Namibia's Past

Namibia’s Past – Chronology

Here you will find information about crucial events of Namibia’s past. Wherever possible, we included links to sources.

Anyone who has ever witnessed a car accident will know: Afterwards, there are always several accounts of what happened and why.

This applies even more to historical events, as the witnesses are no longer alive. If their accounts have been passed down orally, they have changed a little with each person who has retold them. If they were recorded in writing, for example as a letter, diary entry, journalistic or official report, they may have been lost. Even if they have been preserved, their details must be checked and interpreted against the background of what is already known about the event and what is considered factual.

To do this, you not only need to be well versed in the history in question, but also know how to check information from sources and put it in context. Historians acquire this knowledge and qualification during their studies.

However, even historians come to different conclusions, because they approach the topics on the basis of different assumptions and perspectives. We have to come to terms with the fact that there is no one true representation or reconstruction of historical events. Instead, the diversity of assumptions, information and perspectives as a whole helps us to come closer to what might really have happened in the past.

Historians have a very difficult time with Namibian history. Many testimonies and reports have been lost and many things have not even been recorded, such as the consultations of leaders like Hendrik Witbooi or Samuel Maharero with their headmen.

For all articles in this section ‘Namibia’s Past’, we rely on the work of historians and endeavour to present events and contexts in as balanced a way as possible.

This chronology is a work in progress. You are welcome to suggest corrections or additions. Please include sources (accounts of historians, with page numbers) – preferably by providing a link. We will need some time to review your proposal. If it does not meet our criteria or guidelines, it will not be published.

1908 January 27 – Concentration camps officially dissolved

1908 January 27 – Concentration camps officially dissolved

• Concentration camps officially dissolved – Taking stock of the victims • In 1908, the German colonial administration dissolved the concentration camps that had been erected by order of Berlin on 12 December 1904. The official date on...

1904 December 09 – Order to erect concentration camps

1904 December 09 – Order to erect concentration camps

• Concentration camps erected • On 9 December 1904, Reich Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow gave the commander-in-chief of the Schutztruppe, Lothar von Trotha, the order to establish concentration camps in German South West Africa. The...

1904 August 11 – Battle of Ohamakari / Waterberg

1904 August 11 – Battle of Ohamakari / Waterberg

• Battle of Ohamakari / Waterberg • In the course of June and July 1904, the main army of OvaHerero under the command of Chief Samuel Maharero assembled at the Waterberg – with women, children and the elderly, as well as cattle and goats....

1896 December – Rinderpest reached German South West Africa

1896 December – Rinderpest reached German South West Africa

• Rinderpest reached German South West Africa • In the 1890s, rinderpest spread in Africa (see also the well-researched article "Rinderpest" on Wikipedia; checked in January 2024). It reached the territory of German South West Africa at...