Even in a continent rich with fantastic traditional garments, the Herero tribe of Namibia stands out. Photographer Jim Naughten first came across and photographed members of the tribe while traveling across Southern Africa 15 years ago. Naughten returned in 2011 with better camera equipment and produced this eye-catching series. Merrell has just published a book of the work, and two shows open in March: at Klompching Gallery in Brooklyn, and Margaret Street Gallery in London.
The origin of the Herero dress is early-20th-century German colonization. The outfits, which at first were forced on the Herero, later became a tradition, a choice, and a source of pride and status as they made the fashion their own. Tribe members wear the German uniforms at various ceremonies, funerals, and festivals as a way of honoring their warrior ancestors.
Photo: Jim Naughten/courtesy of Klompching Gallery, Brooklyn, N.Y.
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In the mid-1950s LIFE magazine published a five-part series titled The Background of Segregation, exploring in depth how the politically charged issue played out, in human terms, from the post-Civil War Jim Crow South to the first fiery stirrings of the Civil Rights movement. Here — on the eve of the 2012 South Carolina GOP primary, in which the issue of race is again making headlines — LIFE.com presents rare and unpublished color photographs by the great Margaret Bourke-White.
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