UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA
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ES OF SOUTH-WEST AFRICA
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UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA.
NATIVES OF SOUTH-WEST AFRICA
THEIR TREATMENT BY GERMANY.
Prepared in the Administrator's Office, Windhuk,
South-West Africa, January 1918.
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NATIVES AND GERMAN ADMINISTRATION.
I.-How German influence was introduced into South-West Africa 12
II.-First acquisitions of land 14
III.-Germany's declared policy in regard to the native races 18
IV.-First steps after annexation 19
V.-The massacre at Hornkrantz 23
VI.-Leutwein and the Protection Agreements 28
VII.-Native population statistics 34
VIII.-The Hereros of South-West Africa 35
IX.-Confiscation of Herero cattle by the German Government 42
X.-The German traders, and how they traded 46
XI.-Gradual appropriation of Hereroland and violation of Herero customs 50
XII.-The value set on native life by the Germans 52
XIII.-The outbreak of the Herero rising and the humanity of the Herero 55
XIV.-Pr6liminary steps and treachery of the Germans 58
XV.-How the Hereros were exterminated 61
XVI.-The Hottentots of South-West Africa 67
XVII.-Laws and customs of the Hottentots 72
XVIII.-The Hottentots under German protection 77
XIX.-The Bondelswartz rising of 1903 and the general Hottentot rising of 1904-7 90
XX.-The treatment of the Hottentots in war and of the Hereros and Hottentots after sur-
render -- -97
XXI.-The Berg-Damaras of South-West Africa 103
XXII.-The policy of Germany after the great rising of the natives up to the British conquest of
South-West Africa in 1915 110
XXIII.-The Bastards of Rehoboth 121
XXIV.-The Ovambos of South West-Africa 134
XXV.-The Bushmen of South West-Africa 142
NATIVES AND THE CRIMINAL LAW.
I.-The native as an accused person 151
II.-The position of a native when complainant 162
III.-The relations between Germans and natives as evinced in criminal proceedings after our
1.-Medical report on German methods of punishment of natives (with photographs):-
B.-Corporal punishment 202
2.-Original German text of secret letter addressed by His Excellency the German Governor to
his District Officers on the subject of the treatment of natives (see Chapter XXII) 203
3.-Original German text of three letters addressed by the District Officer at Luderitzbucht to
the Government at Windhuk, protesting against the ill-treatment of natives and the
attitude of the German Courts (see Chapter II. of Part II.) 204
METHOD OF EXECUTING A NUMBER OF NATIVES. (NOTE THE BOXES. THE VICTIMS WERE MADE
TO STAND ON THESE WHILE THE ROPES WERE ADJUSTED. THEY WERE THEN KICKED OR
I--Execution of natives by hanging, showing primitive arrangement of gallows and drop.
Map showing distribution of native tribes in 1890 -
2.-Execution of natives by hanging from a tree -
3.-Condition of Hereros on surrender after having been driven into the desert
4.-Showing condition of back of native woman Maria after flogging
5.-Showing condition of back of native woman Auma -
To APPENDIX I.
A.-Neck chains for native prisoners 205
A 1.-Native convicts in neck chains and prison clothing 206
A 2.-Collar of neck chain perforated by bullet. (Enlargement of Fig. 1, Plate A) 207
B.-Combined leg and arm fetters 208
C.-Other varieties of leg and arm fetters 209
C 1.-Native convicts in prison clothing with leg and arm fetters -209
C 2.-Native convicts in prison clothing with leg and arm fetters 210
D 1.-Sjambok used by Germans for corporal punishment 211
2.-Rattan cane used in Union of South Africa for corporal punishment 211
E 1.-Natives hanged by Germans 212
2.--Closer view of two of these 212
x (33)5952 Wt 10113-100 5000 9/18
REPORT ON THE NATIVES OF SOUTH-
WEST AFRICA AND THEIR TREATMENT
In preparing a statement dealing with the native races of South-West Africa,
and having special reference to their history and treatment while under German
domination, it is desirable to give a brief outline of the ways and means by which
German influence was introduced, and of the events which led up to the consolidation
of such influence by subsequent annexation.
It is furthermore necessary, in order to establish a basis from which to examine
the matter and to obtain a correct perspective, that the avowed native policy of
Germany, as given utterance to by her statesmen and other representative Germans,
should be indicated.
Of particular value and significance would be the official declarations of policy
made about, or prior to, the year 1890, when the Anglo-German Agreement was
entered into. Such statements must at that time at least have carried much
weight with British statesmen, and must, without doubt, have influenced them in
deciding on behalf of Great Britain, officially to sanction the formal annexation
according to agreed boundaries of South-West Africa to the German Crown. More
especially must Germany's aims have been of interest in view of the fact that
British statesmen knew then that the Hereros and other native races in this area
desired British protection in preference to that of Germany, and it must presumably
have been expected that they would be as well off under German control as under
the Union Jack.
Having ascertained what those declarations of policy were, it will not be a
difficult task to discover, on the incontrovertible evidence of proved historical facts,
whether Germany ever at any time put her defined policy into practice. It will be
easy to judge whether, in terms of this publicly declared policy, the native races
of South-West Africa were humanely, honestly, and justly treated, or whether,
owing to alterations in or departure from that policy or an express refusal to apply
it in actual practice, the reverse was the case.
In Part I. a rapid survey of the history of this country from the time Europeans
first penetrated into it is given, the methods by which Germany proceeded to
establish her dominion are shortly shown, and an account of the atrocities committed
on the natives is furnished. Part II. is devoted to an analysis of the position of the
natives under the criminal law. The time available for the collection of material
for incorporation into this report and for the careful collation of that material has
been brief; but, notwithstanding, a large amount of evidence is presented which
contains irrefutable proofs of the gross ineptitude with which Germany entered upon
her scheme of colonising this territory, of the callous indifference with which she
treated the guaranteed rights of the native peoples established here, and of the
cruelties to which she subjected those peoples when the burden became too heavy
and they attempted to assert their rights.
To publish all the information that has been obtained would form too bulky a
volume. The object of this report is to present the essential features only in an
easily assimilable form. Enough is, I think, contained herein to leave no doubts as
to the terrible courses pursued both by the German Colonial Administration, acting
either under the orders or with the acquiescence of the Berlin Government, and by
individual Germans settled or 'stationed in the country, or as to the deplorable plight
the natives fell into under the brutalities and robberies to which they were
It will be found that for the native there was, in effect, during the first
17 years after the formal annexation of the country by Germany, no law, and that
such protection as the law eventually provided was granted not out of motives of
humanity, but because it was at length recognized that the native was a useful
asset in: the country, and that, without his. labour, cattle-ranching, for which large
areas of the country are well suited, and diamond and copper .mining, were
impossible. In Chapter XV. it is pointed out how. the German writer Rohrbach
condemned the extermination of the Herero tribe in 1905 because the cattle and sheep
of the Hereros shared the fate of their native masters. There -was then not.a word of
sympathy for the unfortunate Herero people or recognition.,of their value in the,
economic scheme of things in the colony. That came later when the mischief had
been done. The only regret expressed at the.time was that the flocks and herds of
the natives, on which the settlers had set greedy eyes, were sent, in the blind fury of:
von Trotha, to the same fate as their owners.
One can, however, fairly believe that the colonists, or a proportion of them,
became at length so satiated with the sight of the human blood that was shed in
1904 and 1905, and so alarmed for their future labour supply and at the destruction
of the native live stock that went on pari passu with the extermination of the Hereros,
that they used such influence as they possessed to call a halt to the insensate slaughter
that was taking place. The surviving natives, then reduced to serfdom and distri-
buted as farm labourers, were thereby freed from the terror of organised destruction
and became instead, as individuals, subject only to the cruel punishments awarded
by the courts and police sergeants and to the parental chastisement which, under the
German regime, every farmer exercised over his native servants. The limits to
which "parental chastisement" were sometimes carried are aptly illustrated in
Part II., Chapter II., by the records of a case (one of the very .few tried by the
German courts), and by the photographs appearing in that chapter. The presiding
judge of the German Appeal Court characterized the acts of the offending farmer as
being reminiscent of the. blackest deeds of the slave days, and then reduced the
sentence of 21 months' imprisonment which had been imposed in the lower court on
seven separate counts of cruelty of the most terrible nature to a sentence of four
months' imprisonment altogether and a fine of 2,700 marks. Two of the victims-
they were both women-in this case died shortly afterwards. If the photographs
are examined it will be wondered how it was they did not expire under the lash.
It was a matter of constant remark amongst the British element now here how
little was known outside this territory-at all events in South Africa-of the
dreadful occurrences that were taking place herein. Germany, however, always
kept the country, as far as she was able, a close preserve, and persons of alien
nationality were neither assisted nor encouraged to settle here. When the worst
of these deeds-the massacre of the Hereros-was taking place, the diamond fields
of Luderitzbucht had not yet been discovered, and the somewhat, considerable
foreign population, which on the opening of those fields was attracted to that coast,
whether the Germans willed it or not, was not yet present. Residents of the Union
at the time will recall that in those days but little, if any, interest was evinced in affairs
here. The rights of the case between the opposing parties were not understood, and
no opportunity was lost by Germans either here or in the neighboring colonies of
showing the natives in the worse light. It is reasonable to surmise that, had the
facts been known as we have now, by careful examination of documentary evidence
and by interrogation of the survivors, ascertained them, a protest would have been
addressed to Germany by the Powers who subscribed to the Resolutions of 1885
It is known that the facts commenced to leak out in Germany after 1905, with
the result that laws dealing with natives, their .rights, obligations, and treatment
were promulgated. There is no doubt that, viewed from the standards .to which
we are accustomed in South Africa, portions of. these laws,. on paper at least, are
satisfactory; but it is generally conceded that in very few instances was proper
effect given to their provisions. The occasions where the natives obtained the rights
to which they were entitled under those laws are found to have been few in number.
The authority delegated to minor officials to flog or chain natives forcertain offences
was indulged in to the extreme by practically every member of the police force in
the most trivial cases of complaint by masters, and. it is known that numerous
assaults were committed on native women, and, for the most part, went unnoticed
or unpunished. The natives were thus kept in a state of abject fear, and no
opportunity of redress was open to them, as they dared not go to the police with
their complaints. They had been dispossessed of such cattle as survived the rebellion
of 1904, and of their lands. The law forbade them possessing great, stock; and
deprived of their accustomed form of sustenance, they were forced to accept work
at a wage which was ridiculously inadequate and which was often never paid. They
x 5952 B
were subjected to forced la)onr of the worst kind, and the masters regarded their
native servants as slaves witLiout rights and amenable only to the lash. The
servants regarded their German masters as their inveterate enemies from whom
there was no escape.
This was the position as I found it when, in July 1915, I was entrusted with
the task of putting the affairs of this Protectorate in order. The endeavour to
secure the establishment of better relations between white and black has been uphill
work indeed. All the obnoxious provisions in the German native code have been
repealed by me and others more in keeping with the practice in force in the Union
of South Africa have been substituted. The love of inflicting severe corporal
punishment on their native servants is, however, strongly retained by the German
farmers, and though clearly diminishing as the result of numerous convictions
obtained in our courts, cases still occur with far too much frequency. I am satisfied
that, owing to the wide extent of the country, the scattered situation of the farms,
and the fact that here and there natives are still terrorised, and therefore reluctant
to lodge complaints, many cases never reach the courts.
The natives, freed from the oppression under which they had suffered for
25 years before our advent into this country, and in their simple way of thinking
unable to understand why after having conquered the Germans here we did not
utterly despoil them of their property, have also since the Occupation provided a
considerable amount of difficulty for the Administration. The terms under which
the German forces of South-West Africa capitulated in July 1915 provided that
the civil population and the reservists then under arms would be allowed to resume
their normal avocations, and at once there arose throughout the Protectorate a
strong demand for native labour. The natives, after the ill-treatment to which
they had been subjected by their former employers, were in a very large number of
cases most reluctant to accept service, and much patience has been required to
teach them that it is necessary to work to live and that the liberties they now enjoy
also carry obligations, and that while our officials afford protection to all and assist
every labourer to secure fair treatment and a fair wage, it is incumbent on them to
perform their labour in a proper manner.
The native policy now in force here has been based largely on the practice of
the Transvaal, and under it it is our endeavour, in order to reduce vagrancy and
crime amongst the native population, to see that every able-bodied native who has
no visible means of support is in some kind of employment. At first there were
constant representations from the farming community that no labourers were forth-
coming. Natives had deserted right and left from the farms on which they had
been located before our troops occupied the country. There was a strong dis-
inclination in many cases to re-engage with former masters, and when engagements
were entered into refusals to remain were frequent. The knowledge, however, that
we do not tolerate the ill-treatment of natives and that our courts make no
distinction, where an offence has beef committed, between white and black, has
gradually spread, and that knowledge, coupled with the fact that heavy sentences
have from time to time been imposed on Europeans for offences against natives
when such have come to light, has done much to reassure the native mind, and the
situation has become easier of late, though there still is an undoubted shortage of
labour, which seemingly cannot be made good out of the existing native population.
A case of chickens coming home to roost! And we have seen the spectacle of
the Luderitzbucht Diamond Mining Companies from 1908 to 1914 importing
thousands of coloured labourers from the Cape of Good Hope at great expense and
at a high rate of wages, because the Protectorate could not supply sufficient labour
from within its own borders, where but a few years before over 90,000 native lives
had been ruthlessly sacrificed.
It goes without saying that the present native policy is strongly disapproved
of by the German inhabitants of this country. It has been frequently and openly
stated by German farmers that our permanent stay in this country might prove
tolerable were our native policy altered to suit their views. They bitterly resent
any curtailment of the rights they formerly exercised to punish how and when they
pleased. For some months after the close of the campaign constant applications
were received from Germans for the return to them of the firearms they had surrendered
in order to afford them protection from the natives." About November 1915
alarming rumours were set in circulation by Germans that a rising by the natives
was imminent and that no European's life would be safe. We were besought on all
sides to provide protection. Confidential inquiries which were set on foot showed
not a shadow of substance for these reports, and I declined to move, as I was certain
that these stories were deliberately spread for the purpose of coercing me into
allowing the farming population to have firearms with which again to menace their
In Part II., Chapter III., will be found a statement of the number (35 in all),
and description of serious cases (i.e., cases necessitating trial before the chief tribunal
of the Protectorate, the Special Criminal Court) of murders of, and assaults on,
natives by Europeans since our Occupation. On the other hand, there have been
but two cases of a similar kind where natives were involved with Europeans, and in
one of those cases there was a suggestion that the Europeans had been tampering
with the natives' womenfolk.
In the lower courts no fewer than 310 cases of ill-treatment of native servants by
their masters have been heard and penalties imposed since the establishment of those
courts on 20th September 1915.
A letter full of interest on this question of native treatment in the event of the
return of Germany to power in South-West Africa came into my hands some time
ago. It was addressed to the late Governor of this country, who is at present on
parole, by one of the principal ex-officials (also on parole) of the late Administration,
and it contained a number of speculations as to the future of the Protectorate and
the measures to be adopted on resumption of control by the German Government."
A considerable portion of it was devoted to the discussion of future native policy.
The writer urged the need for the organisation as soon as peace is declared of a strong
force of police to cope with the natives, and ventured the opinion that it is an open
question what impression will be made on the natives by the re-transfer of power to
the German authorities." He strongly blamed the present German inhabitants for
frightening the natives with constant threats of thrashings and hangings as soon as
German rule is restored.
It is common knowledge to the officials of the Administration that such threats
are often made, as they have formed the subject of frequent complaints by natives and
numerous convictions in our courts.
He went on to advocate the limitation to the utmost of the movement of natives
from farm to farm or district to district, and, in order to improve the native labour
supply, that Ovamboland should be effectively occupied.
To that country the Germans had never really penetrated. The climate is
malarious, and between Outjo, Tsumeb, and Grootfontein lies a wide stretch of
waterless country difficult to pass.
He added that if Germany failed to do this her prestige amongst those tribes
(which it should be noted are still intact) in the north and north-east would cease.
He concluded by stating-
It is a well-known fact that some of our countrymen have not always
acted in manner free from objection. Unreliable men of this kind in an
out-of-the-way colony of the German Empire are not merely insufferable
but they are a danger. Such persons must be removed without any con-
sideration. If no criminal proceedings can be instituted against them
banishment should be the punishment. The Government should refuse
them assistance, and it is precisely in the rendering of assistance in procuring
native labour, to which a blunt refusal must be given and may be given, that
a weapon is available to make them tired of the country.
He had been learning the lesson of the past; but I fear that however heartily
the German colonists would endorse his views on the subject of the control of the
natives and the anticipated spoliation of Ovamboland, but few supporters
would rally to his cry for the ejection of farmers who ill-treat their servants.
Their sole idea is complete domination over every one who has a dusky skin.
In the suggestion that farmers who are guilty of constant ill-treatment of their
native servants should be denied native labour he is, apparently unconsciously,
merely repeating what His Excellency the German Governor had already, so long
ago as 1912, threatened to do., This threat was contained in a secret letter, now in
my possession, from the'Governor to all the District Heads, and a translation is
reproduced in Chapter XXII. The words of the Governor in that letter contain
what will probably be considered as the most damning piece of evidence of all that
has been collected as to the point to which the ill-treatment of natives had been
: He admitted therein that the natives did not obtain justice in the courts,
expressed his regret that he was powerless to influence the courts to improve matters;
and threatened by administrative means to stop the native labour supply of persons
who continually ill-treat their servants.
His Excellency was theii new to the country, and as the threatened rising of the
nat ive; of Which he had'fears did not take place he seems to a certain extent to have
accommodated himself to local conditions, for on 20th April 1914 we find that he
presided over- a meeting of the District Heads and other principal- officials of the
colony at Wiidhiik, whereat 'inter alia the following exchange' of views took place.
These are taken from the confidential minutes of the meeting :
The Governor: By virtue of the von Lindequist Ordinances we have at
S present a kind of ci'opulsory labour. Ani extension of this compulsion as
desired 'by the Landesrat would hardly have any prospects of fulfilment at
home. .. The question arises whether any alteration of the von Lindequist
Ordinances is necessary and if such alteration would serve any. purpose. In
my opinion an improvement in the present conditions is not possible.
--, Bezirksamtmannen Schultze and Boehmer and Court Assessor Weber declare
.. the Ordinance to be sufficient.
Bezirksamtmann Wasserfall In the district the continuous increase
in the number of native stock has proved- very detrimental. (Note.-He
obviously means that through the increase in the sheep and goats which the
natives were allowed in special cases to own, the natives are becoming
The Governor : It will become necessary to force the natives to sell small
stock which-they possess beyond a certain number. .
The Governor : It is far more necessary to enforce strict adherence to the
existing provisions of the Ordinances than to issue new provisions. I declare
S.it to. be the general. opinion of this meeting that nothing should be altered,
but strict adherence should be enforced; especially in the case of natives who
appear at any police station it must at once be ascertained exactly from
whence they have come (? so that they may be placed but to labour).
At a later stage in the proceedings Bezirksamtmann Boehrmer of Luderitz-
bucht ventured the opinion that fines and imprisonment might be admitted
in cases of disciplinary punishments instead of the lash' and manacles, but this
:received no endorsement from anyone else.'
Bezirksamtmann Schultze represented that it was very necessary to take
energetic steps against the Bushmen, and urged that the only efficient measure
would be to transport them.
The Governor (evidently thinking of public opinion in Germany) retorted
': that this would be impo-sible.
j";" i: BcF:ark.;-, .I allii von Zastrow, of Grootfonteii : It might serve the purpose
: if a portion of this people was transported; The rest would very soon become
aware of this and would behave themselves accordingly as they fear removal
from their native countrymore than death.
.Bezirksamtmann Wellmann; of Swakopmund: An understanding should
Sbe arrived at with the Walfish Bay authorities in respect of the return of
natives (? who have sought refuge there) who have committed a breach of
their labour contracts.
.The Governor : I am afraid that any such discussions would be unsuccessful.
Bezirksamtmann Wellmann then referred to the practicability of extending
the contracts of service of Ovambos who had come south to seek work, and
he'also urged that 'corporal punishment, should be introduced for native
women who loaf about the locations without employment.
The Governor: The extension-of the service contracts system to the Ovam-
bos would be-risky. The whole labour question in East Africa came about
through an attempt of that kind.: The utmost care must be exercised with
regard to the banishment of the Bushmen to Swakopmund as a lot of them
have already died in consequence of their removal there. The main reason
for this is that they are entirely unaccustomed to the food. (Note.-He
should' have added, and climate which is damp and foggy and totally unlike
the hot and dry area in the interior which is inhabited by the Bushmen.?') J:It
is necessary that the Bushmer be first made accustomed to the new: food
somewhere inland before they are removed to Swakopmund.
These extracts from'the' discussion do not betoken much desire to improve the lot
of the natives of the country, though there is a note of alarm at the suggestion to bring
the Ovambos under the labour contract system and an indication of some solicitude
for the unfortunate Bushmen who were being sent to their deaths on the cold and
bleak sand wastes of Swakopmund.
Of almost equal interest and value to Governor Seitz's secret letter are the
letters reproduced in Part II., Chapter II., from Bezirksamtmann Boehmer, of
Luderitzbucht, and Acting Bezirksamtmann Heilingbrunner, the first written on
31st January, 1908,: the second on 14th June 1911, and the third on the 21st April
1913. These are contained with a number of other letters in a dossier in the
German records, marked "WMisshandlungen von Eingeborenen durch Weise
(Specialia)." (" Ill-treatment of natives by white men-Particulars.") Matters had
evidently reached a climax when in 1913 Herr Boehmer'was forced to write to the
Imperial Governor that the law cotirts are utterly useless."
Another extremely'objectionable feature in the social fabric of the Protectorate
moulded by the Germans has been the licentiousness in the relations between
the European male population-soldiers, police, and others-and native women,
regardless of objections to such intercourse on the part of the women themselves
and their male relatives. With the destruction of the tribal system which followed
the events of 1904-1905, and the distribution of the surviving population as
labourers amongst the European settlers, native women in large numbers were
forced into concubinage with Europeans, with the inevitable result that the natives
speedily acquired a contempt for their masters, who in turn have endeavoured to
maintain their positions by a policy of severity often amounting, as a perusal of the
report will show, to the grossest brutality.
As a colonist, the German in South-West Africa, speaking generally, has been a
failure. He has never shown the slightest disposition to learn the natives' point of
view, to adapt his ideas to the long-established customs and habits of the people, or
to fall in with the ways of the country. When he arrived here he found the natives
both rich and comparatively numerous. His sole object seemed, as soon as he felt
strong enough, to take the fullest advantage possible of the simplicity of these
people and despoil them utterly. When the process did not, by means of the system
of trading that sprang up, which in itself was often but a thinly disguised form of
chicanery and knavery, go quickly enough, rapine, murder, and lust were given full
play with the disastrous results of which we see evidences every day around us.
This is all the more strange, as in the'Cape of Good Hope and Natal German
settlers' have proved themselves, at all events in years past, adaptable and successful
colonists. Possibly the reason may be found in the fact that in those British
possessions the German emigrant found a clean-cut line and well-defined under-
standing between the European element and the aborigines. As a pioneer on his
own account in savage lands, and as a colonist left to his own devices without the
influence and advice of persons of other nationality who have had longer colonial
experience than he has had, he has proved himself, at all events in South-West
Africa, to be utterly incapable and unsuitable.
The land here, when colonising was decided on in earnest in Berlin, and after
the missions, companies, and traders had been allotted their selected portions, was
at first given out, for the most part, to soldiers who had taken their discharges in
this country and had expressed a desire to settle here; rough men who, when
released from the military organisation under which they had been trained, carried
with them to their new possessions the militarist methods and aggressive ideas
towards the natives with which they had become imbued during their term of active
service here. In their view the native was an out-and-out barbarian, little better
than the baboons which frequent the kopjes, and to be treated and disposed of at
the sweet will of the master. The police, too, brought up in the same environment
and drawn 'from the same organisation, were no different. If anything they were
worse, as they were principally selected from the non-commissioned ranks of an
army in which the severity of the sergeant is proverbial.
Later, when the rough work was deemed to have been completed, officialdom
in Berlin bethought itself of a German colonial aristocracy. It is said locally that
the Kaiser took p deep personal interest in the matter, and that to his influence we
owe the presence of the large number of persons of rank who are settled in the better
portions of the Protectorate. If one can believe the tales that are circulated by the
less favoured portion of the German community about their more distinguished
brethren, amongst the latter were included no inconsiderable proportion of persons
who were no ornament to the caste to which they belonged.
It is interesting to read what Leutwein, who was Governor of this territory for
11 years, has to say on the attempts of Germany to establish colonies. In
Chapter XV., pages 542, 543, and 544 of the book he published after his recall to
Germany, he remarks, referring to the earlier avowed policy of Germany, which was
one of attempting to reconcile the original inhabitants to their fate :-
I have personally assisted in conducting this policy in perfect unanimity
with the original population, all the more for the reason, that the war with
Witbooi had opened my eyes at the very beginning of my colonial activity
concerning the difficulties experienced in suppressing native risings in South-
West Africa. Since that time I have used my best endeavour to make the
native tribes serve our cause and to play them off one against the other. Even
an adversary of this policy must concede to me that it was more difficult, but
also more serviceable, to influence the natives to kill each other for us than
to expect streams of blood and streams of money from the Old Fatherland
for their suppression. That this policy has proved itself impossible of being
carried through uninterruptedly for reasons which will be found in my fore-
going expositions is, however, no proof that it should not have been tried
In this connection it will be interesting to review for a moment the
British world-wide Empire. A census of the population in the same which
was ordered in 1901, and the results which have been published a short while
ago, has elicited the fact that of approximately 400 million subjects of the
King of England, only 54 millions or 131 per cent. are whites, i.e., that the
latter are even less in numbers than the white subjects of the German Empire.
In truth, it would certainly be worth while studying in what manner these
54 million whites within the British Empire succeed in dominating over
the 350 millions natives. It appears impossible that this should be done on
the whole by a policy of force and suppression, as such a policy could not be
carried through. There consequently only remains the supposition that the
British understand better than ourselves how to interest the natives in their
cause and to make them subservient to the same.
They seem to apply completely different systems, according to the
character of their colonial territories and their inhabitants. We know, for
instance, that in the Cape Colony, a country in which the suppression of native
risings would present just as many difficulties as in our South-West Africa,
they have simply made full citizens of the natives.*
Only when a native tribe would not accommodate itself to law and order,
as, for instance, the robber-like Korannas, they have destroyed such tribe
by armed force, but not without the assistance of the other native tribes.
Of course, they got rid of a portion of their restless Hottentot tribes by the
immigration of the same into our present Protectorate, as we have seen in
Chapter I., pages 1-3 (the Orlams). However, in Basutoland, where a war-
like tribe resides in a rather uninviting and mountainous country, the English
have been satisfied with nominal rule, and in order to prevent any disturbance
have not permitted a white immigration into that country.
In fact, it requires a special understanding of the usages and customs of
the natives if a white race is to remain master in its own house under the
He reproduces in a footnote a letter, dated Banksdrift (Transvaal), 25th January 1904, from a
Herero, who had been recruited for the mines at Johannesburg, containing the following sentence,
which he says proves that the writer has very quickly recognized the difference between English and
German treatment of natives:-
I inform you that the country of the Englishman is really a good country; there is no
ill-treatment; whites and blacks stand on the same level, and if he strikes you (unreadable)
everywhere you like. And there is plenty of work and plenty of money, and even if your Baas
is there, he does not hit you, but in case he hits you and has contravened the I-aw, he is
numerical conditions as they exist in the British Empire. And unless a
nation understands that art it should rather leave colonising alone; for it
will hardly experience joy therefrom.
I must in fairness say that there are notable exceptions to the general rule as
we have found it here, men who take a keen and intelligent interest in their pursuits
and in the welfare of the natives and who treat their natives reasonably; but their
numbers, according to the information at my disposal, are relatively few. It is
difficult to eradicate the pernicious influence of the adventurers who seem to have
dominated the policy of this country in the earlier days of the establishment of
Enough should be found in this report to convince the most confirmed sceptic
of the unsuitability of the Germans to control natives, and also to show him what
can be expected if the unfortunate natives of this part of Africa are ever again
handed back to the former regime. For their pains in making the statements and
for their share in furnishing the information that has been brought together herein,
those whose names are mentioned and their associates would become-if, indeed,
they have not already become-marked men, and their removal would only be a
matter of time. A campaign of smelling-out, the police sergeant as the witch-doctor,
with all its attendant evils and horrors would most assuredly be inaugurated.
Native opinion here is unanimously against any idea of ever being handed
back to the tender mercies of Germany, and any suggestion of the possibility of an
act of that kind on the part of Great Britain produces the utmost consternation.
Before closing these introductory remarks, I desire to express my obligations to
the compilers of the accompanying chapters for the assistance they have rendered.
The framer of Part I. is Major T. L. O'Reilly (Attorney of the Supreme Court of
South Africa, Transvaal Provincial Division), Military Magistrate of Omaruru in
this Protectorate, to whom, owing to the extent of the ground to be covered, has
fallen the larger share. Major O'Reilly has been here in an official capacity for
nearly three years past and is well acquainted with the country and its inhabitants.
Part II. has been prepared by Mr. A. J. Waters, B.A., Crown Prosecutor for the
Protectorate, who has been stationed here since October 1915. Both have attacked
the tasks assigned to them with much assiduity, and beyond indicating to them the
lines on which I wished them to proceed and exercising a general supervision over the
work, the credit for any value this report may possess will be theirs.
E. H. M. GORGES,
Government House, Administrator.
19th January 1918.
NATIVES AND GERMAN ADMINISTRATION.
HOW GERMAN INFLUENCE WAS INTRODUCED INTO S.W. AFRICA.
In her colonies the missionary has always been Germany's advance agent, and
the pioneer of her trade. Later on, the missionary and the merchant have, hand
in hand, paved the way for German influence, ascendency, annexation, and govern-
ment. It was a favourite saying of Prince Bismarck's that the missionary and
the trader must precede the soldier." Of this system South-West Africa is a striking
So long ago as the year 1814, the British Government (of the Cape of Good
Hope) sent one Von Schmelen, a German missionary, to carry on mission work
among the Hottentots, living across the Orange River, in Great Namaqualand.
Von Schemelen settled at Bethany and, later on, having attached himself to the
then rising clan of Afrikaner Hottentots, under Jager Afrikaner, he moved north
with them. Jager Afrikaner made his headquarters in Southern Damaraland;
his village was named Schemelen's Hope, in honour of this most adaptable of
missionaries, who, having taken a Hottentot girl to wife, became an influential
member of the tribe. The present town of Okahandja, near Windhuk, is said to
be on the site of Schmelen's Hope.
Once he was firmly established, Von Schmelen appears to have forgotten all
about the Cape Government. He placed himself in direct communication with
Berlin. His reports on the country and its inhabitants, which, from time to time,.
reached Germany, had the result of attracting other German missionaries to South-
Eventually, about 1840, the Rhenish Mission Society of Berlin began to take
official notice of this new field for missionary labour and enterprise. By the year
1867 thriving mission stations had been established at nearly every important centre
in Great Namaqualand and Damaraland.
These good missionaries had to support and maintain themselves and families.
They could only do so by combining religion with business. Accordingly, it was
found necessary to establish a general store, in conjunction with each mission station,
from the profits of which the missionary could live. There the natives could obtain
goods, clothing, arms and ammunition, and groceries in exchange for cattle and sheep
and the products of the chase.
Whether this combination of shop-keeper and evangelist was calculated to have
the best of spiritual results, in so far as concerns the simple savages, it is difficult to
say. That progress was slow there can be no doubt, as it took 30 years of preaching
and trading before the first Herero convert, a pious old lady of Otjimbingwe, forsook
the worship of her ancestors and allowed herself to be baptised. Report has it that
her example was soon followed by many others.
As the field of missionary labour was extended, by the founding of new mission
stations, it followed, under the circumstances, as a natural result, that the field for
mercantile achievement expanded in proportion. In fact, the volume of mundane
business by far exceeded the harvest from religious work.
In the early fifties of the last century, that is, about 10 to 12 years after the
Rhenish Mission had commenced its labours, the monopoly was rudely broken by
the intrusion of Cape Colonial cattle traders from the south. These new comers
had no fixed stores. They trekked or smoused" about among the natives,
selling or exchanging goods from their heavily laden ox-wagons and receiving cattle,
sheep, and produce in exchange. Having disposed of their goods, they returned to
the south and sold their cattle and sheep, at good profits, in the Cape markets.
The missionaries felt this competition very keenly. Not only was it keenly felt, it
was also deeply resented. The more so, because the majority of the rivals was
composed of English traders (grossenteils englische Hdndler). Moreover, these
rivals were certainly not brother missionaries, as they are reported to have sold dop
brandy to the natives !
In 1860, or thereabouts, competition grew so keen that the missionaries decided
on a determined effort to oust their adversaries. The trader from the Cape had the
advantage of wagon transport, but this advantage was, to a certain extent,
neutralised by his great distance from his markets and the impossibility of replacing
broken-down vehicles in those desert wilds. If the missions could only build and
maintain in good repair on the spot a sufficiency of wagons and supply the necessary
number of tradesmen to carry this out, half the fight was won. In this way it was
hoped that the thieving and lawless dealings" of the English traders would be
It was at this juncture that an inspired missionary suggested that, in addition
to converting the natives, they should be taught useful trades and handicrafts."*
The sympathetic Society thereupon arranged for certain competent artisans to
migrate from Germany with their families and to settle at Otjimbingwe, the
headquarters of the Mission.
The wagon-maker Tamm from Thuringen and the blacksmith Halbich from
Schlesien are worthy of a niche in history. They were the first real colonists of
South-West Africa. Not as missionaries to convert, not as profit-seeking traders
to exploit the native, but as honest workmen did they come with hammer and saw
in hand, prepared to earn their daily bread by the sweat of the brow, to teach
the dusky savage the dignity of labour, the usefulness of honest work, that laborare
est orare. Tamm and Halbich were followed shortly afterwards by two other
tradesmen, whose names are not obtainable, and also by the merchant Redecker.
The latter took over the general management of the Mission's stores. In due
course wagons were built. Then it was found necessary to allow the colonists
(Tamm, Halbich and the unnarhed two) to travel with loaded wagons among the.
natives and open up an opposition trade, under the auspices and with the blessing
of the Rhenish Mission Society. They sold, so the records of the Mission inform
us, all things which the English traders sold except liquor." Yet, notwithstanding
this, they could make little headway. The Cape traders more than held their own,
and large droves of cattle found a yearly market in Cape Town and elsewhere.
The irritated missionaries ascribed their failure to the reason that their motto
was genuine goods and no humbug and cheating."
In 1864 war broke out between the Hereros and the Hottentots. The Hereros,
led in battle by the English traders Frederick Green and Haybittel and the traveller
Andersson, signally defeated the dominant Afrikaner Hottentots, under Jonker
Afrikaner, and freed Hereroland (Damaraland) from Hottentot oppression. As a
result of this war the Hereros regained their territory and the independence which
they had partially lost to the Hottentots over 25 years previously.
The war dragged on, however, and peace was not restored before 1870. In the
meantime the missionaries, like their secular opponents from the Cape, specialised
in the sale of arms and ammunition, and there is reason to believe that a very brisk
trade was carried on.
The active intervention of Green and other traders on the side of the Hereros
was resented by the Hottentots. In 1868 a Hottentot raiding party plundered
Andersson's store at Otjimbingwe, and also that of the Rhenish Mission. This sent
the Mission's representatives post haste to Berlin, and in 1869 the Society petitioned
the King of Prussia for protection. They asked for the establishment of a Prussian
Naval Station at Walfish Bay. The King assured the missionaries of his warmest
interest; but the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war distracted further attention
for the time being.
In 1870 peace between the Hottentots and Hereros was once more restored, and
this stimulated the Mission to fresh interest in its trading ventures.
It was then recommended by the missionary in charge that a special merchant
should be appointed to trade as a branch of the Rhenish Mission." This, however,
did not look nice, and a Limited Liability Company (ostensibly a separate and
entirely independent concern) was floated in Germany in 1873 for the purpose of
trading in the Mission fields of the Rhenish Mission Society." The Society
undertook to give this company all the assistance and support possible, and in
return therefore was to receive fifty per cent. (50%) of the net profits. A special
proviso was also made to the effect that only devout persons (Christlich gesinnte)
were to be sent out 'for work as managers and traders.
P. Robrbaoh and German Mission Records.
The Rev. Hugo Hahn, one of the prominent missionaries who had controlled
the Otjimbingwe Station for some years, resigned on the establishment of this
company. He also disbanded the labour colony .and closed down the Industrial
School. Mr. Hahn's contention was that the Mission could more strongly influence
the natives by keeping trade under direct control.
The main object of the newly formed company was to develop the' cattle
business and open up an export trade to Europe. Owing, however, to the inevitable
transport difficulties, the incapacity and, sad to relate, the dishonesty of the
" Christianly minded" folk, who had come out to manage the business, very heavy
losses were sustained. In six years these totalled over 200,000 marks (10,0001.),
and the outbreak in 1880 of another Herero-Hottentot war ruined all hopes of
recovery. The company was hopelessly insolvent and went into liquidation.
In the interim an event of great importance had taken place. In the year
1876, a British commissioner, Mr. W. C. Palgrave, visited the country with a view
to ascertaining the wishes of the native chiefs in regard to control by Great Britain,
and also for the purpose of reporting to the Cape Government on the desirability or
otherwise of the extension of the limits of this Colony, on the West Coast of this
continent, so as to include Walfish Bay and such tract of country inland as may be
found expedient and approved of by Her Majesty videe Commission by Sir Henry
Barkly, Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, to William Coates Palgrave, Esq.,
dated 16th March 1876).
Palgrave was well received by the Herero people, who, on 9th September 1876,
handed him a petition to Sir Henry Barkly, signed by 58 chiefs, under chiefs, and
headmen, in the course of which they say :
We want to live at peace with each other, and with our neighbours, and
we want to have our country kept for us. We wish to see our children grow
up more civilised than we have had any chance of being, and so, after many
meetings amongst ourselves, we have agreed most humbly to ask Your
Excellency to send some one to rule us, and be the head of our country. .
We also most humbly ask that Your Excellency will everywhere make it
known that the sea boundary to our country is in your possession, and that
we have given you the right to such ground as may be required for its
protection, as well as for the building of towns and villages in the vicinity of
all landing places.
The Bastards of Rehoboth and several Hottentot tribes also asked for British
protection and control.
In his report to the Cape Governor, Mr. Palgrave recommended the annexation,
as British territory, of the whole coastline of Great Namaqualand and Damaraland,
and the appointment of a British Resident in each of these areas. Instead of
following this advice the British Government annexed, in 1878, only Walfish Bay,
and a few square miles of desert sand in the immediate vicinity thereof.
Of this fact, German enterprise was not slow to take advantage. The next
important step towards the extension of German influence and the acquisition of
what Great Britain had apparently definitely discarded as worthless, is represented
by the activities of Adolf Luderitz, a merchant, of Bremen, who arrived in the
country in 1882.
From 1882 to 1890 the merchant missionaries were gradually reinforced by the
professional merchants, and the work of building up German trade and influence,
to the exclusion of Britain and the British, was recommended with renewed vigour.
This period is aptly described by Governor Leutwein as the days of the Merchants'
Administration (Kaufmannischer Verwaltung), and deserves to be dealt with in
FIRST ACQUISITIONS OF LAND.
