Namibia News and Links ( South-West Africa News )

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The New York Times, July 11, 1915, p.6:

SOUTHWEST AFRICA HAS GREAT PROMISE.

British See Great Possibilities in
Immense Territory Now Wrested From Germany.
MINERAL SOURCES RICH
May Become One of the Finest Ranch Countries in the World--
Agricultural Outlook Good.

    Much speculation has been indulged in as to the value as a possession of the immense territory of German Southwest Africa, wrested by the Union of South Africa forces from the Germans, who had occupied it since May, 1883. Six times the size of England, being about 322,450 square miles in area, and including Ovamboland, Damaraland, and Great Namaqualand, and sparsely populated, it has been described as a wilderness, with a fertile tract only here and there.
    A South African authority described recently in the Cape Times its dominant physical features as follows:

    A slowly rising, sandy coast belt; a high interior plateau, broken by isolated mountain ranges and stony kopjes, and a gently falling eastern strip of sandy country which merges in the level expanse of the Kalahari Desert. The average height of the uplands is about 5,000 feet. The climate on the whole is healthful and eminently suited for Europeans, though malarial fever is prevalent in the sub-tropical north. Before the war it supported a white population of 14,830 people, with some 250,000 natives...

    The mineral wealth has been the most considerable source of prosperity since 1908, and it is certain to be an important factor in the future development of the country. The diamond fields form a rich treasure house, and immense quantities of the precious "stones of fire" still lie in the sands of the Namib. The fields extend from Conception Bay (100 miles south of Swakopmund) to Angras Juntas, a distance of about 260 miles, but they are intersected in many places by hills and ridges and tracts of worthless sand. The various producing companies, the great majority of which are German, hold a fifty years' lease from the German Colonial Company, and together before the war broke out they employed about 5,000 natives and colored men. From 1908 to the end of 1913 gems to the value of $35,522,000 had been recovered.

    How long will these fields last? The experts differ, as, owing to the vast extent of the country over which the diamondiferous gravel is scattered and the varying depths of the deposits, it is extremely difficult to estimate the life of the fields. The period has been variously put at eight, fifteen, and twenty years. New deposits may be discovered, although extensive prospecting operations have not resulted in any finds for some time. Volcanic "pipes" containing the well-known Kimberlite have been found in the Gibeon, Bethany, and Keetmanshoop districts, but careful tests have shown them to be barren of diamonds.


    Dr. Versfeld, who has given some attention to the geological problems of Southwest Africa, ventures to affirm the discovery of diamond-bearing pipes "considerably nearer to the Luderitzbucht deposits than those at present known seems well within the bounds of probability." Dr. Wagner, the well-known South African mining authority, states in his Diamond Mines of Southern Africa that the "primary deposit, or primary deposits, lie buried beneath the sea somewhere off Pomona." At the same time he says that "a long and prosperous career may confidently be predicted for the industry" in Southwest Africa.

    Next to the diamond fields the copper mines rank in importance. The value of the copper exported in 1913 was $1,982,180. In the opinion of experts, there is no doubt that the country will supply copper and copper ores in increasing quantities for many years to come.
    Prospecting work has been done in connection with gold, tin, iron, lead, sulphur, &c., but the results have been somewhat disappointing, although immense deposits of iron and tin ores are known to exist. A seam of coal has been found, and the Germans had begun to exploit immense layers of white and colored marble of excellent quality.

Pasture Land of Great Value.

    The second source of wealth in the territory is the pasture land. Dr. William Macdonald, the South African agricultural expert, who visited the colony a couple of years ago, described it as a land of enormous agricultural possibilities, destined to become one of the finest ranch countries in the world.
    Dr. Rohrbach, the German Imperial Emigration Commissioner and a well-known writer on economics, wrote about it as follows:

    From the Orange River in the south to the Kunene in the north, and from the Namib in the west to the Kalahari in the east, its vegetation and conformation are those of a sub-tropical steppe and grazing country, which is marked out by Nature herself for cattle raising.

    Dr. Rohrbach estimated the grazing land to be equal in area to that of the German Empire in Europe and capable of carrying 3,000,000 head of cattle and 2,000,000 sheep and goats, and believed that the land would be able to maintain a population of several hundred thousand European settlers.

    However this may be, the big land companies there have made little or no effort to attract settlers. Only 1,330 farms were in private hands in 1913, and 193 of these were lying idle. When the war broke out a census showed that the country carried 205,643 head of cattle, 543,447 sheep, 516,904 goats, 15,916 horses, and 13,618 mules and donkeys. It is prophesied that a big future lies before the country as an exporter of meat, hides, wool, and karakul fur. It is pointed out that as Walvis Bay is comparatively near to Europe, with a direct steamship service to British ports, a lucrative industry can be established in frozen cattle and sheep.

Its Agricultural Possibilities.

    As to the agricultural lands, the 1,330 farms mentioned above comprise an area of 33,484,015 acres. but of this huge area only 13,000 are actually under cultivation. This is ascribed to the sandy nature of the soil and the dryness of the climate. Four-tenths of the cultivated land is in the well-watered Grootfontein district, while another three-tenths is in the Windhuk district.
    Mealies, potatoes, lucerne, melons, vegetables, grapes, and tobacco are the principle articles grown. Much might be done by improved methods of farming and by means of irrigation, since the land is quite fertile.
    The Germans had planned a great scheme of irrigation. The Landserat, as a beginning, made provision in the Supplementary Estimates for 1913-14 for extensive schemes in connection with the Fish River. Huge resevoirs were to have been constructed, with an indefinite number of minor works such as dams and weirs, and great benefits were expected from these measures. Until such schemes are carried out agriculture will continue to play a very subordinate part in Southwest African industry.

