On the weekend closest to August 23, Herero Day or Red Flag Heroes’ Day (not to be confused with the national Heroes’ Day), Herero gather in their thousands in Okahandja to commemorate their deceased chiefs, and, in particular Chief Samuel Maharero, who led the revolt against the German colonial army. The chosen date coincides with the reburial of his remains here, following his death in 1923 in South Africa, where he’d been living in exile. Since then, Herero have congregated annually for a three-day gathering, the culmination of which is a procession round various grave sites of Herero chiefs, followed by a church service. This homage to the dead, which has since become a symbol of resistance against colonialism, is an impressive sight, with the Herero women decked out in their voluminous crimson missionary-era dresses and “cow-horn” headgear, and the men marching in their military-style uniforms according to their paramilitary regiments. Followers of other flags meet at other times of the year in other locations; for example, the White Flag Herero gather in Omaruru in August. The Green Flag Mbanderu also meet in Okahandja on the weekend nearest June 11.


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