Copyright of Photo: Dr. Klaus Dierks
HEROES DAY: 05.12.2004: THE REMEMBRANCE OF !NORESEB GAMAB=S (MANASSE) DEATH IN THE BATTLE AT GUBUOMS (AMINUIS) ON 01.12.1905 AGAINST THE GERMAN SCHUTZTRUPPE
SPEECH BY GUEST OF HONOUR: DR. KLAUS DIERKS ON 05.12.2004
As a German speaking Namibian I am very honoured and deeply touched to be invited to participate in todays 99th Heroes Day in Hoachanas (!Hoaxa!nâs). At this historical place I wish to pay my respect and tribute to one of the most outstanding Namibian freedom fighters, the great Kai||khaun or Red Nation Captain Manasse !Noreseb Gamab who died in action against the German colonial power - on horse back - on 01.12.1905 in the Battle of Gubuoms in present-day Aminuis. I also pay tribute to all those brave Namibian women and men and even children, who fought and suffered for the liberation and independence of Namibia.
This year we remember the greatest tragedy in the history of Namibia, the German - Namibian War of 1903 to 1913. We remember the genocide against the Ovaherero and the Nama and against other Namibian communities in the year 1904 and thereafter. In this year of remembrance - 2004 - everybody in the international world is talking about the genocide against the Ovaherero. But, other Namibian communities suffered as well and fought much longer against the German colonial authority, especially the Nama groups of Namibia and especially the Kai||khaun community of Hoachanas. Some of the Nama leaders, like Manasse !Noreseb Gamab, Hendrik Witbooi and Jakob Marengo fell in battle against the Germans while most of the Ovaherero leaders fled to neighbouring countries. Today we have overcome this tragic history and have entered aAPolicy of National Reconciliation@ which include all Namibian communities. If this reconciliation programme we are talking about, is not broadened to include all Namibian population groups who have suffered under and fought against the German colonial rule, then I see a big problem coming.
Therefore it is so important that we remember Captain Manasse !Noreseb Gamab and the Nama Community of the Red Nation of Hoachanas which represent a kingpin of Namibian History - a history of resistance wars against the various colonial powers which oppressed the Namibian people for so long.
The Namibian history did not begin when the first European adventurers, hunters traders and missionaries and later the settlers arrived in Namibia as uninvited guests. Namibian societies had been living, changing and developing in this part of Africa for many centuries before the first Europeans arrived. The history of the Namibian community of the Red Nation is a symbol for Namibia=s pre-colonial history and recounts the complex history of Namibia=s stuggle for nationhood.
Manasse !Noreseb was one of the most powerful African leaders in Namibia at the time the Germans began to colonise this country. His insight that the African conflicts between Namibian communities were secondary to a threat of an entirely new dimension of immense proportions, namely conquest and colonisation by Germany which could only be resolved by African unity, makes Manasse one of the major resistance fighters against colonial rule in Namibia. He fought the war against the Germans for more than year - side on side with leaders like Hendrik Witbooi, Jakob Marengo and Simon Koper.
What was the historical environment of the Hoachanas Community of the Kai||khaun? The Kai||khaun can be regarded as the oldest Nama speaking group in Namibia and represents somehow the original source of all Nama communities in Namibia. Their historical roots can be followed back until the year 1695. In the context of the Kai||khaun history - we can differ between four basic periods:
1. The Defensive Period before 1820 against foreign influences from outside Namibia
2. The Missionary Period around 1820 to 1860
3. The Active Period : From 1904 to 1913
4. The Actual Period from 1922 to 1990 against the South African colonial rule.
Before I come and pay tribute to the great Namibian Hero Manasse !Noreseb Gamab, allow me, to give some historical background on the history of the Red Nation.
In 1695, the Nama Captain of the Kaiºkhaun, the main group of all Nama groups in Namibia, #Hâb, was probably the first Chief of this community. He was involved in several conflicts with San and Dama groups. #Hâb unified the different Namibian Nama groups: The Bondelswarts (!Gami-#nun); the Topnaar (#Aonin); the Fransman Nama (!Khara-khoen); the Veldschoendrager (||Hawoben); the Groot Doden (||Ô-gain); the Swartboois (||Khau-|gõan) and the Kharo-!oan from present-day Keetmanshoop, whereby the Kai||khaun played a leading role. Later the ||Khau-|gõan and the Kharo-!oan were the first groups to separate from the Red Nation.