It did not take Luderitz very long to discover that, after Walfish Bay, the bay
at Angra Pequena (now known as Luderitzbucht) was the best port on the coast-
line between the Orange and the Kunene rivers,
By deeds of sale, dated 1st May and 25th August 1883, the chief of the Aman
Hottentots of Bethany, Joseph Fredericks, sold to Luderitz that territory which is
situated between the 26th degree of Southern Latitude and the Orange River,
bounded on the west by the sea and on the east by a line running 20 miles inland
from north to south.
Early in 1884 a party of German scientists and prospectors visited Damaraland
and Great Namaqualand, and inquired into the mineral and agricultural possibilities.
On the 24th April in the same year, Prince Bismarck, by telegram, formally
sanctioned the hoisting of the German flag at Angra Pequiena and placed Luderitz
and his acquisition under the protection of the German Empire.
Greatly encouraged by these special marks of Imperial recognition, Luderitz
went further afield, and on the 19th August 1884 he entered into another deed of
purchase with the captain of the Topnaar Hottentots, who lived near Walfish Bay,
whereby he acquired from that half-starved and improvident chieftain the proprietary
rights in the remainder of the coast belt from Degree 26 South to Cape Frio
(hundreds of miles to the north), near the Kunene mouth. To avoid complications
the area already annexed by the British at Walfish Bay was specially excluded.
It is interesting to observe that the agent for Luderitz on this occasion was one,
J. Boehm, described as "the missionary of the Rhenish Mission. at Walfish Bay,"
and that probably no one was better aware than was the said Boehm of the fact that
the Topnaar chief might, with equal validity and right, have sold Australia to
Nevertheless, the agreements served their object. They were required for the
purpose of inducing the German investor to participate in the schemes of Luderitz.
Armed with these documents, Luderitz proceeded to Germany, where, in 1885, he
succeeded in floating a company called the German Colonial Company for South-
West Africa," with a capital of 300,000 marks (15,0001.). (This company is not to
be confused with the wealthy and entirely distinct German Colonial Company:
It was publicly stated in Germany at the time that the shareholders of the
company had taken over his desert acquisition from Luderitz out of motives of
pure patriotism in order that the country which might in the future prove valuable
would'not pass into the hands of a foreign Power.
Of the actual colonising and constructive work done by this company with its
15,0001. capital, much need not be said, for the simple reason that nothing much was
Dr. Paul Rohrbach in his book (page 223), says:-
The mere idea of doing something substantial towards the opening up
of a country like South-West Africa, with such ridiculously small working
capital, is about as absurd as the idea of a man who would try to cut a tunnel
through the Alps with a pickaxe. In fact, all that the company has done
from the time it was founded up to the present time (1907) has been to sit on
its land and mining rights and to wait until some one came along who was
prepared to pay for them.
However true Rohrbach's statement may be, the fact remains that Luderitz
received all the help he required from the German Government. On the
21st October 1885 the Government Controller of the newly formed company,
Dr. Goering, arrived with the Secretary Nels, and the Police Superintendent
Goldammer. Goering was a kind of commercial agent, with certain limited powers
and jurisdiction over German settlers in the country, but with not the slightest
authority to promise the protection of Germany to the natives. Aided by the
missionary, Carl Biittner, Dr. Goering immediately proceeded, however, to make
Protection Agreements" with such native chiefs as he had persuaded to ask for
the protection and good will of the Emperor. In return for such protection the
chiefs were required to give Germans favoured-nation treatment; and they undertook
to give no facilities or rights to others than Germans, without the Emperor's consent.
Amongst these, Kamaherero, the chief of the Okahandja Hereros, styled Chief
Captain of the Hereros in Damaraland," entered into such an agreement on the
21st October 1885. Writing of these agreements (which, owing to their importance,
The Hereros, hearing of this, on 29th December 1884 made a Deed of Cession of Hereroland
to the British Crown. (See Cape Blue Book, A.5-85).
will be more fully dealt wit.h later on) Governor Leutwein remarks, those persons
who promised this protection in the name of the German Emperor had not the
slightest authority to do so." (Elf Jahre Gouverneur, page 13.)
It is of more than passing interest to South Africans to note that, in the very
same year when the German'flag was hoisted at Angra Pequena, a party of Trans-
vaalers and Cape colonists, under the leadership of Willem Jordaan, purchased the
whole of the vast area in the north which is now known as Grootfontein District,
From the Paramount Chief of Ovamboland. At Grootfontein, Jordaan, in 1884,
founded the Republic of Upingtonia, distributed farms to his burghers, drew up a
constitution, had a Volksraad election, and became the first President. In addition
to the land rights, Jordaan had, with the approval of his people, acquired personal
rights to all minerals in the rich area where the Tsumeb Copper Mine now is. In
olden days the Bushmen had worked these mines on tribute to the Ovambo ruler,
and their existence was well known. It is hardly necessary to state that this move
greatly upset the ambitions of Luderitz and his associates, and that Jordaan's
achievements were viewed with grave apprehension and distrust. The problem
was solved in 1886 by the murder of Jordaan while on a journey, through Ovambo-
land to Mossamedes. The Ovambo chief Nechale was responsible for this murder,
but it was done, so Germans allege, at the instigation of Kamaherero, the Herero
Chief of Okahandja, who nursed a grudge against Jordaan for having, some years
before, helped the Hottentots against the Hereros. This may or may not be so.
It is difficult to prove who was the instigator; but others had even greater interest
than Kamaherero in the removal of Jordaan. The ever candid Dr. Rohrbach says,
referring to Jordaan's death and the break up of the Republic, Jordaan's settlement
failed not for natural but for political reasons the political situation was
As soon as Jordaan's death (1886) became known, Dr. Goering took steps to
advise his followers at Grootfontein that the German Emperor could not for one
moment tolerate the idea of a Boer Republic in "-his territory." The awed and
embarrassed Republicans packed up their goods and chattels and trekked off in
all directions: some went back to the Transvaal and the Cape, while others joined
the Boer colony at Humpata in Angola. This was the end of Upingtonia.
It is not to be imagined that the British traders in the country viewed the
work of Goering and his Gesellschaft with equanimity and indifference. On the
contrary, every obstacle was placed in their way; but persons situated as the
British traders were could not fight the new-comers on equal terms. Nevertheless
every effort was made, both by the Cape Government and the traders, to secure
and retain British influence, in the hope that the country would eventually be placed
under British rule, thereby ensuring the destruction of German designs and ambi-
tions not only on South-West Africa, but also on the whole of the sub-continent.
The men 'on the spot saw the danger clearly, but it was neither understood not
appreciated in London.
In 1888 matters came to a head and well nigh ended disastrously for the German
agents. Teutonic writers appear to be unanimous in describing the event as
almost a political catastrophe." The prime cause of all the trouble was an
English trader and prospector named Robert Lewis. He is to this day affectionately
remembered by the Hereros as Bobbie Lewis. Germans confidently assert that
Lewis was the paid agent and emissary of the late C. J. Rhodes. In any event,
Lewis, who had traded extensively throughout Damaraland and Great Namaqualand,
was very popular with the natives and exercised considerable influence over the
chiefs. In fact, when Mr. Palgrave visited the Hereros in 1876-1877 and received
their 'request for British protection, Mr. Lewis and the missionary Brincker acted
as interpreters for him at all the principal discussions. The one aim and object
in the life of Lewis was to get the Germans out of the country.
On a certain day in 1888, at a meeting at the Herero headquarters, Okahandja,
*the old Chief Kamaherero, in the presence of his councillors' informed Dr. Goering
that he recognized no German claims to control his country and his people. He
:gave Goering and his staff to understand that if they did not wish to see their
'heads lying at their feet they should be out of Okahandja and well on their way
to Germany before sunset."
Goering and company did not stand on the order of their going; they retired
*in haste and made for Otjimbingwe. There they hurriedly disposed of or packed
all the company's goods and fled in terror to Walfish Bay to the protection of the
From Walfish Bay the fugitives proceeded to Berlin and appealed to the
German Government for protection against the machinations of Lewis, who has
been described as-
the agent in the country of Cecil jRhodes, whojin all manner of shameless
ways and with matchless.impudence carried on activities dangerous to the
Commonwealth. (Dove; gDeutsch S.W. Afrika, page 14.)
Dr. Paul Rohrbach refers to Lewis as-
an English trader who had long lived among the Hereros and had from
the very beginning been a most bitter enemy to the Germans. Lewis
(continues Rohrbach) had so long practised on Kamaherero and his people
with schnapps, promises, and all sorts of lies that the Hereros repudiated
their agreement made three years previously with Dr. Goering.
It has already been pointed out on the evidence of Governor Leutwein that
Dr. Goering had no authority to bind the German Crown to any agreements, and
that therefore Lewis as a private individual had quite as much right as Goering
to influence or deal with the Hereros.
If there were any question on this point, the reply of the Imperial German
Chancellor to the further appeals for protection removes all possible doubt. The
company and its fugitive representatives appealed for the practical protection
of the German Empire to enable the company to carry out and make effective
their rights and interests in Damaraland." (At that time they had neither rights
nor interests in Damaraland.)
To this the Chancellor replied (see C. von Fran9ois, D.S.W.A., page 31):-
That it could not be the function of the Empire, and that it lay outside
the adopted programme of German colonial policy to intervene for the
purpose of restoring, on behalf of the State, organizations among uncivilised
peoples; and, by the use of military power to fight the opposition of native
chiefs towards the not yet established business undertakings of German
subjects in overseas countries. He could therefore give no promise, on
behalf of the Empire, that the peaceful pursuit of mining and suchlike under-
takings in South-West Africa would be ensured by the military forces of
This declaration was hotly assailed in the .German .mercantile press, and the
various companies and missionary societies created a great uproar.
In March 1889 the missionary Brincker of Okahandja (the gentleman who,
with Lewis, had acted as interpreter for Commissioner Palgrave) wrote a strong
letter of protest to the Chancellor, in the course of which he remarked :-
To make agreements with Kamaherero is useless. It is like making
agreements with a baby. Here the rights granted are of value only in
proportion to the power behind the recipient. If a share of the treasure
is to be assured a European Power must be established here, so that each
case of arrogance on the part of the natives and each case of damage to
vested interests may be punished. Under such protection the cattle-farming
of the natives will develop, every European undertaking will be secured,
and the labour of the missionaries will prosper.
In conclusion, the enthusiastic Mr. Brincker ventured the opinion that 400
soldiers and two batteries of artillery would be required to achieve his ideals.
It will be interesting to observe how the cattle-farming of the natives actually
did develop under such protection." At the time Brincker wrote, the Herero
people possessed cattle which could be estimated in tens and, probably, in hundreds
of thousands. Within 12 years after the furnishing of such protection," the
surviving Hereros did not possess an ox, a heifer, or a calf between them. They
were forbidden by German laws to own large stock.
In view of the agitation in Germany following on his reply to the petitioners,
the Chancellor somewhat modified his attitude, and later on in the year 1889 tho
first German soldiers, 21 in number under command of the brothers C. and H. von
Fran9ois, arrived in South-West Africa and marched to Otjimbingwe. Captain
C. von Fran9ois left portion of his command at Otjimbingwe and hastened in person
to Okahandja to pay his respects to Kamaherero. From Okahandja he proceeded
on a similar mission to Omaruru to greet the Herero chief Manasse. He was, bow-
ever, so icily received by both potentates that he returned in haste to Otjimbingwe,
evacuated the place and fell back on Tsaobis on the main transport road to the
coast, where he built a fort and awaited developments.
GERMANY'S DECLARED POLICY'IN REGARD TO THE NATIVE RACES.
In the year 1884, shortly after Prince Bismarck had cabled the Emperor's
blessing and the protection of Germany to the merchant Luderitz at Angra Pequena,
another event of great importance took place. In November of that year Prince
Bismarck convened the famous Berlin-Congo Conference, which sat at Berlin until
February 1885. Under Bismarck's guidance the Conference declared all equatorial
Africa to be a kind of free trade area, granted France a large slice of the lower Congo,
and, in addition to other decisions, made it the duty of all Colonial Powers to come to
an agreement with one another on the occasion of fresh aggrandisements. English
colonial monopoly," states a German writer, "was thereby broken and a juster
distribution of colonial possessions was at all events inaugurated."
The Conference went further, and before breaking up the conferring Powers
solemnly and emphatically pledged themselves and placed on record their recognition
of the sacred duty-
(1) Of preserving the aboriginal races of Africa.
(2) Of watching over their interests.
(3) Of cultivating their moral and material advancement and development.
In July 1890, Germany was again very prominent at the Anti-Slavery Confer-
ence in Brussels, when it was placed on record by solemn pledge and resolution
that it was the emphatic desire of the conferring Powers effectively to protect the
native races of Africa from oppression and slavery.
It is not to be wondered at, therefore, knowing what Germany's declared and
avowed native policy was, that the statesmen and people of Great Britain had no hesi-
tation in welcoming that -Power into the. arena of world colonisation as a co-partner
in the great work of civilising and uplifting the heathen races of the earth. It was
apparently in this spirit and on those pledged assurances at Berlin and Brussels
that Great Britain allowed Germany to annex the 322,450 square miles of territory
in South-West Africa, and by a stroke of the pen placed the Ovambos, Hereros,
Damaras, Hottentots, Bastards, and Bushmen of that vast land under the guardian-
ship and control of the German Emperor.
Referring to this event a German historian writes :
In consideration of the increasing expansion of German dominion, the
first thing needful seemed to be a more definite determination of the German
and English spheres of influence, so as to secure a firmer foundation for the
civilising labours of the two nations. With this object, the much-discussed
Anglo-German Agreement was concluded, which extended to Africa and also
brought the island of Heligoland, off the German coast, into the possession of
Germany. The great value of this acquisition to the German Fleet and to
the defence of the mouths of the Elbe, Weser, and Jade is now universally
recognized. (Historian's History of the World: Vol. XV., page 556.)
After annexation had become an accomplished fact and German statesmen had
done their work;"true German opinion began to reveal itself and, not many years
after annexation, the real German policy was made horribly manifest to the
unfortunate natives of South-West Africa.
Commenting on this policy, the effects of which had never been so strongly
evidenced as just after the second and last Herero rebellion in 1904, Dr. Paul
Rohrbach, the accepted and candid oracle of German colonial policy (who in 1890
was a highly placed official in the German Colonial Office), writes as follows :-
The decision to colonise in South-West Africa could after all mean nothing
else but this, namely, that the native tribes would have to give-up their lands
S on which they had previously grazed their stock in order that the white man
might have the land for the grazing of his stock.
When this attitude is questioned from the moral law standpoint, the
answer is that for nations of the Kultur-position of the South African
natives, the loss of their free national barbarism and their development into
a class of labourers in service of and dependent on the white people is
primarily a law of existence in the highest degree.
It is applicable to a nation in the same way as to the individual, that the
right of existence is justified primarily in the degree that such existence is
useful for progress and general development.
By no arguments whatsoever can it be shown that the preservation of any
degree of national independence, national property, and political organisation
by the races of South-West Africa, would be of a greater or even of an equal
advantage for the development of mankind in general or of 'the German
people in particular, than the making of such races serviceable in the enjoyment
of their former possessions by the white races. (Deutsche Kolonialwirtschaft,
FIRST STEPS AFTER ANNEXATION.
When, in 1890, Captain C. von Frangois was formally appointed to act as
Administrator of the newly annexed territory, he found matters in a very chaotic
state. The Kaufmannische Verwaltung (Merchant Administration) of .the fugitive
Dr. Goering, who had now returned, had been wrecked by Robert Lewis. Von
Francois had first to dispose of Lewis, and then by judicious application of honeyed
words and the eating of more humble pie than was exactly desirable, if the prestige
of the Fatherland were to be upheld, to mollify the ruffled natives and re-secure
their adherence to the Protection Agreements.
Lewis gave no further trouble. The annexation by Germany disposed of him,
and it is reported that he left the country shortly afterwards.
Von Francois' position was extremely precarious, as he had only 21 soldiers.
Moreover, contemporaneously with his arrival, war had broken out afresh between
the Hereros under Kamaherero and the Hottentots, led by that wonderful character
and fine soldier, Hendrik Witbooi, the chief of the Kowese (Queen Bee) IHottentots.
Hendrik Witbooi and his father, the chief Moses Witbooi, refused from the
outset to make any Protection Agreements with Goering or in any way to encourage
a German influx. In fact, when in 1886 the missionary Rust, on behalf of Goering,
presented a drafted and prepared agreement to Moses Witbooi merely for favour of
signature, the old chieftain was so enraged that he closed the Mission church and
forbade Rust to hold any further religious services there. He dispensed with
the missionary and became High Priest of his own people, a practice which his son
and successor, Hendrik, followed to the day of his death. It was waste of time,
therefore, to try and negotiate with Witbooi, so Goering and von Frangois turned
their attention to Kamaherero. By promising that the German Emperor would
send soldiers to help'the Hereros against Hendrik Witbooi, they eventually prevailed
on Kamaherero to re-affirm the agreement of 1885 which he made with Goering and
which on Lewis's advice he had repudiated in 1888.
Goering immediately after this wrote to Hendrik Witbooi on 20th May 1890,
from Okahandja, as follows ;-
To the Chief Hendrik Witbooi.
I am informed from Namaqualand that it is your intention to carry on
the War against the Hereros and that you intend, as you have hitherto done,
to destroy villages and steal cattle.
The German Government cannot however' tolerate your constant
disturbance of the peace of a land and people which are under German
protection, and whereby work, trade, and travel suffer.
You will therefore be compelled by all means to restore Peace, which is
necessary in the entire land.
I request you to cease your interminable wars, make peace with the
Hereros and return to Gibeon. I or a Representative who will later succeed
me, am prepared to intervene in order to restore Friendship. That the
English Government is supporting us in our efforts to secure peace has been
made plain to you, to your disadvantage, as they have stopped import of
your munitions through British Bechuanaland.
That the German Government possesses quite other powers to damage
you, will be made plain.
Therefore I again earnestly request you to make Peace if you wish to
preserve yourself, your land, and your people.
The concluding paragraph is worthy of note in view of what occurred shortly
afterwards at Hornkranz.
Hendrik Witbooi received the letter and ignored it. The threats and the
information therein conveyed did not fail, however, to make a deep impression:
Accordingly, on the 30th May, Hendrik Witbooi wrote the following characteristic
letter to his hereditary enemy, Kamaherero, at Okahandja:-
To dear Captain Maherero Tjamuaha.
To-day I write to you in your capacity as the Paramount Chief of Damara-
land, because I have received a letter from Dr. Goering which tells me great
things and which has shown me the necessity of addressing you.
From the contents of Dr. Goering's letter I hear and understand that
you have placed yourself under .German protection, and that thereby
Dr. Goering has acquired full influence and power to order and arrange things
and to interfere in the affairs of our land, even to intervene in this war which
of old has existed between us. You astonish me and I greatly blame you
because you call yourself the Paramount Chief of Damaraland and that is
trite. Because our arid country has only two names Damaraland and
"Namaland" that is to say Damaraland belonging to the Herero nation
and is an independent nation and is an independent kingdom, and Namaland
belongs only to all the red coloured nations in independent kingdoms, just
as the same is said of the lands of the white people, Germany, England, and
They are independent kingdoms and all the different nations have their
own heads and each head has his own land and people, over which he alone
can rule, so that no other person or chief can order or compel him. For
in this world each Head of a nation is merely the representative of our
Almighty God and stands responsible alone to that God, the King of all Kings,
the Lord of Lords, before whom we all, who live under the Heavens, must
bend the knee. .
But, dear Captain, you have now accepted another Government; you
have surrendered to that Government in order to be protected by another
human Government from all dangers, chiefly and foremost to be protected
from me in this war. You are to be protected and helped by the
German Government, but dear Captain do you appreciate what you have
done ? You have looked upon me as a hindrance and a stumbling
block (steen des aanstoots) and so you have accepted this great Government
in order to destroy me by its might but it appears to me that you
have not sufficiently considered the matter, having in view your land and
people, your descendants who will come after you and your Chieftain's rights.
Do you imagine that you will retain all the rights of your independent chief-
tainship after your shall have destroyed me (if you succeed)'? That is your
idea, but dear Captain in the end you will have bitter remorse, you will have
eternal remorse, for this handing of your land and sovereignty over to the
hands of white people. .
Moreover, our war is not so desperate that you should have taken this
great step (here Witbooi recapitulates the reasons for the war and the
steps which will bring about peace and points out that he and Maherero
are competent to make Peace, in the same way as they are competent to
make war, without outside: interference "), but notwithstanding all this,
I do hope that our war will end and will be succeeded by Peace? But this
thing which you have done, this giving of yourself into the hands of white
people for government, thinking that you have acted wisely, that will become
to you a burden as if you were carrying the sun on your back. I cannot
say whether you have sufficiently pondered over and whether you actually
understand what yoft have done by giving yourself into German Protection.
I do not know whether you and your Herero nation understand the
customs and laws and policy of this Government, and will long remain
in peace and content thereunder. You will not understand and will be
dissatisfied with Dr. Goering's doings, because he will not consult your wishes
or act in accordance with your laws and customs. This you will discover
too late however as you have already given him full powers.
Continuing, the old Hottentot statesman adds that the Hereros and Germans
were never friends, and that this agreement between them is made merely to
destroy me as Herod and Pilate of old banished their differences and enmities and
combined in order to remove the Lord Jesus." In conclusion, Witbooi hopes that
he will never descend to such unbelief and little faith as to rush for protection
for himself and' his people to any other than the Lord of Heaven the
best Protector." (This letter is quoted by several German writers, and is copied
into H. Witbooi's journal, which is in the writer's possession. There is no doubt
as to its authenticity.)
Lengthy extracts from a lengthy letter are quoted, because the words of the
chief explain the Hottentots' instinctive mistrust of the Germans and indicate the
only reason why the Hereros accepted German protection.
The independent and liberty-loving Hottentots wished to remain entirely free
and unrestricted by foreign Governments. The proud and peacefully disposed
Horeros, on the other hand, regarded the Hottentots on their southern flank as a
standing menace to the security of their large droves of cattle. The Herero lived
for, and practically worshipped, his lowing herds. His traditions, religious cere-
monies, and national rites necessitated that he should own cattle, the more the better.
Cattle spelt power to him in this world and felicity in the next. It was to preserve
his cattle, therefore, that the Herero accepted German protection; for was he not
told that the mighty German Emperor would send troops to annihilate the
Hottentots and give him peace? This promise, like all German promises made
to the natives, was never kept. It was not seriously made; it was merely a trick.
When, in after years, the German Emperor did send his armies to Hereroland, they
came for quite another purpose.
Having unburdened his views on the Germans to Kamaherero, Hendrik Witbooi
showed what he thought of Dr. Goering's demands by prosecuting his war* against
the Hereros with renewed vigour and invincible determination. The harassed
Hereros looked in vain to von Frangois for the promised German military assistance.
What could von Frangois do? He only had sufficient troops to form a personal
bodyguard, and there was no immediate prospect of reinforcements for offensive
purposes; in fact, he could not venture to ask for any, as his definite instructions
from Berlin, when he landed, were to take no sides but to remain strictly on the
Eventually von. Fran0ois, driven nearly to desperation by the taunts and
recriminations of his Herero allies, decided to pay a personal visit to Hendrik
Witbooi at the latter's village at Hornkranz. The old chief, who in all his wars
regarded the persons and property of the white people as sacred, received von
Frangois coolly but courteously. With his usual thoroughness, Hendrik Witbooi
caused the minutes of their interview to be carefully entered in his journal by his
secretary. A few extracts from this delightful exchange of views will not be out
of place here.
The meeting took place on 9th June 1892.
(1) Address of the German Captain Commissioner (his words) to Captain
I have heard many things about you from white people and also from
Bastards.. I hear that you always restore any property of white people
or Bastards which may fall into your hands, as they take no part in this
war. This pleases me greatly and I approve of your friendliness,
your just acts and your wisdom, in that you injure or prejudice no one who
takes no part in this war but here are very many complaints
concerning the Hereros on account of their stupid and unlawful acts.
The Government has asked me what should be done, so I replied and said
It appears that this war originated owing to the murder of certain Hottentot horse-dealers by the
Okahandja Hereros, and that Witbooi was not on this occasion the aggressor.
a 5952 D
that first of all I will go to Hendrik Witbooi and speak to him. Therefore
have I come to you, in order to speak. I have come as a friend to give you
good advice, and to ask you if you will not as all* the other chiefs of this
land have done, namely, to put yourself under German protection .
In the next ship Europeans will arrive and these people must be protected,
and the German Government is pledged to protect all who come under its
(2) The Chief (Hendrik Witbooi) answers:--
Yes, I have heard of your coming and of your intentions In
the first place are your people sent here by the German Emperor ?
(3) Von Francois replies :-
Yes, we have been sent by the German Government. Dr. Goering was
sent and I am now his successor and have my official capacity.
(4) Chief Hendrik Witboooi says :-
In the second place allow me to ask you what is protection ? and from
what are we to be protected ? From what danger and difficulty aid trouble
is one chief protected by another ?
(5) Von Francois answers :-
From the Boers and other strong nations who wish to force their way
into this land. They wish to come and live here and work and do as they
please, without asking permission from the chiefs of the land. Even now
on my journey I met Boers who have already arrived and wish to approach
on the side where Willem Christian is. But because they know that his
land is already under Germany's Protection they have neither power nor
right to enter; and, chief, you must clearly understand that the chiefs will
not be deprived of their rights and laws. The chief (Witbooi) will have
jurisdiction over his own people as is the case with the chief at Rehoboth.
(6) The Chief (Witbooi) says :-
So, I understand it. To me it is a matter of wonder and impossibility,
and I cannot conceive that a chief, being an independent chief and ruler
over his own land and people (for every chief is this), able to defend his
people against all danger or threats can, if he accepts protection
from another, still be regarded as a chief-as an independent chief.
Every one under protection is a subject of the one who protects him. .
Moreover, this Africa is the land of the Red chiefs (i.e., Hottentots) and
when danger threatens a chief, and he feels he is unable alone to oppose
such danger, then he may call upon his brother chief or chiefs of the Red
people, and say, Come brother or brothers and let us stand together and
fight for our land Africa and avert this danger which threatens our land "
for we are the same in colour and manner of life, and although divided under
various chiefs, the land is ours in common.
(7) Von Francois replies :-
Yes, what the captain has just said there is right and true; I myself
could never do that-I mean agree to stand under another chief; but the
captain must well understand that he is not being forced to submit to
protection; it is left to his own free will and choice and the captain should
consider and ponder over it .
(At this juncture von Frangois points out that only people under German
protection will be allowed rifles and ammunition, and that it would be
pathetic to see Witbooi's brave and efficient men fighting their enemies
with the butt ends of their guns owing to lack of powder and shot. He
also volunteered the information that Witbooi's wars with the Hereros had
so riveted the attention of all the nations of the world that the Germans,
English, Russian, French, Spanish, and Italian nations have unanimously
decided to prohibit further export of munitions to the country.)
(8) This news intensely annoyed Hendrik Witbooi, who remarked that
he was quite unable to praise such a decision, and a long discussion
followed as to the'justice of such a step.
Thislis a deliberate misrepresentation,
(9) After a time the German Commissioner got a chance to speak again, and
I think the chief can now, after all is said and done, make peace with
the Hereros. In the last battle he gave them a severe knock on the head,
a fact which greatly delighted and pleased me, because the war hinders
everything and if, after the chief makes peace with the Hereros,
they again try to do anything wrong to your people, the German Government
will take care to prevent it and it will not take so long to do that as the
chiefs' war has taken-but it will be over in 14 days.
In reply to this feeler the chief deftly evaded further discussion by reverting
to the question of'arms and ammunition; he resolutely refused to discuss peace.
Shortly afterwards the German Commissioner left, his errand having been
fruitless, as he thought. Yet Hendrik Witbooi had received a great shock. For
the first time it dawned upon him that his country had been annexed by Germany
with the consent of England, and that he, the Paramount Chief of Great Namaqualand,
was a German subject.
He was not slow to decide what steps to take in his own interests and those
of his people.
Goering had stated in his letter of May 1890: I again earnestly request you
to make peace if you wish to preserve yourself, your land and your people," and
the hint of von Fran.ois about the Europeans who would arrive in the next ship
did not fall on dull ears. Witbooi decided to open peace negotiations with the
Hfereros through the mediation of the Bastard chief at Rehoboth, and, by August
1892, a formal treaty of peace had been signed. He also decided to send a protest
to the British Government, through the Magistrate at Walvis Bay.
THE MASSACRE AT HORNKRANZ.
For the first 12 months after the annexation the German Government had
left von Frangois practically to his own resources, and nothing definite was decided
on in regard to the occupation and settlement of South-West Africa. In the
beginning of 1891 the great Kolonialgesellschaft, or Colonial Company, began to
move, and inquiries were instituted through the German missionaries on the spot
as to whether it would pay to retain and develop the country.
To this the Mission Inspector, Dr. Buttner, replied .
(Von Fran9ois, D.S.W.A.)
Damaraland is a key (gate) to South Africa, which we should not let pass
out of our hands." He also went on to advise that the troops should intervene,"
and that the best time to beat Hendrik Witbooi would be to attack him when,
after one of his usual defeats by the Hereros, he is retreating to the south." Dr.
Hopfner reported (referring presumably to the Hereros) that if the German
Empire would not or could not give the guaranteed protection to the natives,
and if the troops had to tolerate the reflections cast upon them (as would appear
from reports in the press), it would be better to surrender the land at once."
The German Colonial Company decided to follow Buttner's views, and in
May 1891 the following resolution was passed at a meeting held in Berlin :-
That this meeting regards the Colony of South-West Africa as one of
the most valuable German dependencies. Owing to its situation that colony
is destined to secure to German influence its decisive position in South Africa.
The favourable climate and the available uninhabited areas make settlement
by German farmers and agriculturists possible on a large scale. In order
to promote the development of the colony in the right direction and to
utilise for the benefit of the Mother-country all the advantages there to be
derived, the Imperial Colonial Administration should come to the help of
the spirit of German enterprise by securing peace there and the establishment
of an organised administration. This meeting gives utterance to the con-
Viction that the costs of an established Government on the lines followed
by the English in Bechuanaland will very soon be covered by the revenues
of the colony.
To this the Chancellor, Count von Caprivi (who had succeeded Prince Bismarck)
replied to the effect that the present position was very unfavourable, but that, in
view of the fact that it was hoped, shortly, to form a new and strongly financed
company, and also that the financial resources of the Colonial Company of South-
West Africa would probably be increased before long, he would hold out a possibility,
if the contingencies mentioned came to pass, of compliance with the wishes of the
Kolonialgesellschaft, as expressed in the resolution.
Early in 1892, in view of the continued war -between Witbooi and the Hereros,
the German garrison in the country was increased to 200 troops. Again the Hereros
expected active help in terms of promises made, but none was forthcoming. Von
Francois preferred to make the personal visit to Witbooi of which details were given
in the preceding chapter to congratulate Witbooi on his victories and to endeavour
to persuade him, like his Herero enemies, to accept German protection. While
resolutely refusing to entertain any German offers of protection or peace mediation,
Hendrik Witbooi and his people were careful to maintain personal friendship with
the new-comers. German traders came and went; their cattle and goods were
never touched; and on official matters Witbooi invariably sent prompt and civil
replies to any communications from the German Administrator, who by this time
was established in the new headquarters at Windhuk.
While maintaining this correct and amicable attitude, the old chief, in addition
to cherishing his powers as chief, jealously guarded the rights of his people in their
land. He would sanction no German farmers in his country. Early in 1892,
Goering's rejuvenated Colonial Company decided to start an experimental wool
farm. Merino sheep were imported, and a German farmer named Hermann placed
in charge of the stock. Without in any way consulting the chief, Hermann esta-
blished himself at Nomtsas,in Witbooi's territory, and commenced farming operations.
The Herero war did not occupy all Hendrik's time, so he decided to write to
Hermann. The letter is of interest because it shows the courtly temperament and
dignity of the old warrior
It is as follows :
MY DEAR FRIEND HERMANN, 20th May 1892.
I SEND these few lines to you. We have never yet seen one another,
but I now hear something about you, through reports received from people-
namely, that it is your intention to go to Nomtsas, and to live there. I don't
know, however, whether this is true. I can hardly believe that you would
do such a thing. It has been told to me for truth though, so I feel compelled
to let your honour know, in good time, that I cannot approve of this. I do
not give you permission to go and live at Nomtsas and to start big works
there. So will you please be so good not to remain on the place,. but to
return. I cannot agree because, very shortly, the land will be required for
some of my own people.
I entreat you, my dear friend, to understand me rightly and correctly;
do not take offence, because I mean well towards you, and that is why I am
sending this letter to you, in good time, to advise you-so that you may be
saved the trouble and expense of starting extensive work on the ground.
With hearty greetings-I am-
the Captain Hendrik Witbooi.
In August 1892, when peace with the Hereros was certain and the treaty was
being considered at Rehoboth by the delegated representatives of Witbooi and
Maherero, Hendrik decided to bring his apprehensions to the notice of the British
Writing from Hornkranz on 4th August 1892 to the English Magistrate of
Walvis Bay, he states :-
I feel obliged and compelled to advise you of the position and circum
stances under which I now live, I mean of the position of the Germans who
have come into our land for I hear things and I see things which
to me are impossible-things which are neither just nor good--and therefore
I write to you, the English Magistrate, in the hope and encouragement which
is based on the old friendship which my late grandfather had with the
English Government which ancient friendship I acknowledge to
this day We have seen and have learnt from experience that we can
agree with the English in business and in ordinary life and if it can be thought
or said that any nation should have a preference over this Africa that can be
said of the English because they were the first to come into this land and we
have become acquainted with them in business and personal friendship .
that friendship is quite sufficient for us. I require no other sort of friendship
or treaty with a white nation that is my view of the English
Government and of the old friendship of my grandfather towards you English
and I in my day still rely on that old friendship. But now I see another man
who is an entire stranger to me. His laws and deeds are to me entirely
impossible and unintelligible and untenable. Therefore I write this letter to
Your Honour in the hope that you will, in reply, advise me of the full truth
in regard to my questions concerning the coming of the Germans; because
the works of the Germans are encroaching on my land and now even my life
is threatened they come to destroy me by War without niy knowing what
my guilt is I have been told that it is their intention to shoot me
and I ask Your Honour. Perhaps you can tell me why? Perhaps you will
know because you are parties to a treaty and of you English and Germans
the other nation can do nothing without the knowledge of the other; because
as [ have heard (and I ask Your Honour) that the English Government and
the German Government held a big meeting and discussed to whom this land
Africa should be assigned-for the purpose of concluding Protection Agree-
ments with the Chiefs of the land; and thereupon you English surrendered
the land to the Germans. But you also said at the meeting that no Chief
should be compelled by force; you said that if a Chief were willing and
understood to accept the Protection he could accept it That was
your decision in your meeting and you unanimously agreed. So also has it
come to pass that some Chiefs have accepted German protection. Those
Chiefs to-day bitterly regret it, however, and are full of remorse, for they
have seen no result from the nice words (lekkere woorden) which the Germans
spoke to them. The Germans told those Chiefs that they wished to protect
them from other strong nations, which intended to come into the land with
armies and deprive the Chiefs, by force, of their lands and farms; and that
therefore it was their (the Germans) desire to protect the Chiefs from such
stupid and unjust people but so far as I have seen and heard, it
appears to me wholly and entirely the reverse. The German himself is that
person of whom he spoke, he is just what he described those other nations as.
He is doing those things because he rules and is now independent, with his
Government's laws; lie makes no requests according to truth and justice and
asks no permission of a chief. He introduces laws into the land according
to his own opinions, and those laws are impossible untenable unbearable
unacceptable unmerciful and unfeeling (ongevoelig). He personally
punishes our people at Windhuk and has already beaten people to death for
debt. It is not just and worthy to beat people to death for that.
They were five people in all. Four Bergdamaras and one of my red men. .
He flogs people in a scandalous and cruel manner. We stupid and unintelli-
gent people, for so he regards us, we have never yet punished a human being
in such a cruel and improper way. He stretches persons on their backs and
flogs them on the stomach and even between the legs, be they male or female,
so Your Honour can imagine that no one can survive such a punishment .
Secondly when some Damaras fled to my farm they went to sleep there,
being tired; then there came four white men, who are under the (German)
Captain, accompanied by a Bastard and there on my farm they murdered
six of the Damaras.
So already eleven persons have without reason been murdered by the
Germans therefore I write and ask Your Honour whether you
know of these things, and of the deeds and intentions of the Germans.
The chief then goes on (his letter covers 14 foolscap pages and is too long to
insert in full) to assert that his land was conquered by his grandfather from the
Chief Oasib, and that he again, years later, defeated Manasse, the Red Chief, who
disputed his title.
So Namaqualand was purchased by us in blood, twice over, from our
grandfather's days even to mine, and it is clear therefore and unquestionable
that Oasib's territory is mine according to all well-known laws of War and
thus, because I am an independent Chief, I have not submitted myself, my
land, and my people to German protection.
Growing more and more eloquent as he proceeds, he points out how all trading
rights and concessions in his area have invariably been given by him to Englishmen,
and he asks in spite of all this and of their ancient friendship, Have you English
delivered me into the hands of the Germans ? "
After alleging that the English must have been misled by the Germans at that
"meeting (he has probably in mind the Anglo-German Conference of 1890), the
Hottentot chief continues:
Therefore, my dear Magistrate, I write to you as a true friend, that you
may know the depth of my feelings, for I complain to you of the inmost
heavy feelings of my heart and it hurts and pains me much and brings
remorse when I consider that your people have allowed such persons into
our country. I send you this letter and I request you to give it to the Cape
Government--let all the great men of England know of it so that they may
have another meeting and consider this position of the Germans and if
possible call these people back. Because they are not following the Agree-
ments and Resolutions on the strength of which you let them enter this
The quotations are from a copy of the letter in Witbooi's handwriting recorded
in his journal. Whether or not the Magistrate of Walvis Bay ever received this
letter which was sent by hand by one of my own men "-or whether any notice
was taken of it when received cannot* be said, but there is ample food for reflection
and possibly for self-reproach.
Having unburdened his very soul to the Magistrate of Walvis Bay, Hendrik
Witbooi remained at his chief village, Hornkranz, and awaited results. His
conscience was clear; he was at peace with the Hereros and with everyone else. He
ruled his people, settled disputes, conducted Church services, preached and prayed
and wrote letters.
This tranquillity was not to last very long.
In the beginning of 1893 the German garrisonjhad been increased to about
250 soldiers with two batteries of artillery.
The Peace of Rehoboth between the Hereros and the Hottentots had rendered
German military intervention unnecessary. Notwithstanding this, the garrison
was reinforced and Captain von Francois received (says Leutwein)-
the simple instruction to uphold German domination under all circumstances.
It was left to him to do so either by means of attack or defence. The
Commissioner decided, after weighing all the circumstances, for the purpose
of intimidating the others, to give one of the native races an impression of
our power. He considered that the Witboois would be suitable for this
purpose. The humiliation of Hendrik Witbooi would exercise the
greatest influence on the others.
The German ex-Governor may be allowed to continue in his own words his brief
description of this treacherous and most disgraceful piece of business:-
Under preservation of the greatest secrecy, the troops on the morning
of 12th April 1893 attacked Hornkranz, the location of Witbooi. The chief
apparently reckoned on a formal declaration of war, and was completely
taken by surprise; he was peacefully drinking his morning coffee. Yet he
succeeded, by judicious flight, in saving himself and nearly all his fighting
men. Only wives and children fell into the hands of the troops .
The troops were, probably owing to over-estimation of the achieved results,
returned to Windhuk.
Leutwein is careful and brief, so we have to go elsewhere for further information.
