Sunday, September 18, 2011


Nyatiti is an eight-stringed plucked lyre from Kenya. It is a classical instrument used by the Luo people located in the Nyanza western region in Kenya. It is about three feet long. The player of Nyatiti holds it to his chest, seated on a low stool, with the base firmly to the ground. Usually it is played together with the oporo, a curved horn.

Goyo Otenga is the dance for Nyatiti music. Otenga is the Luo word for eagle. Dancers move their shoulders, arms, fingers, legs and feet like an Eagle.

The performer has three tasks when playing the Nyatiti: percussion, strings, and vocal.

The Nyatiti is played sitting low to the ground, while keeping a small distance from your body. You also put iron bells called "gara" on your right ankle and a metal ring called "oduongo" on the big toe of your right foot. Then, you sing and play keeping the beat by tapping the ring on the edge of the Nyatiti. The Nyatiti is also called Kanbanane. "Kanba" means string and "nane" means eight, so it literally means "eight strings".
The body is made of a hollowed fig tree and is like a hemisphere. Cow skin is put on the surface of the hemisphere. Nylon fishing lines are used for the eight strings, which have three thicknesses. In the past, female cow's Achilles' tendons were used for the strings instead of the fishing lines. Two thin bamboos like sticks and wood chips are bonded together by bee wax, which creates a deep echoing sound. There are reasons why the Nyatiti has eight strings, why only men are allowed to play it and why it is called "Nyatiti". The first four days after a male’s birth and after his death are said to be very special in Luo culture. In Nyatiti, the lower four strings represent the first four days of his birth and the upper four strings represent the four days after his death.
Source Anyango Website

Ayub Ogada is one of the few Luo music artists who have made it both on the national and international music scene. Here he plays the nyatiti to one of his famed songs Obiero

And this lady from Japan could not resist---

More Information and Sources:
PittRivers Museum

Saturday, September 10, 2011


The Herero or Ovaherero - were nomadic herdsman who at the time of European contact, lived in Namibia and Botswana. They comprised several subgroups, which include the Himba, Ovatjimba, Mbanderu or Ovambanderu and the Kwandu. Related groups living in Angola include the Kuvale, Zemba, Hakawona, Tjavikwa, Tjimba and Himba. The Herero are thought to have migrated from East Africa into present day Namibia during from the seventeenth century. At some point they came into contact and conflict with another pastoral people known as Nama - Hottentot or Khoi Khoi.

In Namibia Herero's are mostly found in the central and eastern parts of the country. The Herero can be divided into several sub-groups the biggest of which includes the Tjimba and Ndamuranda groups who live Kaokoland, the Mahereo who are found around Okahandja and the Zeraua who are found in the area around Omaruru. A group called the Mbandero occupy an area in eastern Namibia, around the town of Gobabis, which was formerly known as Hereroland. Until the colonial period the Herero prospered in the central grassland areas, where there was ample grazing for their cattle, but a succession of battles with the northward migrating Nama, and more severely the German colonial troops led to about 75% of the Herero population been exterminated. Estimates are that of the 80 000 Herero in Namibia in 1900 only about 16 000 remained by 1905. During this period large numbers of Herero fled to the safety of Botswana, but since independence some of the early migrants have begun to return to Namibia. The Herero are proud cattle farmers who measure their wealth in cattle, the importance of cattle to these people is even evident in the Herero womens' dresses.

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. Many Herero women dorn the outfits every year on during the traditional Herero festival is held in Okahandja- Maherero day.

According to My Beautiful Namibia Herero women regard the outfits as 'proper dress' for traditional married women. By wearing the long dress, a newly married woman shows her in laws that she is willing to take up the responsibilities of a Herero home and will raise her children to respect their heritage and their father’s family. The long dress is heavy, hard to keep clean and laborious and expensive to make. The outfit has changed over the years to reflect the style of new generations, and sewing it allows women to show their personal skill and creativity. The Herero women’s long dress has become a symbol of Herero tradition for Herero, tourists, scholars and other Namibians. Women are selling dolls wearing exact replicas of the long dress to tourists and crafts organizations. This suggests that they continue to find new ways to express their individual and traditional identities.

More Information:

Friday, September 9, 2011

Herero and Namaqua Genocide - 20th Century First Genocide

The Herero and Namaqua Genocide is considered the first genocide of the 20th century that took place from 1904 until 1907 in Namibia known then as German South-West Africa.

On January 12, 1904, the Herero people, led by Samuel Maharero, rebelled against German colonial rule. In August, German general Lothar von Trotha defeated the Herero in the Battle of Waterberg and drove them into the desert of Omaheke, where most of them died of thirst. In October, the Nama people also rebelled against the Germans only to suffer a similar fate.

In total, between 24,000 up to 100,000 Herero perished along with 10,000 Nama. The genocide was characterized by widespread death by starvation and thirst by preventing the fled Herero from returning from the Namib Desert.

Some sources also claim the German colonial army to have systematically poisoned desert wells. In 1985, the United Nations' Whitaker Report classified the aftermath as an attempt to exterminate the Herero and Nama peoples of South-West Africa, and therefore one of the earliest attempts of genocide in the 20th century. The German government recognized and apologized for the events in 2004.

Today, Maherero day is the traditional Herero festival held annually in Okahandja in memory of those who died in the German massacre in 1904.


German scientist Eugen Fischer came to the concentration camps to conduct medical experiments on race, using children of Herero people and mulatto children of Herero women and German men as test subjects. Together with Theodor Mollison he also experimented upon Herero prisoners. Those experiments included sterilization, injection of smallpox, typhus as well as tuberculosis. The numerous cases of mixed offspring upset the German colonial administration and the obsession with racial purity.

