Namibia - Infos



Facts of Namibia:

  • Head of State President Cde Hifikepunye Pohamba
  • Land Area Approximately 824,268 Sq km Population 1.62 Million (1996 Estimate)
  • Urbanisation 27%
  • Capital City Windhoek pop:250,000
  • Climate Arid, semi-arid and subtropical
  • Languages Official Language - English Other Languages: Afrikaans,
    Oshiwambo, German, Herero, Nama/Damara, Lozi, Kwangali, and
    Tswana Measures
  • Metric System
  • Electric Current 220 Volts AC50Hz
  • Time Winter: GMT + 1 hour (1st Sunday in April to 1st Sunday in September)
    Summer: GMT +2 hours (September to April)

Public Holidays in Namibia:

  • 1 January New Year's Day
  • 21 March Independence Day
  • Variable Good Friday
  • Variable Easter Monday
  • 4 May Cassinga Day
  • Variable Ascension Day
  • 25 May Africa Day
  • 26 August Heroes Day
  • 10 December Human Rights Day
  • 25 December Christmas Day
  • 26 December Family Day

History of Namibia:

Namibia is situated in the South- Western part of Africa. It was one of the last countries on the African continent to gain its independence. Before Namibia had been illegally occupied by South Africa. Through the efforts of the UN and the struggle of SWAPO and many other people at home and abroad the country and its people gained the so long awaited for independence in 1990. The historical elections, Namibia's first free and fair elections were held in November 1989 and were monitored by UNTAG.
The country has ever since that historical day; 21 March 1990 enjoyed peace, stability and progress in many ways. Namibia is also known as the smile of Africa because of its geographical position and also the friendliness and warmth of its citizens. Currently the country has a population of 1.8 million and covers an area of approximately 824,269 square km. The country is divided into 13 regions. Namibia is a very diverse country with breathtaking landscapes from the Orange River, bordering South Africa up to the Okavango, the Kunene and the Zambezi in the North and North East respectively, all flowing rivers throughout the year and being the natural borders of Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. In the heart of this beautiful country lies the capital of Namibia, Windhoek. As the country itself, Windhoek was at one stage first occupied by Germany and than by South Africa.

Namibia was a German protectorate from 1884 till 1915, when South Africa defeated the German colonial troops in the first year of the First World War. Throughout the years of being a protectorate, many Namibians lost their lives trying to fight the colonisers, the Germans as well as the South Africans. Out of that struggle many historically famous people were born and historical battles were fought. Hendrik Witbooi fought the Germans as early as 1880's, 90's and then again in 1904-07 uprising.
Samuel Maharero declared war on the Germans in 1904 and his famous words were, „In my capacity as Supreme Chief of the Herero I hereby decree and resolve that none of my people lay their hands upon the English, the Bastards, the Berg Damara, the Nama and the Boers. We shall not lay violent hands on any of these. I have made a solemn pledge not to make this known to anyone, including the missionaries (Drechsler: 1966; 143).“

[i] The Germans won all wars with the loss of only 1 626 men (Hintrager: 1955; 73).

[ii] The losses of and consequences for the black people, on the other hand, devastating. Bley estimates that about 50 000 or 75%-80% of the Herero population perished, while about 7 000 or 35% of the Nama population died. The Damara, who were often caught in the middle, may have lost as many as 17 000 people (Bley: 1971; 150-151).

[iii] Other famous resistors were, Jakob Marengo, Simon Kooper and Mandume who became king of the Kwanyama in 1911as a teenager and died at an early age fighting against the Portuguese and than against the South Africans. Today Hendrik Witbooi because of his many achievements and historical significance was honoured by getting a street called after him and being printed on Namibia's currency.
Windhoek: As the country itself, Windhoek has a very rich history indeed. It currently has 250 000 thousand citizens and is situated in the Khomas Hochland. The remarkable features of Windhoek are, the many mountains that surround the city and its high altitude. History of Windhoek Windhoek in the language of the Namas and Damaras, means Aiegams (hot springs) and in the language of the Herero Otjomuise (place of steam). Unlike always historically presumed, Windhoek was not founded by Curt von Francois, as many people would like to think and the monument suggests. Windhoek was in habitat first by the Damaras then by the Hereros, then by the Namas who came to Windhoek about 1840 under the leadership of Jonker Afrikaner, the sun of the great Jan Jonker Afrikaner, who came from South Africa and because of their knowledge of how to use the gun and their possession of horses, ruled parts of modern Namibia for many years. In 1842, about 2000 people were living in the Windhoek area under Oorlam leader Jonker Afrikaner (Lau: 1987; 33).

[iv] This was however, at a time were Namibia was not yet a German 'colony'. The only Europeans living at that time in Namibia were missionaries, traders, travellers and game hunters. Jonker Afrikaner named the place Winterhoek, because it allegedly reminded him of his home in the Cape Colony. Jonker Afrikaner chose Windhoek for a settlement so that he could be near the large Herero cattle herds, which he regularly raided (Kotze: 1990; 3)

[v] Jonker Afrikaner left the Windhoek area in 1852, but the area remained occupied by Herero and Damara who planted maize and other crops near the hot springs (Pendleton: 1994; 10).

