Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “Namibia”

Across northern Namibia

This post is part of a photoblog of a holiday trip we took to Botswana and Namibia in May 2013. You can see a list of all the posts here, and this one is continued from Ovamboland, Namibia 17-20 May 2013, with flashbacks to the 1970s | Khanya.

Old road from Odibo to Oshikango

Old road from Odibo to Oshikango

We left Odibo at about 8:30 am on Monday 20 May, and took the old road to Oshikango, which was less car-shaking than the new one we had used before, and gave better views of the countryside, with more rural scenery. But it also went into a part of Oshikango with a market of corrugated iron shacks, new and shiny and galvanised, but ugly as sin. It looked even worse than Albania.

Oshikango - now a bustling commercial centre and  entrepôt

Oshikango – now a bustling commercial centre

Oshikango was much bigger than I remembered it, in fact I hardly remembered it at all, having passed through it only once in daylight, and then as quickly and unobtrusively as possible, to avoid being seen by the police, since I had no permit to be there. It seemed to be a brash frontier town, with big 26-wheelers queuing up to cross the border into Angola, and even that early people rushing around everywhere. Lots of shops had trilingual signs, in English, Portuguese and Kwanyama.

A busy entrepôt, but is it worth the price of autarky?

A busy entrepôt, but is it worth the price of autarky?

In some ways all this economic activity is a sign of prosperity and progress, but it is also a mixed blessing, and I can’t help thinking that the loss of the old autarky is the loss of something that was valuable. The locally-grown food was nutritious, and 40 years ago Ovamboland was one of the few rural areas in southern Africa where there was no malnutition. People went outside Ovamboland to work for cash to buy luxury items like radios and sewing machines to take back home. There was no need at all to import food. The local diet may have been boring but it was nutritious. In 1969 a deacon, Petrus Nandi, 90 years old, came to Windhoek for a synod, and he spoke of two things that struck him about his first visit to the city: magazine articles and pictures showing the first moon landing, and the first time he had tasted ice cream in his long life.

Now people buy food in Ovamboland, and there are supermarkets of the big chains like Shoprite there. What they buy is not local, but all imported from elsewhere. So there was the old boring but nutitious diet, and the new advantage of being able to buy junk food. And most of the economic activity seems to be service industries. Most of it doesn’t seem to be stuff that anyone makes, but buying and selling stuff that other people make. There were also signs of the growing Chinese influence and trade in Africa.

Growing Chinese trade in Africa

Growing Chinese trade in Africa: they sell their stuff in Ovamboland, but what do they buy there?

We saw only one petrol station, which seemed surprising for such a busy place, and went there to fill up for the trip to Rundu. Either their card machine was not working, or we had a problem with our cards, and we had to scrape together what cash we had between us to pay for the petrol, and left, somewhat relieved to do so. The place was just too frenetic and not conducive to a relaxing holiday.

The endless highway, crossing northern Namibia from west to east

The endless highway, crossing northern Namibia from west to east

We drove about 14 kilometres on the road to Ondangwa, which was becoming quite familiar now, and then turned off to Eenhana and Rundu, along a fairly new tarred road (on our map it was still marked as a gravel road). After a while we left the urban sprawl behind, and passed a few traditional Ovambo homesteads, though many of them had one or two square houses in them, and some had the fences made partly or wholly of wire and old corrugated iron.

Ovamboland rural homestead

Ovamboland rural homestead

At Eenhana there were two large shopping malls, both looking brand new, and not much else. Perhaps the cash economy came here more recently, or perhaps it is because Eenhana is the capital of the Ohangwena Region, and they are expecting an influx of civil servants. Looking at the map, the Ohangwena Region seems to cover the part of Ukwanyama that lies in Namibia (as opposed to Angola), and is probably where most of the Anglicans in Namibia live.

Ovambo fences

Ovambo fences

We stopped to draw money from an ATM, so Val’s card still worked at least, to buy cold drinks for the journey, and went on eastwards, travelling quite slowly. Though the road was dead straight, without the gentle curves of the Trans-Kalahari Highway, it was still interesting, with gradual changes in vegetation, and passing through occasional villages, most of which had several of the shiny galvanised iron buildings, which must be horribly hot in summer.

Modern Ovambo village

Modern Ovambo village

As we travelled the day got cooler and rather overcast. We passed Okongo, the last Ovambo village marked on the map, and thereafter there was much less traffic, though we still saw cattle along the way, showing that the country was not entirely uninhabited. It was probably the western end of the Kavango region.