Captain K. Schwabe, of the German Army, who was senior Lieutenant with the
forces under von Frangois, writes, describing incidents of the fight:-
Suddenly a Hottentot warrior stepped from behind a rock and aimed at
a distance of at most 20 paces at an advancing soldier. Instantaneously the
Since writing the above it has been ascertained that the letter was duly received and sent to
the Cape Government, and was by them transmitted to the Imperial Government in October 1892.
t But they captured his journal and took it to the Archives at Windhuk, and it is now at the
soldier took aim as well. The finger of the Hottentot pressed the trigger,
but, wonderful to relate, his rifle missed fire; the soldier's shot took effect,
and the brave Witbooi, wounded through the chest, wallowed in his blood.
On all sides terrible scenes were disclosed to us. Under an overhanging rock
lay the corpses of seven Witboois, who, in their death agony, had crawled
into the hollow, and their bodies lay pressed tightly together. In another
place the body of a Berg-Damara woman obstructed the footpath, while two
three-to-four year old children sat quietly playing beside their mother's
corpse. English papers laid the charge against ,us that at Hornkranz
we killed women and children, and in hateful and lying manner alleged that
our soldiers spared neither wife nor child. They had done us a bitter
injustice; because if, at the range we fired, it had been possible to distinguish
men from women, certainly no women would have been shot .. (he
forgets to add, however, that the Germans opened fire, at early dawn, on the
'huts in which the men, women, and children were quietly sleeping, and that
they knew full well that women and children would be killed).
The Stad itself was a fearful sight (continues Schwabe); burning huts,
human bodies and the remains of animals, scattered furniture, destroyed and
useless rifles, that was the picture which presented itself to the eyes. From
the burning pontoks (huts) came now and then the reports of exploding
cartridges which had been left or buried there by the Witboois. Among the
prisoners brought forward were the wife and daughter of the chief Hendrik
Witbooi. The latter, named Margaret, was an exceedingly self-possessed
girl of between 17 to 19 years of age. Without the slightest sign of fear she
stood before us and answered all our questions freely and with a proud air.
Then, through the Interpreter, she made the following statement: "II have
heard that you have come from over the sea, in ship, in order to make war
on my father. To-day the victory is on your side, but luck is changeable,
and if you will take my advice you will return to your own homes; because,
before long, my father will come down on you like a lion and take his
t.~I estimate the losses of the enemy (continues Schwabe) at about 150
persons, of which 60 were soldiers, that is, men of the Hottentot race. Unfor-
tunately, there must be included women and children who had been in the
pontoks during the fight; then, also, there were 50 prisoners, and a number
of severely wounded, which were taken to Windhuk and treated there. The
booty, a number of rifles, munitions, saddlery, harness, a herd of cattle, a
flock of small stock, and about 20 horses, was not of much value to us; the
loss of these was, however, a considerable blow to the Witboois. The most
remarkable piece of loot was an ox-wagon on which had been fixed a harmo-
nium used by the Witboois at divine service; unfortunately it was badly
damaged by rifle fire.
Hendrik Witbooi might well have cause to return like a lion "; but the surprise
had deprived him of practically all food and munitions, and he and his following,
living on wild fruits, field mice, lizards, and the larvat of ants, took refuge in the
mountain fastnesses of the Naauwkloof.
Before closing the subject it may be recorded, however, that according to
information given by the chief's son, and namesake, who now lives at Gibeon and
who accompanied his father from Hornkranz, the surprise was so complete that
many of the fugitives escaped only in their shirts. A certain percentage grabbed
rifles and bandoliers; but many had not time even to do that. ,Hendrik Witbooi,
junior, relates that a few days after the Germans had left on their return to Windhuk,
he and a party of his father's men came down from the mountains to see if anything
had been spared to them. At the village they found that the Germans had set a
huge land mine, which, if it had exploded, would have brought further disaster on
the visitors. The quick eye of the Hottentot detected the trap; the spring gun
which was to fire the mine was detached and a sufficient supply of powder was
unearthed to enable Witbooi to continue an obstinate resistance for nearly 18 months
Von Francois had succeeded in giving the natives an impression of our power ";
but he had also succeeded in doing more: he had given the natives an impression
of the true German character and of the real worth of German pretensions. To
this massacre at Hornkranz is to be ascribed the fact that the Ovambos never came
under German influence. The news spread like wildfire and shocked and horrified
the natives throughout the country. The Ovambos, in anticipation of a visit from
the Germans, prepared for war; the Hereros grew sullen and suspicious.
When Major Leutwein took over from von Frangois the next year, he pretended
tb feel astonishment at the aloof and openly hostile bearing of the natives "; but
he was more than astonished when, having written to the Ovambo chief, Kambonde,
expressing his intention soon of having the pleasure of paying you a visit," that
potentate replied, Personally, I don't care whether I ever see you as long as I live."
All respect for the white man had disappeared. After Hornkranz, Germany's
prospects of ruling the natives by kindly sympathy and mutual co-operation (had
she ever intended so to do) vanished for ever; her only way to gain ascendancy
was by pitiless severity and brute force. The mailed fist had to be applied.
This she proceeded to do without compunction or hesitation.
LEUTWEIN AND THE PROTECTION AGREEMENTS.
The Berlin Government fully approved the steps taken by von Francois against
Witbooi at Hornkranz, and that gentleman was promoted to the rank of Major.
Towards the end of 1893, namely, on 20th November, Count Caprivi, the
Imperial Chancellor, with the approval of His Majesty the Emperor and King,"
wrote a letter of instruction to Major Theodor Leutwein, directing him to proceed
to South-West Africa and to send a report on the situation there as the result of
his own observations. The Chancellor went on to say that, owing to the difficulty
of obtaining regular and frequent communications from the Acting Commissioner,
Major von Frangois, he was unable to get such details as would enable him, satis-
factorily, to control from Berlin military and administrative work there. Leutwein
was specially asked not to interfere in the military control or administration; but-
His Majesty the Emperor has.decided that should Major von Frangois
be prevented during your presence in the territory from carrying out his
duties by death or other permanent causes you are authorised to take over
his work in an acting capacity.
Your task will be to inquire into the relations between the Europeans
and the natives in the central portions of the territory, and particularly into
the offensive measures already taken and to be taken. In this connection
you will keep this point of view before you, namely, that our power over
the natives must be maintained under all circumstances and must be more
and more consolidated. You must inquire whether the troops are strong
enough to accomplish this task.
Armed with this letter of instructions, Major Leutwein arrived in South-West
Africa in January 1894. His impressions of the state of affairs in the country are
recorded in the interesting work Elf Jahre Gouverneur (Eleven Years Governor),
which he wrote after his return to Germany in 1905.
He writes (page 17) :-
The position in the territory on my arrival was certainly not rosy, and
in certain respects resembles the position to-day (1905). .. The natives
were openly our enemies or at best preserved a very doubtful neutrality.
Only the Bastards of Rehoboth openly took sides with us. It is far from
my intention by a candid mention of actual facts to impute blame to anyone.
Circumstances had quite logically evolved in this way. Quite too long had
the Empire procrastinated in showing its power to the natives. It is, indeed,
a good axiom, once spoken by Prince Bismarck, that In the colonies the
merchant must go on ahead and the soldier and the Administration must
follow him "; but, nevertheless, especially with regard to the warlike natives
which we found in South-West Africa, people should not have to wait too
long for the soldier. Notwithstanding our lack of power, we had
promulgated Ordinances which the natives treated with contempt. One of
the Ordinances concerning arms and ammunition could be enforced because
these articles were imported mainly by sea. .. Furthermore, we issued
and ratified concessions over rights and territories which did not belong to
us. For example, in 1892 we established a syndicate for land settlement
which was to dispose of settlements from Windhuk in the direction of
Hoachanas and Gobabis. Yet there sat at Gobabis the robber Khauas
Hottentots. Hoachanas was claimed by Chief Hendrik Witbooi .
and these claimed that the boundaries of their spheres of influence were close
by the tower of Windhuk.
All this gave rise to the. impression at home that we were masters in
the Protectorate. In actual fact up to 1894 the exercise of any govern
mental powers outside of the capital, Windhuk, was out of the question. .
The reinforced troops were not strong enough to exercise powers in the
remainder of the Protectorate and at the same time to carry on the war
In the same way little influence or impression of power was created
over the natives by the first white influx.
For 60 years past the whites had come to them (the natives) not as proud
conquerors, but as missionaries, traders, and hunters .
The agreements concluded with the natives were merely trading agree-
ments. The fact that the so-called protection given to the natives
in recompense, was merely on paper (lediglich auf dem Papier stand) indicates
that they gave and we took.
The growing "respect" for the troops, occasioned by the capture of
Hornkranz, had, in the natives, sunk to zero, on account of the long struggle
put up by Witbooi thereafter. The fact that, in addition to this, we had
before our attack made an agreement with the Hereros would not influence
them to understand that this attack had been made to benefit them. Therefore
we could not reckon them as friend, and Witbooi, on the other hand, had
become our embittered enemy, and thus we had sat between two stools.
As a study of German mentality, apart from their significance on the native
question, these extracts are of interest:-
Already (continues Leutwein), on my journey to Windhuk, I had an
opportunity of coming into contact with the Hereros and to ascertain, with
astonishment, their dark mistrust (finsteres mistrauen) of the German Govern-
ment, which constituted a grave danger at the rear of the troops fighting
Before continuing to quote Leutwein's illuminating views, it is now necessary
to place on record the exact position, based entirely on agreements (" mere trading
agreements," as Leutwein correctly called them) between the Germans and those
chiefs who had accepted German protection, and also it is necessary to indicate
the position in regard to native races who had up to January 1894 refused to enter
into such agreements.
The races of natives in South-West Africa at the time of the annexation by
Germany may be classified under the following tribal heads:-
(1) The Ovambos (various tribes).
(2) The Hereros (various tribes).
(3) The Hottentots (various tribes).
(4) The Berg-Damaras.
(5) The Bushmen.
(6) The Bastards (or cross-breeds).
The total population at that time, according to the various estimates, mai
reasonably be fixed at approximately 250,000 to 275,000 souls.
The Ovambos, who lived in the extreme north, had made no Protection Agreements,
and can at no time be said to have come under German control. These tribes under
their despotic and powerful chiefs-
Nechale of Omandonga;
Negumbo of Olukonda;
Kambonde of Omalonga; and
Uejulu of Onipa;
were numerically the strongest race in the Protectorate, their total population being
between 100,000 and 150,000.
x 5952 E
The Hereros occupied the whole area marked on most, maps as Damaraland,
and were from 80,000 to 90,000 strong. Palgrave, in 1876 estimated the total
Herero population at 85,000. In 1890 the chief tribes or clans were located at:-
Okahandja under Chief Kamaherero;
Omaruru under Chief Manasse;
Otjimbingwe under Chief Zacharias;
Okandjose under Chief Tjetjoo;
Gobabis (Nossob) under Chief Nikodemus;
Otjizasu (Ovambandjera) under Chief Kahimena; and
Waterberg under Chief Kambazembi. : .
Of these tribes, several of which were again subdivided into groups under
wealthy, powerful, and practically independent minor chiefs, only two, namely,
the tribes of Okahandja and Omaruru, had through their respective chiefs entered
into protection agreements.
The others were not bound, and never considered themselves bound, by any
agreement, until compelled to submit by the power of the German arms. In this
connection the German- authorities made a most extraordinary blunder. They
constituted the chief of the Okahandja Hereros as Paramount Chief of all Herero
tribes, and held that all other chiefs were bound by his agreements and decisions.
That this was contrary to all Herero laws and customs, an endeavour will be made
to show later on. But German craft went even further. When Kamaherero of
Okahandja died, his heir was ignored, and the Germans compelled the Herero people
to accept the weak and inefficient younger son, Samuel Maherero, as Chief of
Okahandja and'Paramount Chief of Hereroland. Samuel, when in his cups, would
agree to anything, and sign anything; and as a keg of rum was to him more than his
kingdom-the :Germans saw to it that he got his rum, and, eventually, lost his
kingdom; and not only his kingdom, but also 80 per cent of the fine race which he
and his German masters had so villainously exploited and misruled.
The Hottentots occupied the whole of Great Namaqualand, and were scattered in
more or less disjointed groups or clans under chiefs who had waxed powerful in
their perpetual wars with the Hereros in the north. Their population was estimated
at about 20,000 souls. Notwithstanding their lack of numbers, they were always
formidable opponents, owing to their ability as horsemen and riflemen.
The Hottentot chiefs who had entered into the so-called protection agreements
only did so out of fear that, as the Germans took care to tell them, the Boeren "
or Dutch farmers of South Africa were trekking up to take their country away from
them. Attention has already been directed to Jordaan and his Upingtonia Republic
of 1884. This trek of the Boers into the south-west was made the fullest use of
by Goering and Buttner, for the attainment of their own ends.
Of the Berg-Damaras and Bushmen--subordinate races-and the Bastards of
Rehoboth, more will be recorded in the separate chapters dealing with those tribes.
The German pretensions to control were based on eight protection agreements,
(1) The Agreement of 28th October 1884, between Dr. Nachtigal (for
Luderitz) and the chief Joseph Fredericks, of Bethany, agreeing to German
protection, granting trade rights, and confirming the acquisitions by Luderitz
(2) The Agreement of 23rd November 1884, between Dr. Nachtigal and
chief Piet Heibib, of the Topenaar Hottentots, whereby the cession of certain
territorial rights (excluding the Walvis Bay area) to Luderitz was confirmed,
and the protection of the German Empire was accepted by the chief.
(3) The Agreement, at Hoachanas, of 2nd September 1885, between the
missionary Carl Buttner, described as the Plenipotentiary of His Majesty
the German Emperor," and Manasse, "the independent Chief Captain of
the Red Nation of Great Namaqualand," whereby Manasse is represented as
asking the Emperor for "his All-Highest protection," which protection
Buttner extends and the German flag will be hoisted as an outward sign of
Note.-A few years after this "All-Highest protection" was accorded,
chief Hendrik Witbooi came along with a punitive expedition against Manasse,
Whom he regarded as one of his subjects. Having suitably dealt with Manasse,
Witbooi seized the German flag and took it with him to Hornkranz. Arrived
at Hornkranz, Hendrik sat down and wrote a letter to the Commissioner,
Dr. Goering, in which the following characteristic passage appears:-
Further I wish to inform you that I have obtained possession of the flag
.which you gave to Manasse. It is now in my hands at llornkranz.
I should like to know what you wish me to do with this flag, as to me
it is a strange thing (vremdeding). All Manasse's possessions belong
(4) The Treaty of Protection and Amity between the Bastards of
Rehoboth and the missionary Carl Buttner (" for the German Emperor "),
dated 15th September 1885.
(5) The Agreement, dated at Okahandja the 21st October 1885 (repu-
diated in. 1888 and revived in 1890 under circumstances already stated),
between Maherero Katjimuaha, Chief Captain of the Hereros in Damaraland ",
and Dr. Goering and Missionary Buttner, both duly empowered and authorised
by the German Emperor."
(6) The confirmation by the Herero chief Manasse of Omaruru of the
terms of the agreement No. 5 with Maherero as per certificate signed at
Omaruru on 2nd November 1885.
.This document is worthy of reproduction; it reads:-
Completed at Omaruru on the 2nd November 1885.
There appeared to-day before the undersigned Imperial Commissioner for
.the South-West African Protectorate, Dr. jur. Heinrich Ernst Goering,
assisted by the Secretary Louis Nels, the Captain of Omaruru, Manasse
.Tysiseta, and the undersigned members of the Council. The Treaty of
Protection and Friendship, entered into with Maherero, was verbally trans-
lated to them by the Missionary Diehl, who acted as interpreter, and explained.
After consultation had taken place amongst themselves they made the
We herewith join the treaty of protection and friendship entered into
between His Majesty the German Emperor, King of Prussia, etc., Wilhelm I.,
and Maherero Katjimuaha, Chief Captain of the Hereros, dated Okahandja,
31st October 1885, in all points.
Read out and translated:
: G. Diehl, Missionary.
: The Imperial German Commissioner for the South-West African
Protectorate, Dr. Heinrich Ernst Goering.
(x) Manasse Tysiseta, Captain of Omaruru.
: Andreas Purainen
Agent of the Rhenish Mission.
: Traugott Kanapirura.
: Nels, Secretary.
(7) The Agreement, dated at Warmbad 21st August 1890, between
Dr. Goering -and chief Jan Hendricks, of the Veldschoendrager Hottentots.
(8) The Agreement, dated at Warmbad 21st August 1890, between
Dr. Goering and Willem Christian, the chief of the Bondelswartz Hottentots.
The last two agreements were made after the annexation of the territory by
) The Witbooi, Tseib (Keetmanshoop), Berseba, Khauas (Gobabis), Swartbooi,
and Afrikaner chiefs had not made agreements.
Referring to these agreements, Governor Leutwein remarks (page 13)-
Our supremacy (herrschaft) in South-West Africa was obtained by
concluding agreements whereby the chiefs ceded to us a portion of their rights,
and received, in return, the promise of our protection. But those persons
who- promised this protection in the name of the German Emperor had not
the slightest authority to do so.
However that may be, the German Government, when it suited its policy and
designs, did not hesitate to hold their part of the agreements binding on the natives,
while thus absolving itself from the liability to give protection as promised by
Buttner and Goering.
It is unnecessary to reproduce the agreements, but it is perhaps desirable to
give the main heads (which were practically all similar) indicating what was
promised to or given by the contracting parties.
The Native Chiefs undertook-
(1) To give German subjects right and freedom to carry on unrestricted
trade in their territories.
(2) To protect their lives and property.
(3) To recognize the German Emperor's jurisdiction over Europeans, and
to refer all disputes between natives and Europeans to the German
(4) To grant no concessions, enter into no treaties and to dispose of no
land, or the interests therein, to any other nation or the subjects
thereof without the prior consent of the German Government.
(5) To assist in the preservation of peace and, in the event of disputes with
other chiefs, to call in the German authorities as mediators.
The German Emperor, on the other hand-through his "agents" afore-
(a) To give his All-Highest protection to the chief and his people.
(b) To recognize and support the chief's jurisdiction and control over his own
(c) To take care that the Europeans respected the laws, customs, and usages
of the natives and paid the usual taxes.
Is it necessary, at this stage, to state that these pledges were observed only
in the breach thereof, and that protests and appeals from the chiefs fell on deaf ears.
These pledges were lediglich auf dem paper "-merely on paper !
Governor Leutwein grows very discursive when dealing with these agreements.
He writes :-
It is not necessary to believe, however, that the chiefs sat like German
law students over their corpus juris perusing the contents of the agreements
with a view to getting a full knowledge of their contents. .
(He knew only too well that this was so, for the reason that the chiefs did not
receive copies, and even if they had could not have read them, as they were in
The specific provisions of the agreements did not matter (kamen daher
nicht an), the fact of their conclusion was sufficient. The manner of the
carrying out of those agreements thus depended entirely on the power which
stood behind the German makers of the agreements. So long as the German
Government in the Protectorate had no means of enforcing its power (macht-
mittel) the agreements were of small significance. After this state of affairs
Shad been changed the agreements were, in practice, dealt with uniformly
without regard to their stipulated details. So the native tribes
were all in the same way, and as a whole, whether this was arranged for in
the agreements or not, made subject to German laws and German jurisdiction,
and received German garrisons. .
Taxes and duties due on the part of the Europeans to the natives were,
on the contrary, except in the Rehoboth territory, never collected. (See
Elf Jahre Gouverneur," page 240.)
Leutwein continues :-
Even although the native chiefs could form little idea of the contents
of the protection agreements, they were clearly aware of the actual existence
thereof. That means they knew that the Governor, as Deputy of the German
Emperor, had to exercise a sort of dominion over them as the result of
agreements for the most part voluntarily made (auf ground von meist
freiwillig eingegangenen vertragen).
Leutwein has already affirmed that Dr. Goering and Buttner had not the
slightest authority to bind the German Crown. In regard to the subsequent agree-
ments which he himself made with the chiefs Hendrik Witbooi, Lambert, Simon
Kooper, and others it will be seen to what extent they may be regarded as having
been voluntarily entered into.
And this.voluntariness (continues Leutwein) was the rock on which the
power of the Governor might be shattered. There were two ways
in which the danger might be met. Either the protection agreements had
to be repudiated and in place of the system of protection-control an actual
dominion, based on the force of arms, substituted; or, alternatively, the
representative of the German Government had to play up to the chiefs, to
conciliate them and thus by degrees accustom them to German control. If,
notwithstanding this, there was opposition, the one tribe could be played
off against the other. The adoption by me of the first alternative was impos-
sible. This the old Fatherland neither understood nor approved of, until
the impracticability of the second, course was clearly established, not by
mere conviction, but by actual proved facts. This proof came only in 1904,
and then we had to pay costly blood-money for our tuition.
Leutwein goes on to relate how, in following his second alternative, he recognized
the protection agreements, brought in troops, and used the "loyal" natives to
co-operate as soldiers with the Germans in operation against rebel tribes. This
gave rise (he writes) to the hope that the natives would gradually
become accustomed to the existing state of affairs. Of their ancient inde-
pendence nothing but a memory would remain. In conjunction with such
a peace-policy, a gradual disarming of natives, in cases of insubordination,
could go hand in hand with a severing of tribal ties; and this, in part,
actually did take place. This course required patience, however, not only
on the part of the Government, but also on the part of the white immigrants,
and here it was, to a certain extent, not forthcoming.
Leutwein complains that "people not only were lacking in patience, but
that some actually worked at cross-purposes and made his conciliation policy-
as above outlined-quite impossible and unworkable.
As an example he quotes the following specific case :-
For example, shortly before the Bondelswartz rebellion the German
Colonial Confederation (Deutsche Kolonialbund) imposed the following
demands on the Bondelswartz tribe :
(1) Every coloured person must regard a white man as a superior being
(" HBheres wesen ").
(2) In court the evidence of one white man can only be outweighed by
the statements of seven coloured persons.
These demands were nowhere contested in Germany, and in the Protectorate
they were hailed with satisfaction. I will express no opinion as to their
utility; but, in practice, one can apply them only to subjected races (unter-
The Hottentot rebellion of 1903 and the Herero rebellion of 1904 gave Germany
her chance of converting the survivors into unterworfenen v6lkerschaften."
The fact, however, that the German Colonial Confederation could, in this manner,
intervene and override the Governor, the law and the pledges and the agreements,
is one of the unexplained mysteries of the German system.
NATIVE POPULATION STATISTICS.
The actual Government control by Germany commenced, therefore, only in
1894, when Major Theodor Leutwein took over the command from ,von Fran9ois,
and was appointed first Governor of German South-West Africa.
The attached sketch will indicate-
:(1) the boundaries of the new colony;
(2) the location and spheres of influence of the various native tribes in 1894.
It will now be advisable to deal with each native race separately, showing
(a) their origin and characteristics;
(b) their laws and customs;
(c) their relations with the Germans, and their treatment;
(d) the causes which led to the various rebellions.
Having done this it will be necessary to indicate what treatment was meted out
to the natives during and after these rebellions. It will be necessary, moreover, to
deal with the German judicial system as applied' to the natives, and in conclusion to
voice the views of the native population of South-West Africa in regard to the future
destiny and government of this country.
These views are reflected in voluntary statements made on oath by surviving
chiefs, headmen, and prominent leaders of the aboriginal tribes, and:they. represent
the unanimous views of the peoples concerned..
At this stage, however, it is necessary to quote certain figures the details of
which should be burnt into the memory, as they are in themselves the best indicators
of the black deeds which, were it possible to record them all, would require, more
space than the scope of this report allows. '
While there is little difficulty in fixing the areas in which the native tribes lived
and exercised influence, it is not so easy to arrive at an accurate idea of the total
'numbers of the population.
The only guides we have are the considered estimates given by the men, who
after years of residence in the country, extended travel, observation, and- inquiry,
were able.confidently to place on record certain definite figures.
The British Commissioner, W. C. Palgrave, in his report of 1877, estimated the
native population in 1876 as under:-
(1) Ovamboland :
Various Ovambo tribes 98,000
(2) Hereroland (or Damaraland) :
(3) Great Namaquatand:
Various Hottentot tribes 16,850
Making a total for all races of -235,850
r In his book, Governor Leutwein gives the following estimate of the native
population at the time of his arrival (1894):-
Bushmen and Berg-Damaras 40,000
Inrthe second edition of "Mit Schwert und Pflug (published in 1904), Captain
K. Schwabe, of the German Army, while remarking that a correct estimate of the
Berg-Damara and Bushman population is: difficult, gives the following figures in
regard to the other tribes, as at 1st January 1903:-
S Ovambos 100,000 to 150,000
S -Hereros 80,000
It will be seen that, in regard to the Hereros and Hottentots these authorities
entirely independently, and dealing with the years 1876, 1894, and 1903 respectively,
give practically the same estimate.
If Palgrave and Leutwein were at all accurate the later estimate by Schwabe of
...80,000 Hereros, and
may reasonably be regarded as a minimum figure for the adult native population, no
allowancees' liaving'been made from 1876-1894, arid 1894-1903 for natural increases.
The consensus of opinion and evidence goes to show that, if anything, the
population of those races was in '1904 nearer 100,000 and 25,000 respectively.
Palgrave's estimate of 30,000 Berg-Damaras in 1876 was probably too low, but
it is practically confirmed by Leutwein, and as it is nowhere called into question by
German writers who were conversant with and quoted from his report, there is no
reason why Palgrave's estimate should not be accepted and, again discarding
natural increases, fixed at the same figure for the adult population in 1904, i.e.,
The minimum estimate df the adult population of the three races in 1904 is
therefore fixed at-
80,000 for Hereros,
20,000 for Hottentots,
30,000 for Berg-Damaras.
In 1911, after tranquillity had been restored and all rebellions suppressed, the
German Government of South-West Africa had a census taken. A comparison of
the figures speaks for itself.
Estimate, 1904. Official Census, 1911. Decrease.
Hereros 80,000 15,130 64,870
Hottentots 20,000 9,781 10,219
Berg Damaras 30,000 12,831 17,169
130,000 37,742 92,258
In other words, 80 per cent. of the Herero people had disappeared, and more than
half of the Hottentot and Berg-Damara races had shared the same fate.
Dr. Paul Rohrbach's dictum : It is applicable to a nation in the same way as
to the individual that the right of existence is primarily justified in the degree that
such' existence is useful for progress and general development" comes forcibly to
These natives of South-West Africa had been weighed in the German balance
and had been found wanting. Their "right of existence" was apparently not
THE HEREROS OF SOUTH-WEST AFRICA.
The Herero tribe is probably a branch of the Great Bantu family, which at one
time occupied approximately one-third of the African Continent from 5 North to
l.Unlike their black neighbours, the Berg-Damaras, the colour of the Hereros
varies from light brown to a darker hue of chocolate brown. Tall and muscular,
with proud and dignified bearing and a supreme contempt for other people, the
Herero more closely resembles the Zulu than any other of the South-African races:
It is a singular fact, however, that their physical likeness to the Zulu is confined to
thl men only. The women are generally undersized, and when tall are lanky and
angular. They compare very' unfavourably with the women of the other Bantu
tribes. This may be due to the fact that, unlike the Kaffir and Zulu woman, the
Herero woman, beyond milking the cows and attending to her children, did little
or no manual labour. Instead of being the drudge and slave of her husband, as is
the case with most Bantu tribes, the Herero woman was his pampered pet. The
position and influence of their women and the general deference and respect shown
towards them by the Hereros place this tribe quite in a class by itself among the
Bantu peoples. Their religious beliefs, their sacred rites, and their laws of inheritance
through the mother's side, combined with their mythical conceptions of their original
descent from female ancestors, all united to raise the Herero woman far above her
other Bantu cousins. In their courts, the Hereros, before giving evidence, took
an oath by my mother's tears to tell the truth : this was the usual oath; others
were by my mother's hood and by the bones qf my ancestors."
In his annual memorandum for 1904, the Imperial German Chancellor asserted
that Mashonaland was the place of origin of the Herero tribe. The language of
several tribes in Angola and Central Africa is said to be similar to that of the Hereros,
but, beyond marking the probable route followed by the people in their migration
southwards from the interior, and giving rise to the supposition that they were
centuries back located in Upper Angola and Northern Rhodesia, this information
does not warrant assertion of any definite place of origin.
Pastor Meinhof, a German ethnologist, holds that it is not improbable that
before becoming part of the Bantu group of nomads, the Hereros came from the
Nile areas in the far north, and that they were then a mixture of Negro and Hamite.
This writer indicates certain philological similarities which would imply derivation
from some common Hamite stem.
Tobacco pipe "-(1) Hamitic Galla (East Africa) = Gaya."
(2) Herero = Amakaya."
"Town "-(1) = "-ganda."
(2) = onganda."
He quotes many similar instances.
It is also alleged by close students of the native languages that on investigation
the speech of the Herero is not so genuine a Bantu language as had at first been
thought. In addition thereto the position of their women already referred, to and
certain customs, such as the extraction of the lower front teeth and the V-shaped
filing of the upper front teeth (known also among certain Nile tribes) seem to indicate
influences other than Bantu. Moreover, the holy fire which Dr. Felix Meyer
describes as their concrete conception of religious observance," burning perpetually
in the Okurua or holy place, and tended solely by the principal wife of the Chief,
or his eldest daughter, is reminiscent of the Temple of Vesta at Rome, and its holy
fires tended by the patrician ladies. Space does not permit an exhaustive inquiry
'into a subject, which to ethnologists cannot but be attractive and fascinating. It
is sufficient to say that, no matter what the various theories may be, and no matter
how dissimilar--especially to the European ear--the Herero and Bantu languages
of South Africa may sound, the fact remains that members of the South African
Bantu tribes, coming from the Union to South-West Africa, are able within an
almost incredibly short period of time to speak and understand the Herero language.
At the time of the annexation by Germany the Hereros occupied the heart of
South-West Africa. Their sphere of influence extended from Swakopmund in the
west to the Kalihari border in the east, and from the mountains of Outjo in the
north to Windhuk and Gobabis in the south.
It is certain that, except during the period of their partial and temporary sub-
jugation by the Afrikaner Hottentots, under Jonker Afrikaner (circa 1830-64),
they .had been supreme masters of this area for over 100 years, and that the
Kaokoveld in the north-west of the Protectorate had for two centuries or more
been inhabited by portions of the tribe.
Crossing the Kunene River from Angola about the beginning of the 18th century
and followed at no great distance by their Ovambo neighbours, their first place of
settlement undoubtedly was the Kaokoveld. They remained there for a generation
or two before the steady influx of Ovambos on their eastern flanks gradually pressed
the Hereros and their countless herds of cattle further westward towards the sand
dunes of the arid coast belt. Soon there was insufficient grazing and not enough
elbow room, and after defeating the nearest Ovambo tribe in battle and incidentally
annexing more cattle, the squeezed Herero clans began their gradual movement
south and south-east into what are now known as the Outjo and Grootfontein
This migration from the Kaokoveld appears to have taken place in a leisurely
manner, and the last organised clans to leave the area moved towards the end of
the first quarter of the last century. Grootfontein was then evacuated, and that
area and the belt extending westwards past the Etosha pan became an unoccupied
zone (save for wild Bushmen and fugitive Berg-Damaras). and a neutral belt
between the Ovambos and the Hereros.
It is true that a degenerate and impoverished remnant of the tribe remains
in the Kaokoveld to this day. These people speak the language and retain the
ancient heathen rites and customs of the Herero. But they possess few cattle, and
are little better than the Bushmen. The Hereros gave to their degraded kinsmen
the name of Ovatjimba (the veld beggars "), and by that name they are known
The name Herero itself has been variously derived and explained. Palgrave
asserts that it comes from HERA.= the assegai swingers, and Dr. Hans Schinz and
other inquirers seem to accept this view. The Missionary Dannert, on the other
hand, states that Hereros themselves informed him that it meant "the joyful
people "--the people who take delight in their cattle, thus indicating their tempera-
ment (HERERA = to rejoice). This explanation seems more probable than Palgrave's.
There is a third contention, however, that the word Herero is a derivative of ERERO "
= the past, yesterday-" the ancient people." Thus the old Chief Kamaherero of
Okahandja, when asked the meaning of his name, proudly replied, ma-ha-erero "
= one who is not of yesterday (i.e., one of ancient lineage).
Several writers agree in reporting that a favourite remark of the irate Herero,
when smarting under oppression or injustice, was Oami Omuherero ka Omutua "
= I am a Herero-no barbarian-no stranger." This reminds one of the Civis
Romanus sum" of the ancient Roman; and it would indicate that the name
Herero has more to do with ancient origin than with joyfulness or the
waging of war." The Hereros of to-day can throw no light on the subject. In
religion the Herero paid deference to, and revered, a mystic spirit whom he called
the Great Magician." The good spirit," who had made the world and peopled
it, and who sent good luck and bad luck. Personally he could not hope to approach
this potent being, so he relied on the intercessory prayers and powerful influence
of the spirits of his deceased ancestors. It was the ancestors who were really
worshipped, the holy fire, ever burning on the holy place, the blessed water, the
symbolic wands of Ovampuvu and wild plum tree (representing the male
and female ancestors), and the sacred gourds filled daily with milk from the holy cattle
were all dedicated to the service of the mighty dead. This cult of ancestor worship
exercised a powerful influence over the life and family relations of the Herero. It
bound the family together in a sacred and inseparable tie of past, present and future
relationship. The Hereros firmly believed in continued existence of the soul after
death. Belief in and terror of ghosts was universal. Probably here, as elsewhere,
ancestor worship had its real origin in fear of the ghosts of the departed, and was
the chief motive, until eventually deeper religious feeling and real affection for
deceased relatives became the accepted reason.
In addition to being ancestor worshippers, the Hereros were totemists, but
had no totem badges or signs.
The Herero story of the Creation is interesting and must be mentioned, because
the division of the tribe into totemistic groups or families arises therefrom.
At the behest of the Great Magician there emerged one day from the trunk
of an Omborombonga tree, men and women in pairs, and also all living animals, all
likewise in pairs. The first parents of the Hereros were there too, and all other
races were represented. Light had not yet been created. All the world was in
darkness, and the people and animals crowded round the parent tree and pressed
against one another in sheer terror; no one knew where to go to. The stupid
x 5952 F
Berg-Damara Adam lit a fire, whereupon the lion, the tiger, and all the wild
animals of to-day, and all the wild game, took fright and ran away. To this day
they have remained wild. Then the Great Magician sent the light, and the
people saw that the horses, cattle, goats, and other domestic animals had not taken
fright but had stayed. The people then decided to divide the animals. The Herero
ancestors immediately took the bull and cow. The others violently "disputed their
right to these animals; but Herero Adam held on and persisted. He eventually
got his own way. The acute differences of opinion which had arisen and the anger
and excitement of all the people, speaking and shouting at the same time, resulted
in so much confusion of tongues that the different languages were immediately
evolved. And thus it came that, owing to this original fight over the first cattle,
the various Adams and Eves," no longer understanding the others, separated in
all directions. Away also went the Herero pair taking their chosen cattle with
them in triumph.
Their descendants ever since have loved cattle, and regard the herding, tending,
and accumulation of large herds of cattle as their sole destiny.
The legend goes on to state how the first parents begot only female children.
These virgin daughters were, in due course, mystically influenced by coming into
contact with things of the outside world and bore male and female children, from
whom the Herero race descended.
It is said that, in this way, the various maternal clans or Eanda originated,
claiming descent, always on the mother's side, from the traditional progenitress of
The animal or object supposed to have influenced the progenitress was the
totem, and the Hereros called themselves the "marriage relations of the totem.
Thus, there were the sun's brothers," belonging to the Ejuva Eanda or sun clan, the
family of the running spring," the chameleon," the limestone," while the silver
jackhal, totem of another clan, was called "little brother." It will therefore be
understood that Herero communities, independently of their local distribution into
tribes, bands, or villages, were composed of several, probably eight or nine, maternal
clans, and these again, in some cases, were divided into sub-groups. At first, as
was the case with the totemistic North American Indians, the members of a clan
never intermarried. The result was that they intermingled with other clans. Yet,
despite marriage, they retained their Eanda membership and based their descent
and rights to Eanda inheritance, always on the mother's side. (The object of
this will be clear when the Eanda property is dealt with).
Each clan, or mother group (as it is preferable to call the Eanda"), had
a senior member or head who exercised certain powers over the members, and in
whom were vested fiduciary functions in regard to the administration, control, and
distribution of the property of the group. He alone could dispose of or alienate
the cattle of the group, and he only did so in the interests of the group to pay debts
or acquire other assets; he generally consulted the tribal council before acting.
There is a kind of Socialism about this system of Eanda property. It was of great
benefit to the poorer members, who could always rely on receiving cows and oxen,
on loan, from their Eanda, to support and maintain themselves therewith. They
lived almost solely on milk. This head was not necessarily the chief. On occasions
when the inheritance devolved on the same person through the mother as Eanda head
and the father as tribal head, this was so, but not often. He was, however, invari-
ably, from the very importance of his position, a sub-chief or Chief Councillor.
Co-existent and contemporary, but of unknown origin, there was, side by side
with the Mother-group or Eanda," another division of the tribe into Orders
(Herero= Oruzo), purely paternal and also totemistic in origin. There were about
16 known orders. Thus a Herero. belonged to his Eanda by descent through
his mother, and to his Oruzo through his father.
The totems of mother groups and orders were sacred to the members thereof,
and in the case of animals their flesh was taboo (Herero Zera == forbidden).
A severe and strict sacrifice-and-diet-law bound the members of the various groups
To the Oruzo belonged certain inalienable assets. It was essentially a
religious order. The head of the order was ex-officio chief or head of the clan and
high priest of his people. The ritualistic articles, such as the emblematic wands,
the holy gourds, the holy place (Okurua) were in the chief's keeping. There the
holy fire burned perpetually under the devoted care of his chief wife or eldest
daughter. To the Oruzo also belonged the sacred stock, consisting of specially
selected cattle. These animals were the best formed and most beautiful, and were
carefully picked out from the herds. The milk of the. sacred cows was placed daily
in the gourds of the ancestors at the holy place, and never touched. True, indeed,
the dogs lapped it up; but, apparently,, the ancestors did not mind that, as the dogs
lived on. No Herero would, however, dare to touch it. On religious occasions
some of the sacred cattle would be sacrificed, but their meat was burnt; it was
Having given this very brief outline of their religious and totemistic conceptions,
the curious division of the cattle into three distinct classes will be more readily
(1) the sacred specially selected cattle, which were res sacrae and inalienable
even by the chief.
(2) the Eanda or mother-group trust cattle, owned by no particular individual,
but the common property of the family group, and administered by a
fiduciary head, who was the eldest son or eldest male descendant of
the senior mother.
(3) the privately-owned cattle, the property of the individual. These he
could dispose of, during life, at will, and after death his expressed
desires were always given effect to, for fear that his spirit might return
and wreak vengeance. The individual Herero always reserved a
number of his stock, also specially selected, the number being in
proportion to his wealth, for sacrifice at his funeral. The skin of his
favourite ox was his shroud, and at his graveside the selected cows
and oxen were slaughtered so that their master's spirit might not go
unaccompanied into the land of shades.
When this division of stock is borne in mind, the atrocious treatment of the
Herero people by German traders and the German Government and its effect on the
Herero mind will be more fully understood.
It has already been stated that the chief of the clan derived his rights through
the Oruzo or paternal order to which he belonged. The eldest son of the chief
by his principal wife was his heir; failing this his eldest surviving brother became
chief, and failing him the eldest surviving son of the brother, always, be it noted, by
by the chief wife of such brother-the idea being that the senior male member of
the Oruzo in the nearest line from the paternal ancestor should be chief. A younger
son by a second or third wife (as Samuel Maherero was) had, elder heirs being alive,
no legal claim to the chieftainship.
