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Independence - More than 300 Years of Resistance

Resistance leader becomes president: Sam Nujoma is sworn in by Chief Justice Hans Berker on 21 March 1990.  Photo: National Archives

It is January 1677. At the tip of Africa, where a supply station has been established at the foot of Table Mountain, the Dutch ship “Bode” sets sails to explore the coastline north of the Gariep/Orange river mouth. In early March the “Bode” arrives at Sandwich Harbour. The crew goes ashore but is attacked by the Khoisan who live there. After a...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Lithops - Living stones

Lithop: Flowering stone.  Photo: Ron Swilling

In 1811, botanist, explorer and artist William John Burchell recorded finding a “curiously strange pebble”, which he discovered was a plant that “ ... in colour and appearance bore the closest resemblance to the stones between which it was growing”.This “living stone” or lithops, derived from the Ancient Greek words lithos – stone and ops – face,...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


The Forgotten Vineyards of Klein Windhoek

The Roman Catholic Mission vineyards in Klein Windhoek in April 1964. (St. Paul’s chronicles)

Looking out over the Klein Windhoek valley, one notices the upmarket suburban houses surrounding St Paul’s College and its sports fields and the students walking jauntily down the road after a typical school day. What few people may realise however is that the valley, verdant in mid-summer bounty, was once covered by the sprawling vineyards of the...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Omajova - A Wild Delicacy

In celebration of the rains: a termite mound with omajovas.

Towering termite mounds reaching heavenwards from the savannah are a typical sight in many areas of Namibia. Giant mushrooms emerge from the base of the mounds during the rainy season adding to their striking visual impact. As the grass turns green and the clouds mass for summer downpours, the gargantuan fungi appear as if in celebration of the...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


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

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