Germany declares South West Africa a German protectorate

Monday, 13 October 1884

Deutsch-Südwestafrika (German South West Africa), established its capitol at Otjimbingwe in 1885, then at Windhuk in 1891.  It covered the core of what is today Namibia. Over the next hundred years, African peoples living in Southwest Africa, inland from the arid coastal strip of the Namibian desert, suffered some of the harshest experiences of modern colonial history - first at the hands of the Germany then from South Africa.

This German colonial occupation in 1884 was one of the first incidents in "Scramble for Africa," when the European colonial powers raced to divide the remainder of Africa for themselves.  By the end of the century nearly the entire continent was divided among France, Britain, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, and Italy.

The sparsely populated colony slowly attracted German settlers, 3,700 by 1903, and 13,000 by 1910. In 1903, the Nama (also referred to as Hottentots) rose in revolt, under their leader Hendrik Witbooi. In 1904 the Herero Revolt broke out. German military forces crushed it mercilessly, driving the Herero into the Kalahari Desert, where as many as 80 percent of them perished. Military operations continued until 1907. When World War I broke out, South African forces occupied German South West Africa in 1915.  Southwest Africa remained under South African control until 1990.

References:
• History World, "History of Namibia", [online], Available at  www.historyworld.net [Accessed: 8 October 2013]
• History World, History Of Sub-Saharan Africa, [online], Available at  www.historyworld.net [Accessed: 8 October 2013]

Last updated : 13-Oct-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011