The Ovaherero nation moved south into Namibia, it is thought, during the 16th century. According to their oral history they came from an area of much water and grass and many reeds, probably west of Lake Tanganyika, and entered Namibia between the Kunene and Okavango Rivers.
During the last ten to fifteen years of the 19th century, the Ovaherero settled down in the areas around Okahandja, Waterberg/Okakarara and eastward, toward Omaruru and Otjimbingwe. Conflict between the Ovaherero and the Nama caused major problems for both groups and both sides suffered casualties and cattle thieving. In 1904, the entire Ovaherero population was almost decimated in one of Namibia’s worst colonial wars. But with great resiliency, the Ovaherero persevered and today rank among Namibia’s best cattle farmers and businessmen.
Ovaherero are a very proud people and the observance of their cultural traditions is very important to them. They traditionally practiced ancestral worship but the work of missionaries over the years has considerably reduced these activities in most areas. Still, the ancestral fire through which they communicate with their ancestors is still kept burning in a number of remote villages.