    Development of the territory heretofore has been hampered by a dearth of capital and official restrictions, for the Government policy of settling the land has been characterized by a vigorous application of the principle of Germanization. British occupation of the country surely will lead to far more rapid development with an influx of capital, especially for exploiting its mining possibilities.

When the First Europeans Landed.

    It is interesting to recall in connection with the conquest of this immense territory that it was on the shores of the Bay of Bartholomew that in 1846 the Portuguese explorer Diaz effected the first recorded European landing on African soil south of the Equator. He set up a marble cross on a prominent spur on the south side of the bay, which in consequence bears the name Pedestal Point, though the cross has long since been removed. But it appears to have stood undisturbed for three centuries. In 1825 it was still there, but broken. Apparently it was still seen from the sea in 1844, for Morell, writing in that year, describes Pedestal Point as "a high bluff point rendered conspicuous by a marble cross erected on the summit in 1486 by Bartholomew Diaz." Pieces are now at Lisbon, and a fragment in the South African Museum; the rest has disappeared.

    Diaz named the bay Angra dos Ilheos--the bay of the islets--with reference to the chain of islands which make it almost land-locked. This name soon gave place to Angra Pequena--the little bay--by which it was generally known until the German occupation. Since that time the bay has been officially called Luderitzbucht, in honor of the merchant Luderitz, to whom its occupation was immediately due. It is extremely likely that under the British regime its former name of Angra Pequena will be restored.

Note: It is still called Lüderitz Bay.

The Los Angeles Times, July 4, 1920, p.IX6:

German Southwest Africa--A Brief Sketch.

by Arthur N. Scott...

    German Southwest Africa, on its southern and northeastern sides, is just a wretched desert, waterless and seared by an upitying heat, nicknamed by the British troops as a land of "sand, sorrow, sore eyes and sun."
    There is a wonderful diamond field about thirteen miles from the coast town of Luderrichbucht, known as "Pomora Diamond Fields." Access to this region was secured by building a single track railroad, the original line having been destroyed by the Germans when the British forces were known to be headed for the district. This line was laid across the desert for a distance of 140 kilometers. As the work progressed communication was established on the block house system. The men who were assigned to this part of the line were considered lucky. As it was near the diamond fields, they did little else but sift the sands for diamonds which were found in great numbers.

Sand Runs Like Water and Forms Great Dunes.

    This region furnishes a truly marvelous sight. The action of the wind is curious. When it blows the sand commences to run along just like small streams of water, forming the most wonderful mounds and hills that can be imagined. Sometimes these sandstorms will form a series of hills up to one hundred feet in a single night, the sand actually running up hill.
    We had two thousand big brawny Oosa boys from South Africa, who did nothing else but shovel the sand to keep the railroad clear. It was a glorious golden color, and when the sun shone it was indeed a unique sight...

    At a place called Tchakaib we were held up three solid months. As far as the eye could see in every direction was nothing but sand. The heat was intolerable. Christmas Day, 1914, the sun registered 133 deg. Every day at about 11 o'clock in the morning the wind commenced to blow at a terrific rate...

    All our water (brackish) came from the sea, 100 miles away. A big tank holding 800 gallons was let into the sand, which was filled daily for us to have our only wash. There were roughly 7000 men all told on this particular column and the parade started about 3 a.m., every one of us (officers included) having to go through this bath. It was medicated water but--if it happened to be our turn first, it wasn't so bad, but when we were last--whew!...

    Our forces were at a later date ordered to a more northerly portion of the territory. Here there was no sand, for which we were very gratful, and we passed through some wonderful scenery, especially around Otavifontein where the Huns surrendered to us. We walked from a place called Usakos to Atavifontein, 265 miles, in thirteen and one-half days... The last forty-six miles were marched in thirty-two and a half hours on a piece of half-raw meat and a bottle of water...

[The remainder of this large article was almost entirely about German East Africa--although the LA Times did not bother to mention this to their readers...]
see also: Angola News - Zambia - South Africa - Zimbabwe

All of Namibia is
one time zone at GMT+1,
with DST from 1st Sep Sun to 1st Apr Sun.

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    South Africa occupied the German colony of South-West Africa during World War I and administered it as a mandate until after World War II, when it annexed the territory.

    In 1966 the Marxist South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) guerrilla group launched a war of independence for the area that was soon named Namibia, but it was not until 1988 that South Africa agreed to end its administration in accordance with a UN peace plan for the entire region.

    Namibia has been governed by SWAPO since the country won independence in 1990. Hifikepunye POHAMBA was elected president in November 2004 in a landslide victory replacing Sam NUJOMA who led the country during its first 14 years of self rule.
    CIA World Factbook: Namibia


Area of Namibia: 825,418 sq km
slightly more than half the size of Alaska

Population of Namibia: 2,055,080
July 2007 estimate

Languages of Namibia:
English 7% official
Afrikaans majority, incl. 60% of whites
German 32%
Oshivambo, Herero, Nama indigenous

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  Namibia Reference Articles and Links

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