The chief of the most powerful clan embodied in his person the functions of
governor and high priest. Under him, and in a lesser degree vested likewise with
powers of government and priestly dignity, were the sub-chiefs or captains, the heads
of non-ruling orders, the heads of the mother-groups, and the heads even of the
The Hereros, like all natives, had no conception of the impersonal nature of
government as understood by Europeans.. They regarded the person of their chief
as the fons et origo of all government. Like the king, he could do no wrong "; he
could not be deposed, nor could he be brought to trial before the council. His
person was sacred during lifetime, and after death, when his spirit had gone to join
those of his great ancestors, the burial-place of his body was a hallowed and conse-
crated spot. [Note.-The Germans, before the Herero rebellion, desecrated the
sacred burial-place of the great chiefs Tjamuaha and Kamaherero at Okahandja by
turning it into a vegetable garden, despite all protests. This will be referred to
again later on.] The chief invariably upheld the laws and usages of his tribe and
preserved inviolate their ancient rites and customs. Herein, like the meanest and
poorest of his subjects, he was stimulated and preserved by a wholesome fear of the
spirits of his ancestors and the power of the Great Magician. It was onlywhen
German intrigue and German policy thrust the ineligible Samuel Maherero into
power, merely to use him as their willing tool, as Paramount Chief of all the Hereros,
that the customs of the people were violated, their tenderest feelings outraged, and
their laws and traditions trodden under foot. And yet the Germans had pledged
themselves to uphold and respect these laws and traditions."
In regard to temperament and character, the Hereros of to-day may be described
as an intelligent, honest, and proud people, who have had nearly all the good crushed
out of them by the German oppressor.
Missionary Brincker described them as candid and sincere. Dr. Hahn says
their chief characteristics are self-will, and proneness to fits of depression.
Dr. Goering testifies to their frugality and industry; von Frangois (as may well be
expected) describes them as cratty knaves. Pechual Losche says they are sincere,
reliable, and trustworthy. Mr. Christopher James, the Mining Engineer, in his
report of 1903 to the Otavi Mines, Ltd., says they are willing, good hearted, diligent,
and quick of perception. When the Herero rebellion broke out, the Hereros under
special orders from their chiefs spared the lives of all German women and children
and all missionaries. Dr. Feli'x Meyer says, they were a proud, liberty-loving race,
jealously guarding their independence, and with very strong family ties." In their
favour may also be mentioned the custom whereby the dying father, his descendants
in a circle around him and his favourite child on his bosom, bestows his last blessing
on his loved ones (okusere ondaja ombua). This proves without doubt the strong
affection existing between parents and children. So also the Herero proverb, the
love of the parent is blind." The birth of twins was a great event. The proud
father immediately set out on a tour and called on all his and his wife's relations
bringing the glad news. It was worth his while because, according to traditional
custom, he was not allowed to depart without a present for the twins.
These are the people who were mercilessly slaughtered by the German, von
Trotha, and his Prussian soldiers in 1904-6. These are the human beings of whom
von Trotha said, let not man, woman, or child be spared-kill them all." And
80 per cent. of them were actually so killed or died of thirst in the desert wastes
whither they were driven by the merciless German soldiers.
From the moment when the new-born babe was named and touched the head
of a calf, presented as a birthday gift, until the death hour when the skin of the
favourite ox (ongombe ohivirikua) served as his shroud, and the skull of the beloved
animal bleached (as a grave memorial) on a neighboring tree, the Herero's ever-
present companions were his cattle. At the graveside, when the holy cattle were
being slaughtered so that they might follow their master, the remainder of his herd
was collected around the spot in order that the spirit of the deceased might derive
pleasure from hearing the lowing and bellowing of his cherished animals. For the
sake of his cattle no labour was too great. For long hours beneath a scorching
tropical sun, the Herero would draw water, bucket by bucket, from the water-holes
or wells for his animals to drink. They dug their water-holes at cost of infinite
labour, the sharp horn of the gemsbuck being the substitute for a spade, and a gourd
serving for a bucket. And for days and weeks he would persevere, despite terrible
hardships and privations, in search of some lost or strayed animal. His whole
object in life was the increase and preservation of his herds, which, in the favourable
environment and climate of Damaraland, thrived wonderfully. The killing of
cattle, except on religious and festive occasions, or when an ox by its strange or
peculiar behaviour presaged evil, was regarded as a criminal waste bordering on
sacrilege. Cows were never killed for food. For nourishment, in addition to wild
onions and other roots'and herbs and veld berries, the Herero drank sweet milk
(Omaihi) in the mornings and at night sour milk (Omaere) prepared and preserved
in stoppered bottle-gourds. The oxen were used for transport and riding and for
barter and exchange.
When there was scarcity of provisions, the Herero tightened his belt and held
out as long as he could. Hence the belt was called the hunger killer (Etizandjara).
He would have to be very hungry before he killed an ox, and probably a cow would
only be sacrificed when death by starvation seemed imminent. Gluttony," said
a Herero proverb, is the great leveller--that is why people become poor."
In this respect the Hereros were the antithesis of the easy-going and improvident
Hottentot, who would, if necessary, slaughter one animal after another, until he
had none left for breeding purposes.
The earliest available information goes to show that the Hereros were always
very rich in horned cattle. As far back as 1760 the South African hunter, Jacob
Coetzee (probably the first white man to traverse Great Namaqualand) crossed the
Orange River and travelled far north to the vicinity of .Rehoboth or Gibeon. He
returned to the Cape with reports of Damaras* living in the north who possessed
great herds of horned cattle.
Coetzee's report led to the abortive expedition from the Cape in 1761 under
Captain Hope, the object of which was to open a cattle trade with the Hereros.
The expedition, after undergoing great hardships, turned back somewhere in the
vicinity of the present town of Keetmanshoop.
In 1792, Willem van Renen and Piet Brandt, also South African hunters from
the Cape, travelled right up to Hereroland and returned in a state of great enthusiasm
regarding the countless herds of horned cattle they had seen. Nothing further
appears to have happened until about 1835, when Captain J. E. Alexander visited
the country. He confirmed previous reports, and tried to open up a cattle export
trade through Walvis Bay and St. Helena. This venture likewise failed, owing to
In 1876 Palgrave wrote (page 54 of Report):-
It is impossible to estimate the Damaras' wealth, (Palgrave, like other
English writers, will persist in calling the Hereros Damaras "), even approxi-
mately, although there is evidence enough to indicate that it is considerable.
The poorest families in a tribe possess something, three or four cows, a few
oxen, 20 or 30 sheep."
It has already been mentioned that the Herero socialistic system of Eanda"
trust property rendered it impossible for even the poorest Herero to be without
sustenance. If he possessed no stock of his own through disease or misfortune, he
could always call on the head of his Eanda for an issue of stock on loan.
Palgrave mentions one under-chief of Kambazembi's named Kavingava, who
possessed over 10,000 head of cattle. Kambazembi himself, at his death in 1903,
was reported to have possessed no less than 25,000 head of cattle; but included
in this number was probably the Eanda stock, held by him as trustee for his
people. M'Buanjo, an under-chief of Omaruru, possessed in 1903 over 4,000 head
of cattle, while the Okahandja and Omaruru chiefs were equally wealthy. Tjetjoo,
the chief of the Eastern Hereros, was reputed to be nearly as wealthy as his neighbour
Kambazembi. A German soldier, now a settler in the country, who came to the
Protectorate with von Frangois in 1890, informed the writer that, at that time,
the Omaruru and Waterberg districts were teeming with cattle. He relates that
at the sound of a rifle shot the vast herds would stampede in all directions like wild
springbok, and that the very earth seemed to quiver and vibrate as they thundered
across the veld.
When Germany annexed the country in 1890 the Herero people must have
possessed well over 150,000 head of cattle. The Rinderpest scourge in 1897, which
destroyed probably half, left, notwithstanding export and slaughter, something
like 90,000 head. By 1902, i.e., in less than 10 years after the arrival of the first
German settlers, the Hereros retained 45,898 head of cattle, while the 1,051 German
traders and farmers then in the country owned 44,487 between them. In 1903
the total value of the live stock exported from the whole territory was 23,337,682 M.,
equal to over 1,000,000 stg.
By the end of 1905 the surviving Hereros had been reduced to pauperism and
possessed nothing at all.
In 1907 the Imperial German Government by Ordinance prohibited the natives
of South-West Africa from possessing large stock.
The story of the German traders and how they, with the direct connivance,
sanction, and approval of the German Government, deliberately robbed the Hereros
of their cattle is one of the darkest of the very black pages of German history in
South-West Africa, and will be dealt with in a separate chapter.
NOTE.-All early British travellers, such as Alexander, Galton, Green, Andersson and others
refer to the natives as Damaras." This accounts for the name Damaraland, which correctly should
be Hereroland." The word Damara is a corruption of the Hottentot word Daman." They called
the Hereros Buri-Daman," or Cattle Damaras; while the Ovambos and Berg-Damara were called
respectively Corn-Damaras and Dirty-Damaras." Captain J. E Alexander, An Expedition
of Discovery into the Interior of Africa (1837), was the first writer to refer to Damaraland and
CONFISCATION OF HERERO CATTLE BY THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT.
The wholesale and unblushing theft by the Germans of the cattle of the Hereros
was one of the primary causes which led to the Herero rebellion of 1904. There
were other causes, however, all arising out of German oppression and misrule. It is
necessary, therefore, that, before dealing specially with what must for ever be one
of the most shameful incidents in the history of German colonisation, the other
contributory causes should be outlined in brief. In order to do this, it is necessary
to go back to May 1890, when, owing to the death of Kamaherero, chief of the
Okahandja Hereros, the question of his successor arose. In terms of the agreement
of 1885 the Germans had pledged themselves to respect the customs and usages
existing in the country of Maherero." Kamaherero was the leader (under Frederick
Green, the English hunter) of the Hereros in their war of emancipation against the
Hottentots in 1864, when the latter were overthrown and large herds of cattle
captured. As a result of this, Kamaherero styled himself the great and powerful
leader." He was however never acknowledged, even by his own people, as para-
mount chief of all the Hereros. As Dr. Felix Meyer puts it (Wirtschaft und Recht
der Herero: 1905):-
An ordained leader of all the Herero tribes was not known in Herero law
at the time of the German occupation. Only the knowledge of their national
community of origin held the various tribes together.
The German agreement of 1885 was made with Kamaherero, whom the Germans,
to suit their own purposes, were pleased to regard as the paramount chief over
Hereroland; but even they had qualms on the subject, as they went to Omaruru
and got Manasse, as powerful a chief as Kamaherero, to sign a ratification. The
other chiefs were ignored. Nevertheless, as Dr. Meyer clearly points out, the chiefs
Kambazembi, Muretti, Tjetjoo, Zacharias, and others not mentioned by Meyer,
such as Kahimema, Nikodemus, and M'Buanjo, in no way recognized his (Kama-
herero's) pretensions to paramountcy, and held that they were not bound by his
Of this fact the Germans were, in 1890, well aware; but they ignored it on the
plea that it was more convenient to deal with one authority than with the lot (" Es
ist bequemer, mit einer Autoritat, als mit einer masse zu verhandeln"). So when
Kamaherero died, his younger son, Samuel Maherero, described by von Frangois
as a vain, selfish drunkard, and referred to by Leutwein as devoid of character (he
was, states Leutwein, selfish, had a weakness for alcohol, and last, but not least,
a fondness for women"), was pitchforked into the chieftainship and declared para-
mount chief of the Hereros. He was alleged to be a Christian-90 per cent. of his
people were heathens. "As a Christain," says Leutwein, the Mission got little
joy out of him, he none out of the Mission." Hereros say that the missionaries
supported the Government, and told the Hereros that Samuel was the rightful heir
according to the Christian laws, whatever they may be.
Samuel preferred the cases of rum with which the bounty of the "Kaiser und
K6nig kept him liberally supplied; it being well-known that, to such an individual,
the signing of treaties or agreements was not surrounded with much difficulty as
long as rum was plentiful.
This foisting of Samuel on to them as chief immediately to the great joy of
the Germans, split the Hereros into two sections. Here we have the first example
of the policy of playing off one section against another, or, as Leutwein later styled
it, my divide et impera policy."
The lawful heir to Kamaherero was a sub-chief of the Eastern Hereros named
Nikodemus. He was the eldest son of a predeceased brother to Kamaherero, and
the recognized head of his Oruzo. Kamaherero had no sons by his principal wife,
and Samuel, a younger son by another, was not even heir to his father's stock;
his poverty was also a great recommendation from the German point of view, as
will be seen. Dr. Felix Meyer has no doubts as to the illegality of the German
procedure. Meyer was a Kammergerichtsrat, a kind of judicial Privy Councillor,
so his opinion is worth quoting. In his Wirtschaft und Recht der Herero,"
already frequently quoted from herein, he says (at page 24), referring to this incident-
Thereby the Colonial Administration created not only a new authority
(which probably was in the interests of a simple and centralised system of
government); but it also, as will be indicated, broke into the laws of succession
and inheritance of the Hereros.
Later on (see page 38), referring again to the appointment of Samuel Maherero
as chief in preference to the rightful heir Nikodemus, in regard to whom Samuel
was, according to Herero law, only in the position of a younger brother, Meyer adds :
It can easily be understood how deeply this illegal interference with
their laws must have aroused the feelings of the Hereros; more particularly
when, at the same time, a hitherto non-existent de jure ruler over the whole
nation (i.e., paramount chief) was forced upon them. One can appreciate
how bitterly disillusioned Nikodemus and his supporters were, when not
only the dignity to which he aspired, but also the Oruzo assets (i.e., the holy
cattle, &c., of the religious order) of his late uncle, were taken from him and
bestowed on a younger and less worthy person.
(Note.-Samuel, being a declared Christian could not exercise the office of high
priest, and to place the holy assets under his charge was, to heathen Herero thinking,
an insult to the ancestors and a sacrilege.)
For the same reason the other chiefs refused to recognize Samuel, whom
they despised as a mere child, as the actual paramount chief of their land .
Nikodemus, in his anger (continues Meyer, whose candid words give much
food for reflection), was at the bottom of the intrigue which resulted in the
rebellion of his sub-clan of Ovambandjera, under his under-chief Kahimema,
assisted by the Khauas Hottentots of Gobabis. It was only the rapid victory
at Otyunda, 1896, which enabled German arms to nip the rebellion in the
bud. Of course Nikodemus and Kahimema were, after sentence by Military
Court, shot as rebels at Okahandja on 12th June 1896. The tribe of Khauas
Hottentots was practically exterminated (zo gut wie vernichtet) and their
territory declared Crown land. The fire was however still glowing under the
ashes and it was fed by Asa Riarua, the half brother of Nikodemus. An
undying hatred inspired him and his party against Samuel and his protectors
and it eventually became one of the main causes of the great rebellion.
Yet Governor Leutwein was astonished at the dark mistrust of the Hereros !
Having created a "paramount chief," it was essential that he should be used
to German advantage. The opportunity came in 1894, when Leutwein was Governor.
As already stated, the Germans had formed a land settlement syndicate and immi-
grants were coming into the country to settle on the land. The land however was
claimed by the natives, and they declined to give it up. Thereupon the syndicate
(under the auspices of the German Colonial Co.) formally applied to the Government
for grant of 50,000 square kilometres (approximately 4,500,000 acres), east of Windhuk
and stretching towards Gobabis and Hoachanas. This application was made on
the recommendation of Professor Dr. Karl Dove, of Jena, who had inspected the
area. In reply to the application, the Government informed the syndicate that the
land was claimed by Bastards, Hereros, and Hottentots, and that as the troops in
occupation were not strong enough to occupy and protect the area, the request
would have to be deferred till later. This was in 1892. The more practicable and
more honest way of acquiring land would have been to purchase from the chiefs.
The soldiers were coming however and this idea did not find favour apparently.
In April 1893, von Francois noticed that the agents of the syndicate were, to
quote his words, acting recklessly," giving out land "to which they were not
entitled and making promises. which they were unable to fulfil," so he wrote to
Berlin suggesting that the syndicate's work should be suspended and that the Govern-
ment should control all questions of immigration and land settlement. The then
Kolonial-Direktor at Berlin (Dr. Kayser) refused to accept the recommendations of
von Frangois, and said that the syndicate should continue its work, confining itself,
for the present, to the neighbourhood of Windhuk. Immigrants continued to
arrive and were given, or rather sold, farms which existed only in the imagination of
the directors of this precious syndicate.
Rohrbach, to whom we are indebted for most of this information, describes these
farms as luftschwebenden i.e., floating in the air."
In 1894, Leutwein decided to solve the problem once and for all. He went to
Okahandja and on the 6th December 1894 drew up an agreement for Chief-Captain
Samuel Maherero to sign, whereby the whole southern boundary of Hereroland
from Swakopmund to Gobabis was defined. The astute Leutwein had described
the boundaries in such a way as to secure to the land settlement syndicate the town
and grazing lands of Gobabis (belonging to the Khauas Hottentots) and some of the
finest cattle grazing veld on the White Nosob River. The Chief-Captain was
promised an annual salary of 2,000 marks (1001.), payable half-yearly, provided that
the Southern boundary line as determined upon is respected by the
Hereros and that their cattle posts are withdrawn from the territory now falling
within the area of the German Government." (Original agreement filed at Windhuk;
This boundary line extended over 400 miles. Samuel Maherero was not
recognized by his fellow chiefs. In any event the southern boundary of his own
district, Okahandja, was probably less than a sixth of the whole line. Yet, at a
stroke of Maherero's pen, chiefs like Zacharias, Tjetjoo, Nikodemus and Kahimema
were, without having so much as even been consulted, deprived of rights which they
had held, through their ancestors, for generations past.
Leutwein writes (page 64) : This difficult agreement for them to assent to was
signed by Samuel, as was always his way, light heartedly and with pleasure; but
his headmen pondered earnestly over it Having fixed this boundary line,
it was the easiest thing in the world, for the Germans at any rate, to decide on
measures against trespassers.
This unbeaconed and unfenced boundary line, to the simple Hereros grazing
their cattle along its edges, was not unlike the farms Rohrbach described as floating
in the air.
Nothing could be risked however until more troops arrived, and this necessitated
a wait of nearly 12 months. Towards the end of 1895, Leutwein was able to
make his next move. He entered into an agreement (which must have been secret
and private, as it cannot be found in the records at Windhuk) with Samuel Maherero
whereby the German Government would impound all the herds of Herero cattle
found trespassing over the boundaries." There was no question of fining or warning
the owners and then returning their cattle. No. The settlers and the syndicate
were badly in need of cattle, and the trading business had not yet fully developed.
" The impounded cattle," says Leutwein (page 92), "would then be sold and the
proceeds divided between the German Government and the paramount chief."
Whereas, formerly, the confiscation of their cattle in this manner, would
undoubtedly have caused war," says the self-complacent Leutwein, we had, by
means of the above-mentioned agreement, obtained the legitimate right thereto."
In other words, he meant to imply that from then on any other Herero chief
taking up arms to protect his cattle from confiscation had no legitimate casus belli
and no standing. He could therefore be shot as a rebel and this is exactly what
happened to the chiefs Nikodemus and Kahimema. Of this right," continues
advantage was taken in the beginning of 1896, when a force under
Major Mueller took away several thousands of cattle belonging to Hereros
at Heusis and Aris. Only then did the significance of the agreement become
clear to the Hereros. Excitement and war fever extended throughout the
entire Protectorate. The white traders in the interior were threatened and
had to take hurried flight. As characteristic (proceeds Leutwein) I here wish
to mention that the son and nephew of the paramount chief, who, at the time
were doing voluntary service with the troops at Windhuk, burst into tears
on hearing of the confiscation of these cattle and begged for immediate
release from military duty. The war fever slacked down at Okahandja
when, some days later, the half share of the proceeds of sale, in terms of the
agreement, was paid to the chief as indication that the German Government
merely acted in the exercise of its rights under the agreement. Outside
Okahandja however the desire for war increased, and eventually even the
Europeans were infected, not only private persons, but also members of the
Government. Especially among a section of the Officers, the war fever,
combined with under-estimation of their opponents, was very noticeable."
On the 20th January 1896, Leutwein addressed a meeting of white inhabitants
at Windhuk, and succeeded in persuading them to preserve peace. On the same
day he proceeded to Okahandja. There the alleged paramount chief and about
thirty headmen and also chiefs from outside, among whom appeared Nikodemus and
Kahimema, were awaiting the arrival of the German Governor. The Herero
" opposition," says Leutwein, "was led by the old Riarua, who tried to
pass himself off as leader of all Hereros." After severely snubbing Riarua, Leutwein
put the following two questions to the meeting :
"(1) What boundaries do you desire? "
"(2) What punishment is to be imposed on trespassers ?"
He told them that "both questions were fraught with the alternative danger of
threatening war" (i.e., if not satisfactorily answered). That such a war would
result only in the extermination of the one party thereto, and that party could only
be the Hereros." Even to this day" (1905), says Leutwein, "I can distinctly
remember the ominous silence which followed on my remarks, of which one could say
it would have been possible to hear a pin drop."
After several days of discussion the Hereros of Okahandja demanded-
(I.) That the Seeis.River, the water in which was indispensable for their herds,
should be retained by them.
(II) That the paramount chief and the Governor should decide on punishment
"This first demand," says Leutwein, "meant a shifting forward of the
boundaries some 8 kilometres. As the advantages of this change of boundary
would have been of benefit only to the Western Hereros, i.e., those of Okahandja,
Nikodemus, on behalf of the Eastern Hereros, immediately came forward and
on behalf of his people, asked for the return of the Gobabis area to them.
This gave me the most beautiful opportunity (die schbnste gelegenheit) to
put' into force my divide et impera policy.
Therefore I granted the wish of the Okahandja Hereros and definitely
refused the request of Nikodemus. As a result of this the latter went into
rebellion three months later, while the Okahandja Hereros remained on our
Later on in the same year it was decided to disarm the Eastern Hereros, their
kinsmen the Ovambandjeru and the Khauas Hottentots of Gobabis. They were
called upon to hand in all firearms, and they refused to do so.
The reason for this will now be perfectly clear. The native chiefs disputed
Samuel Maherero's right to fix their boundary lines, and they were legally correct in
this attitude. The Germans ignored their protests and confiscated all cattle found
over the borders. Fearing that this would lead to reprisals, the Germans, who were
keen not only on the cattle, but also on the land of these people (it was the area
asked for by the land settlement syndicate) decided to render the people innocuous
by depriving them of their arms.
Chiefs Nikodemus and Kahimema of the Hereros and Andreas Lambert of the
Khauas Hottentots of Gobabis refused to hand in their arms. An expedition was
sent out from Windhuk and fighting resulted. The chief of the Hottentots was
killed, his land and stock confiscated and his tribe, as Felix Meyer puts it, practically
exterminated (" so gut wie vernichtet ").
After the first fight, Nikodemus and Kahimema went in to Okahandja voluntarily
and openly to protest against the action of the German forces. There they were
both arrested, tried by court-martial and shot as rebels.
The chief crime against Nikodemus was that he was the lawful heir to the
chieftainship and his continued existence was a nuisance to the Germans. Leutwein
deliberately treated him in such a way as to goad him into doing something which
would give a pretext, even the flimsiest pretext, for removing him altogether.
Divide et impera. The brave Kahimema died with his chief, whose legitimate cause
he had espoused from the very outset.
Before leaving the subject a description of the closing scene in the life of Niko-
demus, as it flowedifrom the pen of Schwabe, Captain of Infantry of the German Army
(mit Schwert und Pflug, page 304), may be added:-
12th June At 10 a.m. the First Field Company under
Estorff arrived to fetch the condemned men (Nikodemus and Kahimema), to
whom, at their request, I gave some wine. Then they were'bound and
lifted on to an ox-cart and the procession started. Mounted police led the
way, then followed Estorff and myself on horseback, a half-company under
x 5952 G
Kageneck on foot, the cart surrounded by horsemen and in the rear Ziethen,
on foot, with the remaining half-company.
We had to travel through the entire village. There was no male Herero
to be seen; but the women were rolling about on the ground, and covering
their heads with sand and earth. From every house, every hut, every
garden, the long drawn blood-curdling lamentations accompanied the distin-
guished chiefs on their last journey. In silence, and drawn up in a great
square, the guns unlimbered at the sides, the troops received us. Then we
went on through the deep sand of the river bed to the place of execution.
Commandos of Hendrik Witbooi's and Simon Cooper's Hottentots guarded
the place. Halt! The condemned men were lifted from the cart. Proudly,
and with head erect, Kahimema walked to the tree to which he was bound;
Nikodemus, half dead with fear, had to be carried.. The eyes of the two
were then bound, and the firing sections under Lieutenants von Ziethen and
Count Kageneck marched into their places. Captain von Estorff gave the
signal: Short commands: Present-Fire! The volleys rolled like thunder
through the neighboring mountains and two traitors had ceased to live."
SThis bombastic description of a pitiful tragedy helps us to understand the
feelings of the Hereros, even those living in Okahandja, towards their real chief,
Nikodemus. The presence, as guards, of the Hottentot Commandos of Witbooi and
Simon Cooper recalls to mind the fact that "protection from these Hottentots
was the promise on which the Hereros had relied when making the original agreements
with the Germans.
This was only in June 1896. Nearly eight years had yet to elapse before, in
January 1904, the crowning catastrophe occurred, and by that time even Samuel
Maherero, conscience stricken and goaded to desperation by German oppression and
injustice, had turned and was foremost in leading a once more united nation,
companions in utter misery, against the unbearable tyranny and brutality of
THE GERMAN TRADERS AND HOW THEY TRADED.
In addition to the shooting of Nikodemus and Kahimema, large numbers of
cattle and sheep belonging to them and to their people were seized and confiscated
by the German Government as a punishment for their rebellion."
After these happenings, and after witnessing the unhappy fate of the Khauas
Hottentots of Gobabis, the terrified natives withdrew their flocks and herds as far
north of the so-called southern boundary line as possible. This was the only means
by which they could reasonably hope to preserve their property.
4 This move embarrassed the German Administration and placed the Land
Settlement Syndicate in a quandary.
Rohrbach describes the position very accurately.
"The chief necessity in the establishment of the new settlers was the supply
of stock, and the difficulties in this direction increased in proportion with the
growth of the newly opened up farming propositions. Every newly founded
farming venture required, above all things, a supply of breeding stock. The
white ranchers and farmers who had breeding stock, held on to them as far
as possible and only sold in7cases of extreme necessity; moreover no farm
had at that time been so far developed that the number of stock acquired by
breeding was in excess of the available grazing ground. So for the newly
arrived farmer no other course remained but, before starting business as a
farmer, to enter into trading work with the Hereros, and there to acquire the
cows he needed by barter .
In addition to breeding stock the future farmer required transport oxen.
The Hereros were also the chief producers of these the trade with
the Hereros constituted for the commencing farmer the normal channel
through which in the first instance he could get possession of the required
breeding stock it is, therefore, an error to take it for granted that
before the rebellion (1904) the farmer and trader were distinct and separate
occupations. In any case; there were very few persons who had not found
it necessary to be traders first of all before they could become farmers .
When public opinion in Germany, on the outbreak of the 1904 rebellion,
sharply criticised the excesses of the traders, no one in the country wanted
to admit ever having been a trader and everyone had always been a farmer
Thus it came about that, when the Hereros no longer trespassed and gave cause
for confiscation, it was found necessary for the German to go out and trade with
him for his cattle and sheep.
In the earlier part of this report mention is made of the views of the German
missionaries and others in regard to the British traders who in the early days had
been their competitors. It is needless to remark that, shortly after German
annexation, the British trader was made to leave and a clear field opened for his
German successor. Here is an instance of how the German traders carried on :-
(Schwobe's Mit Schwert und Pflug.")
As an example (writes Captain Schwabe) of the ignorance of the veld-
living Herero as to the value of money I may quote the following. A trader
camps near a Herero village. To him are driven oxen which the Herero
wishes to sell. How much do you want for the oxen? says the trader.
Fifty pounds sterling," replies the Herero. Good," says the trader,
here you have a coat valued at 201., trousers worth 101., and coffee and,
tobacco worth 201., that is in all 501." The Herero is satisfied; he knows
that according to the custom of the traders, he cannot expect more for his
cattle. He may probably exchange the coat for a blanket and get some sugar
in lieu of tobacco, and he will also (as is customary) by begging get a little
S extra; if, however, he does not succeed the transaction is closed. It will be
admitted that this sort of trading is exceptional and quite original; it requires
to be learned and the newcomer will have to pay for his experience, before he
is able to emulate the dodges and tricks of the old traders.
It will be of interest to learn from the Hereros themselves how these traders
behaved. The following quotations are taken from sworn affidavits made in the
course of the past three or four months :-
Under-Chief Daniel Kariko of Omaruru states (dealing with the reasons why
they rebelled in 1904):-
Our people were being robbed and deceived right and left by German
traders,, their cattle were taken by force; they were flogged and ill-treated
and got no redress. In fact the German police assisted the traders instead
of protecting us. Traders would come along and offer goods. When we said
that we had no cattle to spare, as the rinderpest had killed so many, they
said they would give us credit. Often, when we refused to buy goods, even
on credit, the trader would simply off-load goods and leave them, saying
that we could pay when we liked, but in a few weeks he would come back
and demand his money or cattle in lieu thereof. He would then go and
pick out our very best cows he could find. Very often one man's cattle
were taken to pay other people's debts. If we objected and tried to resist
the police would be sent for and, what with the floggings and. the threats
of shooting, it was useless for our poor people to resist. If the traders had
been fair and reasonable like the old English traders of the early days we
would never have complained, but this was not trading at all, it was only
theft and robbery. They fixed their own prices for the goods, but would
never let us place our own valuation on the cattle. They said a cow was
worth 20 marks only. For a bag of meal they took eight cows, which to
us were equivalent to 16 oxen, as the Hereros would always give two oxen
for the cow, as she is a breeder,' and we loved to increase our herds. For
a pair of boots a cow was taken. Most traders took only cows, as they were
farmers also and wanted to increase their herds. Often when credit had
been given, they came back and claimed what they called interest on the
debt. Once I got a bag of meal on credit, and later on the trader came and
took eight. cows for the debt and two more cows for what he called credit;
thus it cost me 10 cows altogether. Just before the rebellion, in 1903,
things got worse than ever. All traders came round and started to collect
(Note.-This arose out of an Ordinance enacted in Berlin whereby outstanding
trading debts were declared prescribed after a lapse of 12 months.)
Some debts they claimed had never existed; often their claims were
quite false, and they were deliberately stealing our cattle. We complained
to the German police, but were told that we were all liars and that, as a
German could never lie, his word would always be taken even if half a doien
of us had the impudence to contradict him. This made us feel as if it were
just as well not to be alive. Our people cried and lamented the loss of their
stock; our poorer people no longer had enough milk to drink; all our cows
were going and every month saw our property dwindle away. We saw our
chiefs, who complained and complained till they were tired. No heed was
taken of them, and we had no courts of law to which to appeal for justice.
(N.B.-This is actually true. There were no courts before July 1903.)
Headman Moses M'Buanjo of Omaruru, whose father M'Buanjo, an under-
chief, was one of the wealthiest Hereros and owned several thousand cattle (he
to-day owns 20 or 30 goats), states:-
Although we all protested and were dissatisfied, Germans came into
our country, soldiers and traders. They soon began to do just what they
pleased. They took our cattle, ill-treated our people, flogged them and we
had no protection. It takes too long for me to tell all that they did. Their
traders charged extortionate prices for goods and undervalued our stock.
Our chiefs were powerless; our old laws and customs were no longer recog-
nised; even the sacred cattle and the cattle of the tribe which no one could
sell (the Eanda stock) were taken by force for real and bogus claims. Heavy
interest was charged. If a debtor disputed the claim, the police came and
assisted the trader.
Hosea Mungunda, headman of the Hereros of Windhuk, in giving a sworn
statement as to the reasons for the great rebellion in 1904, places this taking of
cattle first among their reasons. This man, one of the finest types of Bantu
humanity, is a first cousin of the late chief Kamaherero.
The reasons for rebellion were :-
(a) The extortion of German traders who robbed us of our cattle, which
had been greatly diminished owing to rinderpest. 'Our cattle were appro-
priated at such a rate that we felt it was intended to reduce us to pauperism.
The Germans took sacred cattle and private cattle, quite regardless of our
customs and organisation. We protested and complained bitterly, but the
Germans took no notice. Sometimes we persuaded them to return our
holy cattle, but then we had to give them three or four ordinary cattle in
exchange. This we often did, but it greatly diminished our stock.
This affidavit by Hosea was made in the presence of the following leading
Hereros, who agreed with Hosea's statement and signed the affidavit in corroboration :
(1) Barmenias Zerua, son of the late chief of the Otjimbingwe Hereros,
(2) Nickanor Kanungatji, nephew of the late chief Kahimema,
(3) Leonard Gautheta, nephew of the late chief Nikodemus,
(4) Hugo Tjetjoo, nephew of the late chief Tjetjoo,
(5) Elias Gorambuka, nephew of the late chief Kamaherero,
and several others..
Samuel Kutako, a well-educated man, says:-
The German traders forced our people to buy goods and took our cattle
in payment. They robbed our people by charging a certain price when
giving credit, and later increasing the price when asking for payment. They
used to select the cattle they wanted from the Hereros' herds and drive
them away. It was useless to object. They simply took cattle by force.
The police did not help us; we were black and got no justice. I have
personally had to give a cow for a pair of cord trousers or a pair of boots.
We had no idea of the value of goods in those days. Nowadays
I pay 10s. to 15s. for trousers. That is why I say the German traders robbed
us. A cow is worth much more. .We used to beg and pray of the
traders not to take our holy cattle but as our holy cattle were
the best we had, the traders would reply that is a matter of indifference.
You owe me money and I will take the cattle I select."
Christof Katsimune, an assistant headman of Hereros at Omaruru, states :-
I knew a Herero named Kamukowa, who lived at Okakenge in the
Okahandja district. He had many cattle and small stock. The traders
came and took every head of stock that he had, and he had to go into the
veld and look for herbs and roots as food and to beg from his friends. The
trader who took all his stock was afterwards a lieutenant in the German
forces. It was useless to go to the German authorities and police to complain.
They took no notice of us and helped the traders.
These instances could be multiplied ad nauseam, but there is no space in this
report for more.
To the reader of these extracts there may arise doubts as to whether it can
be believed that the prices given by the traders for cattle were so low as 20s. To
people used to the well-ordered control of British government the question will
also arise: "Surely these Hereros are exaggerating; surely no man could take
the law into his own hands and deprive simple savages of their property in this way.
There must have been courts of law, and some police protection ? To such queries,
the reply is that the Hereros are telling the plain truth. There were no courts of
law to which they might appeal; there was no police protection for them; and
the valuation of 20s. alleged by them, as the traders' price for a cow, is substantially
Let us s, what the Germans themselves have to say on the subject. Professor
Dr. Karl Dc of Jena, sometime Director of Land Settlement at Windhuk, in his
book Deut i 1id West Afrika (at page 10) says :
al price of a good Herero ox was 40 marks. As the traders
were Aition however to regulate prices and.place their own valuation
on t1 s given by them in exchange for such cattle to the natives, I am
of o after careful inquiry, that one cannot go far wrong in assuming
that actual fact the value of an ox would not work out at more than
20 y .ks.
The rebellion broke out in January 1904. Up till about July 1903 (i.e., from
1890), no provision had been made in regard to the administration of civil law.
It was not necessary to do so" (says Leutwein) "so long as the
territory was inhabited by a small white population. The parties to a
dispute endeavoured to come to a settlement through the mediation of the
nearest official or officer. With the increase of white population and the
extension of trade and travel, matters however assumed a different aspect."
It will be observed therefore that the unfortunate natives could only rely
on the mediation of the nearest officer or official. They have already stated with
Did they get common justice? No German will deny that they did not; for,
as Professor Dr. Karl Dove (in his above quoted book) characteristically puts it,
" leniency towards the natives is cruelty to the whites (milde gegen die Einge-
borenen ist grausamkeit gegen die Weisze). As for justice, the learned Professor
waves it aside, and says :-
As to the ideas of their sense of justice, these are based on false premises.
It is incorrect to view justice, in regard to the natives, as if they were of the
same kultur-position as ourselves. They have no conception of what
ownership of ground means.
It will now be understood how by 1903 more than half of the cattle in Hereroland
had passed into German hands. Even after 1903, when their courts were established,
natives were not allowed to give evidence on oath.
One is here reminded of the demand already referred to, that in court the
evidence of one white man can only be outweighed by the corroborated statements
of seven coloured persons.
GRADUAL APPROPRIATION OF HERERO LAND AND VIOLATION OF
Notwithstanding what has been written in the foregoing chapter, it will be said
by some people that after all this unblushing system of stock theft, which Germans
were pleased to call trading, must have been carried on unknown to the heads of the
German Government and that it could not possibly have been sanctioned in Berlin.
But what do we find? Not only that it was known and approved, but also
that it was regarded as a desirable and cheap means of attaining an end, i.e., the
displacement of the native in favour of the white immigrant. The white man was
able to acquire stock without financial aid from the State, and having acquired Stock,
he could graze it on the land on which the despoiled natives had formerly grazed it.
The natives, reduced to penury and being no longer independent, would be compelled
to enter into the service of the white man and act as the herds of the stock which
they formerly called their own. Thus Germany had in mind the solution of the land
settlement, stock supply, and native labour questions, and she considered that the
end justified the. means.
As early as 19th January 1895, von Lindequist, Government Assessor and acting
Governor, in the absence of Leutwein, wrote to the Imperial Chancellor in Berlin,
reporting on the steps taken by him to preserve the southern boundary line, as fixed
between Samuel Maherero and Leutwein. Referring to the large Herero population
on the Nosob River and remarking on the size of their herds of cattle, this gentleman
(who afterwards became Governor and later Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies)
Only a continued blood-letting by the German traders, as was done
annually by Witbooi up to three years ago, will again reduce the quantity of
their cattle to the right proportions and enable the Germans to make use of
the right bank of the Nosob.
(German Records, Windhuk, Vol. Al., A2, Vol. 1.)
This is a report by the acting Governor to the Imperial Chancellor. Here we
find the Germans emulating the Hottentot chief Hendrik Witbooi, who at any
rate formally declared war before raiding Herero cattle.
To his credit be it said that Governor Leutwein, when the scandal grew to such
great proportions as to forebode war, took steps with a view to suppressing the giving
of credit by unscrupulous traders which, as has been indicated, was generally the
preliminary to the robberies. In 1899 he submitted a draft Ordinance to Berlin,
by which he proposed to create courts of law, in which claims against natives by
traders and others could be adjudicated on. The native chiefs were to be co-
assessors with Germans on the courts and claims based on credit would after a
certain period be illegal and not actionable. Leutwein points out how he wished to
abolish the credit system altogether, and he bitterly complains of how his proposals
were described as unheard of and monstrous," and how he was described as
" lacking in knowledge of the legal position." The white settlers raised a howl of
indignation and holy wrath," and for five years the struggle continued between
Leutwein on the one side and on the other .the Berlin Government, plus the Directors
of the Land and Trading Syndicates (living in Germany, of course), plus the traders
and settlers in South-West Africa.
