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Coughing Steward serves Death to Hundreds of Train Passengers

The POW camp at Aus in 1918. (Source: Namibia National Archives)

It is a virus with many names. 2007 it was called swine flu, in 1978 it was the Russian flu and in 1918 the Spanish flu. Scientists prosaically speak of the Influenza Virus Subtype A/H1N1. But whatever the name, this virus always spells death. Its worst outbreak was during the final months of the First World War when it raged worldwide, massively...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Donkey carts: The 4x4s of rural Namibia

A donkey cart on a dusty Namibian gravel road.

Although you may think that minibus taxis, buses and bakkies are the modern means of transport in an ever-expanding Africa, on the dusty roads of the Namibian interior, far from crowded cities and the hustle and bustle of the 21st century, the donkey cart is one of the quintessential Namibian forms of transport. The many gravel roads that bisect...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Matchball on top of Brukkaros

Measuring the sun’s radiation. Photo: William H. Hoover

This is where solitude lives. Patches of grass sway in the wind, a forlorn quiver tree stands on the plain, a relentless sun scorches plants and rocks. After several hours of driving to the foot of the volcano-shaped mountain and another two hours of climbing we have reached our destination: the south-western crater rim of Brukkaros, north of...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


The Tale of Moritz, the German Shepherd

The once wealthy little diamond town of Kolmannskuppe has become a ghost town, reclaimed by the shifting desert sand.

While shovelling sand off the railway track, a losing battle against the incessant encroachment of the Namib Desert, railway worker Zacharias Lewala happened to look down. Shining in the sand with a glimmer of promise lay the stone that would change history and transform the sleepy southwestern corner of German South West Africa.The discovery at a...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Welwitschia mirabilis - A Botanical Wonder

A wonderful plant: Welwitschia mirabilis (photo taken in Angola).  Photo: Jonathan Basson

Home to the ancient Namib Desert, Namibia is known for the unusual and the mysterious. Myriad desert-adapted creatures and plants have evolved over the aeons showing remarkable ingenuity to survive in an arid environment.Although seemingly desolate, on closer inspection the desert expanse is alive with life, from fog-basking beetles and dancing...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Postal runner - A Postage Stamp for a Gravestone

Postal runner Richard “Tooke” Karambovandu shortly before his tragic death in September 1897. Source: Lichtbildstelle des Fernmeldetechnischen Zentralamtes (FTZ) in Darmstadt (seit 1995 Forschungs- und Technologiezentrum der Deutschen Telekom AG in Berlin)

Now would actually be a good time to light a fire and spend the night in the bush, he thinks. However, Omaruru isn’t much further from here and he can find his way easily in the dark. He is also spurred on by ambition. The journey to Walvis Bay has taken him less than three weeks, which is really fast but quite normal for him. Wouldn’t they be...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Murder Hill – Reminder of a bloody Battle

Murder Hill in Okahandja, next to the western bypass. Source: Gondwana Collection

"They [the Hereros] had just left when we were startled by heavy rifle fire in the vicinity. (...) We were certain that this was the dreaded signal for attack. Women and children, some of whom had already been robbed of their ornaments, fled to us fearful and panic-stricken and reported that the Namaqua [Oorlam/Nama] were approaching. We...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


The Orange River – Named by an Explorer of Note

Robert J. Gordon. Source: Wilcox 1986, p. 9

The Great River, Gariep, Orange... The various names by which the longest river in southern Africa (2160 km) is known embody its impression on the eye of the beholder and also testify to South Africa’s eventful history. From its source in the Drakensberg Mountains in Lesotho it first flows through South Africa as a live-sustaining green ribbon and...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


The Battle of Waterberg

Paramount chief Samuel Maharero.  Source: National Archives of Namibia

Hereros and Germans had been at war for seven months in the former colony of German South West Africa on 11 August 1904. Led by paramount chief Samuel Maharero the main force of the Hereros was concentrated at the southeastern flank of Waterberg Mountain, accompanied by women, children and old people as well as cattle and goats. There were several...[more]

Category: Gondwana History


Eternal church on a rock between the desert and the sea

The German evangelical church in Lüderitzbucht. Source: 25 Jahre deutsche evangelische Kirche Lüderitzbucht, p. 20 (DELK/ELKIN archive, photo: JC Hubrich)

Defying the elements, Felsenkirche (the Church on the Rock) has stood overlooking the small harbour town of Lüderitz for over 100 years. The church is an architectural gem, built on the granite of Diamantberg (Diamond Hill). Whether the patrons wanted to express that the Christian church is based as firmly as a rock on the belief in Jesus Christ...[more]

Category: Gondwana History

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