Ovambo cattle

Ovambo cattle

We stopped a couple of times to take photos of the different kinds of vegetation, and the sitplekkies at the side of the road, which, unlike South African ones, were invariably immaculately clean.

Roadside sitplekkie in northern Namibia - much cleaner than their South African (or Botswana) counterparts

Roadside sitplekkie in northern Namibia – much cleaner than their South African (or Botswana) counterparts

At one point we came to a confusing crossroads, with a sign showing Nkurenkuru to the left, and Tsumeb to the right, and we didn’t want to go to either place, as Nkurenkuru was shown on the map as way off to the north of the road. We nevertheless took that road, and eventually concluded that when it had been tarred, the whole road had been moved further to the north.

Roadside vegetation in northern Namibia. The variety is endless

Roadside vegetation in northern Namibia. The variety is endless

After that, about 140 km from Rundu, the country opened out, and looked very similar to the parts north of Pretoria, the less urbanised parts of the former KwaNdebele “homeland”. There were more traditional dwellings than in Ovamboland, and also some bars and shebeens with fanciful names, but they looked somehow more mellow and part of the landscape, and there were fewer of them, though perhaps that was an effect of the overcast weather. One of the most memorable was the “Best Gloomy House”, but we did not stop to take a photo of it.

Flat-bottomed trees found right across northern Namibia. Do they grow like that naturally, or is the bottom just the height that goats cannot reach?

Flat-bottomed trees found right across northern Namibia. Do they grow like that naturally, or is the bottom just the height that goats cannot reach?

At times we got glimpses of the Okavango river in its shallow valley to the north, with Angola on the other side. The vegetation changed occasionally, and at one point there were a lot of tall palm trees.

We speculated about what Rundu would be like when we got there. I had last seen it 44 years ago, when it was a civil service town, with a police station, a magistrates office, and a few other government officials and the main means of communication with the outside world was radio — it was only a couple of years later that the telephone line was opened, with a great fanfare of publicity and press releases. So I thought it might look like Giyani in South Africa, back in 1985, when we had last been there, or possibly like Oshikango. Val thought it might be like Tsumeb. In the end it turned out to be a bit like Oshikango, with uneven Albanian-type streets with drive-through potholes, and horrendous traffic jams, as half the garages seemed to have run out of petrol, and everyone was queuing to get to the other ones, and the main street was blocked to traffic while it was being rebuilt. It has also rained earlier in the afternoon, so the streets were muddy as well as crowded. It turned out that it was payday for civil servants, which was probably why everyone was in town to do their shopping and fill up with petrol. The rain was welcome, but too little and too late. There has been a devastating drought in Namibia this year.

When the first telephone landline to Rundu had been opened, in about 1971, at a cost of R200000, only about ten or 20 people there had telephones. I was then working on the Windhoek Advertiser, where the chief reporter was J.M. Smith, commonly known as Smittie (it was said that the initials stood for “Jakkals Mal”), the craziest journalist south of the equator. The opening of the telephone line was front-page news for the Advertiser, and two weeks later Smittie had occasion to use it. It was said that a white man at Rundu had been charged with illegal hunting, and Smittie was trying to get the story. As the only whites in Rundu were civil servants, who all knew each other, they weren’t keen to answer questions from the press, and the line went dead. Smittie tried again to get the operator in Rundu, and yelled “Hellooo! Helllooo! Just say hello and at least we’ll be communicating.” He muttered, as an aside to those in the office, “Two hundred thousand rand we spend on this blerrie thing and you can’t even say ‘Hello'”. Then he tried again to reach the Rundu operator. “When I reach the hereafter there is one thing I will hear echoing in the distance, ‘Hellooooo, hellooooo, hellooooo.”

And now Rundu has its very own traffic jams. That’s progress for you.

We had booked to stay at the Kaisosi River Lodge, about 7 km outside Rundu, overlooking the river. Of all the commercial establishments we stayed at on our journey, it was the best.

Our chalet at Kaisosi River Lodge, Rundu

Our chalet at Kaisosi River Lodge, Rundu

We arrived about sunset, and we watched a professional photographer (we assumed) filming a group of people crossing and recrossing the river in dugout canoes. He would keep telling them to do it again, so he could reshoot the sequence — presumably they were paid extras. We took advantage of it to take photos of our own.

