The Scramble To Colonize Africa.
The Industrial revolution in Europe
had brought about momentous changes to the manufacturing industries.
With advanced production levels the quest for raw materials and export
began, and the African continent lay waiting. The Portuguese had
occupied Angola and Mozambique since the late fifteenth century and the
French had later laid claim to major areas of Central and West Africa.
Even tiny Belgium had raised its' flag in the Congo. The British had
also been busy since their success over France at the Battle of the Nile
in 1798 and had explored South through the Sudan. From their Southern
most colony at the Cape they were also making a steady and relentless
Eduard Luderitz (1834 - 1836) Pioneer And Man Of Determination
Born in Bremen, the son a successful tobacco merchant he
grew into a restless young man who sort adventure overseas. He travelled extensively through North America and
noted with interest the development that the settlers had brought
there, and also noted the way in which other European countries were
expanding their interests, and especially those involved in the 'Scramble For
Africa'. He soon developed a conviction that Germany should join the chase.
In 1882 Lüderitz and his partner Heinrich Vogelsand studied the maps and
saw that a few areas of the west coastline were not yet claimed by the
other European powers. They noted with interest an area of 'unclaimed'
land on the South Western coast of Africa and that a bay called
Pequena could possibly make a suitable location for a port facility.
Capt. David C Von Bethanien
Capt Joseph Fredericks
The Purchase of Angra Pequena From The
Adolf Lüderitz petitioned the German
Government to provide protection for the proposed settlement, but
although interest was shown support for his idea was not yet
forthcoming. Vogelsand sailed on the ‘Tilly” for
Angra Pequena and
landed on the 10th of April 1883. His studies of the area had drawn his
attention to the Diaz Cross, but on arrival there was not a trace to be
found, so they erected a wooden cross on a high craggy rock on the
point. Vogelsand was equally as capable and
ambitious as Lüderitz and he was quick to arrange meetings with various
Nama chiefs with the purpose of trade and the purchase of land needed
for the venture. He initially bought an area of coastal land having a
radius of eight kilometres, and which included the much-needed Bay of
Angra Pequena from the Nama Captain David Christian Von Bethanien
for a price of 100 British Pound Sterling in Gold and 200 Wesley Richard
There had been a British
commercial interest at Angra Pequena for some years and the managers of
the company of De-Pass, Spence and Co. must have watched with interest
the rapid expansion of the new German company and it's trading with the
eager Namas, but it is doubtful that they ever considered that the land on which
they operated would be for sale and that the German newcomers would pus the
The ambitious Vogelsang
further negotiated with Captain Joseph Frederiks von Bethanien the
purchase of an area of land, and it was here that he duped Frederiks by
exploiting the fact that Frederiks was used to working with the British Mile
which was equal to 1,608km, whereas Vogelsand made reference to the German
Geographical Mile which was equal to 7,149km. The area of land thus, was vast
and was inclusive of the coastline from a point 80km
North of Angra Peqeuna to the mouth of the Orange River some 320km South
and stretching inland for a distance of 32km. The price was 500 British
Pounds Sterling in Gold and a further 60 Wesley Richards rifles. A
remarkable piece of real estate which became known as "Lüderitz-Land".
Adolf Lüderitz continued to lobby his government for the protection that might
be needed for his acquisitions, and it was on the 24th April 1884 that
Chancellor Bismarck telegraphed Count Munster, the German Consul in Cape
Town instructing him to advise the British Cape Government that Lüderitz-Land would enjoy the protection of the German Empire. Following
negotiations with the British the Germans quickly dispatched two naval
corvettes, the Elizabeth and the Leipzig to
Angra Pequena. On board
were Schutztruppe and Marines with the mission to protect all of
7 August 1884 - The German Protectorate
At 08h00 on the 7th of August 1884 on a freshly made parade ground just
north of Nautilus Hill the Imperial German flag was raised and beacons depicting the German Eagle
and the words, “Territory Lüderitz. North from the Orange River to
Latitude 26. Under the Protection of the German Reich 7 August 1884”
were erected at intervals along the border of 'Luderitz-Land'. The
Germans steadily increased their interest and by 1886 had the
Territory that had been referred to as South West Africa under their
control. A further row of beacons was placed along the border with
British Bechuanaland (Botswana).
Kaiser Wilhelm II
Count Otto Von Bismarck
Nautilus Hill Parade 1884
The Alternative to Walvis Bay
some 450km north, the British had annexed the natural harbour of
Bay along with a parcel of land that stretched north to the Swakop River. The harbour was central
and a successful trading area had been established, but it was not under
The German colony had to find a suitable
alternative, so an expeditionary force under the command of Captain Kurt
von Francois landed at
Sandwich Harbour with camels and was sent to explore
north of Walvis Bay. Their findings submitted a favourable report
suggesting that an area near to the mouth of the Swakop River would be
the most suitable for establishing a port to be named Swakopmund.
Luderitz was marginalized and very
little growth was experienced in the early years.
The Herero / Nama Uprising of
1904 - 1907 and Lüderitz
1904 was followed by the 1905 uprising of the Namas under the leadership
of Hendrik Witbooi.
Luderitz gain became a harbour of importance as
troops and supplies poured in to fight the war in the south.
building of a rail line from Lüderitz to
Keetmanshoop became a
priority to move the goods. Much of the labor was imported from South
Africa, but it was at this time that
was chosen as one of the
places for holding native prisoners who were camped on Shark Island and
the prisoners were used as forced labor for the construction sites.
The conditions in the concentration camps were a
death warrant for the majority. Many were shipped south to work as slave
labour on the Luderitz -
Keetmanshoop railway line. The deaths of the Herero camp inmates is
not recorded, but of the 1,800 Hottentot (Nama) prisoners
transferred to the Shark Island Lüderitz
camp only 245 survived
Acknowledgements and further reading: H5, H8, H13, H15, P2
Of Interest: The German missionary Hermann Heinrich Kreft
found diamonds near Luderitz in 1855.
He threw them away. When asked
why, he answered, "What should I do with diamonds? They only bring
tragedy to a country."