Every dress tells a story, but in the case of Namibia’s Herero dress, it’s a 100-year-old tale of genocide, oppression, resilience, and — hopefully — redemption. In the early 20th century, 80% of the Herero
was killed in a genocide. German colonisers retaliated against a Herero uprising, and used torture and extermination tactics that were later employed by the Nazis. Women adopted the full-bodied Victorian dress from their oppressors, but after the war remade it with symbols unique to their tribe. For people whose land, lives, wealth, and sense of identity was stripped from them, the Ohorokova was a way of taking back their agency and redefining their group in the aftermath of atrocity.