Through the Lens: Hereros

Whenever I visit a new-to-me African country, I'm always surprised and interested in the strong links that continue to remain between that country and the country that colonized them. The English, French, and Portuguese cultural influence on the continent continue the exemplify the depths of a colonialist past. Yet, the influence of the Germans in Namibia easily goes under the radar until one come across amazing projects like Hereros by photographer Jim Naughten.

Upon settling in Namibia in the late 19th century, German missionaries quickly got down to the business of converting the various tribesmen. This conversion including the provision of Victorian clothes worn by the Germans of that era. As war broke out between the Herero and Germans, the Hereros would take the clothes of slain Germans and wear it to prove their victory over the enemy. The dresses could a little horn-head wear to reflect the important of cattle to the Herero.

Today, these clothes continue to be worn during important events as a sign of reflect for ancestors. While the paradox of the whole scenario continues to reverberate through my head, one cannot deny the power that the Herero clearly gained from the appropriation of these clothes. That Naughten has so brilliantly documented this history is also something I find very profound.

{Photos: Jim Naughten via Creative Roots}

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