Crossing the Okavango River from Angola to Namibia, for the benefit of the photographer

Crossing the Okavango River from Angola to Namibia, for the benefit of the photographer

As we did at most of the commercial places we stayed in Namibia, we left some BookCrossing books, and, for the first time in the 10 years we’ve been participating in BookCrossing, someone picked up one of the books and responded — Ricochet |

For anyone interested, the story of our journey down the Okavango continues at Drowning in the Okavango: in the steps (and wake) of the brothers Green | Hayes & Greene family history

In the Etosha National Park 15-17 May 2013

We spent a couple of days at the Etosha National Park on the way north to Ovamboland. We drove north from the Sasa Safari Lodge through Outjo, with many of the tall north-leaning anthills found in this part of Namibia, with lots of mopane trees. In one place the trees had been cleared, and it looked as though someone was farming anthills, as they seemed to be planted in neat rows. There was also a sign of the changing landscape and a changing world – telephone poles stretching into the distance with not a wire left on them, as cell phones take over the world.

The changing landscape -- a disgth that will soon disappear -- landline telephone poles

Documenting the changing landscape — a sight that will soon disappear — landline telephone poles in northern Namibia

On the way our little Toyota Yaris reached the 200000 km mark, and we stopped to take photos of it on the endless flat road.

Our little Toyota Yaris passed the 200000 km mark between Outjo and the Etosha National Park

Our little Toyota Yaris passed the 200000 km mark between Outjo and the Etosha National Park

We entered the Etosha National Park at the Anderson or Andersson Gate (the spelling varies on maps), and I wondered if it had been named after C.J. Anderson, the Swedish naturalist and trader in these parts, who was a friend and partner of Fred Green, Val’s Great great grandfather, the elephant hunter. Most of what we know of Fred Green’s life comes from Andersson’s letters and diaries.

We stayed at the Halali resort, the middle of three on the southern “shore” of the pan, with Okaukuejo about 75 km to the west, and Namutoni about 75 km to the east. One has to book well in advance, and when we booked the only accommodation available was a “family chalet”, at the highest point in the camp, so we had a good view and a choice of two bedrooms.

Our "family chalet" at Halali camp in the Etosha National Park, Namibia

Our “family chalet” at Halali camp in the Etosha National Park, Namibia

It had been a dry year, and so the animals tended to congregate in great numbers at waterholes that were fed by boreholes, and the one that seemed to have most of the animals most of the time was Nebrownii, about 10 km east of Okaukuejo. There were always large herds of zebras, springbok, and gemsbok drinking there. drink. It was interesting to see how they all walked sedately and orderly in single file. The first time we went there a young zebra foal was amusing itself by running around and chasing the springbok, looking like a sheepdog herding sheep, though less purposefully.

Springbok, gemsbok and zebra at Nebrownii waterhold near Okaukuejo, Etosha National Park

Springbok, gemsbok and zebra at Nebrownii waterhole near Okaukuejo, Etosha National Park

At the Rietfontien waterhole near Halali we saw a rhino, the only one we saw in our time at Etosha, It was a white rhino. When I lived in Namibia 40 years ago there were no white rhino in the country. They were then an endangered species, with a couple of small hers in Natal. Brack rhino, on the other hand, were plentiful in northern Namibia. A huge effort by the Natal Parks Board saved the white rhinos, and exported them all over the continent, and then black rhino became an endangerted species. Now both are endangered species, as poachers kill them indiscrtiminately because some people in Asia believe (falsely) that rhino horn is an aphrodisac, and are prepared to pay huge prices for powdered rhino horn when they could achieve exactly the same result by chewing their own fingernails. As Val said,m it is sad that the white rhinos have had toi be saved from extinction twice in one’s lifetime.

White rhino at Rietfontein waterhole near Halali in the Etosha National Park

White rhino at Rietfontein waterhole near Halali in the Etosha National Park

On Wednesday morning (16 May), we spent the whole day driving around the south-western end of the Etosha Pan, which is about 50 km from north to south, and 100 km from east to west.

Etosha Pan looking north-west from Salvadora

Etosha Pan looking north-west from Salvadora

As we approached Nebrownii from Halali, there were some vehicles stopped on a culvert on the main road a little way from the waterhole, where there were also several elephants. Some were white from having sprayed sand over themselves. Someone said that there were lions at the culvert, and indeed at one point they ran out, and then went back under the culvert. We went on to the waterhole, and the elephants moved away, some black and some white, from the dust they had sprayed over themselves. The springbok at the waterhole were obviously aware of the lions, and kept glancing nervously in the direction of the culvert, and we wondered if the lions would rush out and try to grab one of them, but they did not.

