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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


Hoodia - Hardy Plant of the Desert

A Hoodia with red flowers. Photo: Mannfred Goldbeck

The Hoodia, a true desert bloom crowned in the springtime by large disc-shaped crimson flowers, has been the focus of much attention over the years, not for its ability to store moisture and thrive in arid areas or for its exquisite blooms but rather for its properties as an appetite suppressant. During the last decade it has been universally...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Benevolence in the Omaheke

Albert Lemcke and his family in front of their house. (Photo: collection Mrs Erika Köhler)

War halts lives, draws people to new continents and changes destinies. All would be true for Albert Lemcke from Mecklenburg, Germany. But, from once being a protagonist in a war he believed in, the tables turned when he later became a victim of the mechanisms of war, losing everything he had worked for his whole life. The heart-wrenching story...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Porcupine - The ultimate hairdo!

Cape porcupines are the largest rodents in southern Africa and also the world's largest porcupines.  (Photo: Johann Louw)

Amongst the animals that have developed ingenious adaptations for survival and defence, the porcupine – or ‘ystervark’, as it’s known in Afrikaans, ‘shinjengu’ in Otjiherero or ‘!noab’ in Damara Nama - stands out for its spiny quills, which make it challenging prey, even for its known enemies, lion and leopard.Porcupines are the third largest of...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Canyon Lodge, a place rich in history

Today the main lodge building, ...

Lodges don't look like this. Nor does this building have the appearance of an ordinary farmhouse. When you travel through the vast landscapes east of the Fish River Canyon on your way to Canyon Lodge and suddenly see the main building rise between massive granite boulders, you will marvel at the unusual architectural style. Once you have come...[more]

Category: Gondwana History

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