In the meantime the blood-letting, after the style of Witbooi, was going on
merrily, and the Herero people were groaning under the weight of the accumulated
injustices perpetrated on them. In 1903 Leutwein succeeded in getting something
definite from Berlin. The famous Credit Ordinance was promulgated in the middle
of that year. Traders were (against Leutwein's direct advice) given one year in
which to collect outstanding, which would be prescribed thereafter, and they fell
upon the Herero cattle like a pack of ravenous wolves.
The authorities in Germany probably suspected that this would be the last
straw, and that the Hereros would now give them the chance for which they were
ready waiting. Rohrbach says: For the results of this measure, decided upon
in Berlin, Leutwein rightly repudiated responsibility." Referring to the direct
results of the 1903 Ordinance, Rohrbach says, the traders hastened to notify their
outstanding claims against the Hereros, and, where possible, to collect them
personally." No, fewer than 106,000 claims against the Hereros were filed in terms
of the Ordinance.
Apart from the taking of their cattle, there was the gradual appropriation of
their land, a process which went on concurrently with the cattle-lifting and grew in
proportion as the number of cattle acquired by the white traders increased.
SOn 19th August 1901 the Herero headmen on the White Nosob River addressed
the following letter to the German Governor from Otjihaenena through the missionary
Most Honoured Governor,
The undersigned Herero headmen have just come to me and have
requested me to convey the following to your Honour: Kayata of Okatumba
declares that in Easter 1900, a settler, Mr. Westphal, came to Okatumba,
where he built a house of poles and opened a small store therein. Five weeks
ago he has started to build a house of limestone. Kayata and Muambo
forbade him to do this, as he had no ownership; but Mr. Westphal .took no
notice of them. They cannot give Mr. Westphal a settlement at Okatumba,
as the place will remain theirs and their children. This treatment has
caused them to call the other headmen together for a council. Last
week Mr. Stopke came here, and he told us that he had purchased the place,
between the farm of Mr. Conrad on Orumbo and the farm of Mr. Schmerenbeck
in Ommandjereke, from the Government at Windhuk, and he demanded
therefore that Mbaratjo and his people who live there should leave the place.
In Otjivero live Mr. Heldt. He has been there three years and has made
every endeavour to buy the place. In Okamaraere, opposite Orumbo, lives
Mr. Wosillo; in Omitara Mr. Gilers, and in Okahua Mr. von Falkenhausen
has settled lately. Otjipaue has been acquired by Mr. Schmerenbeck
and Otjisaesu by Mr. Voigts.
But now, 'Honoured Governor, where are we to live when our entire river
and all our land is taken away from us ? We annex a sketch showing all
werfts (Herero villages) in the area of Otjitsaesu up to Omitara. These all
water their cattle on the White Nosob, so we again ask, where are all these
people to go to ?
We see with dismay how one place after another is going into the hands
of the white people and therefore, Honoured Governor, we pray you most
respectfully not to sanction any further sales here in the area of the White
This letter, of which as usual no notice was taken, is, says Rohrbach, an
example of how the land settlement syndicate managed its settlement work.'
Every one of these farms," says he, as enumerated by the Hereros, were
situated in Herero territory on the White Nosob or near the river, along the
northern boundary of the concession territory of the syndicate."
Here we see that the Germans, after severely punishing the Hereros for
trespassing over their boundaries, as fixed by agreement, did not hesitate for a
moment to break that agreement, cross the Herero boundaries, and take land there
as soon as it suited their purpose; and again the Hereros got no protection.
Having so appropriated a piece of land in Herero territory, the German fixed
his own boundaries and immediately, in imitation of the example set by the Govern-
ment, started to confiscate any suitable Herero cattle found trespassing., Samuel
Kutako in his affidavit, after referring to the cattle thefts, says :-
The next reason for our rebellion was the appropriation of Herero lands
by the traders, who took the ground for their farms and claimed it as their
private property. They used to shoot our dogs if they trespassed on these
lands, and they confiscated any of our cattle which might stray there. .
If holy cattle trespassed we were allowed to get them back, if we paid three
to four ordinary cattle in exchange for one holy one. Under the Herero law
the ground belonged to the tribe in common and not even the chief could sell
or dispose of it. He could give people permission to live on the land, but no
sales were valid and no chief ever attempted to sell his people's land. Even
the missionaries who settled amongst us, only got permission to live there.
(Note.-This is borne out b-y the records of the Rhenish Mission Society).
Land was never sold to Germans or anyone else. We did not have any idea
of such a thing .
Despite this statement, it is true that Samuel Maherero, the so-called paramount
.chief, did sell land, but this land was nearly all in the territory of Nikodemus and
other chiefs Who did not recognize such sales. Samuel had often, as a result of
these dealings, to take refuge in Windhuk and ask for German protection. Trading
on his poverty and his passion for alcoholic liquors, the German authorities got
Samuel to sign deeds of sale of land: but the deponent, Samuel Kutako, is perfectly
correct when he says that "no chief ever attempted to sell his people's land."
Samuel Maherero was not a lawful chief, and in any event had no influence or
jurisdiction at all outside Okahandja, his own district, and even there his position
was never safe. In consequence he lived most of his time at Osona.
In this connection an old friend of Samuel Maherero's has stated:--
I knew Samuel well he was very fond of liquor and the Germans
kept him well supplied. He used to get cases of rum and brandy. Samuel
was afraid of his life. He told me that the Germans made him
drunk and got him to sign papers he knew nothing of and for which he was
sorry afterwards. Samuel, in his better moments, bitterly com-
plained of how the Germans had taken advantage of his weakness .
So we cannot place all the blame on Samuel Maherero.
Apart from the taking of their cattle and their land, there are other instances
of injustice and misrule which may be briefly mentioned. In a previous chapter
of this report reference has already been made to the great respect and reverence
shown by the Hereros towards their dead. It is now desirable to record a happening
which proves, perhaps more than anything else hitherto 'mentioned, how long-
suffering and patient the Hereros were, and how callously indifferent the Germans
and the Government proved themselves to be.
Hosea Mungunda, in corroborated affidavit (mentioned in a previous chapter),
Our burial places or graveyards were set aside as sacred and holy ground.
We selected groves of green trees (evergreen trees if possible) for our burial
places and then all trees there were holy and consecrated. No Herero would
dare to damage or cut the trees in a burial place. Our two greatest leaders,
Kamaherero and his father Katjamuaha, were buried together near Oka-
handja in a specially selected burial ground under beautiful green trees on
the river bank. It was the most sacred place in the whole country to all
Hereros. The place was fenced off and constantly attended to by the people.
The Germans came; they cut down all the beautiful trees and they turned
the sacred burial place into a vegetable garden. They appropriated the
place as private property and no Herero could go there as he would be
prosecuted for trespass. We were terribly upset at this and protested against
what we regarded as sacrilege. Our chiefs complained to the authorities,
but no notice was taken.
At page 67 of his work, Dr. Felix Meyer, dealing with the land laws of the
H[ereros, says :-
Each Herero was free to select the spot where he wished to settle. He
could build, graze, hunt and dig wherever he pleased. Only the burial
places of the ancestors, in the locality of the [sacred trees, were prohibited
land as at one time the res diis manibus relictce. It was zera (forbidden).
Notwithstanding this (according to information given me by the missionary
Irle), the holy grove of trees at Okahandja, which Mahercro had allowed to grow
around the graves, was cut down by the Germans so that as a
result the graves lay bare and exposed and were eventually taken in by the
gardens of the white people.
THE VALUE SET ON NATIVE LIFE BY THE GERMANS.
From the point of view of the, at that time, comparatively few German settlers
in the country there were far too many Hereros. Once robbed of their land and
their cattle,,they could not possibly all be employed as farm labourers, and no one
seemed to look to the future.
Dr. Karl Dove's leniency towards the natives is cruelty to the whites"
became generally known as proverbial, and it formed the rule of conduct not only
of the white settler, soldier, trader, and policeman, but it also actually represented
the settled and accepted policy 'of the Government. Considerations of justice,
honesty,'aiid common humanity never arose, or if they did arise were brushed aside
by the more brutal demands of convenience and utility. It will be remembered
that Leutwein, when referring to the claim that the evidence of seven coloured
persons was necessary to outbalance the statement of one white man, said: "in
regard to the utility of this I will express no opinion."
Having settled the point of view, it is easy to understand what Dr. Karl Dove
is hinting at when he writes :-
While however the single Herero cannot be regarded as a very brave
person, he must riot 'be'looked upon as harmless. On the contrary the chief
danger from them is their numbers and these numbers are a standing menace
to our safety.
STherefore the settler who helped to reduce the number of Hereros was per-
forming a public service. There can be no doubt that during the period 1890-1904
very many Hereros were done to death in one way or another or died as the result
of brutal floggings and ill-treatment. Despite this, such murders were treated
lightly; where possible they were hushed up entirely, and at worst the murderer
in his own interests was advised, for fear of reprisals, to leave the country or go to
another district. In only four cases during the period 1890-1904 was a German
murderer brought to trial, and then the imposition of anything like an adequate
or, commensurate penalty was unheard of. It was generally endeavoured by the
German authorities to compound the offence by allowing the murderer to pay
compensation in the shape. of a few dozen goats to the relatives of the deceased.
When Leutwein was relieved of the Governorship, one of the charges levelled
against him was that he had precipitated the rebellion of. 1904 owing to his excessive
leniency, towards the natives. To show his difference of treatment as between
natives and white people, Leutwein (page 431) quotes the following details of murder
A.--EUROPEANS MURDERED BY NATIVES.
(a) 1894, Christie (Englishman) 1 death and 1 penal servitude.
(b) 1895, German soldier -6 death sentences.
(c) 1895, Smith (Boer) -2 death sentences.
(d) 1896, Feyton (Englishman) 1 death sentence.
(e) 1899, Claasen Durr 2 death sentences.
(f) 1900, German policeman 3 death sentences.
B.-NATIVES MURDERED BY EUROPEANS.
(a) 1896, Hottentots Jantje and Kurieb On trial: 51 years' confinement.
On appeal: reduced to 3 months'
(b) 1901, Herero Leonard 1 year's imprisonment.
(c) 1902, Herero Kamawu 2 years' imprisonment.
(d) 1903, The daughter of Zacharias, On trial: acquitted.
Chief of Otjimbingwe. On appeal (by prosecutor) : ;3 years'
It will be seen therefore that native murderers were invariably sentenced to
death, while in the four cases actually tried the highest penalty imposed on a white
man was three years' imprisonment. Moreover these white criminals never served
their full term, as will be shown later on. "Surely," says Leutwein, "this goes
to prove that a higher value was placed on the life of a white man than on that of a
The death of a native as the result of a severe thrashing was not regarded by the
German courts as murder. Leutwein says the natives could not understand such
subtle distinctions, to them murder and beating to death were one and the same
thing." Germans who thrashed natives to such an extent as to render it necessary
to send them to hospital" were always allowed to escape with a fine. On the
x 5952 H
other hand," says Leutwein, "natives who assaulted white men w
punished by lashes and imprisonment in chains (kettenhaft)."
Ordinary flogging of natives by their masters (euphemistically termed
chastisement ") was permitted unrestrictedly, and, provided the native
"to go to hospital as a result thereof, nothing was said about it.
Dealing with murders by Germans, Hosea Mungunda states on oath
Under Herero law our chief punished people who commit
murder with death. Under the Germans no German was eve]
to death for murdering a Herero. Some Germans were sent away I
(so we are told); but others who murdered our people are in t
ap to the present day. I know of the men Kamahuru, Leonarc
Kamahuru, and another man Willie Kain also Kasa
Herero of Otjimbingwe, who was killed by a policeman at Okahanc
he did not take off his hat and greet the policeman. The
Kasambouwe, was an under-chief of Kamaherero's family.
general rule to shield German murderers from justice. The re
complaint was "the man has been sent to Germany." None of
that these people were ever punished. We see the murderers here 1
Samuel Kariko (son of Under-Chief Daniel Kariko, formerly secret
Chief at Omaruru, now schoolmaster at Kalkfeld), states on oath:-
Our people were shot and murdered; our women were ill-tr
those who did this were not punished. Our chiefs consulted and
that war could not be worse than what we were undergoing. .
knew what risks we ran ., yet we decided on war, as the
we would be better off even if we were all dead. .
Under-Chief Daniel Kariko states on oath: -
Our people were compelled to work on farms, and the farmer
chained up by the police and flogged without mercy for the slig
thing. Then the wife of Barmenias Zerua (the daughti
Chief Zacharias Zerua of Otjimbingwe) was cruelly murdered in
near Omaruru by a German named Dietrich. She was shot by I
after her baby was born because she refused to be false to Herero
her own husband. This broke our hearts, because the family oi
great old Herero family from which many big chiefs had come in pas
nearly all the reigning chiefs in 1903 were related to the Zerua fi
were more than astonished too when the German murderer was d
guilty and liberated. This decided us for war. Later on we hea
murderer had been re-arrested and on a new trial given three yea
years for a chief's daughter's life when we ourselves would have s
Herero murderer to death. We could see then that there was n(
us and no protection. Dietrich was released from gaol after a
and made an Under-Officer of the German troops who shot dow
women, and children in the rebellion.
A full statement has been obtained from Barmenias Zerua, rela-
murder of his wife above referred to. He states that it took place not !
a few months after her child was born, and that he was asleep when tl
fired and is unable personally to impute a reason for the murder. T
In 1899 I married Louisa Kamana, daughter of Kamana, an
of the Hereros of chief Manasse of Omaruru. My wife was also
and we were married in the church at Otjimbingwe by the Missioi
In 1903 my wife was expecting her first baby, so in accordancec
universal custom of the Hereros I sent her, by ox-wagon, to hi
home at Otjimbingwe for her confinement. In due course she
to a baby boy. When the news reached me I rode on hors(
Otjimbingwe to Otjimpaue to bring my wife and baby back to my h(
We started on our return journey by ox-wagon. We had to p;
Omaruru and there rested a few hours. Before leaving Omarur
German named Dietrich, who asked me whether he would be allc
to travel with us on my wagon to Karibib. I said I had no o
Dietrich came along with us. I agreed, because I thou
e had not
, a woman
_t was the
ply to our
;ary to the
3 had them
im 14 days
law and to
Zerua is a
b years, and
rd that the
a our men,
wive to the
4 days but
e shot was
ais is what
e with the
i we met a
wed by me
ht I would
help the white man. He travelled with us on the wagon and chatted in a
friendly way with me and my wife. That evening we outspanned about
12 miles from Omaruru on the main road. We killed a sheep and had our
evening meal which Dietrich shared with us. We gave him the fried sheep's
liver to eat. Then two boys went,to attend to the cattle and my wife went
into the hood of the wagon with her baby to sleep. .
After relating how the chief of Omaruru then rode up on his way from Karibib
to Omaruru, and how at Dietrich's invitation they had a drink together, Barmenias
Then the chief greeted us and rode away. I said Good-night" to
Dietrich and went to sleep suddenly I was awakened from my
sleep by the report of a revolver. I jumped out of the tent of the wagon
and saw Dietrich running away on the road to Omaruru. I went
back to the wagon-the baby was crying and I shook my wife to wake her.
As I touched her I felt something wet. I struck a match and saw that she
was covered with blood and quite dead. I took up my baby and
found that the bullet which killed my wife had gone through the fleshy part
Sof its left leg just above the knee. We were never told what punish-
ment Dietrich received. The chiefs were not informed and to this day I
don't know what the court did. Later on I saw Dietrich in Karibib, where
he still lives. None of the Hereros really believed that Dietrich had
ever been punished. This murder was one of the chief reasons which
influenced my father Zacharias and Samuel Maherero and Michael Tjaherani
(the chiefs of Okahandja and Omaruru) to go into rebellion the next year.
They had many other reasons for rising against the Germans, but this event
decided their policy.
Mentioning this murder, Leutwein (page 222), says:-
In the early part of 1903 an intoxicated white man shot a Herero woman,
who was sleeping peacefully in a wagon, for the reason that he imagined he
was being attacked by Hereros and fired blindly in all directions. The court
rejected the entirely unfounded story of attack by the Hereros as alleged by
the white man. The case turned entirely on the point of the hallucinations
of a no longer sober person. Notwithstanding this, the judges in the first
instance found the white man not guilty, because they accepted as a fact the
defence that he had acted in good faith (er habe in gutem glauben gehandelt) !
This acquittal aroused extraordinary excitement in Hereroland, especially as
the murdered person was the daughter of a chief. Everywhere the question
was asked: Have the white people then got the right to shoot native
women." I thereupon travelled personally to Hereroland to pacify the
people so far as I could, and also to make clear to them that I did not agree
with the judgment of the court, but had no influence thereover. Luckily
the prosecutor had correctly appealed. The accused was then brought before
the Supreme Court at Windhuk and sentenced to three years' imprisonment.
This event had however contributed its share towards the unrest among the
Hereros which resulted half a year later in the outbreak of the rebellion.
In October 1903 the Hottentot chief of the Bondelswartz Hottentots, Willem
Christian, was murdered by German soldiers at Warmbad. This resulted in the
Bondelswartz rising. The spark once applied, it took little time for the conflagration
to spread, and by January 1904 the entire Herero tribe had risen against their
German masters and was in the course of the year joined by the majority of the
Hottentot races in the south.
THE OUTBREAK OF THE HERERO RISING AND THE HUMANITY
OF THE HERERO.
Governor Leutwein was in the south dealing with the Hottentots when the news
of the Herero rising reached him, He was pained and astonished to learn that
Samuel Maherero (the Paramount Chief ") had forsaken Germany and her
unlimited supplies of rum for the purpose of going into rebellion, and that not only
was Samuel a rebel, but he was the leader, the life and soul of-the movement.
Leutwein immediately wrote an upbraiding letter to my dear Samuel," asking
for his reasons for this .rash step. The letter was duly delivered by a missionary,
and through the same channel Leutwein received the following reply:-
(printed by Rohrbach at page 333)
To the Great Ambassador of the Kaiser : Otjisonjati,
Governor Leutwein: 6th March 1904.
I have received your letter, and what you have written to me and my
headmen is well understood. I and my headmen reply to you as follows:
I did not commence the war this year; it has been started by the white
people; for as you know how many Hereros have been killed by white
people, particularly traders, with rifles and in the prisons. And always
when I brought these cases to Windhuk the blood of the people was valued
at no more than a few head of small stock, namely, from fifty to fifteen. The
traders increased the. troubles also .in this way that they voluntarily gave
credit to my people. After having done so they robbed us; they went so
far as to pay' themselves by, for instance, taking away by force two or three
head of cattle to cover a debt of one pound stg: It is these things which
have caused war in the land. And in these times the white people said to
us you (i.e., Leutwein) who were peacefully disposed and liked us, were no
longer here. They said to us the Governor who loves you has gone to a
difficult war; he is dead and as he is dead you also (the Hereros), must die.
They went so far as to kill two Hereros of Chief Tjetjoo: even Lieutenant N.
began to kill my people in the gaol. Ten of them died, and it is said they
died of illness; but they died by the hands of the labour overseer and by the
lash. Eventually Lieut. N. began to treat me badly and to see a reason for
killing me. He said, The people of Kambazembi and Uanja are making
war." He called me to question me. I answered him truthfully "No," but
he did not believe. At last he hid soldiers in boxes at the fort and sent
for me so that he might shoot me. I did not go, I saw his intentions
and I fled. Thereupon Lieut. R. sent soldiers with rifles after me to shoot
me. For these reasons I became angry and said No, I must kill the white
men, they themselves have said that I must die." This-that I must die-
was told me by a white man named X. (Note.-The names are suppressed
by the German printers.)
I am the Chief,
It seems quite true that German settlers did take advantage of Leutwein's
absence in the south to spread the report that he was dead and also to renew with
vigour their outrages and robberies. They had never forgiven Leutwein for his
open antagonism on the trading and credit question, and appear to have taken
every opportunity of belittling him in the eyes of the natives and of undermining
his authority. It was the desire of the Germans to precipitate a general rebellion.
The extermination of the Hereros and the confiscation of the cattle and sheep they
still possessed was their main objective. Of Governor Leutwein, whatever his
faults may have been, let it be said that he personally was no party to this miserable
The settlers had achieved their object. The Hereros were in open rebellion
and it remained only to secure the spoils.
Before actually opening hostilities the principal Herero chiefs met and drew up
a strict instruction to all their selected'military leaders : It read as follows :
I am the Chief leader of the Hereros, Samuel Maherero. I have
proclaimed a law and a lawful order and it ordains for all my people that
they shall not lay hands on the following: namely, Englishmen, Boers,
Bastards, Berg-Damaras, Namas (i.e., Hottentots). We must not lay hands
on any of these people. I have taken an oath that 'their property will not
be regarded as enemy property, neither that of the missionaries. Enough !
In his affidavit, Under-Chief Daniel Kariko (a bitter life-long enemy of the
Germans) says :-
We decided that we should wage war in a humane manner and would kill
only the German men who were soldiers, or who would become soldiers. We
met at secret councils and there our chiefs decided that we should spare the
lives of all German women and children. The missionaries, too, were to be
spared, and they, their wives and families and possessions were to be
protected by our people from all harm. We also decided to protect all
British and Dutch farmers and settlers and their wives. and children and
property as they had always been good to us. Only German males were
regarded as our enemies, and then not young boys who could not fight-these
also we spared: We gave the Germans and all others notice that we had
declared war. .
A Dutch housewife resident in. Omaruru has informed the writer that when the
rising broke out she was living in the village while her husband was on his farm
some 30 miles away. The Germans hastily fled into the fort taking their wives and
children with them. My informant says she hesitated about going to the fort for fear
that the Hereros might consider her action hostile and take revenge on her husband.
While pondering over what she should do to protect herself and her small children,
the Herero chief, Michael Tysesita called on her. He said:-
I have come to assure you that you and your children will be quite safe
in your own home. You are under my protection. Do not go into the
German fort. The Germans are foolish to take their women and children
there, as they may be killed by our bullets, and we are not making war on
women and children. Keep calm and stay indoors when there is fighting,
I assure you my people will do you no harm.
Yes, Chief (replied my informant), but my poor husband is alone on the
farm, surely he has been murdered by this.
The Chief smiled and replied: We are not barbarians. Your husband
is our friend; he is not a German. I have already sent a special messenger
to him, to tell him he is under my protection as long as he remains quietly on
his farm. His cattle and sheep are safe also. In order not to inconvenience
your husband, I have specially ordered my people who are working for him
to remain there and do their work loyally until I send further instructions.
This humane and chivalrous attitude is confirmed by Leutwein (page 467).
He says :
It seems to have been the definite intention of the Herero leaders to
protect all women, and children. When, in spite of this, some were murdered,
this is to be ascribed.to the fact that everywhere inhuman people are to be
found who do not confine themselves to such limits.
It has probably never occurred before in native wars that a definite line ,vas
drawn between combatants and non-combatants, enemies and friends. It speaks
volumes for the humane temperament and mildness of the Hereros.
It cannot possibly have been on account of their barbarity that Germany
exterminated the majority of this fine race.
Having decided on how they should wage the war, the Herero chiefs decided to
notify their neighbours, the Hottentots and the Bastards, and the following letters
are of interest:-
To Chief Hendrik Witbooi, 11.1.1904.
I make known to you that the white people have broken their peace with
me. Hold on well as we have heard (you are doing?) And if God so wills
it don't let the work in ,Namaqualand go backward. It now remains for
you to go to Swakopmurid and see what they are doing there. I am without
ammunition. When you have acquired ammunition help me and give me
Stwo English and two German rifles as I have none. That is all. Greetings.
To the Bastard-Chief, 11th January 1904.
I make known to you that our treaty between us and the Germans is
broken. We are now become enemies. I make this known to you as the
Bastards (like the Hereros), the Namaquas and the Englishmen must know.
A Berg-Damara is the servant of these races. These are all on our side and
that is a fact ; accept it and hold on to it. Complete this business; that is
all. Let us go to Swakopmund and remain there. Send the enclosed letter
(to Witbooi) on, and keep your man there as he has no work. Do not
interfere with any Boers or Englishmen.
A little while later the following undated letter was sent by Samuel Maherero to
Rather let us die together and not die as the result of ill-treatment,
prisons, or all the other ways. Furthermore let all the other chiefs down
there know so that they may rise and work. *I close my letter with hearty
greetings and the confidence that the chief will comply with my wishes.
Send me four of your men that we may discuss matters. Also obstruct the
operations of the Governor so that he will be unable to pass. And make
haste that we may storm Windhuk-then we shall have ammunition.
Furthermore I am not fighting alone, we are all fighting together.
The letters to Witbooi never reached him. The Bastard chief through whose
hands they passed, handed them over to Leutwein !
Basing the total strength of their force of effective fighting men at 10 to 15 per
cent. of the population, Leutwein estimates that the total available military strength
of the Hereros was 7,000 to 8,000 men, of whom only 2,500 were armed with rifles
(page 436). These rifles were a varied collection of all sorts and included muzzle-
loaders and ancient flintlocks. As will be seen however from the letters, the Hereros
had little or no ammunition.
Barmenias Zerua, son of Chief Zacharias Zerua of Otjimbingwe, states (in his
affidavit to the writer) :-
He (i.e., the chief) knew that if we rose we would be crushed in battle,
as our people were nearly all unarmed and without ammunition. We were
driven to desperation by the cruelty and injustice of the Germans, and
our chiefs and people felt that death would be less terrible than the conditions
under which we lived.
Heinrich Tjaherani of Omaruru, younger son of the Chief Willem Tjaherani
of Omaruru (predecessor of the Chief Manasse), states on oath :
When the Hereros rose I took the field with my people. We were
badly armed. Only about one man in ten had a rifle and most of the rifles
were very old. Very few men had 15 to 20 cartridges. Some had ten, and
I know of many who only had three or five .
There is something deeply pathetic in this picture of the desperate Herero
warrior with his ancient rifle and half-a-dozen cartridges deciding to rise and defend
his liberties against the might of the German Empire, and despite his worries and
anxieties and the terrible future which faced him passing resolutions and giving
orders to ensure the safety of the women and children of his oppressors.
Can anyone allege that these poor mild-mannered creatures who had borne
the German yoke for over 14 years had no justification for the step they took? Is
there anyone in the civilised world who can assert that Germany was justified when
she allowed von Trotha and his soldiers mercilessly to butcher and drive to their
death 60,000 or more of these unfortunate people and to destroy every asset in
the way of cattle, sheep, goats, and other possessions ?
PRELIMINARY STEPS AND TREACHERY OF THE GERMANS.
It is now necessary, distasteful as the task may be, to disclose some of the ways
and means by which von Trotha carried out his extermination policy."
As might have been expected, the Hereros, encumbered in their movements
in the field by the presence of their women and children and their cattle and sheep,
and poorly armed and organised, were, from the very outset, no match for the
trained and disciplined soldiers of Germany who were poured into the country.
What could the Hereros do when faced with the modern rifle, the Maxim and
the quick-firing Krupp gun? By August 1904 the German troops had defeated
the Hereros with great losses and had captured several thousands of prisoners.
The rising was virtually over. Samuel Maherero and several leading chiefs gathered
their cattle and sheep and made a wild dash through the Kalahari Desert with a
view to seeking British protection and that peace and fair government which had
been denied them in their own land.
The bulk of the Herero nation however clinging to their remaining cattle and
small stock, had withdrawn into the mountains of the Waterberg and the bushveld
north of Gobabis. It was about this time that. Leutwein, having been declared
too lenient, was superseded by von Trotha. This new commander was noted in
Berlin for his merciless severity in dealing with native. In the Chinese Boxer
rebellion he had carried out his Imperial master's instructions to the letter; and
no more worthy son of Attila could have been selected for the work in hand. He
had just suppressed the Arab rebellion in German East Africa by bathing that
country in the blood of thousands and thousands of its inhabitants, men, women
and children; and his butchery there ended, he was ordered by Wilhelm II. to
proceed to German South-West Africa and deal with the rebel natives. Von Trotha
was indifferent as to the means by which his objects should be attained. Treachery
and breaches of faith were to him admissible. No doubt the reason and excuse
advanced was as usual the inferior kultur-position of the natives. Shortly after
he took command the Hereros were given to understand that reasonable terms of
peace might be granted if their leaders came in and treated. The subtle German
felt that it would be easier to dispose of the masses, once their best leaders were
gone. In the meantime von Trotha was drawing his cordon of troops into position
and preparing for the final massacre. Let us read in the words of two Herero eye-
witnesses the manner in which von Trotha initiated his campaign.
Gottlob Kamatoto (who was a servant to one of the officers in the field) states
I accompanied the troops to Ombakaha above Gobabis and near Epikiro
in the Sandveld. At a farm called Otjihaenena the Germans sent out messages
to the Hereros that the war was now over and they were to come in and make
peace. As a result of this message seven Herero leaders came into the German
camp to discuss peace terms. As soon as they came in they were asked where
Samuel Maherero the chief was. They said he had gone towards the desert
on his way to British Bechuanaland. That evening at sunset the seven
peace envoys were caught and tied with ropes. They were led aside and
shot. Before being shot they protested bitterly; but seeing that they were
doomed they accepted their fate.
Relating another instance, the well-known story of German treachery at
Ombakaha, Gerard Kamaheke (at present Herero headman at Windhuk and a
leader of the Hereros in the rising) states on oath :-
The chiefs Saul, Joel and I with a number of our followers were camped
in the veld at Ombuyonungondo, about 30 kilos. from Ombakaha. This was
in. September. A messenger, a German soldier, came to our camp on horse-
back. He said he had come from the German commander at Ombakaha,
who had sent him to tell us to come to Ombakaha and make peace. Joel
then sent the schoolmaster Traugott Tjongarero personally to Ombakaha
to confirm the truth of the soldier's message and to inquire if peace were
intended whether the Herero leaders would be given safe conduct and
protection if they went into Ombakaha. Traugott came back a few days
later and said he had seen the German commander, who had confirmed the
message brought by the soldier. Traugott said that the German commander
had invited us all to come in and make peace; that our lives would all be
spared; that we would be allowed to retain our cattle and other possessions;
and that we would be allowed to go to Okahandja to live. I fell in with the
wishes of the majority and we left for Ombakaha in the evening, and arrived
at the German camp at noon the next day. With me were the chiefs Saul
and Joel, and the under-chiefs Traugott, Elephas, Albanus, Johannes Mun-
qunda, Elephas Mumpurua and two others whose names I now forget. We
had with us 70 Herero soldiers. The wives and children we had left at
our camp. On arrival at Ombakaha the 70 men who were under my command
were halted near the German camp under some trees, as the sun was hot and
we were very tired. Joel and the other leaders went on to the German
commander's quarters about 100 yards away; they left their arms with us.
The Germans then came to me and said we were to hand over our arms. I
said, I cannot do so until I know that Joel and the other leaders who are
now in the camp have made peace." I sat there waiting, when suddenly the
Germans opened fire on us. We were nearly surrounded, and my people
tried to make their escape. I tried to fight my way through, but was shot
in the right shoulder and fell to the ground (I show the wound), and I lay
quite still and pretended to be dead. I was covered with blood. The German
soldiers came along bayoneting the wounded; and as I did not move they
thought I was dead already and left me. The chiefs Saul and Joel and all
the other headmen were killed. I got up in the night and fled back to our
camp, where I found our women and children still safe and also some survivors
'of my 70 men. We then fled away further towards the Sandveld and scattered
'in all directions.
After the departure of von Trotha, the German Governor von Lindequist made
every effort to get the few thousand starving Hereros who survived and were dying
of sheer hunger and thirst in the mountains and bush .to come in and surrender.
He had the greatest difficulty in getting them to do so. Dr. Paul Rohrbach (page 361),
in dealing with this strong distrust of the Hereros, ascribes it mainly to this horrible
piece of. treachery (worthy of a Dingaan) which has just been described. Says
It happened during the war that a number of Herero leaders, among them
the chief Saul of Otjonga, were shot down after (in the confidence that nego-
tiations concerning their surrender were to be opened) they had placed them-
selves within reach of German, rifles. This incident, which took place at
Ombakaha in the district of Gobabis, had the most unfortunate and difficult
consequences, because all later attempts to open up peace-negotiations even
in Namaqualand, were rejected by the distrustful natives, who said, Yes, but
Having completed his plans, von Trotha issued his notorious Vernichtungs
Befehl (or extermination order) in terms of which no Herero-man, woman, child
or suckling.babe-was to receive mercy or quarter. Kill every one of them," said
von Trotha, "and take no prisoners." "I wished," says von Trotha, "to ensure
that never again would there be a Herero rebellion."
This order, be it remembered, was made against an already defeated people,
ready to come in and surrender on any terms and entirely without ammunition or
other means of waging war. In his report to Berlin, von Trotha said (see page 359,
That the making of terms with the Hereros was impossible, seeing that
their chiefs had nearly all fled, or through their misdeeds during the rebellion
had rendered themselves so liable that the German Government could not
treat with them. In addition to this he regarded the acceptance of a more
or less voluntary surrender as a possible means of building up the old tribal
organizations again and, as such, it would be a great political mistake; which
earlier or later would again cause bloodshed.
It is perfectly clear from this that von Trotha definitely decided not to allow
the Hereros to surrender, even though nearly all their chiefs had fled and he in cold
blood decided to butcher this now disorganised, leaderless, and harmless tribe in
order to ensure that there would be no trouble from the Hereros in the future.
When'the spirit in which this 'order was conceived and given and carried out
is understood, and when the real purport and object of the preliminary acts of
treachery, whereby the chiefs and leaders were murdered, are borne in mind, it will
be easier to understand that the following sad and terrible details as to how the exter-
mination order was carried out are not figments of the imagination, but the sworn
descriptions of eye-witnesses, and that the ghastly slaughter which took place was
approved of by von Trotha and the master whom he served.
HOW THE HEREROS WERE EXTERMINATED.
In "Peter Moor's Journey to South-West Africa "* (Gustav Frenssen), a dis-
jointed narrative of happenings during the Herero rising, as related by returned
soldiers, little of the actual horrors and butcheries which took place is conveyed.
A German author writing for a German public would naturally take care to
conceal the entirely barbaric side of the affair, lest it should shock those simple-
minded people who really believed in the superior kultur of their race. There
are, however, here and there little sidelights, little slips of the pen apparently, which,
when read in conjunction with the evidence which follows, help to create a picture
of merciless inhumanity and calculated ferocity which is well-nigh unbelievable.
On their way to the battle-front the newly arrived soldiers of von Trotha are
discussing the causes of the rising with the old settlers (page 77) and one
of the older men, who had been long in the country, said :-
Children, how should it be otherwise. They were ranchmen and pro-
prietors and we were there to make them landless working men, and they
rose up in revolt this is their struggle for independence .
They (the Hereros) discussed, too, what the Germans really wanted here.
They thought we ought to make that point clear. The matter stood this
way : there were missionaries here who said you are our dear brothers in the
Lord and we want to bring you these benefits-namely, faith, love and hope:
and there were soldiers, farmers and traders, and they said we want to take
your cattle and your land gradually away from you and make you slaves
without legal rights. These two things didn't go side by side. It is a
ridiculous and crazy project. Either it is right to colonise, that is to deprive
others of their rights, to rob and make slaves, or it is just and right to
christianise, that is to proclaim and live up to brotherly love.
The narrator relates how, on a night-scouting journey, he located a large Herero
encampment (page 158):-
Setting down on my knees and creeping for a little way, I saw tracks of
innumerable children's feet, and among them those of full-grown feet. Great
troops of children, led by their mothers, had passed over the road here to the
north-west. I stood up, and going to a low tree by the road climbed up a few
yards in my heavy boots. Thence I could see a broad moonlit slope,
rising not a hundred yards distant, and on it hundreds of rough huts con-
structed of branches, from the low entrance of which the fire light shone out
and I heard children's crying and the yelping of a dog. Thousands of women
and children were lying there under the roofs of leaves around the dying fires.
S. The barking of dogs and the lowing of cattle reached my ears.
I gazed at the great night scene with sharp spying eyes, and I observed
minutely the site and the camp at the base of the mountains. Still the
thought went through my head: There lies a people with all its children and
all its possessions, hard pressed on all sides by the horrible deadly lead and
condemned to death, and it sent cold shudders down my back.
(Page 186) :-
Through the quiet night we heard in the distance the lowing of enormous
herds of thirsty cattle and a dull, confused sound like the movement of a whole
people. To the east there was a gigantic glow of fire. The enemy had fled
to the east with their whole enormous mass-women, children and herds.
The next morning we ventured to pursue the enemy. The ground
was trodden down into a floor for a width of about a hundred yards, for in
such a broad, thickly crowded horde had the enemy and their herds of cattle
stormed along. In the path of their flight lay blankets, skins, ostrich feathers,
household utensils, women's ornaments, cattle and men, dead and dying and
staring blankly. How deeply the wild, proud, sorrowful people had
humbled themselves in the terror of death! wherever I turned my eyes lay
their goods in quantities, oxen and horses, goats and dogs, blankets and skins.
A number of babies lay helplessly languishing by mothers whose breasts hung
Mrs. May Ward's Translation.
x 5952 I
down long and flabby. Others were lying alone, still living, wth eyes and
nose full of flies: Somebody sent out our black drivers and I think they
helped them to die. All this life lay scattered there, both man and beast,
broken in the knees, helpless, still in agony or already motion ss, it looked
as if it had all been thrown down out of the air.
At noon we halted by water-holes which were filled to the very brim
with corpses. We pulled them out by means of the ox teams f om the field
pieces, but there was only a little stinking bloody water in the d pths. .
At some distance crouched a crowd of old women, who stared :n apathy in
front of them. .In the last frenzy of despair man and beast will
plunge madly into the bush somewhere, anywhere, to find wate and in the
bush they will die of thirst.
(Page 192) :-
We chanced to see a Cape wagon behind some bushes, and we heard
human voices. Dis, in tilii we sneaked up and discovered six of the enemy
sitting in animated conversation around a little camp fire. I indicated by
signs at which one of them each of us was to shoot. Four lay still i nmediately;
one escaped; the sixth stood half erect, severely wounded. I sp ang forward
swinging my club; he looked at me indifferently. I wiped my club clean
in the sand and threw the weapon on its strap over my should yr, but I did
not like to touch it all that day .
(Note.-These clubs were, with bayonets and rifle butts, the weapons with
which the German soldiers-and not the black drivers-" helped the women and
children to die.")
(Page 204) :-
One fire was burning not far.from us in the thick bush. Before
dawn we got up, discovered the exact place in the bush, and stealthily
surrounded it. Five men and eight or ten women and children, all in rags,
were squatting benumbed about their dismal little fire. Telling them with
threats not .to move, we looked through the bundles which we e lying near
them and found two guns and some underclothing, probably stolen from
our dead. One of the men was wearing a German tunic which bore the
name of one of our officers who had been killed. We then led t e men away
to one side and shot them. The women and children, who looked pitiably
starved, we hunted into the bush .
(Page 230) :-
The guardsman got up with difficulty and went with bent back down
the slope to one side where there were bushes. I said What d es he want ?
I believe he is out of his senses and wants to search for water."
At that moment there came from the bushes into which he ad vanished
a noise of cursing and leaping. Immediately he reappeared holding by
the hip a tall thin negro dressed in European clothing. He toe the negro's
gun from his hand and swearing at him in a strange language dragged him
up to us and said, The wretch has a German gun, but no more cartridges,"
The guardsman had now become quite lively and began to talk t) his captive,
threatening him and kicking him in the knees. The negro crouched and
answered every question with a great flow of words and with quick, very
agile and remarkable gestures of the arms and hands. Apparently
the guardsman at last learned enough, for he said: The missionary said
to me-beloved, don't forget that the blacks are our brothers. Now I will
give my brother his reward." He pushed the black man off and said, Run
away." The man sprang up and tried to get down across t e clearing in
long, zigzag jumps, but he had not taken five leaps before the ball hit him
and he pitched forward at full length and lay still t e lieutenant
thought I meant it was not right for the guardsman to shoot tie negro, and
said in his thoughtful, scholarly way, Safe is safe. He can't raise a gun
against us any more nor beget any children to fight against us. The struggle
for South Africa will be a hard one, whether it is to belong to the Germans
or to the blacks."