[vi] Jonker and his followers stayed in Windhoek from 1840 until 1880, where the 'town' was destroyed after war between the Hereros and Namas broke out.
The 19th century was a time where Namas and Hereros fought over the hegemony of central Namibia. Windhoek was destroyed by the Herero, after the war of 1880 and after the remaining Namas and the missionary J.G. Schröder had fled. In the year 1885, after Germany had now decl??Êared Namibia a protectorate, on the 21 October did Reichskommissar Göring and Maharero, who resided at Okahandja and who was the Paramount Chief of the Herero sign a so- called protection treaty.
Some years later however the protection treaty was annulled and Göring had to flee back to Walfish Bay because he did not have any troops to protect him.
German military presence was almost non-existent at that time.
After that incident, Bismarck the German Chancellor decided to sent a 21-man contingent to Namibia under the command of Curt von Francois. They landed at Walfish Bay in 1889. Curt von Francois and his troops arrived, at that time, at the unoccupied Windhoek on October the 18th 1890.
Windhoek was an ideal place because it was situated in the center of the country, directly between the Namas and the Herero and it provided a source of hot and cold water. This was the new capital to be for the new 'colony', with a Municipality, a post office and the Alte Feste. The first traders came in 1891-93 to Windhoek, soon followed by the first settlers.
In 1894, Windhoek had 85 white civilians (including five women), about 500 members of the Schutztruppe, and 300-400 blacks,
which were mostly Damara (Mossolow: 1965; 139).

[vii] The town was never really threatened during the 1904-08 uprising, although trade was interrupted for a short while. During the First World War, Windhoek was occupied on 12 May 1915 by the South African Union troops under the command of general Louis Botha.
The Municipality was closed down on the 31 December 1918 and was replaced by a military magistrate and an advisory council.
The town was hit by depressions at the end of the 1920 and than again in the year 1929, which was a worldwide depression and was known as the 'Great Depression'.
Windhoek was again affected heavily by the Second World War and life was affected socially, economically and culturally.
However the town soon recuperated after the war and things quickly got back to being 'normal'. This is however only a part of Windhoek's history.
The towns history would not be complete without mentioning the Old Location, the Klein Windhoek Location, the shooting in 1959, which than led to the final removal of the people in September 1968. 'Location ' Life Begins, Just the Facts.
In 1912, the Windhoek Town Council established the Main Location where blacks could live, west of town, (The place where the Old Location was situated has now been developed into middle to upper class residential suburb, known as Hochland Park), and a location in Klein Windhoek, a suburb east of the center of town.
In 1913, blacks living in various parts of the Windhoek area were moved to these new locations. In 1932, the Main Location was reorganized, straight streets were laid out, and the Ethnic group section formally established.
The Damara, Nama and Owambo referred to their sections by the municipal administrative designations such as Damara Two or Owambo One.
The Herero had already adopted the practice of dividing their section of the Main Location into smaller subdivisions of their own, naming them either after a place or an important person. One of these divisions was called Otjikatjamuaha, the place of Chief Tjamuaha's people, while another was called Otjimaruru, the place of the people from Omaruru. Control of the locations was the responsibility of the municipality, but efforts were made to involve residents in the administration of the locations. An Advisory Board, consisting of twelve non-white members under the chairmanship of the white location superintendent, was established in the Main Location in 1927. Half the members of the Board were elected by the residents, while the remaining members were appointed by the location superintendent; elections were held when a vacancy occurred.
The most frequently discussed topics at Board meetings were health, sanitation, education and the operation of the Board (Wagner: 1951; 115).

[viii] A subject that was periodically discussed was heavy drinking, illegal brewing and illegal selling of alcoholic beverages. In 1947, the municipality decided to increase the number of migrant Owambo contract Workers (Owambo men on a work contract for a specified period of time) in Windhoek and built a 'compound' for them.
This location was called the Pokkiesdraai Contract Owambo Compound.
By 1955, there were as many contract Owambo workers as residents Owambo, who now numbered more than 1 700 people.

During the 1950s the Windhoek municipality, in consultation with the South West Africa Administration and the South African government, decided to build a new location North-West of Windhoek and to move all location residents there.
Most Main Location residents opposed the planned closure of the Main Location and refused to consider moving to the proposed new location. Opposition to the move reached a climax in December 1959. A group of Herero women made a protest march to the Administrator's residence on 3 December.
Five days later saw an effective boycott against municipally operated facilities such as buses, the beer hall and the cinema. On the night of 10 December, a protest meeting held in the Main Location developed into a confrontation with the police.
The police shot and killed 11 people and some 44 required medical attention (Goldblatt: 1971; 262, Hall: 1961; 3).