In 1710 the Nama Chief of the Kai||khaun, #Hâb, died. His successor was ||Khomab #Hâmab. In 1725 ||Khomab #Hâmab died and was succeeded by ||Khaub gaib||Khomab. During his reign, a split occurred between the Kai||khaun and the Swartboois after which they left Hoachanas and settled at |Anhes (Otjiherero: Otjomevamomutumba: Place of water between dunes) (the Rhenish Missionary Carl Hugo Hahn proposed on 13.05.1843 to name |AnhesARehoboth@).
In 1740 the Chief of the Kai||khaun, ||Khaub gaib||Khomab, died. His successor was #Ô-||nâibºKhaumab. He died in 1755, and his successor was |Hanab #Ô||nâimab. He was followed in 1770 by !Gaob |Hanamab.
In 1778/79 the South African Hendrik Jacob Wikar explored the areas around the Oranje River (formerly called the !Garib River). Wikar mentioned in his diaries the leader of the Red Nation, !Gaob |Hanamab. Under his rule the Nama controlled an area stretching from the upper Fish River to the Oranje. In 1800 !Gaob |Hanamab died at Hoachanas or at the Koaeib River (present-day Olifant=s River (#Khoa-aib River)). His successor was Gaméb !Gaomab who ruled until 1814. He was followed by Tsawúb Gamab. In 1820 James Kitchingman of the London Missionary Society, together with missionaries Shaw and Schmelen, visited Tsawúb Gamab. But in 1822 Schmelen left Bethany due to the dissatisfaction of the Bethany Nama with missionary work among the Red Nation (after he Aalmost begged them upon my knees that they should come to church but they would not@). This somehow represented the beginning of the Resistance Period against the European missionaries. In 1824 Tsawúb died and was followed by !Na-khom Gamab.
In the 1830s the powerful Nama leader Jonker Afrikaner established his sovereignty in the southern and central regions of the territory. An alliance between the Afrikaners and Kaiºkhaun was established. These two important Namibian communities represented some years later the Anti-European and Anti-Missionary alliance. This represented the first root against foreign dominance and colonialism in Namibia, and the Red Nation of Hoachanas played a leading role in this. But historical justice has also to report that in this time first conflicts between Namibian groups arose. Oral history has it that during the drought 1829/1830 some Ovaherero groups moved south where they came into conflict with some local Nama communities like the Red Nation in alliance with Jonker Afrikaner)(Goman torob: the Cattle War). These conflicts resulted in the establishment of some Ovaherero communities in the south which started to speak the Khoekhoegowab language (Nama/Dama), the so-called Ovaherero-Orlams.
In 1840, the leader of the Kai||khaun, !Na-khom Gamab, died. His successor was Chief ||Oaseb !Na-khomab, one of the greatest sons of the Red Nation. ||Oaseb and his Nama community settled in an area in the vicinity of their Orlam allies, Jonker Afrikaner, in the valley of the Skaap River (Kubakop River), Rehoboth (|Anhes) and Tsebris. The Orlam-Afrikaner - Red Nation alliance was cemented in 1841 when the Nama Captain of the Kai|khauan, Amraal Lambert, initiated a formal peace treaty between||Oaseb and Jonker Afrikaner. It is reported that on 14.04.1843 ||Oaseb visited for the first time Jonker Afrikaner=s Windhoek. In 1844 ||Oaseb attacked the Ovaherero leader Oove ua Muhoko Kahitjene without Jonker Afrikaner lifting a finger to help Kahitjene. Kahitjene=s defeat can be directly attributed to his attempts to win independent access to guns, horses and information with assistance of a European missionary, Carl Hugo Hahn. These events triggered off a development where the Ovaherero were supported by the European missionaries, especially Carl Hugo Hahn, the European traders and hunters while the Nama-Alliance between the Red Nation of Hoachanas and the Orlam Afrikaners of Windhoek represented the Anti-European Union by Namibians who tried to establish something like a rudimentary Namibian State. At the end the European missionary-Ovaherero alliance defeated the Nama and opened the way for the formal German colonialism in the 1880s. On 12.12.1846 Carl Hugo Hahn reported that the Orlam Afrikaners under Jonker Afrikaner and the Kai||khaun under Chief ||Oaseb were the centres of the resistance against the German missionaries. Only the Nama group of the Swartboois - under the influence of the German Rhenish Missionary Franz Heinrich Kleinschmidt - did not take part in the Anti-European Alliance of the Nama. In February 1850 the Nama group leader Tseib split from the Red Nation and later formed the group of the Kharo-!oan in Keetmanshoop.
