Herero Women

I discovered Herero women in Pinterest thanks to the amazing photgraphic work made by Jim Naughten in 2012.


An amazing work featured globally by several media.

For someone like me who loves patchwork and is so interested in women´s heritage and identity, you can imagine how impressed I was, and am still, by the strength and power these dresses and their models communicate.

Today, Refinery 29 shared an amazing short video clip Herero´s Women Dresses and the struggle they confront to make the genocide (90% of the community killed) committed againts this people around 100 years ago. The media was written by Annie Georgia Greenberg with Connie Wang and published on 19 February 2018.

Indeed, Herero dresses, inspired by Victorian dresses and patterns, are a symbol of this fight against German colonialism.

Keeping alive the dresses they were forced to wear, these dresses are more than a cultural tradition, a symbol of resilience (Connie Wang).

If you wish to know more, read Hildi Hendrickson´s paper (1994) The ‘Long’ Dress and the Construction Of Herero Identities in Southern Africa

Hendrickson, Hildi. (1994). The ‘Long’ Dress and the Construction Of Herero Identities in Southern Africa. African Studies. 53. 25-54. 10.1080/00020189408707800.

This paper investigates the uses and meanings of the ‘long’ dress among Ovaherero in Namibia and Botswana. Long dress design, construction, and historical development are detailed, and the role of other Africans in the nineteenth‐century adoption of the long dress is highlighted. The dress is found to mark women’s transition to marriage and motherhood and eloquently to symbolise the responsibilities of adulthood and women’s acquiescence to them. While physically constraining, and laborious to construct and maintain, the dress celebrates women as engenderers of highly‐valued, immutable social relationships. In it, women represent Herero society, ‘traditionalism’, and history within a wider, plural socio‐political world.

Amazingly, inheritance in Herero of Namibia and Botswana s passed through the mother’s clan, while residence, religion, and authority are taken from the father’s line (Source).

To know more about genocides, you can always read recently published book: Women and Genocide: Survivors, Victims, Perpetrators by Elissa Bemporad & Joyce Warren