[ix] Immediately after the confrontation, between 3 000 and 4 000 people fled the location and refused to return because they were afraid of further trouble.
The Old Location was officially closed on 31 August 1968.
Eventually, however, all people in the Old Location, with the exception of about 300 people who decided to go to their reserves (communal areas), moved to the new location without further incident. The people named the new location, Katutura, which if literally translated, means: we do not have a permanent habitat. Consequently, in 1961, the residents of the Klein Windhoek location were also moved to Katutura, and in 1963 Pokkiesdraai was closed
and Owambo contract workers were moved to a new compound to Katutura.
(A modern shopping complex now occupies the place where the Compound for migrant workers was erected). As a result of the closing down of the Old Location many activities came to an end. Activities such as the Bunga Club, which was (a burial, mutual aid and social club). The African Improvement Society' which was established for educational and social improvement purposes, the non-white Railway Staff Association which might have been a forerunner of a railway workers trade union, the 'Hakahana Turf Club', which sponsored popular horse races, a Boy Scout troop, the tribal court' and the brass bands which each ethnic group used to have, were other activities which seized to exist with the closing of the locations (Wagner: 1951; 125-131, 273, 275).

[x] Here follows an account of life in the Old Location by John Ya-Otto, a former resident of the location: It was easy to be mistaken about the Old Location.
Vast crowded, the shantytown wrapped itself around the scrubby hills of Windhoek's northern fringe, on the opposite side of the city from the white suburbs.
Everyone knew one another and strangers did not remain so for long.
You knew the streets, unmarked and unnamed, only after you have lived in the Old Location for a long time. In spite of the hardship, there was a strange contentment with Old Location life; in the midst of so much noise, serenity. In the mornings women sang as they did the laundry by the water post and children played in the puddles left after the night's rain. Later came the noise of clattering plates and cutlery and of conversations as shadows moved back and forth behind the kerosene lamp in each doorway. Then, as the mist crept along the hillsides, the shadows became fewer; the lamps were brought inside, and quiet settled over the maze of dark shanties. This was the Old Location, as I became to know it.

[xi] Katutura: Councillors Alfred Mungunda and Joshua Kamberipa called the township Katutura, which means, "We do not have a permanent habitation".
This name derives from the fact that since the whites came to our land, Katutura is the fifth location we have had to live in, in Windhoek.
Life in Katutura under Apartheid: The Katutura of 1968 consisted of about 4 000 rental houses organized into five ethnic group section. People were required to live in Katutura in their 'own' ethnic group section.
In addition to the rental houses there was a 'single quarter' area of dormitory-type housing estimated to accommodate about 1 000 people, and a walled 'compound'located at the entrance to Katutura where Owambo men on migrating labour were fed and housed.

Apartheid in South West Africa was enforced more rigidly than in South Africa.
Apartheid created heavy constraints on interaction between members of different 'racial' groups. Law forbade marriage and sexual intercourse between whites and 'non-whites'. Separate entrances and service facilities for members of different 'racial' groups were found at most government, administration and municipal offices as well as at many privately owned businesses.
Apartheid in South West Africa defined geographical, economic and social boundaries between people. In 1968, the Windhoek Urban Area was composed of three separate townships, each set aside for the exclusive use of one of the three 'racial' groups: Katutura for blacks, Khomasdal for coloureds, and Windhoek for whites (Pendleton: 1994; 12-16, 18-19, 22-23).

[xii] However, Windhoek today has a different picture all together. Of course, Katutura is still there but the circumstances have changed.
Most people today live in Katutura and the separate townships are not as strictly regarded today as they were in the apartheid era, that is if they are regarded at all.
Today Windhoek is a multiracial mixing pot and anybody can live where he/she chose to live. Many of the black people who have the financial means live today in the luxurious parts like Klein Windhoek, Olympia or even Lüdwigsdorf, which was
not possible in the past.


[i] Drechsler H., "Let Us Die Fighting", Berlin: 1966; 143.

[ii] Hintrager O., "Südwestafrika in der deutschen Zeit", München: 1955.

[iii] Bley H., "South West Africa under German Rule 1884-1914", London: 1971.

[iv] Lau B., "Namibia In Jonker Afrikaner", Windhoek: Nation Archives; 1987.

[v] Kotze C., "A Social History of Windhoek", Ph.D., Pretoria: University
of South Africa; 1990.

[vi] Pendleton C. W.,"Katutura A Place Where We Stay", Windhoek: 1994.

[vii] Mossolow N., "This Was Old Windhoek", Windhoek: 1965.

[viii] Wagner G., "Ethnographic Survey of South West Africa", unpublished manuscript
found in the Offices of the Department of Bantu Administration and Development,
Ethnological Section, Windhoek. A copy of this manuscript has been placed in the
National Archives by the author; 1951.

[ix] Goldblatt I., "History of South West Africa", Cape Town; 1991. Hall .C,
"Report of the Commission of Enquiry into the Occurrences in the Windhoek
Location on the Night of the 10th and 11th December, 1959, and into the Direct
Causes which Led (sic!) to those Occurrences", Windhoek; 1961.

[x] Wagner G., see above.

[xi] Taken from the book "Battlefront Namibia by John Ya-Otto", pages35-36.

[xii] Pendleton C. W., see above




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