these images are not new, but i came across them again recently and thought i had to share in case someone out there had not seen them before. they are so arrestingly beautiful, and the story behind them is fascinating.
in the late 1800s Germany colonised what is now Namibia – or “Deutsch-Südwestafrika” as the Germans called it back then – and had an everlasting impact on the native tribe. missionaries set about converting and clothing the Herero people in European fashions, and over time dressing in this manner became a Herero tradition, as well as a great source of pride to the wearer.
War broke out between German colonizers and the local tribes in 1904. The Herero tribe was devastated, having lost almost eighty percent of its population. Garments became an important expression of identity during these fragile times. Upon killing a German soldier, a Herero warrior would remove the uniform and adopt it to his personal dress as a symbol of his prowess in battle. Paradoxically, as with the Victorian dresses, the wearing of German uniforms became a tradition that is continued to this day by Namibian men who honour their warrior ancestors during ceremonies, festivals and funerals.
in 2012 British photographer set about capturing modern day Hereros against an unforgiving Namibian landscape. you can read more about his project .