The cosmos of the Herero. Preconditions and proliferation of cosmological traits in Herero culture
It has been argued that certain traits among southwest African cultures (like Herero, Mbundu, Ambo) of the 18th and 19th centuries exist due to some ´high-cultural´ influence, be it Mediterranean or Mesopotamian. Röhreke shows that such ´high-cultural´ traits in Herero- or Ambo culture have not been triggered by extra-African sources but can be traced to certain conditions in the beginning and course of the North-African Neolithic. Röhreke opines that cultural conditions of cattle domestication in Africa led to combining cattle economy with a cosmological perspective. Specific conditions of cattle domestication in the Sahara, which may have focused on the sky and on single stars especially in a hunter-and-gatherer setting, may have been combined in a comprehensive vision - possibly necessary to find a time indicator for moving the herds to other places according to the different seasons. In the post-Saharan phase Upper Egypt, influenced by the Saharan herding culture, developed this cultural complex of microcosmic cattle utilization and macrocosmic cattle worship to represent a bovino-cosmological system the influence of which manifested in southern herders´ cultures. The author introduces the Herero ´mythical structure of time´ (stars, signs of the zodiac, cardinal directions, and related cultural concepts), then conditions for the emergence of old African cattle herders´ cultures, the prevalence of cosmological ideas in old African cultures, and the ethnogenesis of herero-speaking herders´ societies. An extensive appendix includes numerous data: chronology of Saharan rock paintings, missionaries and the Herero, birds of Herero mythology, genealogical charts, gods, cosmography, astronomical metaphors and metric aspects, several indices, and maps: spreading of North African cattle domestication, spreading of cosmological structures, Herero migration, peoples of Namibia (and Black Africa) in colonial times, and the geological, climatic, and cultural historical phaseology of the Quaternary.
Keywords: Herero and cosmology, cosmology of Herero, Mbundu, Ambo, herders´ culture, hunters/gatherers, cattle domestication (Herero), bovino-cosmological system