The last clause gives von Trotha's reasons for this no-quarter policy far better
than the writer could describe them.
The following are statements by Hereros as to their treatment during the
Daniel Kariko (Under-Chief of Omaruru):-
The result of this war is known to everyone. Our people, men, women
and children were shot like dogs and wild animals. Our people have dis-
appeared now. I see only a few left; their cattle and sheep are gone too,
and all our land is owned by the Germans. After the fight at
Waterberg we asked for peace; but von Trotha said there would only be
peace when we were all dead, as he intended to exterminate us. I fled to
the desert with a few remnants of my stock and managed more dead than
alive to get away far north. I turned to the west and placed myself under
the protection of the Ovambo chief Uejulu, who knew that I was a big man
among the Hereros in 1915 they told me that the British were in
Hereroland, and I hurried down to meet them. .. I was allowed to
return to Hereroland after 10 years of exile.
Hosea Mungunda (Headman of the Hereros at Windhuk):-
SWe were crushed and well-nigh exterminated by the Germans in the
rising. With the exception of Samuel Maharero, Mutati, Traugott, Tjetjoo,
Hosea and Kaijata (who fled to British territory) all our big chiefs and leaders
died or were killed in the rising, and also the great majority of our people.
All our cattle were lost and all other possessions such as wagons and sheep.
At first the Germans took prisoners, but when General von Trotha took
command no prisoners were taken. General von Trotha said, No one
is to live; men, women and children must all die." We can't say how many
were killed. .
Samuel Kariko (son of Daniel Kariko, formerly Secretary to the Omaruru
A new General named von Trotha came, and he ordered that all Hereros
were to be exterminated, regardless of age or sex. It was then that the
wholesale slaughter of our people began. That was towards the end of
1904. Our people had already been defeated in battle, and we had no more
ammunition we saw we were beaten and asked for peace, but the
German General refused peace and said all should die. We then fled towards
the San'dfeld of the Kalahari Desert. Those of our people who escaped the
bullets and bayonets died miserably of hunger and thirst in the desert. A
few thousand managed to turn back and sneak through the German lines
to where there were water and roots and berries to live on.
A few examples of how the Germans helped the Hereros to die now follow.
Manuel Timbu (Cape Bastard), at present Court Interpreter in native languages
at Omaruru, states under oath:-
I was sent to Okahandja and appointed groom to the German commander,
General von Trotha. I had to look after his horses and to do odd jobs at his
headquarters. We followed the retreating Hereros from Okahandja to
Waterberg, and from there to the borders of the Kalahari Desert. When
leaving Okahandja, General von Trotha issued orders to his troops that no
quarter was to be given to the enemy. No prisoners were to be taken, but
all, regardless of age or sex, were to be killed. General von Trotha said,
We must exterminate them, so that we won't be bothered with rebellions
in the future." As a result of this order the soldiers shot all natives we
came across. It did not matter who they were. Some were peaceful people
who had not gone into rebellion; others, such as old men and old women,
had never left their homes; yet these were all shot.* I often saw this done.
Once while on the march near Hamakari beyond the Waterberg, we came
to some water-holes. It was winter time and very cold. We came on two
very old Herero women. They had made a small fire and were warming
themselves. They had dropped back from the main body of Hereros owing
to exhaustion. Von Trotha and his staff were present. A German soldier
dismounted, walked up to the old women and shot them both as they lay
there. Riding along we got to a vlei, where we camped. While we were
In this way thousands of harmless and peaceful Berg-Damaras met the same fate as the Hereros.
there a Herero woman came walking up to us from the bush. I was the
Herero interpreter. I was told to take the woman to the General to see
if she could give information as to the whereabouts of the enemy. I took
her to General von Trotha; she was quite a young woman and looked tired
and hungry. Von Trotha asked her several questions, but she did not seem
inclined to give information. She said her people had all gone towards
the east, but as she was a weak woman she could not keep up with them.
Von Trotha then ordered that she should be taken aside and bayoneted.
I took the woman away and a soldier came up with his bayonet in his hand.
He offered it to me. and said I had better stab the woman. I said I would
never dream of doing such a thing and asked why the poor woman could
not be allowed to live. The soldier laughed, and said, If you won't do
it, I will show you what a German soldier can do." He took the woman aside
a few paces and drove the bayonet through her body. He then withdrew
the bayonet and brought it all dripping with blood and poked it under my
nose in a jeering way, saying, You see, I have done it." Officers and
soldiers were standing around looking on, but no one interfered to save the
woman. Her body was not buried, but, like all others they killed, simply
allowed to lie and rot and be eaten by wild animals.
A little further ahead we came to a place where the Hereros had
abandoned some goats which were too weak to go further. There was no
water to be had for miles around. There we found a young Herero, a boy
of about 10 years of age. He had apparently lost his people. As we passed
he called out to us that he was hungry and very thirsty. I would have given
him something, but was forbidden to do so. The Germans discussed the
advisability of killing him, and someone said that he would die of thirst in a
day or so and it was not worth while bothering, so they passed on and left
him there. On our return journey we again halted at Hamakari. There,
near a hut, we saw an old Herero woman of about 50 or 60 years digging in
the ground for wild onions. Von Trotha and his staff were present. A
soldier named Konig jumped off his horse and shot the woman through the
forehead at point blank range. Before he shot her, he said, I am going to
kill you." She simply looked up and said, I thank you." That night we
slept at Hamakari. The next day we moved off again and came across
another woman of about 30. She was also busy digging for wild onions and
took no notice of us. A soldier named Schilling walked up behind her and
shot her through the back. I was an eye-witness of everything I have
related. In addition I saw the bleeding bodies of hundreds of men, women
and children, old and young, lying along the roads as we passed. They had
all been killed by our advance guards. I was for nearly two years with the
German troops and always with General von Trotha. I know of no instance
in which prisoners were spared.
Jan Cloete (Bastard), of Omaruru, states under oath:-
I was in Omaruru in 1904. I was commandeered by the Germans to
act as a guide for them to the Waterberg district, as I knew the country well.
I was with the 4th Field Company under Hauptmann Richardt. The
commander of the troops was General von Trotha. I was present at Hama-
kari, near Waterberg when the Hereros were defeated in a battle. After the
battle, all men, women and children, wounded and unwounded, who fell into
the hands of the Germans were killed without mercy. The Germans then
pursued the others, and all stragglers on the roadside and in the veld were shot
down and bayoneted. The great majority of the Herero men were unarmed
and could make no fight. They were merely trying to get away with their
cattle. Some distance beyond Hamakari we camped at a water-hole. While
there, a German soldier found a little Herero'baby boy about nine months old
lying in the bush. The child was crying. He brought it into the camp
where I was. The soldiers formed a ring and started throwing the child to
one another and catching it as if it were a ball. The child was terrified and
hurt and was crying very much. After a time they got tired of this and one
of the soldiers fixed his bayonet on his rifle and said he would catch the baby.
The child'was tossed into the air towards him and as it fell he caught it and
transfixed the body with the bayonet. The child died in a few minutes and
the incident was greeted with roars of laughter by the Germans, who seemed
to think it was a great joke. I felt quite ill and turned away in disgust because,
although I knew they had orders to kill all, I thought they would have pity
on the child. I decided to go no further, as the horrible things I saw upset
me, so I pretended that I was ill, and as the Captain got ill too and had to
return, I was ordered td go back with him as guide. After I got home I flatly
refused to go out with the soldiers again.
Johannes Kruger (appointed by Leutwein as chief of the Bushmen and Berg-
Damaras of Grootfontein area), a Bastard of Ghaub, near Grootfontein, states under
I went with the German troops right through the Herero rebellion. The
Afrikaner Hottentots of my werft were with me. We refused to kill Herero
women and children, but the Germans spared none. They killed thousands
and thousands. I saw this bloody work for days and days and every day.
Often, and especially at Waterberg, the young Herero women and girls were
violated by the German soldiers before being killed. Two of my Hottentots,
Jan Wint and David Swartbooi (who is now dead) were invited by the German
soldiers to join them in violating Herero girls. The two Hottentots refused
to do so.
Jan Kubas (a Griqua living at Grootfontein), states under oath :-
I went with the German troops to Hamakari and beyond. .. .The
Germans took no prisoners. They killed thousands and thousands of women
and children along the roadsides. They bayoneted them and -hit them to
death with the butt ends of their guns. Words cannot be found to relate
what happened; it was too terrible. They were lying exhausted and harmless
along the roads, and as the soldiers passed they simply slaughtered them in
cold blood. Mothers holding babies at their breasts, little boys and little
girls; old people too old to fight and old grandmothers, none received mercy;
they were killed, all of them, and left to lie and rot on the veld for the vultures
and wild animals to eat. They slaughtered until there were no more Hereros
left to kill. I saw this every day; I was with them. A few' Hereros
managed to escape in the bush and wandered about, living on roots and wild
fruits. Von Trotha was the German General in charge.
Hendrik Campbell (War Commandant of the Bastard tribe of Rehoboth, who
commanded the Bastard Contingent called out by the Germans to help them against
the Hereros in 1904), states on oath :-
At Katjura we had a fight with the Hereros, and drove them from their
position. After the fight was over, we discovered eight or nine sick Herero
women who had been left behind. Some of them were blind. Water and
food had been left with them. The German soldiers burnt them alive in
the hut in which they were lying. The Bastard soldiers intervened and tried
to prevent this, but when they failed, Hendrik van Wyk reported the matter
to me. I immediately went to the German commander and complained.
He said to me that does not matter, they might have infected us with some
disease." .Afterwards at Otjimbende we (the Bastards) captured
70 Hereros. I handed them over to Ober-Leutenants Volkmann and
Zelow. I then went on patrol, and returned two days later, to find the
Hereros all lying dead in a kraal. My men reported to me that they had all
been shot and bayoneted by the German soldiers. Shortly afterwards,
General von Trotha and his staff accompanied by two missionaries, visited
the camp. He said to me. "' You look dissatisfied. Do you already wish to
go home ? "
No," I replied, "the German Government has an agreement with us
and I want to have no misunderstandings on the part of the Bastard Govern-
ment, otherwise the same may happen to us weak people as has happened. to
those lying in the kraal yonder."
Lieut. Zelow gave answer: The Hereros also do so." I said, but,
Lieutenant, as a civilised people you should give us a better example." To
this von Trotha remarked, The entire Herero people must be exterminated."
Petrus Diergaard, an under-officer of the Bastard Contingent, who was present,
corroborates on oath the foregoing statement of the Commandant Hendrik
Evidence of other eye-witnesses :-
Daniel Esma Dixon (of Omaruru, European, who was a transport driver for
the Germans during the rebellion) states under oath:-
I was present at the fight at Gross Barmen, near Okahandja, in 1904.
After the fight the soldiers (marines from the warship Habicht ") were
searching the bush. I went with them out of curiosity. We came across
a wounded Herero lying in the shade of a tree. He was a very tall, powerful
man and looked like one of their headmen. He had his Bible next to his
head and his hat over his face. I walked up to him and saw that he was
wounded high up in the left hip. I took the hat off his face and asked him
if he felt bad. He replied to me in Herero, Yes, I feel I am going to die."
The German marines, whose bayonets were fixed, were looking on. One of
them said to me, What does he reply? I told him. Well," remarked
the soldier, if he is keen on dying he had better have this also." With
that he stooped down and drove his bayonet into the body of the prostrate
Herero, ripping up his stomach and chest and exposing the intestines. I was
so'horrified that I'returned to my wagons at once.
In August 1904, I was taking a convoy of provisions to the troops at
the front line. ,At a place called Ouparakane, in the Waterberg district, we
were outspanned for breakfast when two Hereros, a man and his wife, came
Walking to us out of the bush. Under-officer Wolff and a few German soldiers
were.escort to the wagons and were with me. The Herero man was a cripple,
and walked with difficulty, leaning on a stick and on his wife's arm. He had
a bullet wound through the leg. They came to my wagon, and I spoke to
them in Herero. The man said he had decided to return to Omaruru and
surrender to the authorities, as he could not possibly keep up with his people
who were retreating to the desert, and that his wife had decided to accompany
him. He was quite unarmed and famished. I gave them some food and
coffee and they sat there for over an hour telling me of their hardships and
privations. The German soldiers looked on, but did not interfere. I then
gave the two natives a little food for their journey. They thanked me and
then started to walk along the road slowly to Omaruru. When they had
gone about 60 yards away from us I saw Wolff, the under-officer, and a
soldier taking aim at them. I called out, but it was too late. They shot
both of them. I said to Wolff, How on earth did you have the heart to
do such a thing? It is nothing but cruel murder." He merely laughed, and
said, Oh these swine must all be killed; we are not going to spare a single
I spent a great part of my time during the rebellion at Okahandja,
loading stores at the depot. )There the hanging of natives was a common
occurrence. A German officer had the right to order a native to be hanged.
No trial or court was necessary. Many were hanged merely on suspicion.
One day alone I saw seven Hereros hanged in a row, and on other days twos
and threes. The Germans did not worry about rope. They used ordinary
fencing wire, and the unfortunate native was hoisted up by the neck and
allowed to die of slow strangulation. This was all done in public, and the
bodies were always allowed to hang for a day or so as an example to the other
natives. Natives who were placed in gaol at that time never came out
alive. Many died of sheer starvation and brutal treatment. The
Hereros were far more humane in the field than the Germans.. They were
once a fine race. Now we have only a miserable remnant left.
Hendrik Fraser (Bastard), of Keetmanshoop, states under oath:-
In March 1905 I was sent from Karibib and accompanied the troops
of Hauptmann Kuhne to the Waterberg. I then saw that the Germans no
longer took any prisoners. They killed all men, women and children whom
they came across. .Hereros who were exhausted and were unable to go
any further were captured and killed. At one place near Waterberg, in
the direction of Gobabis, after the fight at Okokadi, a large number (I should
say about 50) men, women and children and little babies fell into the hands
of the Germans. They killed all the prisoners, bayoneted them.
On one occasion I saw about 25 prisoners placed in a small enclosure of
thorn bushes, They were confined in a very small space, and the soldiers
To face page 66.
NATIVES EXECUTED BY GERMANS. (NOTE THE RAGS ROUND THE ANKLES OF THE NATIVE IN THE
CENTRE INDICATING INJURIES CAUSED BY CHAINS.)
CENTRE INDICATING INJURIES CAUSED BY CHAINS.)
cut dry branches and piled dry logs all round them-men, women and children
and little girls were there-when dry branches had been thickly piled up
all round them the soldiers threw branches also on the top of them. The
prisoners were all alive and unwounded, but half starved. Having piled
up the branches, lamp oil was sprinkled on the heap and it was set on fire.
The prisoners were burnt to a cinder. I saw this personally. The Germans
said, We should burn all these dogs and baboons in this fashion." The
officers saw this and made no attempt to prevent it. From that time to
the end of the rising the killing and hanging of Hereros was practically a
daily occurrence. There was no more fighting. The Hereros were merely
fugitives in the bush. All the water-holes on the desert border were poisoned
by the Germans before they returned. The result was that fugitives who
came to drink the water either died of poisoning or, if they did not taste
the water, they died of thirst.
This gruesome story by eye-witnesses could be continued until the report
would probably require several thick volumes. Enough has been placed on record
to prove how the Germans waged their war, and how von Trotha's extermination
order was given effect to. Many more statements have been collected, but these
as samples are sufficient. Further instances will be quoted when dealing further
on with the Hottentot wars. Evidence of violation of women and girls is over-
whelming, but so full of filthy and atrocious details as to render publication
When viewed from the point of view of civilisation and common humanity,
what a comparison there is between this German barbarism and the attitude of
the Herero chiefs, who before a shot was fired ordered their people to spare the
lives of all German women and children and non-combatants !
Rohrbach (page 323) says that at the time of the rebellion the Hereros still
possessed approximately 50,000 head of cattle and at least 100,000 small stock.
He says that a valuation of Herero assets at 500,0001. (10,000,000 marks) before
their rising is probably much too low (wohl zu gering), and the practical and quite
unsentimental Rohrbach bitterly rebukes von Trotha because, owing to the latter's
senseless extermination policy (Vernichtungs Prinzep), the cattle and sheep of the
Hereros shared the fate of their masters. All, with the exception of 3,000 head
captured before von Trotha's time, had perished in the desert. Viewing matters
from the economical point of view, Rohrbach cannot find words strong enough to
condemn von Trotha.
Writing in 1906, Leutwein (at page 542) says:-
At a cost of several hundred millions of marks and several thousand
German soldiers, we have, of the three business assets of the Protectorate-
mining, farming, and native labour-destroyed the second entirely and
two-thirds of the last. What is however more blameworthy is the fact
that with all our sacrifices we have up to to-day (March 1906) not been able
fully to restore peace again.
Referring to the peace overtures made in August 1904 by the Hereros, Rohrbach
(at page 358) says:-
In this manner it would have been possible to have saved considerable
quantities of stock and above all things to have ended the Herero war in
the year 1904.
Out of between 80,000 and 90,000 souls only about 15,000 starving and fugitive
Hereros were alive at the end of 1905, when von Trotha relinquished his task. What
happened to the survivors will be told in the concluding parts of this report.
THE HOTTENTOTS OF SOUTH-WEST AFRICA.
It is now necessary to leave the Hereros for a time and to give a brief outline
of the Hottentots and their history under German rule.
At the time of the German annexation in 1890, the habitable parts of the vast
arid country known as Great Namaqualand were, with the exception of the Bastard
territory of Rehoboth, occupied almost exclusively by various Hottentot tribes.
It is probable that this area had been in their unchallenged possession for upwards
of five centuries.... .
When Johann van Riebeck and the first Dutch settlers landed at Table Bay in
1652 the surrounding country was occupied by two distinct races of natives. By
the name Bushmen the white settlers called the wild and primitive men who
avoided intercourse with the new-comers and lived only in the -aensest bush and in
the most remote and inaccessible mountain fastnesses. These brown-skinned
pigmies, armed with bows and arrows tipped with a mysterious and deadly poison,
lived only frozn the products of the chase. They possessed neither flocks nor herds,
they built no villages, cultivated no lands, and regarded all who ventured into their
chosen hunting grounds as intruders and enemies. The other race, less savage and
more intelligent, less primitive and more amicably disposed, came down to stare, in
simple curiosity, at the first white settlers. From the point of view of physical
beauty, nature had been unkind to them. Small, but well built and wiry, with
ashen-brown and yellow skins, little beady eyes (which peered through narrow
almond-shaped slits), high and prominent cheek-bones, flat bridgeless noses, low
foreheads, tnick lips and receding chins, their appearance was anything but attractive.
As if to crown this embodiment of ugliness, nature had distributed little tufted knots
of dark frizzy wool here and there, m lieu of hair, on the hardest of heads. These
weird looking people called themselves Khoi-Khoi (or men of men ") and their
race Nama.'' Living in the open, in scattered villages, where water and grazing
were most plentiful, they sheltered under rude huts or "pontoks made of grass
mats, portable and easily removable from place to place.
From the trading point of view, their large herds of. sheep, goats, and horned
cattle were an asset to be cultivated by the new-comers. Their friendliness was
heartily reciprocated-for a time at any rate-and the Dutch East India Company
soon built up a thriving trade.
Van Riebeck's Hollanders gave them the name Hottentot." It is said that
their curious clicking language, sounding so uncanny and strange to European ears,
gave the impression that they all stuttered. According to Dr. Leonard Schultze
(Aus Namaland und Kalihari), the word Hottentot Was used by Hollanders, in
those days, as a nick-name for a stuttering person. The Rev. Hugo Hahn's theory
was that the word was a corruption of the low German ." Hiittentut (= a stupid,
muddle-headed person, a fool). That the name was not intended as a compliment
seems clear. Even to this day, the more educated and intelligent Hottentots
secretly resent being called what Chief Christian Goliath of Berseba describes as a
" spot en veracht naam (i.e., a name of derision and contempt). However that
may be, Europeans in South and South-West'Africa have, ever since the days of
Johann Van Riebeck, called these people Hottentot or Hotnots," and the name
is likely to stick to them.
The problem of the origin of this race of dusky yellow-skinned nomads (or
"red-people," as they, with delightful disregard for colour, love to call themselves)
is still unsolved and will probably always remain so. Some ethnologists fix their
place of origin so far north as Upper Egypt; others, like Hahn, allege that the
Hottentots are really the aborigines of South Africa; some claim that they are the
product of an intermingling of some now extinct and unknown light yellow-skinned
nomad race with the aboriginal Bushmen; some argue that the Hottentot is an
evolved and more progressive type of Bushman (but they cannot get over the
difficulty presented by the fact that the Hottentot retains not the slightest suspicion
of knowledge of the primitive arts of rude painting and sculpture possessed, to this
day, by the Bushmen); there are others who go so far as to claim that they have
discovered certain similarities of idiom and speech, especially in the characteristic
" clicks," which would indicate origin in Indo-China. There is no doubt about it
that some Hottentots are in appearance not unlike Chinamen. The same may
however be said of some Bushmen. The writer has seen Bushmen from the
Grootfontein district who only required a pigtail in lieu of peppercorns to enable
them to pass off as Chinese. These were probably half-breed Bushman and
Hottentot. It is related by German writers that, when German troops who had
participated in the suppression of the Boxer rising in China, arrived in South-West
Africa in 1904 and saw the Hottentots for the first time, the usual remark was, Why,
here are the Chinese again "
After all is said and done, these arguments as to origin are based merely on conjec-
:ture. The fact remains that South-West Africa is, to-day, the only part of the sub-
continent where pure remnants of the once numerous and powerful Hottentot race
are still to be found. A few dying clans still live with some semblance of racial
cohesion, respecting their hereditary chiefs and speaking the wonderful language of
their forbears; but of their mysterious past, their ancestors, their heathen beliefs
and customs they know nothing. They are now all Christianised.
It is generally believed that the Hottentots are not an aboriginal South African
race. They appear to have migrated long centuries back from the far interior of
north-east Africa, well in advance of the southward moving Bantu hordes.
According to Stow (" The Native Races of S.A."), they moved south-west to the
Atlantic coast near the Equator. Then they turned southwards and, travelling
always in a defined zone, parallel to the western seaboard, they traversed Angola,
South-West Africa, and crossed the Orange River into the present Cape Province.
Stow is of opinion that the southward movement must have commenced about the
year 1300 A.D., and that several centuries had elapsed before the slow moving tribes,
encumbered by their flocks and herds, sheltered in the shadows of Table Mountain.
He argues, rather unconvincingly, that:-
The relative conditions of the Hottentots and Bushmen in 1652 (i.e.,
when van Riebeck landed) may be received as confirmatory evidence of the
fact that the Hottentots had not long settled in those parts of the country.
The Bushmen were still living in the mountains and wooded parts-even
Table Mountain was occupied by them. .
As against this, there is historical evidence that 150 years prior to the date
mentioned by Stow, the Hottentots were already settled at the Cape. Vasco da
Gama saw them there in 1497, and so did da Saldanha in 1503. In the year 1510
the first Portuguese Viceroy of India, Francisco D'Almeida, landed at Table Bay on
his way home for water and provisions. His party picked a quarrel with the
Hottentots, and.a fight resulted in which the Viceroy and 65 of his followers were
slain. The others only saved their lives by a precipitate retreat to the boats.
On their way from the north a large proportion of the Nama travellers settled
down permanently on the high and healthy plateaux of Damaraland and Great
Namaqualand. These people did not at any time cross the Orange River to the
south and never came into contact with the Dutch settlers at the Cape. The fact
that Damaraland and Great Namaqualand were apparently too small to support all
the immigrants with their flocks and herds would indicate that they numbered in all
probability hundreds of thousands and that they were rich in cattle and sheep.
Before they could settle in Damaraland and Great Namaqualand, the Hottentots
had to deal with the aboriginal Bushmen and a strange ebony-skinned negro race-
known to-day as the Berg-Damaras. The Bushmen were driven to the arid marches
of the Namib and the Kalihari deserts, while the Berg-Damaras, heavier and more
sluggish of temperament than their Bushmen neighbours, were gradually overpowered
and enslaved. This accounts for the fact that the Berg-Damaras of to-day, though
an entirely distinct and separate race, speak what is considered the purest Nama
language, although they are said even now to find some difficulty in mastering the
clicks. Of their own language, whatever that may have been, they retain neither
memory nor the slightest trace. They called themselves Hau-Khoin (= real
men); but this Nama name, obviously of later origin, gives no clue to their identity.
It appears to have arisen out of a patriotic desire to be uncomplimentary and
sarcastic towards their small and lightly built conquerors the Khoi-Khoi or men
Judging from the recorded happenings at the Cape, it is not unreasonable to
presume that the Hottentots of South-West Africa had long been settled there when
Vasco da Gama first saw their compatriots a thousand miles further south in 1497.
It is probable also that when van Riebeck landed in 1652 the whole of Damaraland,
Great Namaqualand, and the western and north western districts of the Cape
'Province were occupied by these people.
With the landing of the white settler at Table Bay and the gradual spreading
out of the settlements to the north and north-east, the southern extremities of the
Hottentot zone were slowly absorbed and taken in. Just about this time, too, the
right flank pioneers of the great Bantu hordes, moving south and south-west from
the Equator, began to push the Hottentots in the far north. It was then that the
squeezing and exterminating process started, and it continued for upwards of two
centuries. By the year 1825 the last remnants of the former Hottentot tribes of
the Cape Province had re-crossed the Orange River to the north and had placed
m 5952 K
themselves under the protection of the "red chiefs of Great Namaqualand. The
latter under pressure from the advancing Hereros, had by that time practically
evacuated Damaraland. Under the leadership of the brigand Jonker Afrikaner, the
Afrikaners for a time regained possession of the southern portion, but by 1867 the
Hereros had once more secured the mastery, and only Great Namaqualand remained
in the hands of the Hottentots. There they were when Germany annexed the area
The Hottentots of Great Namaqualand may be classified under two headings
L The pure Nama group, consisting of tribes which, having remained in
Great Namaqualand from the time of their arrival, were in no way influenced
by contact and intermixture with Europeans and Bastards at the Cape.
Speaking only their own langauge, they until quite recently retained their
ancient customs, religious beliefs and traditions. They waged war in the
primitive style of their ancestors, and relied mainly on the bow and arrow.
2. The bi-lingual Orlams "* Hottentot group, consisting of those tribes
which had returned to Great Namaqualand from the Cape areas. Through
generations of contact with Europeans and coloured people (as the Bastards
at the Cape are termed) they no longer retained the pure Nama strain. The
majority of them spoke Cape Dutch as well as lNama, and had acquired
proficiency in the use of the rifle and as horsemen. They were nearly all
Christians and had in addition got an elementary idea of the European
systems of government, and. unfortunately a more than elementary idea of
European weaknesses and failings, which some of them were not slow to
emulate. The Orlams group found that their brethren in the north would
tolerate their presence only on certain conditions, namely, that they should
recognize the jurisdiction of the chiefs in whose territories they settled and
that as an outward sign of submission an annual tribute of cattle or horses
should be paid to these chiefs in return for the right to live and to graze their
stock in Great Namaqualand.
The effect of this restriction may easily be imagined. No sooner had the new-
comers settled down and become accustomed to their surroundings than they refused
to pay any more tribute. In the inevitable wars which followed the Namas were
no match for their better armed and more experienced adversaries. Before very
many years had passed the order of things was reversed and the Orlams were the
ruling clans, while the Nama tribes were (with the exception of the Bondelswartz)
either absorbed or retained their lands on the same terms of tribute and vassalage
which they had formerly exacted. The dreaded Afrikaner Hottentots under Jager
Afrikaner and his son Jonker were for many years the ruling clan. The chief
claimed paramountcy over the whole of Great Namaqualand, and from 1840 to
1867 their influence :was felt throughout Damaraland, where the Hereros were
partially subjugated and paid tribute, and even to the far north where at one time
raiding parties under Samuel Afrikaner, brother of Jan Jonker, were the terror of
Southern and Central Ovamboland. The Hereros, aided by the Nama-Swartboois
and led by Frederick Green, eventually defeated the Afrikaners and their allies in
1864, and from that day their power began to wane. Christian Afrikaner, who
succeeded his father Jonker, was killed in action at Otjimbingwe in 1864, and his
brother Jan Jonker proved too weak to uphold the martial reputation of their father,
the redoubtable Jonker. In the eighties, after years of conflict, the Kowese or
,Witbooi Hottentots under Hendrik Witbooi had practically subjugated and absorbed
.the Afrikaners, and Hendrik Witbooi claimed that he was Paramount Chief or King
of Great Namaqualand. The Swartboois, owing to their participation with the
Hereros in the sixties against the other Hottentots, were practically outlawed by
their own race. They disposed of their area, Rehoboth, about 1869 to the Cape
Bastards, who had migrated from De Tuin and other places in the Cape Colony.'
With the permission of the Herero chiefs, the Swartboois moved northwards to
Ameib, near the Erongo Mountains (also known as the Bokberg), and not far from the
site of the present town of Karibib. Eventually, owing to disputes with the Hereros,
about 1885 they moved further north over the Ugab River, and settled permanently
at Franzfontein and Otjitambi, near Outjo.
The word" Orlams is of doubtful origin. It is not Dutch. Some allege that it is of Cape-Malay
extra.tioou. However that may be, the accepted meanings are intelligent," old-fashioned" or in a
bad sense "cunning."
Of the Topnaars, near Walvis Bay, a miserable and dilapidated remnant of
humanity, without stock, living on fish, dead seabirds and the nara fruits of'the
Namib Desert, whose impotent chief had sold to Luderitz the coast area from
near Conception Bay to Cape Frio in the far north, the bulk had fled for fear of the
Hereros to the Kaokoveld and settled at Zesfontein. The remainder sheltered under
the protection of Britain in the arid sandy wastes near Walvis Bay.
The names and locations of the various Hottentot tribes at the time of annexa-
tion by Germany were as follows :
Name of Tribe.
1. Koweses or Witboois.
2. Gei-'Khauas or Gobabis.
3. Hei-'Khauas or Berseba.
4. 'Amas }
4'Aman or Bethany.
5. Eicha-ais or Afrikaner.
6. Gaminus or Bondelswartz.
7. Khora-gei-Khois or
8. Geikous or Red Nation.
9. Khau-Goas or Young Red
10. Kharo-oas or Tseib
11. Habobes or Veldschoen-
Jacobus Izaak Khachab.
Hornkranz and Gibeon.
Gobabis and Nossanabis.
North Bank Orange River in
Warmbad (old name, Nesbit's
Otjitambi and Franzfontein.
Keetmanshoop (old name,
Zesfontein and portion of
The total Hottentot population of South-West Africa in 1890 has been fixed by
various authorities at between 20,000 and 25,000. The strongest and most
influential chiefs were, in order:-
Joseph Frederiks, and
Approximately three-quarters of the Hottentots were at that time under their
tribal jurisdiction or control:-
Mr. W. C. Palgrave, in his report (1877), mentions three other tribes.:-
1. The Khogeis (a small remnant, only 100 strong).
2. The Ogeis, or Groot Doode (Great Deaths).
3. The Gunugu or Lowlanders.
By 1890 those tribes had ceased to exist as separate organizations and had been
absorbed by the stronger chiefs. The same fate befell the once all-powerful Afrikaner
tribe of Eik-hams (Windhuk). After their defeat, first by the Hereros and later by
Hendrik Witbooi, the survivors of the tribe scattered and mingled with other
friendly tribes, whose chiefs gave them food and protection in return for their
By 1906, that is sixteen years after formal annexation, the only tribes of the
12 enumerated who still retained their chiefs and their territory were :
1. The Hei-Khauas of Berseba, who did not participate in the general
2. The Topnaars of Zesfontein in the extreme north, who were too
inaccessible to German bayonets and too poor to be worth killing.
Piet Tseib was really an under-chief to Willem Christian of the Bondelswartz, the Tseib tribe
having been subjugated and their territory declared under jurisdiction of the Bondelswartz chief
Of the others not a vestige of tribal or communal life remained; the chiefs were
all either dead or fugitives in British territory, and the population had been reduced
Sby more than half. The miserable survivors could be identified by name only with
their former tribal chiefs; they owned not a square inch of land and not so much as
a scabby goat. They were dumped into reserves," and every person over the age
of seven years was compelled to seek work under penalty of the lash and manacles for
There are no figures available for reference just after the rising, but the census
taken in 1910, that is 20 years after annexation, gives the total number of adult
Hottentots in the whole Protectorate as 9,781. This figure is less than half of the
general minimum estimate for 1890.
It will be seen that, so far as concerns their land and possessions, the Hottentot
had fared no better than the Hereros, and that while the latter race was all but
exterminated, the Hottentots managed to escape total destruction. This was due,
not to German clemency and humanity, but to the superior skill, mobility and
experience of 'the Hottentot as an elusive and hardy guerilla fighter.
It will be necessary to defer details as to the relations between the Germans and
the Hottentots and their wars, pending a short reference to some of the characteristic
laws and customs of these "red people.
LAWS AND CUSTOMS OF THE HOTTENTOTS.
The Hottentots had no written laws. Their laws were oral and traditional.
Dr. Theo Hahn divides their laws into two classes:-
1. Laws based on decided cases." Such laws took their origin from
decisions of the Chief Council duly ratified by the chief.
2. Customs and superstitions developing in time into accepted rules of
life and conduct and binding as such on the tribe.
The Hottentots were very much attached to their traditional and inherited
customs and manners.
The people were divided into tribes or clans, each under its hereditary chief.
When the chief died, his eldest son was, under normal conditions, the heir to the
chieftainship, and as such he was accepted without question by his subjects.
Failing a son, the chief's eldest surviving brother became his successor. A chief
had the right during his lifetime, owing to advancing old age, ill-health, or any
other good reason, to abdicate in favour of his heir. This was, however, an entirely
personal right which he could not be compelled to exercise against his will. Our
chiefs," say the Hottentots, are not made, they are given by God." The system
of government by the chief was on democratic lines, even if it were not always in
strict accordance with popular views. The chief, though hereditary and as such
commanding great respect and influence, was bound to act in terms of the advice and
resolutions of his councillors.
The councillors were elected by the men of the tribe. As men" were
reckoned only those who were married.
Formerly this way of acquiring the vote was not so easy as it may appear.
Some tribes had strict laws by which-young men were absolutely prohibited from
marrying until they had reached a certain age. Among the Hei-Khauas of Berseba
the age limit was as high as 30. Chief Christian Goliath explains that the reason
for this was to keep the young people in their proper place and to prevent the
elders of the tribe from being out-voted. It appears also that a young Hottentot
who too young married a rich heiress and got, say, 50 ewe goats with her, soon
became an unbearable and indolent "snob." Moreover, the fixing of the age limit
gave elderly widowers the chance of selecting a young heiress for the second," and
the 'monopoly of youth was broken. Needless to say there was no age limit for
In the council the vote of the chief was of no greater weight or value than that
of anyone of his councillors, though his expressed opinion bore great influence and
probably ensured a majority for him in most cases.
The council made wars and treaties, rules and regulations, and dealt with the
internal and economic affairs of the tribe and all inter-tribal disputes. Generally
it was composed of the chief and his under-chiefs ex-offcio, and by the elected
councillors. Senior officials, such as the tribal magistrate, war commandant, and
later (as Christians) the elders of the church, were generally members of the council.
This council was also the supreme court and the final court of appeal to which
civil litigants and criminals, who were usually dealt with by the magistrate or the
under-chiefs acting as the chief's deputies, could appeal.
Cases of serious import or serious charges involving possibly a sentence of
capital punishment were generally dealt with by the full tribal council as a court
of first instance. In such cases the appeal lay to the chief in person, and he, in
common with most sovereigns, had the right to exercise his prerogative of mercy.
No sentence of capital punishment could legally be executed without the prior
express sanction of the chief personally.
To some of the Orlams chiefs, whose military powers had made them feared and
respected throughout the country, the temptation to become autocrats was very
strong. Few could survive it. They generally contrived therefore either to act
quite independently of the council, which was treated as a mere advisory body, or,
as was the case with Hendrik Witbooi, they dispensed with elections altogether and
nominated their own council and officials. Thereby they ensured that only their
own trusty friends and supporters were placed in power.
Democratic government was very irksome and distasteful to a warrior-chief
like Hendrik Witbooi. At the height of his power he styled himself the Lord of
the Water and the Head Chief of Great Namaqualand." Letters addressed to him'
as King of Namaqualand" received immediate and gracious attention; and to
his death he was a firm believer in the Divine Right of Kings," claiming that he
owed responsibility to no one except to God the Father in Heaven."
The following Proclamation by Hendrik Witbooi, dated 3rd January 1891,
is of interest, because it gives an idea of the system existing at the time of the
annexation among all the Hottentots tribes. The only difference was that while
Witbooi was an autocrat to a certain extent, the other chiefs, like Willem Christian
and Simon Kooper, relied more on popular approval and the support of the councillors
than on their royal prerogatives.
3rd January 1891.
Beloved Community of Hornkranz.
To-day I make public fresh appointments for the New Year. I have
caused certain alterations to be made in the Civil and Church laws. (Note.-
Hendrik was spiritual head as well as chief). I have also appointed new
officials according to the times and the promptings of the Lord. Therefore
have I appointed younger men, like children who are being trained and, when
the time is accomplished, they will be taken into full membership.. For this
reason I have relieved some of the older officials and have substituted young
men in full authority of the laws, in order that they may publicly perform
their authorised duties. I have however re-appointed some of the old
officials as well, so that they may train and teach the younger team (jonge
span). I have also appointed two additional Elders. The names of those
appointed will be read to the community, and are as follows :-
Then follows a list of the names and of the offices to which they have been
appointed. These posts were all honorary, and carried no salaries or emoluments.
The seven chief appointments are those of Under-Chief, Magistrate, War Commandant,
Chief Field Cornet, and three senior Councillors.
The remainder (there are 30 in all) include the Overseer of the whole village,"
a Second Magistrate," Second, Third, and Fourth Field Cornets, Elders, Junior
Councillors, Messengers of the Council and of the Elders, and a Corporal" and a
Second Corporal." It must not be imagined that the Corporal was so humble
a personage as his designation might imply. He was really the Quartermaster-
General in the field !
This is the beloved Community," with its Church Elders and Corporals, which
at early dawn on an April day in 1893 was cruelly attacked and lost 150 men, women
and children, not because any crimes had been committed, not because there was
war, but because Germany had selected this chief and his people as a fit object on
which to make an impression of our power."
It is clear that, by 1891, the influence of the Orlams Hottentots had spread
throughout Great Namaqualand, and that, although all ancient customs were still
retained and ruled personal conduct, their system of tribal control had gradually
undergone a change, and the old simple ideas of rule and government were being
slowly exchanged for a crude imitation of the European system which their fore-
fathers had seen at the Cape. In addition to this Orlams influence on the pure
Namas, missionary influence on both cannot be overlooked. By 1890 the
Hottentots were nearly all professing Christians, and there is no denying the fact
that the missionaries, some of them at any rate, had done excellent work towards
uplifting and developing the race. The pity of it is that, after annexation and in
the ten years prior thereto, the Rhenish missionaries, actuated by a deadly hatred
for England and all things English, regarded political propaganda as far more
important apparently than church duties, and prostituted their noble work in order
to serve the base ends of a callous Government, whose soldiers were not patterns of
morality and virtue by any means. In this way the missionaries became merely
the tools and agents of Germany, and the inevitable result was that they lost all
prestige and all control over the natives, besides forfeiting their affection and respect.
