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Namibia Old History

 

Nomadic people who have lived in the area that is Namibia for thousands of years have been joined by immigrant Bantu people from the 1300s. Europeans came in the 19th century. Most of the area was a German colony from 1884 to 1915. Rebellion against the hard-headed German government in 1904 led to a genocide of mainly herero. After the First World War, the country was managed by South Africa, which introduced apartheid (racial segregation). In 1966 the resistance movement took Swapo to arms and in 1990 the independent Namibia was proclaimed.

  • AbbreviationFinder.org: Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Namibia, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

Namibia has been inhabited by indigenous people (bushmen) since prehistoric times. They were wandering hunters, fishermen and collectors. The San people were eventually pushed out into the Kalahari desert by two hunter people, khoikhoi (in Namibia called nama) and damara, who settled in the central part of the high plateau.

Bantu people immigrated from the north and east from the 1300s. Herero, who were livestock nomads, settled in the northeastern and central parts of the area. Ovambo (ambo) in the north became settled peasants with livestock and formed small kingdoms on both sides of the Kunene River. The related kavango people settled further east.

The area is colonized

From the end of the 18th century, Europeans began to take an interest in the area. Traders and missionaries came traveling after hearing rumors of diamonds. The blacks were pushed away from the earth. In 1884, Germany proclaimed a German protectorate, and at the Berlin Conference in 1884-1885, Europe's great powers recognized the colony of German South West Africa. The Atlantic port of Walvis Bay on the west coast of the colony was linked to the British Cape Colony in the south. Through an agreement with the United Kingdom, Germany also gained control of the Caprivi Strip (later renamed, see Geography), a narrow land corridor that provided access to the Zambezi River far east.

Old History of Namibia

The Germans set up reserves for the black residents of less than a quarter of the colony's area and denied them access to important water resources. Herero, Nama and other peoples rebelled, which was severely defeated by the Germans.

After a decisive battle at Waterberg on August 11, 1904, the Germans defeated the Herero and persecuted them as they then tried to flee women and children through the Kalahari Desert to Botswana. The desert was "blocked off" by the Germans shooting everyone who tried to return home. Wells and water holes in the desert were poisoned or cemented again, and most of the refugees died of thirst and starvation.

In October 1904, what was called the first genocide of the 20th century began, when the German general Lothar von Trotha gave orders to exterminate all herero within the borders of the colony. Between 1904 and 1908, an estimated 60,000 herero and 10,000 nama were killed. Thus, three quarters of herero and half of the nama had been destroyed. Those who were not killed were sent to concentration camps.

After the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, South African troops occupied the area. In 1919, the League of Nations (the forerunner of the United Nations) gave South Africa the task of managing the country. South Africa was committed to ensuring the welfare and social development of its inhabitants, but instead began using natural resources and manpower. Land was distributed to white farmers and the right to extract valuable minerals was sold to foreign companies.

South African stewardship

The blacks were referred to live in special reserves. By 1922, the reserve had shrunk to a tenth of the country's area. They were overcrowded and extremely poor. Many blacks had no choice but to become contract workers in mines or on the whites' farms under harsh conditions.

After the Second World War 1939-1945, the United Nations Confederation was replaced by the United Nations (UN), which declared that South West Africa would be a trusteeship area under the United Nations. But South Africa refused to relinquish control. Instead, the same racial segregation laws as in South Africa were also introduced in Namibia. This meant, among other things, that blacks and whites were kept separated in public places such as restaurants, hospitals, trains, post offices, public toilets, etc.

In the 1950s, blacks began to gather for organized resistance. Several movements were founded, including Opo (Ovamboland People's Organization) and the hero- dominated Swanu (South West Africa National Union), which encouraged civil disobedience. Opo was converted in 1960 to the South West African People's Organization (Swapo), which in 1966 took up arms against South Africa's government.

The same year, the UN repealed the mandate of South Africa. In order to strengthen the area's claim of independence, it was given its own name: Namibia (after the Namib desert). In 1973, the UN recognized Swapo as the only legitimate representative of the Namibians. Swapo was also strengthened militarily after Angola's independence in 1975, when it became free for the movement to establish bases there.

Swapo leads the liberation struggle

South Africa was now trying to set up a friendly-minded government that could take over the regime. In 1975 the so-called Turnhalle Conference (of the German Turnhalle, which means gymnasium; the conference was held in Windhoek's sports hall) was initiated with the participation of twelve delegations - one for each people group. The white delegation dominated and Swapo was not allowed to participate. After three years, the conference presented a plan for an ethnically-based governance that was rejected by the UN and Swapo. The conference participants then formed the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA, see also Political system).

The Western powers put increased pressure on South Africa, which after many trips agreed on a plan for Namibia's transition to independence. In 1978, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 435, which included cessation of fire, South African retreat and free elections under UN auspices. But South Africa soon defied the resolution and organized a election that Swapo boycotted and that DTA won big.

From 1979, South Africa stepped up the military fight against Swapo with regular attacks into southern Angola. Towards the end of the 1980s, military efforts in Namibia and Angola began to postpone South Africa's economy. At the same time, the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union made the superpowers pressure the parties to reach a solution. In 1988 Angola and Cuba agreed to withdraw the Cuban troops participating in the fighting against South Africa, in exchange for South Africa leaving Namibia. Swapo agreed to a ceasefire.

Independence 1990

In November 1989, UN-supervised elections were held for an assembly to draw up a constitution for Namibia. DTA went to election on a conservative program and received support from blacks who were frightened by Swapo's Marxism and by the dominance of the Ovambo people within the party. Before the election, Swapo began to downplay his Marxist profile. Its leader Sam Nujoma promised, among other things, to abandon plans to introduce one-party systems.

Swapo won the election with 57 percent of the vote against 29 percent for DTA. Swapo did not receive two thirds of the mandate, which meant that the party was forced to cooperate with DTA in the drafting of the constitution. It was adopted in February 1990 and shortly thereafter Sam Nujoma was elected president. Nujoma swore the oath on March 21, 1990 - the same day that Namibia became independent.

 
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