Today I’d like to share with you the little that I gathered of Namibia’s history at the Independence Memorial Museum in Windhoek, Namibia. It’s a sobering piece.
The Independence Memorial Museum, Windhoek, Namibia
The Republic of Namibia is a beautiful country in the South-West of the continent of Africa. The world’s oldest desert, the Namib Desert, is found here and the country is also home to a number of ethnic groups, namely, the Ovambo, the Herero, the Himba, the Damara and the Nama groups.
These are a few pics I took at the museum that show what life was like a while ago in Namibia.
Fun fact: Despite the large number of ethnic groups, Namibia has the second-lowest population density of any sovereign country, after Mongolia. (Wikipedia)
As a German Colony in 1884
Namibia was first colonised by Germany in in 1884 under Otto von Bismarck and the country was known then as German South-West Africa.
At the beginning of the 20th century the Herero and the Nama people took up arms against colonial rule forming what is known as the Early Resistance against colonialism. The Germans brutally fought back and killed tens of thousands of the Herero and Nama people in an attempt to wipe them out. This genocide was formally apologised for by Germany in 2004 for the first time (German minister says sorry for genocide in Namibia), though the tribes still insist, rightly so, that an apology is not enough.
As a South African Colony in 1919
When Germany lost the First World War its colonies were shared out among Britain, France, Belgium and the Union of South Africa; Namibia (then South-West Africa) fell under the administration of the Union of South Africa in 1919. The Union of South Africa was a British dominion at that time.
South Africa was equally, if not more, brutal in its administration of Namibia. It established the apartheid regime, a system of institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination.
Armed resistance begins in 1966
A liberation movement called the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) was at the forefront of fighting against this brutal colonial rule. It’s military wing was called the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) and a key event in 1966 would start the first armed battle in Namibia’s struggle for independence. It was the attack by South Africa of the PLAN training camp called the Omugulugwombashe camp in August 1966.
The armed resistance against South African rule would last till 1988 when South Africa finally agreed to end its occupation of Namibia. The period of armed struggle was long and hard for Namibia.
The Cassinga Massacre of 1978
One of the most memorable events of the armed struggle period was the Cassinga Massacre of 1978. Cassinga was a town in Angola which had been given to SWAPO by Angola to house refugees fleeing Namibia, most of whom were women and children. It was not a military base of SWAPO’s military wing. But on 4 May 1978, the South African army launched an attack on the unsuspecting settlement of Cassinga and thousands of Namibian civilians died.
Independence in 1990
The struggle for independence continued until South Africa agreed in 1988 to end its apartheid administration. After democratic elections were held in 1989, Namibia became an independent state on March 21, 1990. Sam Nujoma was elected first President of Namibia. Since independence Namibia has had two more peaceful elections and, whilst bedevilled with the ills of post-colonialism, the country is on the road to recovery. I wish it all the best.
President Sam Nujoma