The natives grew suspicious and distrustful of their missionaries. Hendrik Witbooi
dispensed with his altogether and conducted his own church services.
Better proof of how the missionaries lost caste and influence cannot be given
than the fact that the Herero rising of 1904 and the great Hottentot rising came like
a bolt from the blue and without a word of warning. The missionaries, living among
the natives, preaching and talking and understanding their ways and customs
thoroughly, were not aware of their intentions.
Against these missionaries must it also be recorded that, knowing the native
mind and character so well as they must have known them, and knowing their
cherished customs and laws, they were indifferent onlookers at the violation and
trampling under foot thereof by German soldiers and settlers. They had neither
the courage nor the inclination to stand up boldly and defend the helpless creatures
who looked up to them for guidance and protection. On the contrary, like the
missionary Brincker, they applied for soldiers and guns in order that the "work of
the Missions might prosper.".
Despite this, the natives, grateful for the mere fact that these people had brought
the Christian religion to them, in Hereroland and Great Namaqualand, throughout
their wars invariably spared the lives of all missionaries and their families. Their
possessions were never touched, and the Mission Station was regarded as a sanctuary.
A simple nomadic people never burdens its criminal law with a huge category
of crimes. Apart from offences against morality, their chief crimes were murder and
For'wilful murder the penalty was death.
To prevent the possible shielding of rich and influential murderers there grew
up in the Hottentot system a law of vendetta (" Kharas "-to pay back or retaliate).
If through favouritism, fear, or for political reasons, a murderer were acquitted
by the council, the next relation in blood of the murdered person had the right to
take the law into his own hands and to kill the murderer. This killing would in
such event be no crime, and neither the chief nor the council had the right or power
to intervene and punish the relative for his act.
There is the case of the well-known traveller Andersson, who about 1861 shot
an Afrikaner Hottentot in self-defence, so he alleged, near Windhuk. Andersson
reported the matter to the chief Jonker Afrikaner, and as a result he was brought
before the chief and tribal council for trial. The council, after hearing the evidence,
was, rightly or wrongly, satisfied that Andersson had exceeded his rights and had
gone too'far. But, in view of the fact that he was a European and a British
subject, the chief Twas reluctant to punish him. So Jonker said: I release you;
but according to our law, the.brother of Hartebeest will kill'you and must kill you,
so flee for your life."
Theft was'regarded very seriously and was punished by severe fines and
ostracism, and even by flogging. Theo Hahn writes: "There is a deep sense of
justice innate in the Hottentots. To a Hottentot stealing is a disgrace, and amongst
the aborigines of Great Namaqualand a thief is cut by everyone and becomes
almost an outcast."
In wartime to take from the enemy Hereros or hostile clans was not theft. If it
could be safely managed even in peace time it was not theft either. In this the
Hottentots were not exceptional, however.
To take the goat of a friend forfood, even in his absence and without permission,
is not, and never was, regarded by the Hottentots as unlawful. This is a general
custom arising out of the conditions of the country, where for long distances food
is practically unobtainable. The rule is based on reciprocity, and no Hottentot
need leave a stranger's hut or pontok hungry, especially if they are of the same tribe;
he is welcome, even in the owner's absence, to help himself to whatever there is.
Speaking of punishments which would be efficacious under European rule,
Hard labour and spare diet. To people of rank the application of the
lash makes a deep impression. There is nothing more degrading to a Bantu
nobleman than to receive a blow. A Hottentot feels punishment as
keenly as a white man. I did not flog my Hottentot servants if I could help
it. Often a private earnest talking to had a most beneficial effect.
And yet to-day there is in South-West Africa not one adult male in ten, Herero,
Berg-Damara or Hottentot, who does not bear on his body the scars and indelible
marks of the German sjambok. Flogging," recently said a Herero headman,
" came to our people more regularly than their meals "; and this view is endorsed
by the Hottentots.
In their courts the Hottentots followed strict rules of procedure. No hearsay
evidence was allowed. The circumstances determined what weight should be given
to the evidence of informers or accomplices.
The Hottentots (says Hahn) avoid as far as possible the drawing of a
woman into court to give evidence. The reason for-this is the respect they
have for women. (The word for "woman" in Hottentot is taras =
ruler, mistress). If the evidence of a woman, especially one of rank, must
be heard, generally two or three councillors see her privately, cross-examine
her, and communicate the results to the council.
False testimony (says Hahn) is abhorred, lying is disgraceful, and a
person guilty of having given false testimony is punished according to the
mischief done by his false testimony.
It is well to remember that in 1904 the Deutsche Kolonial Bund demanded that
the evidence of one white man should only be upset by the corroborated statements
of seven coloured persons, apparently because the Hottentots were ignorant of truth
and the white man was a superior being (H6heres Wesen).
The Hottentots were, even in their heathen state, nearly all monogamists. The
only case in which in later times polygamy was recognized or sanctioned in their
heathen state was where there were no children of the first marriage. The man was
then allowed to take a concubine (" aris "= the younger one) after the fashion of
Abraham. Jonker Afrikaner had two wives, although he professed to be a
Christian. No one would however hold Jonker up as a model Hottentot. Their
marriages were always based on mutual consent. The system of lobola, or purchase,
of the. Bantu tribes was never known to the Hottentots.
SThe wife is among Hottentots the equal of her husband. She has her separate
property, and the husband would not venture to sell or slaughter an animal belonging
to her without her consent or in her absence. If he intends to barter his own stock
or buy anything even with his own money he first consults his wife.
In the Hottentot home the wife is the ruler (" taras "). The husband, tholigh-
looked upon as the food provider, has nothing to say. As a result he will not take
a mouthful of milk without first asking his wife for it.
Last wills or testaments were not known to the Hottentot. During his life-
time a man might bestow his possessions as he pleased, but after death his remaining
property was distributed according to the traditional laws. Their laws of succession
were very fair and just. The nearest male relative of minor orphans was their
guardian during minority and the trustee of their stock. No chief or council could
interfere with the guardian's rights; but as he was always very closely watched by
the other relatives, he could not easily appropriate anything in an illegal manner.
Land Rights.-Among the Hottentots, as with the Hereros, land was the com-
munal property of the tribe. It was regarded as inalienable. The fact that the
chiefs Joseph Frederiks and Piet Heibib did sell land to Luderitz in 1883-84 merely
goes to show either that the waterless desert wastes of the Namib coast belt were
not of any use to the tribe or, as was the case with Piet Heibib, that the territory
(particularly that from Walvis Bay north to Cape Frio) did not belong to him.
Piet Heibib was merely a dummy created to suit German plans, and Luderitz knew
this.,, Every member of the tribe had a personal right to the use of land, water,
and grazing for himself, his family and his stock. No chief could interfere or deprive
a subject of such rights.
The first comer had prior rights. If a man dug a well and opened a spring, it
was his property and he had the sole right to it. Every passer-by and new-comer
must have the owner's permission before using the well or spring to draw water for
himself or his cattle. The Herero custom was identical. This reminds one of the
Roman-Dutch Law maxim qui prior est in tempore, potior est in jure.
These laws and rights of the natives (says Hahn, writing in 1882) have
been constantly overlooked by traders, who, considering themselves a superior
race of men, disregard altogether the rights and claims of natives. I know of
instances where traders coolly allowed people to tear away the fence of
Hakkies thorn (Acacia Detinens) and allowed their oxen to rush into the
water and make a mud pool of it.
Originally the Hottentots were not an agricultural people. Since they came
into contact with Europeans they have at mission stations and other suitable spots
cultivated gardens. Here the first comer retained the rights to the soil cultivated,
which he generally fenced in. Tobacco, mealies, pumpkins, and corn are the chief
crops cultivated; but, owing to the scanty rainfall and lack of irrigation facilities, no
family may be said to have grown enough even for its own consumption.
Tribal boundaries were always carefully fixed between the brother" chiefs,
and encroachments were not allowed but deeply resented. If a tribe wished to
move into the territory of another, application had first to be made to the chief of the
neighboring tribe. If they were on friendly terms the permission might be given
without charge; but if relations were not too good a tribute of heifers or horses was
generally demanded as an acknowledgment of the resident tribe's ownership and
supremacy over the area:
As an example of their jealous regard for boundary and territorial rights the
following may be mentioned. In 1889 Hendrik Witbooi, the Kowese chief, while
travelling from Keetmanshoop to Gibeon, rather went out of his way, and with his
men passed over a corner of the territory of the Bondelswartz of Warmbad. In
November of that year the chief of the Bondelswartz, Willem Christian, wrote to
Hendrik Witbooi strongly protesting against this. He says, such circumstances
are likely to cause dissatisfaction," and that if the dear Captain required anything
in his area, it was only right that he should first apply for permission to enter and
await the reply before doing anything. This, writes Willem Christian, would have
avoided misunderstandings "; "because it is above my comprehension (boven
mij verstand) that one chief should enter another chief's area without notifying him
and making a request."
In large tribes each sub-village or kraal was governed by an under-chief,
appointed by the Chief-in-Council as deputy of the chief of the whole tribe. This
under-chief had his own local councillors, court, and officials. From the under-chief's
courts there was always an appeal to the Chief-in-Council. The chief, however,
never dealt with such an appeal without first referring it back to the under-chief for
In all instances the people implicitly obeyed the orders of their chief. For
instance, he could order certain grazing grounds to be vacated in order that they
might be rested; he had also the right to use the labour of his people for public
purposes, such as mending roads, building schools or churches, opening up water and
furrows, and so on. All adult males were liable to be called out for military duty
at any time. The people never paid any taxes. Certain court fees were paid, and
the fines levied went to the chief as a rule. He could also accept a share of damages
awarded in a civil dispute, but there was no obligation on the successful litigant to
pay. It was regarded merely as a voluntary gift for the trouble taken.
If a Hottentot could not pay his debts a system of cessio bonorum was known.
A trustee took over and divided his assets among the creditors; but he was allowed
to keep a few cows and goats in trust for his creditors merely for the maintenance of
himself and his family. He could not slaughter these animals, but used their milk.
This arrangement with creditors was called ma-ams (a gift for the mouth).
The total Hottentot population was approximately one quarter that of the
Hereros, and their possessions in cattle, sheep, and goats, proportionately even less.
The Hottentot never viewed life too seriously. His was more of the "eat,
drink, and be merry temperament than his Bantu neighbours. No Hottentot
would dream of drawing his belt tighter, as did the Hereros, while fat heifers and
goat ewes were grazing around. The result was that, while the Herero waxed rich
and sat with an empty stomach watching his beloved cattle grazing, finding therein
one of the sweetest pleasures of life, the Hottentot was never so happy as when,
having had a good square meal, he could doze away in' the shade of his pontok,
consoled by the fact that the ewe goat just killed and eaten was one less to tend and
therefore more worry off his hands. It would be wrong to regard the Hottentot
as an entirely blameless sort of person or, as the Rhenish Mission records described
their first trader colonists (the immortal Halbich, Tamm, and Redecker), to refer to
him as a paragon of virtue-(Muster von Sittlichkeit).
Even old Hendrik Witbooi, when in holy wrath he sent a declaration of war to
Maherero informing him that "I am the rod of correction sent by God to punish
you for your sins," never lost sight of the prospect of capturing a thousand or two
of the sinful Maherero's best cattle and thereby, incidentally, setting a bad example
to the Germans who came after him. They were, according to von Lindequist,
only too glad to emulate and carry on the blood-letting of Herero cattle by German
traders as it was done annually by Witbooi up to three years ago."
THE HOTTENTOTS UNDER GERMAN PROTECTION.
In 1890, when annexation took place, only three of the twelve Hottentot tribes
had by the so-called agreements accepted the protection of Germany. They were-
(1) The Orlams tribe of Aman or Bethany Hottentots under Paul
(2) The Nama tribe of Topnaars under Piet Heibib (1884).
(3) The Nama tribe of Geikous (Red Nation) under Manasse Noreseb
Of these (1) and (2) were the people who had sold the coast belt to Luderitz.
The Topnaars and Geikous were miserable and powerless remnants of no weight,
influence, or standing. In fact, the former fled shortly afterwards (or rather the
majority fled) to Zesfontein in the extreme north of the Kaokofeld, while the remainder
took refuge under British protection at Walfish Bay. The latter were a remnant
of the once ruling clan under their old Chief Oasib, but they had been subjugated
in turn by the Afrikaners and then by the Witboois.
It will be remembered that when in 1885 Dr. Goering made the agreement with
Chief Manasse he hoisted a German flag as a sign of protection. Hendrik Witbooi
later came along, punished Manasse, removed the flag, and then wrote to Goering
asking what he wished should be done with the flag, as "to me it is a strange thing
(een vreemde ding)."
It was on the strength only of these three agreements, the 1885 agreement with
Kamaherero, which had been definitely repudiated by the latter in 1888, and the
agreement with the Bastards of Rehoboth, that Germany in 1890 gave the impression
that her sphere of influence had been extended from the Kunene to the Orange, and
from the Western Coast line to the 20th degree of longitude East, along the borders
of the Kalihari. It was under this impression that annexation was agreed to by
It is outside the scope of this report to detail the protests and humble remon-
strances which the Cape Government in 1884 and 1885 made to Great Britain, and
how, in spite thereof, the declaration of a partial protectorate in 1884 and a final
annexation in 1890 of the whole area of South-West Africa was not only approved
.of, but was facilitated by the then Imperial British Government. The matter need
only be mentioned in order to point out that the late Sir Thomas Upington and the
late Sir Gordon Sprigg, the responsible Cape statesmen, strained every nerve to
protect South Africa from foreign encroachment, but they did so in vain, as their
representations were taken no notice of. It.is due to their memory that the unjust
criticism which is occasionally heard to the effect that the Cape Governmept should
x 5952 L
never have let South-West Africa pass into German hands-a criticism based on
erroneous and superficial information and on ignorance of the true facts-should be
controverted. The Chief of the powerful Bondelswartz tribe, Willem Christian, had,
since 1870, been under treaty obligations to the Cape Government. He had
co-operated in every way with the Magistrates of Little Namaqualand (south of the
'Orange) and had loyally preserved law and order in his territory on the north bank
of the river. He, in common with the majority of the Hottentot Chiefs and the
Hereros, had long desired and repeatedly asked for the placing of his territory
under a British Protectorate, but for some reason or other this was withheld.
Relations between the Bondelswartz and the Cape Government were definitely
broken off in 1885, and all the native races of Great Namaqualand and Damaraland
were, against their own wishes and notwithstanding protests from Cape Town,
definitely abandoned to German influence.
The Cape Government did not act voluntarily, but on definite instructions from
On 28th April 1885, under Minute 150 to the High Commissioner at Cape Town,
Lord Derby stated that the German Ambassador to Great Britain had expressed
that no endeavour will be made to obtain influence in the country north
of the Orange River and west of the 20th parallel of longitude. This hope,
continues Lord Derby, is in conformity with the policy which your Ministers
are aware Her Majesty's Government have adopted in regard to the portion
of South Africa in question.
That policy was adopted against-
(1) The express representations of Sir Thomas Upington, who had pointed
If the Cape Colony be shut in upon the north a serious blow will be
dealt at British trade and British influence in South Africa.
(2) The desires of the Hereros, who, as a last resort on 29.12.84, voluntarily
ceded their whole country to H.M. Government "in order
that we may receive that protection which we have for so long a time
asked for in vain." .
(3) The pressing representations by Sir Gordon Sprigg on behalf of the Cape
Government urging the annexation of Damaraland. (3.3.1885.)
(See Parliamentary Blue Book, Cape of Good Hope, A5-'85, entitled Papers,
Minutes, and Correspondence relating to the Territories of Great Namaqualand and
This withdrawal by the Cape Government left Germany a clear field for opera-
tions, but the first five years were barren of results. It has already been indicated
that by 1890 only three agreements had been secured, and the vast majority of the
natives looked with suspicion on the new-comers and refused to treat with them.
They still hoped that England would annex the country, but the final annexation
by Germany in 1890 astonished and disappointed them. Hendrik Witbooi was
voicing the feelings of his brother Chiefs when in 1891 he wrote to the Magistrate of
Walfish Bay and asked, Have the English delivered us over to the Germans ? "
German agents were not slow to take advantage of what the Hottentots
regarded as abandonment. They held up the Boers as a bogey, and the Hottentot
Chiefs were told in effect:-
Now. that the English have left you, the Boers and other nations will
come and take your land from you. We, the philanthropists, are here to
protect you from such very wicked people. (See Interview between Captain
von Frangois and Hendrik Witbooi referred to in this report.)
Notwithstanding this, only three Hottentot tribes swallowed the bait. In 1890
Goering was able by the above-mentioned methods to induce the Bondelswartz of
Warmbad, the Tseibs of Keetmanshoop, and the Veldschoendragers to sign agree-
ments. The others remained obstinate and, as related earlier in this report,
notwithstanding the fact that the whole country was wrapped in peace, Germany
decided in 1893 to give one tribe an impression of her power as an object lesson to the
others. The terrible murder and massacre of the unoffending Witboois at Horn-
kranz in April 1893 was the result, but it did not have the desired effect.
When Leutwein took over the Governorship in- 1894 no new agreements had
been made. Hendrik Witbooi in his stronghold at Naauwkloof still defied all
efforts to crush him, while the other native races were openly hostile or. at best,
preserved a doubtful neutrality," and the dark mistrust of the Hereros quite
astonished" him (Leutwein). Moreover, says Leutwein, "Respect for German
arms had fallen to zero."
Governor Leutwein decided to give Hendrik Witbooi a rest pending the arrival
of more troops from Germany. In the meantime he thought it advisable to deal
with the other obstinate Chiefs, prominent among whom were Andreas Lambert of
the Gei-Khauas tribe, and Simon Kooper of the Franzmann Hottentots.
The Khauas or Gei-Khauas Hottentots.
This Orlams tribe, formerly under the well-known Chief Amiraal, had lived
at Gobabis and in the vicinity thereof for upwards of 50 years. Originally they had
moved up from the Cape districts early in the 19th century, and after residing for a
generation or so in the south they parted company with their kinsmen the Hei-Khauas,
now living at Berseba, and trekked northwards to Gobabis.
When the British Commissioner, Mr. Palgrave, visited Damaraland in 1876, the
successor to Amiraal, Chief Andreas Lambert and his councillors sent a petition to
Palgrave for delivery to Sir Henry Barldy. They described themselves as living
in Gobabis and the district around, up nearly to the lake N'gami," and after detailing
the conditions under which they were living and asking for a missionary to be sent
to them, went on to state that the petitioners-
pray humbly that it may please Your Excellency to extend your protec-
tion, under which so many nations of South Africa, and in other countries,
happily and peaceably live, also to this country, that we may be allowed to
live in peace.
This petition, like all the others, was taken no notice of. The tribe had suffered
severe ravages from small-pox some years previously, and at that time Palgrave
estimated its total strength at 600 souls.
In March 1894 Leutwein proceeded to arrange for German protection, for which
they had not asked, to be accepted by the Khauas people.
His modus operandi was typical of German methods and is worthy of record
only for that reason. He left Windhuk with a strong commando of men and
artillery, and by means of forced night marches he succeeded before dawn on
7th March 1894 in taking the Khauas Chief quite unawares. The village of
Nossanabis, where the Chief lived, was surrounded and the Chief and his principal
men captured before they were even aware of the Germans' approach. The
captives were brought before Leutwein, who immediately expatiated on the advan-
tages of German protection from other people, a theme which, under the circum-
stances, seems rather out of place, and suggested to the Chief and his councillors
that they should in their own best interests sign an agreement. It does not take much
imagination to believe that the Chief and councillors were not only enthusiastic, but
quite unanimous. Incidentally, Leutwein held an inquiry into the alleged murder
of a German trader named Krebs, which had taken place near. Nossanabis about
six months previously. Leutwein relates that he understood as a result of the
conference that Andreas Lambert and his councillors were quite agreeable to sign
a protection agreement and, in regard to the murder, he was prepared to believe
that the Chief was not guilty of the murder of the white trader, and that he could not
deliver the murderer on account of the latter's flight.
If Andreas Lambert had (as he apparently had said he would) signed the
agreement, it is perfectly clear from Leutwein's own statement that nothing more
would have been heard or said about the murder of Krebs.
The conference over, it was arranged that the agreement would be drawn up
and signed the next day. The Chief and his councillors were then released and
allowed to return to their village for the night, and Leutwein retained the brother
of the Chief and another councillor as hostages. That evening (according to
Spies reported that the Chief was taking steps which pointed either to
attack or to flight. In haste the village was again surrounded and searched;
the rifles found there were confiscated; the horses, already saddled, were
taken away, and the Chief again captured.
Thereupon the "former charges," says Leutwein, were again gone into," and
it was found (he does not say by whom) that the Chief had actually-
instigated the murder of Krebs in order thereby to escape paying certain
debts. As a result his condemnation to death followed, and the sentence
was carried out a day later.
The shooting of Andreas Lambert was not a judicial proceeding; it was merely
another impression of German power: it was murder.
Leutwein's statement is suspiciously, vague as to Krebs and his murder, and it
is necessary to go elsewhere for the details. Schwabe, in his book Mit Schwert
und Pflug (page 71), writes :-
A German trader named Krebs, who, in spite of the warnings of his
friends in Windhuk, had travelled into the territory of the Khauas Hottentots
on the White Nossob to collect debts, was murdered there.
It is unquestionable (continues Schwabe, who writes after the shooting of
Lambert but, like Leutwein, gives not one tittle of evidence to support what-
he alleges) that this treacherous and cowardly deed was carried out at the
instigation of the Chief of the Khauas, Andreas Lambert, who wished to free
himself of a troublesome creditor.
The fatal shot at the peacefully slumbering Krebs was fired by a
Witbooi Hottentot, then of Nossanabis, named Baksteen. The effects of the
unfortunate trader were sent by Lambert, merely to clear himself from
suspicion, to Windhuk, where they were sold by auction.
Krebs was murdered in October 1893. In the previous April the treacherous
attack on the Witboois at Hornkranz had taken place. If the shooting of the
peacefully slumbering Krebs by the Witbooi Baksteen was a treacherous and
cowardly deed, how is one to describe the shooting by von Frangois and his
Germans of 150 peacefully slumbering kinsmen (men, women and children) of
Baksteen's at Hornkranz ?
Baksteen, a Witbooi, was probably an escaped survivor of the Hornkranz affair.
He came across a German asleep and shot him. The motive was clearly not robbery,
as the effects of the trader were not touched. After the deed Baksteen disappears ;
the murder comes to the notice of the Chief, Andreas Lambert, and he at once reports
it to Windhuk and sends in the dead man's effects. Baksteen is not available to
give evidence as to whether or not he was instigated by Lambert. Is it likely that
he, the member of another and not too friendly tribe, would do any such work for
any but his own Chief : is it reasonable that Andreas Lambert would have gone to
a stranger when, had he wished Krebs murdered, he had dozens of trusty retainers
of his own to do his bidding ? According to Schwabe the facts of the murder were
well-known in Windhuk long before Leutwein marched to Nossanabis. Leutwein
knew all the facts. If it were unquestionable that Andreas Lambert had instigated
the murder and Leutwein knew it, as he must have done, is one to believe that the
latter was prepared to compound the crime on condition that the murderer of a
German made (as Chief) a protection agreement with the German Emperor? No
matter what Leutwein knew or what his suspicions were, he was, on his own showing,
prepared to believe that the Chief had no connection with the murder, so long as the
Chief was willing to sign the agreement. The moment the Chief changed'his mind
and tried to escape (he, the murderer, who could avoid death by merely fixing his
name to a beneficial agreement), new facts miraculously come to light, the murder
case is re-opened on the spot, and with most indecent haste and without even the
semblance of a trial the Chief is condemned to death and shot. Naturally a murder
of this description had to be explained away if possible, but the explanation is very
feeble, and there appears to be not the slightest doubt that the Chief Andreas
Lambert was one of the many victims who paid the penalty for refusing to accept
German rule. This at any rate was the feeling of the Khauas Hottentots on the
Living at Windhuk there are three men, the sole elderly survivors of the tribe.
Their names are Jacobus Ghoudab, an elder and nephew of the late Chief, Cornelius
Reiter, and David Beukes. In their joint statement under oath they say:-
We were at Nossanabis, living at the Chief's werft, when the Germans
under Major Leutwein came there. Our Chief lived there at the time,
Gobabis being under our Magistrate, Jonathan Fledermuis. The Germans
wanted Chief Andreas to sign an agreement accepting German rule. He
refused to do so. Thereupon the Germans shot him. They trumped up a
charge of murder. They said Andreas was responsible for the murder of
Krebs, a German trader. Andreas protested his innocence. The trader was
murdered by a Hottentot (Witbooi) named Baksteen. The Germans said
Andreas should have arrested Baksteen. Andreas said he had reported the
murder to Windhuk and had sent the wagon and goods of Krebs intact to
Windhuk; he could do no more. He could not arrest Baksteen, as he had
run away to the bush and mountains. The Germans then said that because
Andreas had not arrested Baksteen he was also guilty of the murder. They
shot him. .
The Germans shot Andreas, not because of the murder of which he was
innocent, but because he refused to sign the agreement.
The defiant and independent attitude of Andreas Lambert in refusing
eventually to sign the agreement, which would necessarily have placed him on
good terms with the Germans, was not the attitude of a criminal who knew that
the displeasure of the authorities would result in his punishment sooner or later.
The tragedy over and Andreas in his grave, a farce was enacted by the
representative of the Kaiser. Now that he had shot the Chief, there was no
tribal head available with whom to make the protection agreement. For some
reason or other Leutwein considered the making of these agreements a sine
qua non ; moreover he desired that they should be voluntarily made (Freiwillig),
although he has also said that the terms did not matter, the fact of the signing
was sufficient, and that in actual practice the Government's policy was carried out
on general lines, quite regardless of the details in the various agreements.
The new Chief, according to Hottentot laws of succession, was the eldest son
of the Chief's predeceased elder brother. Andreas Lambert had no son. This
young man, Manasse Lambert, was however some hundreds of miles away at
Berseba. He was living there with his kinsmen, the Hei-Khauas, for the purpose
of attending school. Such a triviality as the absence of the new Chief was not
going to interfere with the plans of the resourceful Leutwein. He sent for the
murdered Chief's brother, Eduard Lambert, appointed him Acting Chief, and
demanded that he should sign the agreement forthwith. To Eduard Lambert
this was verily a case of having greatness thrust upon him.
He explained to Leutwein that, according to Hottentot views, one has to
be a Chief even before you are born," which was another way of stating the
Hottentot rule: Our Chiefs are not made, but are given by God."
Therefore Eduard at first politely declined to be Chief or to sign the agreement.
Eventually however he did sign it, and the incident was closed. Leutwein is
significantly silent as to how he induced Eduard to change his mind.
It was now possible for His Imperial Majesty the King and Emperor to
contract with Eduard Lambert, Acting Chief of the Khauas Hottentots."
In the contract-
the German Emperor promises to afford the Khauas Hottentots all and
every protection within the boundaries of the territory, which will be left
to them after the definition of the boundaries.
(The boundaries were to be fixed in a later agreement, which, needless to say,
was never made.)
It is necessary to remember that a year or so previously the German Land
Settlement Syndicate (the people who sold luft schwebenden farmen "-farms
floating in the air.-Rohrbach) had applied for a Crown grant of two million morgen
(over four million acres), the major portion of which fell in the territory of the
Khauas Hottentots. The syndicate was requested by Berlin to have a little
patience and to defer the application for a while. The reason for not wishing to
define any boundaries in the agreement is therefore quite clear.
Within two years the Khauas had been goaded into rebellion, Eduard Lambert
had fallen in battle, and all the territory, livestock and other possessions of the
people had been confiscated to the German Crown, while the tribe itself was prac-
tically exterminated. In this way the Emperor's promise of protection within the
boundaries was automatically cancelled.
The Khauas Hottentots were the owners of their land. Leutwein admits
that it was their unquestioned property," but, despite the agreement and the
Emperor's promise, it was never from the very outset intended that the rights of
these natives should- be recognized. Gobabis and the excellent farming areas on
the White Nosob River were intended for the syndicate. Moreover, says Leutwein,
" Gobabis was the indispensable key to the East (der unentbehrliche
Schlussel-punkt des Ostens)." The key to the East! but the East was British
territory ? Regardless of the unquestioned title of the Khauas Hottentots, it
will also be remembered that in'the following year (1895) Leutwein entered into
the boundary: agreement with Samuel Maherero of .Okahandja, whereby Gobabis
and the rich'grazing land on the White Nosob became Crown land. This annoyed
and irritated the Khauas Hottentots and their northern neighbours, the eastern
Hereros (Nikodemus) and the Ovambandjeru Hereros (Kahimema). They refused
to recognize imaginary boundaries which they disputed, and their trespassing
cattle and sheep were summarily confiscated. This made them restive and inclined
for war, whereupon it was decided to disarm them by force. They resisted and
were declared rebels. On 6th May 1896 the Hereros and Hottentots (ancient
enemies now united in misery) were defeated at Otjunda, and the rebellion crushed.
Eduard Lambert had already fallen in action at Gobabis. Let the Khauas people
relate in their own words what happened (statement of Johannes Ghoudab and
The Germans wanted to disarm us by force. The Germans came and
fought us. We were defeated and our Chief killed in battle at Gobabis.
The Germans took us prisoners and confiscated our land, our cattle and
sheep, and all our possessions. The survivors of the tribe were sent to
Windhuk as captives and made to work. We were never allowed to return
to our old places.
The Germans treated us with great brutality; many of our people
were flogged. Our people are now nearly all dead, only a few remain.
We were not allowed to have a Chief again. The women and girls were
made to work for the German soldiers, who used them as concubines. The
majority of the young girls, even those who had not yet reached puberty,
were violated by the German soldiers. Some died as a result of this ill-
THE FEANZMANN HOTTENTOTS.
After Eduard Lambert had signed the agreement in March 1894, Leutwein
left Nossanibis and marched on Gochas, near Gibeon. There lived Chief Simon
Kooper and the Franzmann tribe. Simon was on friendly terms with Hendrik
Witbooi, and the massacre at Hornkranz had created in his mind, as it did in the
minds of all the natives, a profound hatred and disrespect for all Germans. He
likewise had obstinately refused to believe in the disinterested philanthropy of
the German Emperor. Leutwein made a night march on Simon's village, and at
dawn on 17th' March 1894 the troops had surrounded the place and the artillery
was unlimbered and ready for action. So were the Hottentots. They were in
their rude forts, but had received definite orders from the Chief not to fire the
Leutwein writes (page 28):-
The shooting of Andreas Lambert had made Simon Kooper with his guilty
conscience very nervous, and had created the greatest excitement in him
and his people.
Six hundred armed and desperate Hottentots were however not to be despised,
and Leutwein decided to avoid a collision if possible.
Accordingly, with a few attendants and unarmed, he boldly rode into the
village. There he found the Chief and his staff posted on a knoll overlooking the
positions. "I bade him a' friendly 'Good-morning' and offered my hand." A
short discussion followed, during which the Chief explained that he was determined
not to fire the first shot, as he had no desire for war. The energetic Leutwein
thereupon broached the subject of protection, and after inviting the Chief to meet
him at 10 a.m. at the Mission House, he returned to his troops.
Punctually at 10 a.m. Leutwein was waiting at the Mission House, but Simon
Kooper did not appear.' Shortly afterwards a messenger arrived from the Chief and
stated that he would not attend as he had nothing to communicate to Leutwein (er hatte
mir nichts mitzuteilen).
The Governor pocketed his pride and again rode down to see the Chief. For
three days he came and went, but always with the same negative results. Eventually
Leutwein got wrathful; he trained his artillery on the Chief's headquarters and
delivered an ultimatum. Simon signed the document with unconcealed reluctance
and then asked, For how long is this to hold good ? For ever," said Leutwein.
" This," observes the latter, he did not like."
In the agreement '.
the German Emperor assures the Chief of the Franzmann Hottentots of his
All-Highest protection for his whole country against all enemies and within the
following boundaries (but no boundaries are even so much as mentioned).
For over ten years Simon Kooper remained loyal to his new masters. In 1905
he joined in the general rising with his old friend and colleague, Hendrik Witbooi.
After Hendrik Witbooi's death in action, Simon Kooper, with the remnants of his
tribe, crossed over the border into British territory in the Kalihari. For several
years he was the terror of the German settlers and patrols on the eastern frontier
until Captain Surmon, of the Bechuanaland Protectorate Police, and Mr. Herbst
(now Major Herbst), the present Secretary for the South-West Protectdrate, then
Magistrate of Rietfontein, met the old warrior at Lehututu in the Kalihari and after a
prolonged conference persuaded Simon to promise to molest no more Germans and
to settle down peacefully under British protection. He died a few years later, but
his tribe still lives in British territory, and has never given the authorities any trouble.
The news of what happened to Andreas Lambert spread throughout Great
Namaqualand, and when Simon Kooper capitulated there was no difficulty in getting
the Berseba, Keetmanshoop, and other Chiefs to sign agreements. In fact, Chief
David Swartbooi came down voluntarily to Windhuk, all the way from Otjitambi
beyond Outjo, and offered to sign. This voluntariness on his part did not, as will
be related further on, save his tribe or preserve his rights. In connection with the
other agreements, Leutwein gratefully places on record his obligations to the Rhenish
missionaries for their patriotic assistance and co-operation.
THE SUBJUGATION AND SUBMISSION OF HENDRIK WITBOOI.
It now remained to deal with the old septuagenarian who, in his rock-bound
stronghold of Naauwkloof, had since April 1893 defied all the efforts of the mailed
fist to crush him.
In the beginning of May 1894 Leutwein moved against Witbooi with all his
available guns and troops. Leutwein had asked for strong reinforcements from
Germany, and pending their arrival he was not too keen on testing the military
prowess of the most famous Hottentot soldier. Accordingly he wrote to Witbooi
demanding to know whether he desired peace or war. The exchange of letters
which followed discloses such illuminating and interesting views that the temptation
to reproduce extracts therefrom is too great to be resisted. The letters are all
published by Leutwein in his book, page 32, et seq.
The Chief replies.(Naauwkloof, 4th May 1894):-
Your Honour inquires whether I desire peace or war. To this I reply:
von Francois knows full well and so does Your Honour, although you were
not here at the time, that I have of old always kept peace with you, with
von Francois and with all white people.
Leutwein adds this footnote :-
(It is quite true that during his wars with the Hereros, Witbooi always
protected the lives and property of white people).
von Francois did not open fire on me for the sake of Peace;
but because I was at peace with him. (Witbooi is referring to the
Hornkranz affair). I was quietly sleeping in my, house when von Frangois came
and tried to shoot me, not because of any misdeed, whether by word or act, of
which I may have been guilty, but only because I refused to surrender that
which is mine alone, to which I have right, I would not surrender my inde-
pendence I am unable to' understand and I am astonished and
wonder much that I should suffer such sad and terrible treatment at the
hands of a big man like von Francois. .
Your Honour now says in your letter that von Fran9ois has returned to
Germany. That you have been sent here by the German Emperor with
instructions to exterminate me if I do not agree to peace. To this I reply
that if you have now come to speak to me in a friendly and honest
way about peace (which von Francois deprived me of) and if you have come
prepared to adjust and repair all the wrong and injustice done to me by
von Frangois (when he opened fire on us) if you have come solely
to make peace, I will in that event not oppose Peace.
To this letter Leutwein replied as follows (The deliberate mis-statements and
misrepresentations in this letter are, on the facts already revealed in this report,
too glaringly apparent to require special attention to be drawn to them.):-
At the wish of the majority of the Nama, as well as of the Herero Chiefs,
His Majesty the German Emperor has extended his protection over both lands,
allowing those Chiefs who will not accept protection to remain uninterfered
with, provided they keep peace with the other Chiefs.
This latter you have however not done but you have attacked
various Chiefs in Namaland and you eventually settled yourself at Hornkranz,
from which place you conducted looting raids into Hereroland. You have
broken peace and order in the territory which is under the protection of the
German Emperor. His Majesty viewed your doings for a long time in patience;
but then, as you would not desist, he ordered that you should be attacked.
Had you remained quietly in Gibeon, and ruled your people in peace, you
would not have been attacked. (Note.-Witbooi had moved from Gibeon
and was settled at Hornkranz years before the German annexation.)
That you have never before done anything to us, the white people, I know
Full well. But you have not been attacked for our benefit (nicht unseres
Vorteils willen), but, as I have above said, solely for the sake of rest and peace
in Namaland. .
Witbooi replied asking for time to consult with his councillors and people as to
whether or not they should submit themselves to the will of His Majesty, and he
requested that in the meantime the German troops should withdraw to Windhuk.
Witbooi, of course, only wanted to gain time.
On 7th May 1894, Leutwein answered as follows:-
An out-and-out war is better than a worthless peace. And if I leave this
place merely with your assurances of peace and without at the same time
your submission to the will of His Majesty, the German Emperor, it will be
a worthless peace. Although I have not been long in the land, I know
nevertheless that since 1884, that is for ten years, you have lived only from
robbery and bloodshed, although in the meantime you did make peace.
Therefore I will not depart from you until you are defeated and captured
or destroyed, even though it should take months and years to do so. If you
personally find it so hard, and if you yet desire peace for your people, place your
son in your position and he can then conclude the agreement. In such a
case I will guarantee to you your life and the right to reside outside of German
I again repeat that peace without submission to the German Protectorate
is now out of the question.
This is my last word on the subject. .
But it was not his last word. On 22nd May 1894 Leutwein received news
that the expected reinforcements were being sent and would land in July. He
accordingly decided, as he says, to put water in my wine," and he wrote to Witbooi
granting an armistice of two months.
The Chief, unaware of the reasons for this change of front and hoping apparently
against hope, replied:-
I thank the Lord of hearts that He has Himself stood in between us and
has worked as mediator in this great matter, so that the shedding of blood,
which we.had in mind, has not taken place, but that we have parted in peace.
May the Lord help us further so that no bloodshed may take place between
This letter encouraged Leutwein to ride over to Witbooi's camp (probably to
spy out the position) in order to make his acquaintance."
The old Chief- was, as was his wont, reserved but courteous. After a brief
conversation Leutwein returned and with his troops marched back to Windhuk.
The reinforcements arrived from Germany and in the beginning of August the
operations were resumed. Captain Schwabe with an advance column, including
two guns, marched up and took possession of the first line of defences held by the
Witboois. The Hottentots were under strict instructions not to fire first, and as the
Germans boldly walked up into their positions they decided to fall back. This
move greatly annoyed Witbooi, who regarded it as a deliberate breach of the
armistice. He wrote a protesting letter to Schwabe in which he stated, I do not
understand this peace and armistice, seeing that Your Honour has driven my people
out of their fortifications."
In conclusion, he adds, I am, with hearty greetings, your friend, the Lord of
the Water and King of Great Namaqualand, Hendrik Witbooi." This lofty style
did not forebode any intention of submitting to the will of the Emperor.
