Head of State President Cde Hifikepunye Pohamba
Area Approximately 824,268 Sq km Population 1.62 Million (1996
City Windhoek pop:250,000
Arid, semi-arid and subtropical
Official Language - English Other Languages: Afrikaans,
Oshiwambo, German, Herero, Nama/Damara, Lozi, Kwangali, and
Current 220 Volts AC50Hz
Winter: GMT + 1 hour (1st Sunday in April to 1st Sunday in September)
Summer: GMT +2 hours (September to April)
Holidays in Namibia:
1 January New Year's Day
March Independence Day
May Cassinga Day
May Africa Day
August Heroes Day
December Human Rights Day
December Christmas Day
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:
[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
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:
[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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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;
[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
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
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
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
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
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,
[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",
[iii] Bley H., "South West Africa under German Rule 1884-1914", London:
[iv] Lau B., "Namibia In Jonker Afrikaner", Windhoek: Nation Archives;
[v] Kotze C., "A Social History of Windhoek", Ph.D., Pretoria:
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",
found in the Offices of the Department of Bantu Administration and
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.
"Report of the Commission of Enquiry into the Occurrences in the
Location on the Night of the 10th and 11th December, 1959, and into the
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",
[xii] Pendleton C. W., see above
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