However, in 1854||Oaseb attacked Jonker Afrikaner, who again had earlier attacked the Topnaar-Nama (#Aonin) who were under the protection of ||Oaseb. The arrival of European miners intensified further various conflicts between Jonker Afrikaner and other Namaland chiefs, such as ||Oaseb and Willem Swartbooi (!Huiseb #Haobemab) from Rehoboth. In 1856 ||Oaseb attacked with Hendrik Henricks of the Veldskoendragers, the Ovaherero leader Ua Tjirue Tjamuaha, without any success. On 09.01.1858 the peace agreement of Hoachanas was initiated by the Rhenish Missionary Vollmer, and Jonker and ||Oaseb formed again an alliance. ||Oaseb confirmed the terms of the original alliance of the 1820s. He recognised Jonker as equal to him in status and as the overlord of Hereroland. The Red Nation=s area stretched from the Kalahari to the Auas Mountains, with the Kuiseb River as border line. The treaty of the 12 clauses did not contain a clause for co-operation against exploitation by the traders which later was proved to be a grand omission. The important Hoachanas Treaty of 1858 was ratified by 13 Nama group leaders and Jan and Piet Kopervoet, sons of Ua Tjirue Tjamuaha. On 22.04.1858 the Hoachanas Treaty was followed by the signing a treaty outlawing mining concessions and land sales to colonists, except by common agreement. Unfortunately for Namibia this treaty was, under influence of the Rhenish missionaries, never strictly enforced.
At the end of the 1850s the new political constellation could be described as follows: The captains||Oaseb of the Kai||khaun, Amraal Lambert of the Kai³khauan, Piet Koper !Gamab of the Fransman Nama, Hendrik Henricks or !Nanib gaib #Arisemab of the Veldskoendragers and Jacobus Boois from Bethany supported Jonker Afrikaner, while Willem Swartbooi or !Huiseb #Haobemab from Rehoboth, the chiefs from Bethany and Berseba and later Kido Witbooi from Gibeon, assisted by Chief Tseib from Keetmanshoop, represented the anti-Jonker coalition. The Rhenish missionaries and European traders greatly added to these polarisations of different Namibian groups. The intent was to destroy Jonker=s and ||Oaseb=s nascent state structures in order to weaken any local political power that might resist the missionaries= objectives and later colonial annexation. Jonker=s slogan: AAfrica to Africans, but Namaland and Hereroland to us@ was a challenge which was not acceptable to the German missionaries. Increasingly the economic power slipped out of the hands of the territory=s leaders and their councils and passed into the hands of European traders and missionaries. A new form of European colonial domination was unofficially introduced by the missionary-trader alliance long before the official colonial annexation took place in 1884. This development paved the way for the overthrow of Jonker Afrikaner=s and his ally ||Oaseb=s sovereignty in the 1860s.
On 19.12.1867 Kido Witbooi, David Christian Frederiks and Paul Goliath concluded a peace treaty at Gibeon (AOrlam Peace of 1867@). The treaty was aimed against the Chief of the Red Nation from Hoachanas, #Goraxab |Oasmab (Barnabas), the successor to ||Oaseb. On 21.05.1871 Barnabas died. His successor was Gôbeb #Goraxab (Petrus).