When Leutwein arrived on 4th August 1894, he found perfect tranquility
reigning between the opposing forces. He relates how the women from Witbooi's
laager came down daily and were busy washing the clothes of our soldiers on the
river bank in return for coffee or tobacco." They did this for the last time on
26th August. The general assault on the position commenced at daybreak on
In the interim, while the women were washing clothes, Leutwein and Witbooi
returned to their pens and paper. Leutwein initiated the correspondence on
15th August, when he wrote to Witbooi:-
You have so utilised the two months of-consideration given to you that
you still refuse to recognize German supremacy. The times of the
independent Chiefs of Namaqualand are gone for ever. Those Chiefs who
rightly and openly recognized and attached themselves to the German Govern-
ment were more clever than you are; because they have gained only advan-
tages thereby and have suffered no loss. I take you also for a clever man,
but in this matter your cleverness has left you because your personal ambition
has overclouded your understanding. You fail to understand present-day
circumstances. In comparison with the German Emperor you are but a
small Chief. To submit yourself to him would not be a disgrace but an
These Teutonic blandishments were quite wasted on the astute old patriot, who,
on 18th August, replied:-
You say that it grieves you to see that I will not accept the protection
of the German Emperor, and you say that this is a crime for which you intend
to punish me by force of arms. To this I reply as follows : I have never in
my whole life seen the German Emperor: therefore I have never angered
him by words or by deeds. God, the Lord, has established various kingdoms
on the earth, and therefore I know and I believe that it is no sin and no
misdeed for me to wish to remain the independent Chief of my land and my
people. If you desire to kill me on account of my land and without guilt on
my part, that is to me no disgrace and no damage, for then I die honourably
for my property. But you say that, Might is Right," and in terms
of these words you deal with me, because you are strong in weapons and all
conveniences. I agree that you are indeed strong, and that in comparison
to you I am nothing. But, my dear friend, you have come to me with armed
power and declare that you intend to shoot me. So I think I will shoot back,
not in my name, not in my strength, but in the name of the Lord and under
His power. With His help will I defend myself. So the respon-
sibility for the innocent blood of my people and of your people which will be
shed does not rest upon me, as I have not started this war. .
Leutwein, who was no match for the Chief in a verbal argument and had
repeatedly to change ground, replied (21.8.94):-
The fact that you refuse to submit yourself to the German Empire is
no sin and no crime, but it is dangerous to the existence of the German
Therefore, my dear Chief, all further letters in which you do not offer me
your submission are useless. .
To this Witbooi did not reply, and on 28th August the Witbooi stronghold was
shelled and stormed by the German troops. Desperate fighting ensued in which
the German losses were considerable. Soon however artillery, more modern rifles,
x 5952 M
and abundance of ammunition and food began to weigh in the balance. After three
further weeks of stubborn resistance in which they tried in vain to break through
the German cordon, their ammunition ran out and their food was exhausted. For
days they had been living on Wild roots, gum, field mice, lizards, and the larvae of
ants. ." They were famished," says Leutwein, and their condition was pitiful"
Some of their bravest warriors had fallen.
Under the circumstances the old Chief had no alternative but to agree to
Leutwein's terms. He signed the Protection Agreement on 15th September
1894, and remained true to his pledged word for over eleven years. He actively
aided the Germans in their wars against the Hereros and other tribes, and it was only
in 1905 that, goaded by German injustice, ingratitude and tyranny, the old warrior,
then 80 years of age, rose and with him rose the majority of the Hottentot tribes of
Great Namaqualand. He died, probably as he would have wished to die, leading
his men in battle near Tses in October 1906. His faithful followers with desperate
valour held back the onward rushing Germans, while the body of their Great Chief
was being hurriedly buried on the battle field to prevent its falling into German
hands. (Von Trotha had offered a reward of 1,0001. for Witbooi, dead or alive.)
THE AGREEMENT WITH THE SWARTBOOIS AND THEIR SUBSEQUENT DESTRUCTION.
At the time of annexation the Swartboois or young red nation," as they called
themselves, were living in the north at Otjitambi and Franzfontein, near Outjo.
In 1895, the Chief David Swartbooi visited Windhuk, and in the absence of Leutwein
on military duties he made a Protection Agreement" with Acting-Governor von
Lindequist. In terms of this agreement the Swartboois were taken under the
protection of Germany, pending All-Highest sanction." In this agreement also
the exact delineation of the tribal boundaries of the territory was reserved for a
The old Chief, David Swartbooi, still lives at Windhuk (whither the Germans
banished him as a captive 21 years ago), with a few survivors of his tribe. When
asked how it was that he was the only Chief who voluntarily came forward and
accepted German protection, he replied:-
The missionary Reichmann told us that it would be good to accept
German rule, as Germany was the Head of the whole world and more powerful
than England. Dr. Hartmann, the Manager of the South-West. Africa
Company, of Grootfontein, also said it would be in our best interests to
accept German rule. The Germans promised to respect the laws and customs
of my tribe, but that they never did.
Towards the end of 1896 Leutwein visited the Swartbooi tribe at Franzfontein
and there met the Chief. There was at the time a dispute between the Swartboois
and Omaruru Hereros relative to tribal boundaries. The Swartbooi Chief, relying
on his Protection Agreement, approached Leutwein and asked him to adjust their
.difference. This Leutwein avoided. He explains (page 121) that there was no
,reason why "we, by our intervention, should remove what would probably be
for us. a useful rivalry (fur uns veilleicht noch niitzliche Rivalitit). And this
is the same man who attacked Witbooi for the sake of peace and rest." Leutwein
was also aware that the Chief's cousin, Lazarus Swartbooi, was intriguing and
plotting to depbse David and to secure the Chieftainship. In this matter he also
did not interfere. David Swartbooi also asked for rifles and ammunition, and
"was consoled with hopes for the future."
Referring to the agreement with the Swartboois, Leutwein remarks (page 238):
At the close of the Witbooi war this tribe voluntarily offered to enter
into an agreement in the hope that they would get protection from the
surrounding Hereros, if only by supply to them of arms and ammunition.
When they were disappointed in these hopes, they commenced their agita-
tion, which eventually resulted in the Swartbooi rebellion.
In May 1897, the pretender, Lazarus Swartbooi, caused rumours to be spread
to the effect that the Chief David Swartbooi contemplated giving trouble. The
Magistrate of Outjo, Captain von Estorff, thereupon made a night march with
.20 soldiers and surprised and arrested the Chief at his house in Otjitambi. After
an inquiry had been held, and the correctness of the allegations established "
(" although," says Leutwein, "only words and not deeds were proved "), Chief
David was deposed and sent to Windhuk as a captive, and the pretended Lazarus,
who had no title at all to the Chieftainship, was made Chief in David's stead.
Thereby (says Leutwein) Lazarus succeeded in gaining his object.
The supporters of David were not satisfied, however, and the agitation
against the German Government and the new Chief, Lazarus Witbooi, con-
tinued on an increasing scale.
In 1897 the adherents of the two factions came to blows, purely between
themselves. The old Chief's followers represented probably 90 per cent. of the
tribe, and they resented Lazarus's assumption of authority. Headed by Samuel
Swartbooi, the deposed Chief's brother, they took possession of the Chief's stock,
grazing near Franzfontein, which the Germans had illegally and in breach of all
law and custom vested in their "created" Chief, Lazarus. Incidentally some
German military horses and mules were grazing with this stock at the time, and
were removed as well. This, remarks Leutwein with astonishing equanimity,
though he makes mention only of German Government stock, was "rightly
regarded" by Captain von Estorff as an act of war." Without further ado,
the German troops marched against the rebels." The Hottentots retired to
the Grootberg and prepared to defend themselves. In February 1898 their position
was bombarded by troops under Major Mueller. The position was a very strong
one however, and before wasting more German lives an attempt was made to
achieve by treachery and bad faith what was not too attractive for achievement
by force of arms. The German missionary Reichmann afore-mentioned, he who
had told Swartbooi that Germany was Head of the world and more powerful
than England," was sent in to the Hottentot camp with a message to the effect
that if the "rebels surrendered, their lives and property would be spared and
they would be allowed to return to their former homes. Reichmann returned
bearing a letter from Samuel Swartbooi, which Leutwein prints (page 150), but he
is carefully silent as to the inducements held out.
The letter reads as follows:-
13th March '98.
The undersigned sends this letter and thereby gives notice that it is
the heartfelt wish of us all to make peace. We thank the Lord that what
appeared an impossibility has now become possible, as a result of the prayers
of the many Christians here in the mountain. And I hope this will be a
real peace, which God wishes to bring about in all of us, and I pray the Lord
that it will be realized. Also do I ask Your Honour for a real peace; and
as a token I send you two men, Sem Swartbooi and Paul Hendriks, in advance
with Boab Davids. I will leave here on Monday afternoon, and Mr. Reich-
mann may go from your side on Tuesday, so that we may meet at the fort
in the forenoon and discuss matters.
(Signed) SAMUEL SWARTBOOI.
The missionary Reichmann met the rebels, and as a result of his communica-
tions the whole Swartbooi tribe (the few adherents of Lazarus were negligible)
surrendered to the German Commander.
Josephat Jaeger, an Afrikaner Hottentot, now gaol warder at Grootfontein,
who was a soldier in the German native forces at the time, states on oath :
The war was caused through the Germans having deposed the lawful
Chief, David Swartbooi. They sent David as a prisoner, and appointed
Lazarus as Chief in his stead. The people, with a few exceptions, stood
by David and refused to recognize the new Chief. The result was war.
After some fighting the Hottentots were surrounded in the Grootberg.
It was a difficult place to attack. The Germans bombarded it. Then they
sent the missionary Reichmann out to the Hottentots to ask them to
surrender. The missionary was told to inform them that if they surrendered
they would get the following terms:-
(a) they would be allowed to return to Franzfontein and Otjitambi -to
(b) they would retain all their stock and possessions, including their arms.
The Hottentots thereupon came in voluntarily and surrendered. No sooner
had they done this when the Germans disarmed them all, confiscated their
stock, and sent them all (men, women and children) as prisoners to Windhuk.
This was a great breach of faith by the Germans. They had broken
their promises, but the Hottentots were powerless. Along the road they
were very badly treated, and many died. The others were never allowed
to return from Windhuk. .
Every Swartbooi Hottentot who has been interrogated is clear on the point that
the war was caused because the Germans had deposed the lawful Chief, David
Swartbooi, and appointed Larazus, whom the majority of the tribe would not
Abraham Swartbooi sworn, states:-
My brother Lucas waslkilled, and I was shot through the leg. I show
the bullet wound now. The Germans made this war simply for nothing at
all. We gave them no reason. We only had quarrelled over the taking
away of our lawful Chief. The Germans took all the people's cattle and
sheep. The survivors were all sent to Windhuk to work, and were not
allowed to return. Only the few Hottentots who adhered to the party of
Lazarus Swartbooi were allowed to stay at Franzfontein. I went to work
for a German and was sent to Karibib. I was brutally thrashed by this
German, but had to stay with him. I was there for four years, living all the
time like a dog. Before I was sent to this German, I was ordered
to receive 75 lashes for having taken part in the "objections" to Lazarus
Witbooi. I got 25 lashes each month for three months. I will show you the
scars on my buttocks (shows huge scars on buttocks and thighs)-my flesh
was cut to ribbons by the sjambok. That I suffered for standing by my
lawful Chief. .
Jonathan Booyse (a Veldschoendrager Hottentot, living at Franzfontein, who
was employed with the German troops) sworn, states :-
While we were on the march back from the Grootberg (this is after the
surrender), we were camped on the veld, when two Hottentot men came
walking along the road from Outjo towards Franzfontein. They were
unarmed and not a bit afraid. They must have seen our camp a long way
off, they just walked up. When they got to the camp, I recognized them as
old residents of Franzfontein. Their names were Petrus and Gawieb. The
Germans asked them what they meant by walking about like that. They
said they meant no harm, they had heard of the war, and were anxious about
then old mother, who lived at Franzfontein. They were on their way, they
said, to see if she were alive, and if so, they intended to take her back with
them to live at Outjo. They were told by Von Estorff, the German officer,
that they were liars, and that he was going to hang them as an example to
others who wandered about to do mischief.
On hearing this, Willem Swartbooi, one of the Franzfontein Hottentots,
who like me had been working for the German troops, went up and pleaded
for their lives. He said to the officer, I know these men and I know they
are innocent, I have worked for you, but if you hang them, then .take me
and hang me with them." The officer only laughed. Willem then said,
If you kill them I refuse to work for you any more, as they are guilty of no
crime." The officer said,. "Well, we won't hang them, we'll shoot them
The soldiers had already placed ropes round the necks of Petrus and
Gawieb and were waiting for the order to pull them to the tree. They were
then led aside, crying for mercy and protesting their innocence. They were
both shot and their bodies left there for the wild animals. We moved on,
but that same night Willem ran away. I afterwards heard that he had gone
to Walfish Bay to live with the British people.
The Swartbooi tribe thus, for the reasons given, shared the fate of the Khauas
HottLntots. The survivors, men, women and children, were employed as labourers
on what Leutwein calls public works at Windhuk.
The old Chief, David Swartbooi, referring to his deposition from the Chief-
tainship and the subsequent happenings, made the following statement under oath :-
I was sent to Windhuk and placed in gaol for three months. They
made me do hard labour with the convicts. I was never tried by any court
of law, and to this day I don't know why they did this. After releasing me
from gaol they took me, as a prisoner still, with their troops to the campaign
against my people who had rebelled owing to my removal and the placing by
the Germans of Lazarus as Chief in my stead. When I got there the people
had already been beaten and had surrendered. The Germans tied me to a
wagon wheel, and as my people came in after their surrender they saw me
there. My people complained bitterly when the Germans ordered us all to
march on the road to Windhuk. They all told me that the missionary
Reichmann had come from the Germans and had persuaded them to surrender
on condition that they retained all their stock and that they would be allowed
to return to their old homes at Franzfontein and Otjitambi. As soon as the
people were in their power the Germans broke this promise, took all their
stock, and forced us to march to Windhuk.
They drove us before them. Some people died on the journey. We
were located at Windhuk, on the hill where the Government buildings now
stand. We were paupers and got food, that is the old people who could not
work. The others had to work for the Germans and got good pay, 10s. a month
after a time. At first they only gave us 3s. a month. They eventually gave
me a few goats for my people, about 50, but they all died of scab and the
Germans gave us no more.
We have lived in Windhuk ever since. We have been slaves to the
Germans all these years. I was often thrashed with a sjambok while in gaol
in the early days, because I said I was an innocent man. The rest of my
people were treated very cruelly and harshly. We were helpless and were
captives, we could not defend ourselves. Our women were violated and
made to act as concubines. Our daughters were not safe. The mother and
father could protest, but it was in vain. One of my men, Timotheus Richter,
had a daughter Sarah, a young girl. A German lieutenant, whose name I
forget, came to Timotheus and demanded the girl as a concubine. The
lieutenant was told by Timotheus that he would not allow this, whereupon
the lieutenant knocked him down and kicked him in the ribs. He died from
his injuries and the lieutenant forced Sarah to go with him. I complained
to another German officer, who said for peace and quiet's sake I should say
nothing more, but let the girl go. I was afraid and let the matter drop as the
other lieutenant also threatened to thrash me for interfering. The soldiers
also took our women in this way, and we could do nothing for fear of the
sjambok and worse things.
Before leaving the Swartboois it may be added'that the German-made Chief,
Lazarus Swartbooi, who had remained with his remnant of followers at Franzfontein,
got very little thanks in the end. When the general rebellion broke out in 1905
Lazarus was arrested as a precautionary measure and sent in chains with his school-
master and the senior councillor to the Okahandja Gaol. They died in captivity.
Daniel Esma Dixon at that time in German employ at Okahandja, states on
Natives who were placed in gaol at that time never came out alive.
Many died of sheer starvation and brutal treatment. I remember seeing
Lazarus Swartbooi, the Hottentot Chief of the Swartboois at Franzfontein,
brought into Okahandja Gaol. He was manacled and chained by the neck
to another Hottentot. At the same time, Willem Cloete, a Bastard (the
brother of Jan Cloete of Omaruru), was taken to the gaol and with him was
Johannes Honk, an educated Hottentot, a -schoolmaster. It was alleged that
Lazarus had tried to foment rebellion in the north. They were, the four of-
them, so badly treated in the gaol that they all died within a few weeks.
I was present when they were buried.
THE AFRIKANER HOTTENTOTS.
A remnant of this once all-powerful Orlams tribe was living at the time of
annexation on the north bank of the Orange River, close to the eastern boundary
line below Nakob. In 1897, owing to allegations of stock-theft against certain
individuals, the German lieutenant in charge at Warmbad deemed it advisable to
punish the whole tribe, and he accordingly led a small party against them. He paid
for his temerity by a severe set-back, blood was shed and, as German honour had
now to be vindicated, a strong punitive force was sent against the rebels." The
tribe was not numerically strong, probably not more than three or four hundred,
and they could only muster about 60 to 70 rifles. The German troops inflicted very
heavy losses and captured all their stock and possessions. The unfortunate survivors
fled through the Orange River to British territory and surrendered to the Cape Police
who were on posts along the frontier. The Germans demanded their extradition.
This was agreed to by the Cape Government and the Afrikaners were taken across
and handed back to'their German masters. No sooner had this been done when
every one of the poor wretches was shot without mercy (as Leutwein puts it Samt-
lich erschossen ").
Thus disappeared the last surviving remnant of a tribe which at one time had
dominated South-West Africa from Ovamboland to the Orange River.
It is now necessary to pass onto the Bondelswartz rising of 1903 and the general
Hottentot rising of 1904.
THE BONDELSWARTZ RISING OF 1903 AND THE GENERAL
HOTTENTOT RISING, 1904-7.
Towards the end of 1903 the continued exploitation and robbery of the
Hereros in the north, which had been greatly intensified and increased by the
promulgation through Berlin of the Credit Ordinance, had brought about a state
of affairs in Damaraland which Leutwein rightly describes as something similar
to a powder magazine, which only required the application of a match to bring
about a terrific upheaval. The robberies, floggings, murders and general injustices
had reduced the Herero people to a state of sullen desperation. They only wanted
Unexpectedly, and without a word of warning, this lead came from the
Hottentots in the south. The typically high-handed and overbearing conduct
of a young German officer at Warmbad, followed by the murder of the Bondel-
swartz Chief, was the last straw.
The manner in which the Hereros had been treated is known. It is now
necessary, before dealing with the actual rising of the Hottentots, to detail some
of their experiences. It will be of interest to hear the'views of those Hottentots
who, as one of them has stated, by the grace and mercy of Almighty God have
survived German rule and are alive to tell the tale.
Abraham Kaffer (a venerable old man of over seventy, who was for many years
"Chief Magistrate" of the Bondelswartz tribe and one of the tribal councillors)
states on oath :
We in our tribal laws were used to the control of our Chief; he was
our Government" and could decide disputes, punish evil-doers, and settle
differences. We have never been able to understand the German
Government. It was so different to our ideas of a Government; because
every German officer, sergeant, and soldier, every German policeman and
every German farmer seemed to be the Government." By this we mean
that every German seemed to be able to do towards us just what he pleased,
and to make his own laws, and he never got punished. The police and
soldiers might flog us and ill-treat us, the farmers might do as they pleased
towards us and our wives, the soldiers might molest and even rape our
women and young girls, and no one was punished.
If we did complain, we were called liars, and ran the risk of revenge or
punishment. And thus it was that a Hottentot got to take such happenings
as the German custom. It was Government" to us, and we had to submit.
Joseph Schayer, of Warmbad (who, with Marengo and Morris, was one of the
"Commandants" of the rebel Hottentots, 1903-7), states on oath :-
Before the rebellion our people were very harshly treated, especially
in the prisons. (Note.-From 1901-1903 Joseph was a native
constable in the German police, and he speaks of his own knowledge). .
Many people died in prison owing to cruel treatment, insufficient food,
floggings and hardships. The prisoners were practically allowed
to starve, and while in this state of weakness they could not stand the
repeated floggings they received. Prisoners were sent to Keetmanshoop
in gangs. They were marched by road' (140 miles). They had iron rings
round their necks, connected by chains to one another. If one of them
got exhausted, the gang was made to walk on and drag him. He was sjam-
bokked and driven on. Eventually, if he became too weak and fell, he was
dragged by the rest, who were urged on with sjamboks and was kept at a
trot to keep pace with the horses. In this way men were choked to death.
I know of many cases like this. On one of our treks from Warmbad to
Keetmanshoop two prisoners were actually beaten to death with ox reims.
This happened at Grundoorns. The officer in charge was present, and
watched the floggings. These prisoners were on their way to gaol; and
they were beaten because they were too weak to walk. I can show their
graves at Grundoorns to this day. On another occasion foir
prisoners were sent from Warmbad to Keetmanshoop via Kalkfontein.
One prisoner got exhausted at Draaihoek, near Kalkfontein. The German
soldiers then beat him to death with sjamboks. He is buried there. I was
present at the time. The escort was composed of four German soldiers
and myself; there was no officer there that day. One day at Warmbad
a German soldier shot one of the prisoners for no reason at all. For these
murders no one was ever punished.
Adam Pienaar (also known as Adam Christian, nephew of the old Chief, Willem
Christian), states on oath :-
The law gave us no protection; the German soldiers did just what-
they pleased. We were helpless and powerless. Our Chief complained,
but all in' vain. I was a German police-boy for seven years before the
rebellion broke out. Many of our people died in prison through starvation,
floggings, and general ill-treatment. Accused persons were never
given a fair trial. They were never allowed to give evidence, or to open
their mouths. The evidence of one white man, conveyed by means of a
letter of complaint, was quite sufficient to secure a conviction for almost
anything. Our people were literally flogged to death. Very many died.
Matters came to a head 'in 1903, when the Germans murdered our Chief,
Jan Abraham Christian, at Warmbad. We then all rebelled against German
The courts gave us no protection, as our word was not accepted and
our complaints were never believed. .Prisoners were sent in chains
to the central gaols. They had to walk in gangs ahead of mounted soldiers.
If a prisoner became exhausted on the way he was flogged and driven.
His only release was death-and many died. The march from Warmbad
to Keetmanshoop was over 140 miles by road, with water only obtainable
at great distances apart. The mounted police showed the prisoners no
mercy. Prisoners were also made to walk in chains from Ukamas to
Warmbad. The country is full of the graves of those who died of exhaustion
or were beaten to death by the German police. I have buried very many
myself. They were made to walk till the blood came through the soles of
their feet. The hot sand burnt their feet, and walking was then impossible.
Such people all died under the sjambok or fell down and died from sheer
Willem Christian (grandson of the Chief Willem Christian, and son of the late
Chief Johannes Christian, who died in 1910), states on oath:-
Before the rebellion many of our people died in gaol owing to insufficient
food, ill-treatment and flogging.
A white man could do as he pleased to us. White men were not
punished. Our word was never taken in a court. If we complained we
were not believed. Any number of us could give the same evidence, but it
carried no weight. "We were not allowed to give evidence on oath. On the
other hand, a white man was always believed and his evidence was always
accepted. In this way injustice was done and many innocent people
suffered. If any one of our people was arrested on a farm by the
German police, a rope was tied round his neck and it was held in the hand
of the mounted policeman, alongside of whose horselthe prisoner had to
trot all the way. If he tired or lagged back, he was flogged and hit and
made to go on. Our women] and girls were constantly being
molested by German soldiers, and even officers. We objected to this, but
were powerless to prevent it. We were beaten if we intervened. This is
why we lost all respect for the Germans.
THE SHOOTING OF THE. CHIEF JAN ABRAHAM CHRISTIAN.
On the afternoon of the 25th October 1903, a party of German troops under
Lieutenant Jobst went to the Bondelswartz village at Warmbad and attempted
forcibly to remove the Chief, Jan Abraham Christian, under arrest. The Chief
objected, and was shot dead. The Hottentots retaliated by shooting Lieutenant
Jobst and several of his men. The following sworn statement as to what actually
took place was supplied by an eye-witness:-
Jantje Izaak states on oath :-
I am a Bondelswartz Hottentot and live at Warmbad. I used to be
the messenger of the old Chief, Willem Christian. This Chief died and was
succeeded by his son, Jan Abraham Christian.
I remember in October 1903, I was living in the Hottentot werft at
Warmbad. A child of the Chief's sister got very ill with inflammation,
and the warm stomach of a goat was required as medicine. Our own goats
were all grazing outside some distance away. A goat was urgently required.
The Chief asked some Hereros who were passing through with goats to let
him have one. They refused, whereupon the Chief ordered his men to take
a goat from the Hereros and slaughter it. This was done. The Hereros
went to the German officer in charge (Lieutenant Jobst) and complained.
He sent a message to the Chief, who in reply sent 18s. in payment for the
goat. (Leutwein says it was 20s.)" This the Hereros were satisfied with,
and they accepted the money.
Lieutenant Jobst was not satisfied and wanted to punish the Chief. He
ordered the Chief to come over and see him. The Chief sent six of his
councillors to explain the matter and the lieutenant immediately bound them
and put them into prison. The next day the Chief sent over and asked for
the release of his men. He said that he had already settled the matter of the
goat, and as he was a Chief he could do such things in his own territory. He
pointed out that the terms of his treaty with the Germans allowed him to
govern in his own area. The lieutenant refused to listen to these messages
and decided to arrest the Chief. So that afternoon he set out armed and
with his armed soldiers, about eight or ten men, towards the Chief's werft.
When they got there the lieutenant ordered two men to go into the Chief's
house and arrest him. They did so. We were watching them from our
pontoks. Our people had arms. When the Chief was dragged out of his
house by the two soldiers, he tried to wrench away from their grasp, where-
upon the German sergeant drew his revolver and shot the Chief dead on the
spot. Thereupon the rest of us opened fire on the Germans and killed the
lieutenant, the sergeant, and one man. The others fled back to their fort.
That is how the great rebellion started in 1903, and it lasted until the
death of Marengo in 1907.
Except as to the reasons for taking the goat and as to who fired the first shot,
this narrative agrees in all essentials with the official German reports. Leutwein
(page 440) agrees that the Chief's attitude was correct, in terms of clause 4 of the
Protection Agreement, wherein he had reserved to himself (after excluding disputes
between Europeans and natives) the right of jurisdiction in all other cases. I
expect from the European population that they will respect the laws, customs and
usages of my country."
While agreeing that the Chief was right and the lieutenant was wrong, Leutwein
goes on, however, to blame the Hottentots for the death of their Chief.
While the two soldiers were dragging the struggling Chief behind them,
between the two positions, the Hottentots opened fire, as a result of which the
Chief, the two soldiers, and the District Commander (Lieutenant Jobst) were
killed and two soldiers wounded.
Leutwein's statement is on the face of it open to grave doubt, and his explanation
may be dismissed as incorrect. It is absurd to imagine for one moment that the
Hottentots would have jeopardised their own Chief's life by firing in the manner
alleged. All the Bondelswartz leaders who have been questioned laugh the German
version to scorn, and are unanimous in affirming that not a shot was fired from their
side until after the Chief had fallen with a German bullet through his head. It has
been repeatedly pointed out in this report that as an invariable rule the Hottentots
never fired the first shot.
The question arises, why should the Germans conceal the truth then? The
reason is not far to seek, and Leutwein unwittingly reveals it himself. He has
published a letter, dated 21st November 1903, addressed to him by von Burgsdorff,
the Magistrate of Gibeon, in which the latter writes :-
Incidents like that at Warmbad damage'us in every respect, economically
in Europe, in our prestige and with the natives. The old Witbooi remains
loyal to us; but happenings like that at Grootfontein and the last have
unsettled him. I sincerely hope that it can be definitely established that at
Warmbad the first shot came from the side of the Bondels. That will create
a possibility that he (i.e., Hendrik Witbooi) may be convinced that all the
blame rests with the Bondels.
The old Chief Hendrik Witbooi, despite his 80 years, was still active and the
most powerful and influential leader in Namaqualand. Hitherto he had always
loyally stood by his obligations which had been forced on him by the agreement
signed after Hornkranz and the fights in the Naauwkloof. His prowess as a skilful
and daring guerilla fighter was held in the greatest respect by the Germans, and
every effort was necessary, therefore, to keep him loyal and quiet.
This being so, it did not take German officialdom long to declare that the first
shots at Warmbad had been fired by the Blondelswartz.
In view of the fact that the German Commander at Warmbad had deliberately
broken German pledges and obligations under the agreement, and that the ill-fated
Chief had been perfectly correct in his attitude; in view, moreover, of the actual
circumstances, from which it appears clear that the Hottentots had not premedi
tated rebellion or attack and that the Germans were the agressors, one would have
imagined that the events called rather for an inquiry than for an armed punitive
What followed is indicative of German policy throughout, public and private.
It seems to have been based on the rule that even where the German is the aggressor
and in the wrong, the native who objects to or opposes his conduct must be punished.
Merely a variation of the Might is Right theory.
The Bondelswartz were accordingly declared to be in a state of rebellion, and all
the available German forces plus Hottentot and Bastard contingents, under Hendrik
Witbooi and the Rehoboth Chief, were sent down to crush the rebels. During
December 1903 and January 1904 a few petty engagements took place in the
mountains near Warmbad and in the Karas range south of Keetmanshoop. It was
then that the famous guerilla leader, Jacob Marengo (half Hottentot, half Herero),
first came into prominence.
Before the German plans could be co-ordinated news of a general Herero rising
in the north came like a thunderbolt.
Leutwein could not deal with both parties at once, and he decided on a peace at
any price with the Bondelswartz in order that the greater menace in Damaraland
might be attacked with all available strength.
It would have been better under the circumstances and in view of the great
danger of a general rising throughout the south-west (a danger that Leutwein must
have known of even if he did not appreciate it), to have made a peace simply by
reverting to the status quo ante.
x 5952 N
This, however, German arrogance and fatuity were incapable of achieving. It
was not even attempted, though in actual effect the results were the same, but with
a far different aspect.
The new Bondelswartz Chief, Johannes Christian, was a weak-minded person
who had no desire for armed conflicts, even in defence of sacred rights. Accordingly,
when at the end of January 1904 Leutwein offered to make peace, the Chief readily
The German authorities thereupon could no longer resist the temptation of
disclosing and endeavouring to put into operation their long-cherished and definitely
arranged schemes in regard to the native races. Governor Leutwein proposed the
following terms :-
(1) Surrender of all arms and ammunition and restoration of all looted
(2) The delivery of all persons charged with murder.
(3) The cession to the German Crown of the entire territory of Keet-
manshoop and the Karas Mountains, and the confinement of the whole tribe
to a relatively small reserve at Warmbad.
It was clause 3 which sent a thrill of apprehension through Great Namaqualand.
Hendrik Witbooi became restive and suspicious, and his feelings were shared by
every Chief in the country.
Naturally, under the circumstances, the enforcement of this condition was out
of'the question at the time and it was held over for later discussion.
Clause 2 was likewise inoperative, because the wanted persons refused to come
in and surrender. A strong band still held positions in the Karas Mountains, while
Marengo and his adjutant, Abraham Morris, had temporarily betaken themselves to
the south bank of the Orange River, outside German jurisdiction.
In terms of clause 1 of the proposals Johannes Christian handed in 289 rifles at
Kalkfontein and, pending further discussion of the other peace terms, a patched-up
peace was made, and the Chief with those of his followers who had surrendered was
allowed to return to his head village at Warmbad.
Leutwein moved north to attack the Hereros, and with him went the Bastard
contingent and a picked commando of over 120 Witboois. The old Chief Hendrik,
on the plea of ill-health, remained behind and returned to his headquarters near
By June 1904, thousands of fresh troops had arrived from Germany, and
Leutwein was replaced in the field by Lieut.-General von Trotha, fresh from his
bloody solution of the native problem in German East Africa.
Von Trotha issued the notorious and merciless Extermination Order," whereby
his troops were instructed to take no prisoners, to give no quarter, and to show no
mercy to man, woman or child.
Then it was that the true German ideals, which had been an open secret since
the negotiations at Kalkfontein South in the previous January, were blazoned forth
from the house-tops. The German settlers and farmers and the directors of land
syndicates and other speculative ventures began to open their mouths very widely.
Now that von Trotha had arrived and Germany was at last able to show her military
power the great general" would effectively settle the native question throughout
South-West Africa before he returned to the Fatherland.
The local newspapers took up the theme with zest and vigour. It was openly
(a) All tribal bonds would be broken.
(b) The Chiefs would all be deposed.
(c) All natives would be forcibly disarmed and placed in reserves.
In other words, Germany was about to repudiate all pledges and promises made
in the protection agreements, now that she felt strong enough to do so, and in the
general breaking up of the old order the loyal Chieftains and natives would suffer
the same fate as those who had gone into rebellion.
Chiefs like Hendrik Witbooi, Christian Goliath, and Johannes Christian read the
newspapers and received food for deep and serious thought.
Christian Goliath walked into the Magistrate's office at Keetmanshoop one day
and said to the Magistrate: The newspapers say that we Chiefs are to be deposed
and our people disarmed. Is this correct ? "
The matter was reported to Leutwein, who thereupon wrote a gentle lecture to
the editor of the Windhuk Zeitung in which he remarked: You should at least
deal cautiously with such matters in your paper, otherwise the rifles in Namaqualand
will go off of their own accord.;"
As might have been expected, judging from, their records; :there were: certain
German missionaries too who could not resist the temptation to fulminate from their
The missionary Holzapfel, of Rietniond (in Hendrik Witbooi's territory), declared
from his pulpit that-the German Government intended to disarm the Witbooi tribe
as a punishment for their sins. (Page 294: Leutwein).
About the same time a report reached Hendrik Witbooi at Gibeon, that the
missionary Wandres had declared from his pulpit at Windhuk : God will punish
Izaak Witbooi (Chief Witbooi's son and heir) through the German Government,
even in the same way as He allowed Chief Abraham Christian of Warmbad to be
Hendrik Witbooi reported what he heard to Windhuk; whereupon Wandres
denied having said so. The Chief thereupon produced statements from members of
the congregation who were present and had personally heard Wandres use the words
complained of. Leutwein promised to investigate, but in the meantime Hendrik
Witbooi had decided to go into rebellion.
The figure of this 80-year-old warrior Chieftain, gathering his little band of
faithful followers and deciding to make one last and desperate stand against German
oppression and injustice, cannot be regarded without feelings of deep sympathy and
admiration. He felt their oppression and injustice keenly, no doubt, but the gross
ingratitude'and bad faith displayed towards him (he who had risked his life for them
times without number, and who during 11 long years had been true to his pledged
word) must have hurt him even more, and it probably killed in Witbooi the last
vestige of respect for and trust in the white race.
Coming on top of the newspaper articles and the pulpit utterances, quite apart
from the daily talk of the braggart settlers, Witbooi received news from the north
which definitely settled his plans.
Von Trotha's "Extermination Order" against the Hereros was issued in
August 1904. The Witbooi contingent, like the Bastards, definitely refused, as
Christians, to kill women and children and captured prisoners. This resulted in
friction and recriminations. The Witboois, loyal allies-and very useful allies they
were-were harshly treated by von Trotha's officers. The result was that 19
men deserted and, despite all endeavours to intercept them, made their way
safely from the Waterberg to Gibeon, where they reported to their revered
Chieftain. They brought him news of the common camp talk among von Trotha's
soldiers, that, when the Hereros were finished with, it would be the Hottentots' turn
Hot on the tracks of these returned men came the news that their comrades
(over 90 all told), who had loyally remained with von Trotha, had been arrested
and disarmed and were on their way to Togo and the Cameroons, whither they were
being deported, and where (as Leutwein says) the climate" killed the majority
This was the treatment meted out to the loyal and faithful subjects of a loyal
and faithful Chief who for over ten years had been a pillar of strength to Germany in
Leutwein gives (page 300) the following list of campaigns in which Hendrik
Witbooi and his people rendered sterling services:-
1896, against Eastern Hereros and Khauas Hottentots.
1897, against Afrikaner Hottentots.
1898, against Swartbooi Hottentots.
1900, against Bastards of Grootfontein.
1903, against Bondelswartz.
1904, against Hereros.
In an appreciation written after the Chief's death in action, Leutwein says :-
His life was forfeit. And therefore the German bullet which killed him
was a release for him and for us. It brought to him the honourable death of
a soldier and it saved us from a serious dilemma. The little Chief had,
however, immortalized his name in the history of the South-West African
Protectorate. First his obstinate resistance of the 'mighty' power of 'the
German Empire, at the head of a small band of warlike but nevertheless tired
and impoverished people; then his loyal support of our cause for ten years;
and, eventually, the change and the rebellion-these have bound his name
inseparably with the history of the country. To me he is still the little Chief
who so loyally stood by my side for ten long years. .He was the last
national hero of a dying race.
The news of the deportation of his warriors to the Cameroons was more than
Witbooi could bear. He decided to rally his tribe and to die fighting.
He issued a manifesto to his brother Chiefs, and by the end of 1904, Simon
Kooper and the Chiefs of the Bethany, Veldschoendrager, Red People of Hoachanas,
and, in fact, all the Hottentots in Great Namaqualand, except those of Berseba and
the town of Keetmanshoop, had joined the veteran's forces. After some hesitation
even the peace-loving Johannes Christian of Warmbad (despite the peace of Kalk-
fontein in the previous January) took the field, urged on by the fearless Marengo and
at all events (says Leutwein) not without contributory guilt on our side."
Leutwein wrote to Witbooi asking him why he had rebelled. The Chief replied :-
The reasons go far back. As you have written in your letter,
I have for ten years observed your laws. I fear God the Father.
The souls of those, who during those ten years (those of all nations and of all
Chiefs) without guilt or cause and without actual war have fallen in peace
time and under agreements of peace press heavily on me. The account
which I have to render to God the Father in Heaven is great indeed. God
in Heaven has cancelled this agreement. Therefore do I depend on Him
and have recourse to Him that He may dry our tears and in His time liberate
And I pray you when you have read this letter sit down quietly and think
it over and reckon out and reckon out the number of souls who, from that day
from which you came into this land to this day-for ten years-have fallen.
. Reckon out also the months of those ten years and the weeks,
days, hours and minutes since those people have died. Furthermore
I beg of Your Honour do not call me a Rebel.
After a year of desperate fighting, Hendrik Witbooi (then over 80 years of age)
was killed in action near Tses. Von Trotha had offered a reward of 1,0001. for Witbooi,
alive or dead. To prevent his body falling into the hands of the enemy, his followers
held back the advancing Germans while his son and a few others hastily dug a grave
on the battlefield. His only requiem was the screeching of shells and the whistling
of German bullets. After burial every effort was made to remove all indications
of the presence of a grave, and then the broken-hearted band retired. Thus fell
Hendrik Witbooi, a victim of Germany's. ambition and a sacrifice to her blood-lust :
" A'born leader and ruler," says Leutwein, that Witbooi was; a man who probably
might have become world-famous had it not been his fate to be born to a small
After Witbooi's death the heroic and' chivalrous Jacob Marengo took his place
at the head of the rebels, and for nearly two years longer the struggle continued.
Eventually, through sheer exhaustion, the Hottentots began to give way. The
concentrated power of German arms proved too much for them, and tribe after
tribe surrendered (this was only after von Trotha had been recalled). Previously
they had asked for peace on terms, but his blood-lust had not yet been satiated
and the killing continued. Eventually the protraction of the campaign and the
enormous cost created an uproar in Germany. Von Trotha went home. Marengo
had fled into the Kalihari, and with him Simon Kooper and the survivors of his
Franzmann tribe. Those who were left agreed to the Peace of Ukamas, the terms
of which were identical with those settled at Kalkfontein South in January 1904.
By the end of 1907 the survivors of the Hottentot tribes, now reduced, like the
Hereros, to penury and starvation, all their stock having been taken in the course
of the campaign, were captives at the mercy of the conquering German. Early
in 1908 Jacob Marengo, who had refused to return to South-West Africa to the
certain death which awaited him, or to surrender to the British forces and by
them be sent back captive to his German masters, was shot by the Cape Police near
Rietfontein. The pity of it that even one British bullet should have aided in that
horrible outpouring of human blood.