Between 1884 and 1916, the country of Namibia was one of four German colonies in Africa. Despite resistance by the local populations, the colonists took the best farmland, exploited the extensive mineral resources, and imposed their own institutions in an attempt to create a transplanted version of Germany in Africa. This transplantation was slowed when, after Germany’s defeat in World War I, the League of Nations mandated the territory to South Africa. A German influence has persisted due to the many Germans that remained or settled later and benefited from the apartheid system.
Not until 1990 did Namibia achieve independence. After years of struggle against South Africa and its Western allies, UN-supervised elections finally established majority rule. Since then the new government has had the difficult task of reforming the economy and reversing the effects of racist indoctrination. Understandably, the industry and politics of tourism play an important role in both these tasks. All national monuments and cultural events present an opportunity for the new leadership to bring in needed foreign currency, revise official history, and redefine national identity.
Every year on August 25 the Hereros from all over the country gather in Okahandja, near the capital of Windhoek. As part of the activities, a procession of men and women slowly walks to touch the graves of famous chiefs. Many of the chiefs died in a major war of resistance against the so-called German protection force, which killed 75–80% of the Hereros between 1904 and 1905. Today the dress of many Herero women is visibly influenced by the nineteenth-century Victorian dresses that the German colonialists brought with them.
The population groups of Namibia are (ranked according to population size): Ovambo, Kavango, Herero, Damara, Whites, Nama, Coloureds, Caprivians, Bushmen, Rehoboth Baster, and Tswana.
Andrea Robbins and Max Becher 1991