And now we are coming to the records of the great Kai||khaun leader, Manasse !Noreseb Gamab. On the 12.12.1880 Wilhelm Maharero defeated Jan Jonker Afrikaner but was wounded in the battle of Otjikango. The three sons of Chief Kukuri of Otjosazu were killed. On the Nama side David Christian Frederiks of Bethany was killed and the Chief of Hoachanas, Petrus, was probably murdered during the battle. Oral evidence has it that his successor, Manasse, who ruled from 1881 until the 01.12.1905, gave the order to murder³Gôbeb. In the next years some rivalries took place between chiefs of the Red Nation. But in 1888, when the German colonial authority already had taken over the country, Manasse !Noreseb made peace with the rival chief, !Hoëb ||Oasmab (Fritz Lazarus ||Oaseb). But in March 1889, Fritz Lazarus ||Oaseb joined Hendrik Witbooi. Manasse !Noreseb of Hoachanas sought the protection of the Ovaherero Chief Maharero and settled at Seeis and returned to Hoachanas only in 1895, after the defeat of Hendrik Witbooi in the Naukluft campaign a year earlier. These Namibian inter-community fights, especially between Manasse !Noreseb Gamab and Hendrik Witbooi, weakened considerably the Namibian position against the Germans. Only 10 years later, after the colonial oppression and dispossession of Namibians became unbearable for most of the Namibian groups, Manasse !Noreseb joined Hendrik Witbooi in his struggle against colonialism.
In 1902 the Germans created aAnative reserve@ (50 000 ha) for the Red Nation at Hoachanas.
The Third Period - The Active Period - in Namibia=s history of struggle for freedom reached its first culmination point in the German-Namibian War of 1903 to 1913.The patterns of all social-political structures in Namibia were fundamentally altered by this war. The "Leutwein System" based on a combination of diplomacy and military force broke down. Leutwein was unseated in 1904 and General Lothar von Trotha was called in. The genocide against the Nama and Ovaherero communities and the extreme sufferingthis war has caused can be demonstrated by the fact that from ±20,000 Nama in 1901only 9,810 survived in 1911.Thus more than 50% of the Nama died - Victims to Germany=s colonial rule. Many Namibians, all-in-all more than 50%, had died in the German concentration camps, among them members of the Red Nation of Hoachanas.
In October 1903 the German Namibian War was triggered of by the Bondelswarts of Warmbad. In January 1904 the Ovaherero took up the arms against the German colonial rule. On 27.01.1904 Leutwein made peace with the Bondelswarts in the Peace of Kalkfontein in order to avoid a war on two fronts. The Bondelswarts had to hand over all their arms. From Warmbad the German commander Von Heydebreck moved north in order to join the war against the Ovaherero. On the way back he disarmed the Kai||khaun under Manasse !Noreseb from Hoachanas who showed interest in joining the Ovaherero in their resistance war against the Germans. The German colonial forces established a strong military station at Hoachanas. After the outbreak of the Nama-German War in October 1904 the Kai||khaun joined Hendrik Witbooi. The Bondelswarts under Jakob Marengo and Johannes Christian (300-400 armed men), the Veldskoendragers under Jan Hendrik (150-200 armed men), the Fransman Nama under Simon Koper (600-700 armed men), the Bethany Nama under Cornelius Frederiks (300-400 armed men) and the Red Nation under Manasse !Noreseb from Hoachanas (90-100 armed men) united behind Hendrik Witbooi in their resistance struggle against the Germans.
As was said before, in October 1904 Manasse !Noreseb Gamab followed Samuel Maharero=s call: LET US DIE FIGHTING. Manasse was always committed to Namibian self-determination and human peace: He was further influenced by Jakob Marengo who from Namibia=s fortified settlement ||Khauxa!nas in the Great Karas mountains launched the first attack against the Germans in Namaland in August 1904. In October 1904 the whole of Namaland, except some sections of the Bethany, Berseba and Keetmanshoop areas, was at war with Germany. At the height of the war 2,000 poorly equipped 2, 000 Namibian freedom fighters fought against approximately 15,000 German soldiers, equipped with the most advanced weaponry of this time. There were more than 200 different encounters in that war in Namibia=s south.
I am aware that many people are still disputing these facts and have still not come to terms with the bitter facts of Namibia's colonial history. But they should study a German colonial source: Deimling: AUS DER ALTEN IN DIE NEUE ZEIT: 1930: P.111 & 116. We must come to terms with history, and without the knowledge of the Namibian history there can be no National Reconciliation.