Geneticist Eugen Fischer came to German South West Africa on behalf of German universities as soon as the death camps opened. Fischer's 'race science' theories led to the idea of a 'supreme race' which not only severely influenced the Second Reich, but also the Third. He studied and made tests with the heads of 778 Herero and Nama dead prisoners of war. Severed heads were preserved - numbered and labeled as Hottentotte - the German colonial name for the Nama. He used 'research' to prove the black race is inferior to the Germanic - Aryan race. By measuring skulls - facial features and eye colors - Fischer and his protégés sought to prove the native races were inferior - and as he put it - animals.

Eugen Fischer studied 310 mixed-race children, calling them "Rehoboth bastards"of "lesser racial quality".Fischer also subjected them to numerous racial tests such as head and body measurements, eye and hair examinations. In conclusion of his studies he advocated genocide of alleged "inferior races" claiming that "whoever thinks thoroughly the notion of race, can not arrive at a different conclusion". Fischer later became chancellor of the University of Berlin, where he taught medicine to Nazi physicians. One of his prominent students was Josef Mengele, the doctor who made genetic experiments on Jewish children at Auschwitz.

Concentration Camp in South West Africa aka Namibia

The German colonial authorities never conducted a census before 1904. A census performed in 1905 revealed that 25,000 Herero remained in German South-West Africa. According to the 1985 United Nations' Whitaker Report, the population of 80,000 Herero was reduced to 15,000 "starving refugees" between 1904 and 1907 Source: Wiki

Soldiers began to trade in the skulls of dead Herero and Nama people. They sold them to scientists, museums and universities back in Germany who advertized for them. The practice was so widespread that this postcard was made showing soldiers packing skulls. Part of the postcard was reproduced in book form. The text above more or less reads; Herero skulls were packed into boxes by German South-West-Africa troops, to be sent to the pathologic institute in Berlin, so that they might be used for scientific measurements. Herero women removed meat, skin and hair form the skulls using pieces of broken glass. The skulls were from Herero's killed in action or of those hung.

Felix von Luschan, director of the Ethnology Museum in Berlin, was an ethnologist obsessed with collecting human skulls and skeletons. He drew up guidelines for travelers to German colonies, instructing them how to pack skulls, skeletons and human brains for shipment. This 'currently respected director' boasted, you could get a human skeleton for a piece of soap....One year after the extermination war began, Felix Luschan asked a notorious racist by the name of Lieutenant Ralf Zürn 'commander of Okahandja', if he was aware of any way in which the Museum might collect a larger number Herero skulls? The Lieutenant had already supplied him with a skull, wrote back saying this would be possible 'since in the concentration camps taking and preserving the skulls of Herero prisoners of war will be more readily possible than in the country, where there is always a danger of offending the ritual feelings of the natives'.


Namibia's Herero community is seeking reparations from Germany for the suffering experienced during colonial rule. The Herero say that German policy at the time amounted to genocide. Many Herero who rebelled, became prisoners of war. Starvation and torture were widespread. Of an estimated 65,000 Herero, only 15,000 survived. Today, the pain is still felt acutely. "Our fathers and mothers were killed like animals. It's a sad story, all the atrocities, the way the Germans killed people, starved them to death, and took them into concentration camps," says 65-year-old Ujama Karuhumba who lives in Okahandja. ....

Germany has offered an apology for the massacres that occurred, and proposed a multi-million dollar development deal for Namibia.

However, the Herero Genocide Committee is seeking millions of dollars in compensation from the German government, based on the atrocities committed. Esther Utjiua who chairs the committee, says Germany wants no mention of the word "genocide".

She describes the relationship with Germany as "hostile", and says further dialogue is needed. "They are too vague. We don't know where we stand with them. We want to be involved. We don't want them to decide on our behalf what it is we want.
"For two years, we've been asking the German government to talk about the issue of genocide, and come to an agreement on reparations that can be acceptable to both sides." After a state visit to Germany at the end of last year by Namibia's President Hifikepunye Pohamba, talks between the two countries on bilateral development co-operation were postponed.
At a recent fund-raising dinner in the capital, Windhoek, influential members of the Herero community outlined ambitious plans to raise money and write more books about the events of 1904. A young student made an impassioned plea to the assembled guests: "It is against the background of the German atrocities that the Herero community is seeking compensation from the German government. I'm saying 'Push on' until the long overdue victory has been attained". Phil Ya Nangoloh of Namibia's National Society for Human Rights says he fully supports the Herero claim for reparations. "There is enough documentation to prove that genocide has taken place, as defined in the Genocide Convention. A token sign of reparation must be given to the people who suffered this genocide".

Source BBC

Genocide and the Second Reich

Ghost of the Namibian Genocide have reawakened returning to haunt modern Germany to wake up to a very uncomfortable fact that the dark racial theories that helped inspire the Nazis run much deeper into German and European history than most people wants to acknowledge.


THE HERERO HOLOCAUST? The Disputed History Of The 1904 Genocide

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Seretse and Ruth Khama - Botswana
Married 1948

Sam and Kovambo Theopoldine Katjimune Nujoma - Namibia
Married 6th May, 1956

Kwame and Fathia Nkrumah - Ghana
Married 1957

Léopold Sédar and Colette Hubert Senghor - Senegal
Married 1957

Jomo and Ngina Kenyatta - Kenya
Married in 1951

Julius and Maria Nyerere - Tanzania
Married 24 January 1952

Samora and Graca Machel -Mozambique

Married: 11 November 1975

Nelson and Winnie Mandela - South Africa
Married 1957-1996

This were the days...