The Herero is an ethnic group inhabiting parts of Southern Africa. The majority reside in Namibia, with the remainder found in Botswana and Angola.
Facts and figures
About 250,000 members are alive today.
They speak the Herero language, which belongs to the Bantu languages.
Religion and Beliefs
Omuroi is a Herero noun describing someone who is suspected of being a witch who flies at night, or someone who performs witchcraft or rides people at night. More sort of a ghost person, some claim to struggle with sleeping when a certain person is around due to their belief of that person possessing omuroi. Others claim to also believe that such beings talk at night and when such voices are heard, a shout may scare them away.
Others resort to sleeping with candles on, believing that the omuroi fears or hates light. Some may even bring in spiritual doctors to perform ceremonies to chase this omuroi away. This superstition has been passed on for generations and continues in the modern culture of the Herero people.
Customs and Tradition
The Hereros are traditionally cattle-herding pastoralists who rate status on the number of cattle owned. Cattle raids occurred between Herero groups, but Herero land (Ehi Rovaherero) belong to the community and has no fixed boundaries.
The Herero have a bilateral descent system. A person traces their heritage through both their father’s lineage, and oruzo (plural: otuzo), and their mother’s lineage, or eanda (plural: omaanda).[ In the 1920s, Kurt Falk recorded in the Archiv für Menschenkunde that the Ovahimba retained a “medicine-man” or “wizard” status for homosexual men. He wrote, “When I asked him if he was married, he winked at me slyly and the other natives laughed heartily and declared to me subsequently that he does not love women, but only men. He nonetheless enjoyed no low status in his tribe.”
The Holy Fire okuruuo (OtjikaTjamuaha) of the Herero is located at Okahandja. During immigration the fire was doused and quickly relit. From 1923 to 2011, it was situated at the Red Flag Commando. On Herero Day 2011, a group around Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako claimed that this fire was facing eastwards for the past 88 years, while it should be facing towards the sunset. They removed it and placed it at an undisclosed location, a move that has stirred controversy among the ovaherero community.
The traditional dress is derived from a Victorian woman’s dress, and consists of an enormous crinoline worn over a several petticoats, a horn shaped hat (said to represent the horns of a cow) made from rolled cloth is also worn.