On 01.12.1905 Manasse !Noreseb Gamab of the Red Nation of Hoachanas died in action against the German Schutztruppe in the Battle of Gubuoms in present-day Aminuis.
After the defeat of the Red Nation and after the death of their Captain Manasse !Noreseb Gamab on 01.12.1905, the traditional ethnic Red Nation structures were disbanded and all communal land confiscated by the German administration as punishment for the so-calledARebellion by the Red Nation of Hoachanas@. On 08.08.1906 a German law was enacted providing for the expropriation of the land and cattle of so-called Adissident tribes@ (Ovaherero, Swartbooi, Topnaar, Witbooi Nama, Red Nation of Hoachanas, Bethany Nama, Fransman Nama, Veldschoendragers and Bondelswarts). This means that south of the Red Line only the Rehoboth Baster and the Berseba (|Hai-|khauan) community kept their land, while the Dama - whom the Germans consider as having no land rights - were given some land as a grant, but not as their property. This ordinance of August 1906 was further enacted on 08.05.1907.
Hoachanas ceased to exist as an important Nama community centre. But, the story of the Red Nation of Hoachanas didn=t end here. This was not the end of the German Namibian War and colonial oppression in Namibia. Jakob Marengo, Johannes Christian and Abraham Morris of Warmbad; Cornelius Frederiks of Bethany and Simon Koper of Gochas continued the struggle. In actual fact the struggle continued until 1990, and the Red Nation of Hoachanas was always involved. At the end of the German era in 1915, the Hoachanas community was completely impoverished and dispossessed of all their land, cattle, sheep and goat.
The Kai||khaun from Hoachanas obtained a new leader only in 1922, !Hoëb ||Oasmab (Fritz Lazarus ||Oaseb) who died on 18.07.1936. His successor was Noach Tsai-Tsaib who ruled the Kai||khaun traditional authority until 1948. He was followed by Matheus Kooper until 1986. On 03.12.1988 the new Kai||khaun Captain from Hoachanas, Petrus Simon Moses Kooper, was sworn in. He is still the leader of the Hoachanas community.
In the 1930s and 1940s Hoachanas served as place of refuge for leaders from other Nama groups who were sent into exile by the South African administration. One example is the *Hai-*khauan Captain Diederik Ruben Goliath from Berseba. In August 1938 the SWA Administration conducted three investigations against Diederik Ruben Goliath, due to his opposition to the South African native reserve policy. Chief Goliath was ordered out of the Berseba reserve and sent into exile at Hoachanas. On 12.11.1947 Captain Goliath of Berseba died in Hoachanas, after having spent roughly nine years there in exile. His corpse was brought back to Berseba on 02.06.1995, after the Independence of the Republic of Namibia.
After the Second World War, one of the leaders of the Hoachanas community, Reverend Markus Kooper, was, together with Hosea Kutako and Samuel Hendrik Witbooi, one of the first Namibian leaders to petition the United Nations to grant independence to Namibia. In 1959 the Reverend Markus Kooper rejected South African Apartheid plans to evict the Red Nation from Hoachanas and to resettle them at Aminuis and Tses. Consequently the South African Administration forced him to move to Itsawisis in the Tses Reserve. The Hoachanas people even threw stones when deeply flying South African war planes threatened the people in order to force them to leave their homes in Hoachanas. Under the leadership of Markus Kooper the Red Nation of Hoachanas successfully resisted the South African Apartheid ideology to evict the people from Hoachanas and to resettle them somewhere in Namaland.
Only with the date of Independence the wheel of Namibia=s 200 years of resistance history has taken a full circle. The legacy of Manasse !Noreseb Gamab for a free, united and peaceful Namibia was continued by the successor captains of the Red Nation of Hoachanas with SWAPO's victory in 1989. The community of the Red Nation of Hoachanas which has been dispersed and impoverished firstly by the Germans and later by the South Africans has to be restored to their former glory. This remembrance day of the death of Manasse !Noreseb Gamab 99 years ago should serve as a stepping stone to achieve this goal. Namibia should take note of the Red Nation=s contribution to the independence of the country. I can only bow in honour of the heroes of the Kai||khaun and I salute the people of Hoachanas.