Black and white elephants

Black and white elephants

When the elephants had gone we went back to the culvert where we had seen the lions, but they were well-hidden under the road. Then a bus came, stopped over the culvert and revved its engine, and the lions came bounding out to see what was going on. The bus moved on, and the lions went back under the culvert, but we got a couple of photos of them. It made the advice to stay in one’s car all the more impressive — it would be quite easy to stop and get out there, thinking that there were no animals around, while in fact there could be a whole pride of lions under one’s feet, and they could come bounding out with amazing speed.

Lions emerging from a culvert near Nebrownii waterhole in the Etosha National Park

Lions emerging from a culvert near Nebrownii waterhole in the Etosha National Park

We went on to Okondeka, on the western side of the pan north of Oklaukuejo, and there was a pied crow perched on the stone marking the spot, and a couple of giraffes drinking, rather far off, with the pan shimmering in the background. The Namibian giraffes seem to be darker in colour than the South African ones.

Pied crow

Pied crow

At the restaurant at Halali mosr of the tables were on a covered veranda, and a couple of glossy starlings would perch in the rafters watching to see when people left a table. Then they would call, and flocks of starlings would appear from nowhere, steaching for leftover crumbs before the waitress cleared the table. On one occasion a couple of people left half-eaten muffins on the table, and went inside to get coffee, and the starlings came to grab the muffins, but a waitress appeared and shooed them away.

Starlings grab food from unwary diners at Halali camp

Starlings grab food from unwary diners at Halali camp

We passed a herd of red hartebeest on the way back to Halali.

Red hartebeest (tsessebe). When your face is butt-ugly, you turn your best side to the camera

Red hartebeest (tsessebe). When your face is butt-ugly, you turn your best side to the camera

On our last day in the Etosha National Park we had breakfast and left Halali at 6:34 am, and went to a viewpoint out on the pan, which was reminiscent of crossing the causeway to Holy Island, at Lindisfarne on the Northumbrian coast. Once out on the pan, however, one became completely disoriented, and the horizion, which must have been 30-40 kilometres away seemed no more than a couple of hundred metres away, up a steep hill, and it looked as if one was at the bottom of a conical depression, because there was nothing to establish perspective or distance, so the horizon looked quite close.

This picture can give a small idea of the illusion of the pan -- if you scan the hotizon from lkeft to right, the horizon appears to come closer, and the flat surface looks like a sloping dune. The effect is much more pronounced when you are out on the pan

This picture can give a small idea of the illusion of the pan — if you scan the horizon from left to right, the horizon appears to come closer, and the flat surface looks like a sloping dune. The effect is much more pronounced when you are out on the pan

In some of the photos we had taken with the pan as a background it looked like a wall. Looking back to the shore there would be a line of green vegetation, but looking north, towards the opposite shore, was completely disorienting. We drove on towards Namutoni, and as we approached it began to see anthills again. We had not seen any since entering the park at the Anderson Gate, and there were none around Halali or Okaukueyo.

Gemsbok in the Etosha National Park

Gemsbok in the Etosha National Park

This is part of a series of posts on our journey through Namibia and Botswana in May 2013. You can read the previous post in the series here.

From Etosha we went on to Ovamboland, Namibia 17-20 May 2013, with flashbacks to the 1970s | Khanya

North to Outjo

After a rapid scanning of church registers from Walvis Bay and Otjimbingwe kindly provided by Gunter von Schumann of the Scientific Society of Namibia to add to our family history research from yesterday. we said goodbye to Enid and Justin Ellis, whose hospitality we had enjoyed for a week, and set out north for Outjo, stopp;ing at Okahandja for lunch at the Bakerei Dekker, where Val had a sausage breakfast and I had Bockwurst and salad. It wasn’t gourmet stuff, but good and plentiful.

Bakerei Dekker in Okahandja, where we had lunch

Bakerei Dekker in Okahandja, where we had lunch

Unlike Gobabis and Windhoek, Okahandja has changed little over the last 40 years. It seems cleaner, less dusty and better-maintained than back then, and no doubt some of the shop names have changed, and there are more eating places, but that’s about it. O yes, and the highway had bypassed the town. But unlike similar towns in South Africa, such as Villiers and Wepener, which we visited two years ago, there was no marked deterioration. Wepener was neglected and dirty, and Villiers looked like a ghost town. Perhaps the differce was that in Okahandja the new eating places, even the franchised ones like Steers, were in town rather than on the bypass.

Another difference was the road signs. Forty years ago one had to beware of kudu. Now it’s warthogs that pose the danger to cars.

Speaking of roads and traffic, one thing we noticed was that Windhoek drivers are much more disciplined and courteous than Pretoria ones. They wait at pedestrian crossings. They queue in the correct lane, and they observe speed limits (for the most part).  There are few minibus taxis, but apparently lots of metered taxis, using ordinary saloon cars.

