Herero Women – Fascinating


By Simon Martha Mkina WINDHOEK She walks slowly, majestically and confidently along Sam Nujoma Avenue in Windhoek without fearing anyone or anything. Her outfit looks attractive, wonderful, and inviting to any passer-by especially to a visitor like myself. She looks huge and tough with that multi-coloured long sleeved dress accompanied by a horns-like sombrero-type fashioned elaborate scarf on top of her hairy head. The walking and outfit is all that can describe a Herero woman in Namibia and other parts of the world they happen to travel. It is not that they race the saying in western countries that there is no hurry in Africa. No! It’s all about pride of their country, culture and traditional norms with no hesitation. Also, it is said that being cattle-raisers, the y tend to walk majestically in a manner that cows do. It is said a Herero woman can wear up to six different dresses under the traditional outfit. This apparently makes them look bigger and tough. This is one of the good things this writer found out when he first set foot on the soil in Windhoek in Namibia. It was so funny to have his first sight on land of a tall and beautiful woman with such a pretty outfit. Our history subject in Tanzanian schools tells more about Hereros being great fighters who fought for the independence of Namibia, and nothing about the elegant women of this tribe. Leaving women behind in history teachings is such a bad habit that puts learners in the dark until they find out by themselves as this writer did. In the Herero culture, cattle remain the most precious possession and the tribal hierarchy divides responsibilities for inheritance between matrilineal and patrilineal lines of descent. The Herero recognize their descent from both the mother and father’s families. Residence, religion and authority are taken from the father’s line, while the economy and inheritance of wealth are passed on via the mother’s clan. Hereros are nomadic pastoralists. There is no private ownership of cattle, since they belong to the lineage of the mother’s tribe. An heir is expected to share his inheritance with his brothers and the sons of his mother’s younger sisters. He must also now take care of the wives and children of the deceased. This system is slowly changing and today more children inherit cattle from their dead father. The Herero traditional crafts centre around cattle raising and milking. Milk jugs, used for storing sour milk, are carved from a single piece of hard wood with a sharp bladed adze. Containers for storing cooking fat are made from wet pieces of cow skin. All these touchy things made this writer to swear to come back to Windhoek and probably in a mission to take a Herero woman back to Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam where the two will make life go on and increase the number of world’s citizens as the Bible wants husband and wife to do.