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Cape Cross: The lure of white gold

Guano being transported by boat to a ship, 1920. (Source: Kleyenstüber, National Archives of Namibia) Guano mining in the 1920s. (Source: Kleyenstüber, National Archives of Namibia)

A few old graves with weather-beaten crosses, two stone padrões (pillars crowned with a cross) and a cacophony of seals mark the place that was a hive of activity at the end of the 19th century. It’s difficult to believe that a windswept, desolate promontory could attract explorers, entrepreneurs and industry. Strangely, Cape Cross did. It also...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


1909: The first European patrol reaches Sossusvlei

The Sossusvlei after a good rainy season.

In a colonial newspaper, the Deutsche Kolonialzeitung of 1910, German Schutztruppe lieutenant Walter Trenk describes his quest for Sossusvlei in 1909. He was the first European who was successful in trying to get there. Here is an excerpt from his report: “The good rains that year prompted me to finally make another attempt, as agreed, to find...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


The Brahmans are coming: from Texas to southern Africa

Brahman cows have a mass varying between 500 and 750 kilograms. (Source: Namibia Brahman Breeders Society)

When a Namibian farmer proudly offers to show his Brahmans to his guest he certainly does not have Hindu philosophers in mind. He means his prize cattle. Brahmans and Brahman crossbreeds are among the most popular beef cattle breeds in southern Africa. Originally they hail from India. Brahman is a Hindu philosophy, a Brahman is a member of the...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


DTS Volleyball for All – Suitable for the Guinness Book of World Records?

Sport and fun at the annual Volleyball for All tournament. (Photos: Allgemeine Zeitung)

Pass, set, attack… For more than three decades the first Saturday in February has been a set date in Windhoek. On this day thousands of volleyball players will go to the annual ‘Volleyball for All’ tournament hosted by the ‘Deutscher Turn- und Sportverein’ DTS. A small sports club hosting a great sporting event. And if you ask me, an ideal...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Bartholomeu Dias - Watery grave at the Cape of Storm

Bartolomeu Dias erected a stone cross at Lüderitzbucht in 1488. (Photo: Gondwana Collection)

Defying gale-force winds and the spray of the thundering surf, the stone cross stands firmly on a rocky promontory that juts some 50 metres into the Atlantic Ocean southwest of Lüderitz. It is a monument to Bartholomeu Dias, the Portuguese seafarer who was the first European to sail around the southern tip of Africa and thereby pioneered the way...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Johann Hinrich Schmelen - A pioneer among the Nama people

Schmelen House in Bethanien. (Photo: Walter Moritz, 1970)

When travelling in southern Namibia it is worthwhile visiting an historic place dating back to the pioneering times of the missionary era, today known as Bethanien. When missionary Schmelen arrived there in 1814, it was called /ui//gantes, the rock fountain. Johann Hinrich Schmelen was born on 7 January 1777 in Kassebruch near Bremen in...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


“Nommer asseblief”

Canyon Lodge

One of the first lodge managers employed at Canyon Lodge was a 19-year-old man in his prime. At the time, Canyon Lodge was surrounded by a scattering of distant farms, the massive Fish River Canyon and a vast tract of arid land. Tourism was still taking off in Namibia and the lodge was small and isolated. The closest sign of civilisation...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Bikini is synonymous with holidays and freedom

1934: Having fun in the floods of the Swakop River. (Photo: W. Groenewald)

Two topics were heatedly discussed in the summer of 1946. On June 30th a nuclear bomb exploded in the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. It was the first in an American test series that continued for twelve year. Five days after the first explosion a Frenchman by the name of Louis Réard caused similar shock waves in a figurative manner of...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Commemorating Dingaan’s Day

Participants in the celebrations of Dingaan’s Day on the farm Groenrivier in 1939.

16 December 1838. Geloftedag – Day of the Vow. It used to be the most significant commemoration day of the Afrikaners. It was the day when 470 Voortrekkers called on the help of God to defeat an overwhelming Zulu force at the Ncome River in what is KwaZulu-Natal today. The victory was commemorated as Dingaan’s Day until 1948, then became the Day...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Dramatic Rescue Operation on the Skeleton Coast

The Dunedin Star. (Collection J K Byass-Fraser Darrah)

The passenger ship Dunedin Star, on her way from Liverpool to Cape Town, is sailing off the coast of South West Africa. The captain is steering a course about 16 km off the coast when the ship is suddenly rocked by a violent jolt. The keel with the passageway under the engine room is ripped off. The Dunedin Star probably hit the Clan Alpine Shoal,...[more]

Category: Gondwana History

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