himba
The settlement area of the Herero lies in central Namibia, mainly around Windhoek, Okahandja and Omaruru. In the Gobabis area and also beyond the border to Botswana live the Eastern Herero. The former homeland of the Herero lies east of the Waterberg Plateau around Okakarara in the Omaheke region.

The Herero women's wide skirts and colourful headgear; the shape of which reminds one of a cow's horns, can be traced back to the influence of the missionaries' wives who, in the beginning, were upset about the women's sparing traditional dress.

The proud, tall and strongly built men are fanatic cattle breeders. Cattle is the most important status symbol, and their land is always chronically overgrazed.

The centre of the Herero population is Okahandja, where their great chiefs are buried. Here they annually hold a festival to honour their ancestors.