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The Order of Hildegard: Iron Cross Made of Cloth

Hildegard Seitz, the wife of the Governer of German South West Africa, came up with the idea to make a provisional cloth version of the Iron Cross medal. (private collection: Gordon McGregor)

The Order of Hildegard is a military decoration which was awarded by Imperial Germany for a brief period exclusively in the colony of German South West Africa. This order became the only officially recognised cloth variety of the Iron Cross.At the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany decided to reintroduce...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Expedition of no Return

Adolf Lüderitz in his later years (Photo: Wikipedia)

The mystery surrounding the death of German colonial pioneer Adolf Lüderitz has never been completely solved. On an expedition to the Orange River he and Steingröver, his helmsman, left the rest of their party on 23 October 1886. In a small boat they planned to sail from the river’s mouth up the coast to Angra Pequeña (now Lüderitz). The two men...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Date Palm Riddle in the Fish River Canyon

The shady palm trees in the Fish River Canyon, a popular rest spot for hikers.

How did the date palms at the sulphur springs in the Fish River Canyon get there? Many a hiker will have pondered this question on his way through the canyon. It is after all the only spot in the canyon where one finds palm trees. To date a conclusive answer hasn’t been found, but there are several theories. The first story about the origin...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


One rock at a time: How one of Namibia’s steepest Passes was built

Like everything in Life, things start out small and usually out of pure practicality. Journeys begin step by step, massive trees grow from small seeds and big endeavours start from basics; but occasionally there are those folk that leap and always those that dream.Nicolaas Andries Rymert Spreeth had two dreams. The one was that he would have...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Oranges for sale

Gondwana started construction on Canyon Lodge, their first, after buying the farm Karios, east of the Fish River Canyon. Bank funding had been secured in principle, with personal homes put up as collateral. The founders were on site day and night as they had only three and a half months to build the twenty-room lodge, leaving no time to travel to...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Astucious strategist – the “Black Napoleon”

Jakob Marengo on a mural in the Cañon Village. (photo: Gondwana Collection)

It happened only once in the history of the German Empire that British security forces were decorated with a German military medal, the South West Africa Commemorative Medal with the bar “Kalahari 1907”. This medal was awarded during the Herero and Nama uprising from 1904 to 1908. The “Kalahari 1907” clasp refers to one particular event which...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Burchell’s zebra - When the stripes become blurred

A black zebra and normal members of the species grazing peacefully side by side. Photo: Dirk Heinrich

Many years ago a tourist from South Africa told nature conservation officials in the Etosha National Park that instead of Blacky he had spotted “die ander merrie” (the other mare). Blacky was almost completely black and at that stage probably the best known plains zebra in the park. But there was another zebra whose black stripes were blurred,...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Sausage tree - A bit of African magic

The name of the sausage tree derives from its brown-grey fruit that look like enormous sausages. (Photo: Ron Swilling)

If you have ever seen a sausage tree you probably will not forget it. This robust medium to large tree with a rounded crown has striking pendulous burgundy coloured flowers, growing in sprays that hang downward, reminiscent of orchids. The large opulent blooms have velvet inners and long pollen-bearing stamens, thought to be pollinated by fruit...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Troop Exercises under red Flag

Troop actors of the Maharero faction hold a vigil at the grave of Samuel Maharero. (Photo taken on 11 January 2004 by Sven-Eric Kanzler)

Dust whirls up as the men march forward, thundering across the sandy field. Orders ring out back and forth, riders decorated with medals file past on their horses. On one side of the field women line up in a long double row. The men are dressed in khaki uniforms, the women wear voluminous black and red Victorian-style dresses and a red head-garb...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Brukkaros - A Crater caused by an Explosion

Brukkaros: Not an extinct volcano.

Many believe that the enormous crater of Brukkaros west of the national road between Mariental and Keetmanshoop is an extinct volcano. Geologists initially shared this opinion because of the mountain’s external shape. It is 1,603 metres high, rising 600 metres above the plain, the diameter at its base is 10 kilometres, the diameter of the crater...[more]

Category: Gondwana History

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