Skip to main content

Why The Women of This African Tribe Dress in Victorian Era Fashion

• Jul 27, 2015

111101124244-namibia-victorian-fashion-horizontal-large-gallery

The Herero tribe inhabits much of Namibia and is known for its traditional Victorian era‐style of dress.

VictorianNamibia10

So how did the Herero come to develop such a distinct style of dress?

In 1892, German colonists entered the Southern African country of Namibia and declared it “German South‐West Africa” around 1904. This led to the first genocide of the 20th century also known as the Herero Genocide in which some 24,000 to 100,000 Herero lost their lives. After losing the war to the Germans in 1907, the Herero tribes were forced into concentration and labor camps where many died of famine and were subject to “race experiments”. There, the native people were forced to clothe themselves to align with the conservative attitudes of the German missionaries.

According to a report 80,000 Herero were reduced to a mere 15,000 between 1904 and 1907.

When the Germans finally left Namibia in 1915, following the Treaty of Versailles, the Herero people continued to dress in the traditional fashion of their German influencers to serve as a reminder of their past. The women often adorn their heads with unique hats in matching fabrics which are said to replicate horns in honor of their cattle‐dependent communities.

Credit: Jim Naughten

Credit: Jim Naughten

VictorianNamibia7 VictorianNamibia9  VictorianNamibia11

hererowoman 111101010001-namibia-victorian-fashion-horizontal-large-gallery

Credit: CNN

Credit: CNN

herero-women2

herero1

Credit: Jim Naughten

Credit: Jim Naughten

7044702867_e24ec839d9_b-e1373655226239

Credit: Flicker TravelBug365

Were you familiar with the Herero people?

21
Leave a Reply

avatar
16 Comment threads
5 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
17 Comment authors
LentwaHisMercySarahDipset.AfricanAmy Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
Notify of
Lana
Guest
Lana

I really love the little bits of info about African/Black culture that BGLH is doing. Keep them coming please! Also Victorian dress in the hot sun seems rough but much like the women in hijabs and burkas, Im sure they just get used to the hotness.

Mahogany
Guest
Mahogany

I love it. Africa is such a diverse continent.

Betina
Guest
Betina

I love it! While its origins are dubious its nice to see women covering up in this show everything world.

alt-K
Guest
alt-K

I agree. To me, more is more 🙂

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

Is anyone troubled with the idea of race experimenting??? Never mind the outcome, there are some dodgy aspects to how this came about.

Dipset.
Guest
Dipset.

Lol race experiments. I’m imagining studies that all concluded that our genes are dominant no matter what.

mmmdot
Guest
mmmdot

I love their style but I’m also disgusted Germany is getting away without paying restitution for acts of genocide they inflicted upon the Herero. Genocide is NOT “normal.” Racism is a human rights issue. If the European Jews can get compensation for a TEN YEAR holocaust, then we can get compensated for 500 YEAR holocaust.

Layla
Guest
Layla

Because Jew are whites, they can have compassion, we don’t have right because we are blacks!

alt-K
Guest
alt-K

I love it! It’s an interesting take on German 19th century fashion.

DrOVOthy Mantooth
Guest
DrOVOthy Mantooth

Yes, but I thought this was a “subculture” that they made up not a remembrance of Slavery!

Fathimah Snowden
Guest
Fathimah Snowden

Women who do wear the Hijab or Burkas, were are not hot. Wearing the Hijab or Burkas is not rough, even in the Hot sun, to be truthful it’s kinda of cooling, cause less skin is shown to the heat of the Sun, Heavy black robes worn by Bedouins in the desert. They say the key there is thickness, the outer layer of fabric does get hotter because the black color absorbs more heat. And that heat doesn’t get transmitted to the skin because of the thick fabric.But thin black clothing transmits that heat to the skin, making a person… Read more »

Dipset.
Guest
Dipset.

I’ve always theorized that you guys have gotttt to be cool under there. Thanks for this read.

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

Girl STOP! I lived in UAE and wore a Black abaya and shayla many times and was hot as hell in that 120 degree heat. All that shit is hot.

$8319184
Guest
$8319184

Woo‐hooo! The Herero are gorgeous, I live in their area and the women are absolutely stunning. I’m also learning their language. They have herds and herds of cattle. Beef is as cheap as sawdust rounds these parts and it is literally their staple food. I also love their clothes. These women are dressed in every day clothes. When they turn it up, they really truly step out in style. Beautiful fabrics, all coordinated dazzling shawls. Think like this but way better. This tribe has managed to preserve their culture whereas many others have just blended. They are also found in… Read more »

AfricanAmy
Guest
AfricanAmy

I am/was aware of them but not their “traditional dress”. I like them. Proper throw back theme.
I learned of them when I found something on social media trying to get the German govt. to own up to the genocide (that is still a work in progress).

AfricanAmy
Guest
AfricanAmy

Oh, maybe you guys can look up the similar “traditional” wear of the Lozi people of Western Province in Zambia (just across the border from Nambia) whose dressing was influenced by the more benevolent Scottish people. Both men and women have a unique dress‐code now worn on occasions 🙂
My mums tribe actually

HisMercy
Guest
HisMercy

The women are beautiful, but the origins of the outfits makes my stomach turn.

Lentwa
Guest
Lentwa

I am in Botswana, neighbouring Namibia and we have some Herero people as well. They are a small group in Bots and their roots are in Namibia. But then again the native people here are Basarwa(Bush Men) and most of our people groups ran from wars in South Africa and made home in the desert ?. I knew so little about the Herero people though ?

Dena
Guest
Dena

I am Herero. Many people think that this traditional dress shouldn’t be worn because it stems from a bloody and brutal history, but I think that is exactly why it should be worn and why I wear it with pride. Our history with the Germans has greatly influenced our history, not in the most positive way as they killed 85% of our population, but I don’t think one should ever forget where they came from and how they got there even if it included heartbreaking parts.

Zana
Guest
Zana

When you have worn the dress for MANY years you become accustomed to wearing it in the heat. It is that plain an simple.

trackback

[…] incredible Victorian‐style fashions of Africa’s Herero people“, de Robyn Pennacchia. “Why The Women of This African Tribe Dress in Victorian Era Fashion“, “The African Women who dress like Victorians“. “TIL an African tribe […]

Orders Process in 1 Business Day. Free Shipping on Orders $60 and Up. Dismiss

Shopping Cart