On the road to Otjiwarongo there are two distinctive conical hills, which can be seen for about half the distance of 170 km

Conical hills on the way to Otjiwarongo

Conical hills on the way to Otjiwarongo

There are also some distinctive rock formations

There is also a place called Sukses, which used to have a sign saying Hotel Petrol, but this time we failed to see it. Perhaps the Hotel Petrol failed.

At about sunset we reached the Sasa Safari Camp near Outjo, which has a splendid view over a broad valley, and a heraldic dog reflected in the swimming pool.


So here I am sitting at the dimly-lit bar, Windhoek lager at my elbow, typing this and enjoying the free WiFi which lasts until the electricity is switched off at 11:00 pm, while Val sits outside contemplating the stars in idyllic peace. And the guy who runs the place is preparing a braai for supper. And if there are typos in this, blame the dim light, I can hardly see the keyboard.


Corrected the typos, spent a comfortable night, and left the Sasa Safari Camp the next morning after a comfortable night and a very good breakfast on the terrace, with a good view over the valley below.

Sasa Safari Camp near Outjo, Namibia

Sasa Safari Camp near Outjo, Namibia

We also left a few of our BookCrossing books at Sasa (which, we were told, means “peace” in the Damara language). So, if you visit Sasa in the not-too-distant future, keep an eye out for them!

On leaving Sasa we spent a couple of days In the Etosha National Park 15-17 May 2013 | Notes from underground.

You can see an index to all these posts of our travelogue of Namibia and Botswana here.

Books and worms and things

After yesterday’s busyness with family history research, we enjoyed a much quieter day today,  browsing through The Book Den, where we were told we could find a copy of

Axel Wilhelm Eriksson of Hereroland (1846-1901)Axel Wilhelm Eriksson of Hereroland by Ione Rudner

and indeed we did find a copy, and bought it.

It was not however, listed on the Good Reads website, so I had to add it manually, and apparently its ISBN is shared with another book, the first time I’ve come across that kind of error. The ISBN is 99916-0-746-3 and this site seems to have it listed correctly.

A.W. Eriksson was a Swedish trader in Namibia, who married (and divorced) Fanny Stewardson, and we hope it might some of the information about those families that we could not find in the archives yesterday.

Though The Book Den is only about a third of the size of  the bigger Pretoria bookshops, it seemed to have a much wider selection of books. That is no doubt because it is an independent book shop, and not part of a big chain like Exclus1ve Books or the CNA, which dominate the book market in Pretoria. Actually Exclus1ve Books started out as a small independent bookshop in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, where I bought my copy of Waiting for Godot on 11 November 1960, so it started more than 50 years ago, only thern it was called “Exclusive Books” and not the rather twee “Exclus1ve Books” that it became after becoming a big chain, now introducing central ordering, which will be the death of it.

So one of the pleasures of visiting Windhoek is being able to browse in a real bookshop for a change.

I bought a couple of other books too

Beginning Programming for Dummies [With CDROM]Beginning Programming for Dummies [With CDROM] by Wallace Wang

I don’t recall seeing that book in any bookshop in Pretoria. It must be about 20 years since I last bought a computer programming book. When GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) became all the rage, I gave up. As I get older I still find the old text interfaces much easier to  read. But I thought that if nobody is going to write the kind of program I really, really want — an event-based database program for family history, biography, and historical research — then I’ll have to write it myself. So I hope this book will hel[p me to do a quick catch-up on some of the developments in programming in the last 20 years.

View all my reviews

We got back to the Ellis household and Enid and Justin showed us how they feed their pet worms. The worms subist on a diet of used tea bags, banana skins, egg shells and the like, which they turn into compost, which is useful for gardens in the sandy soil of Windhoek.

In the evening we all went to dinner at the Sardinia restaurant in Windhoek; recommended.

Justin Ellis, Steve Hayes, Val Hayes, Enid Ellis -- at the Sardinia Restaurant, Windhoek. 11 May 2013

Justin Ellis, Steve Hayes, Val Hayes, Enid Ellis — at the Sardinia Restaurant, Windhoek. 11 May 2013

This is my blog of our holiday triup to Namibia and Botswana, continued at Sunday in Windhoek: Quaker meeting and walking the dogs | Khanya

Trans-Kalahari Highway, Kang to Windhoek

Continued from Kang — ver in die ou Kalahari.

We woke up about 4:00 am at the Kang Ultrastop, where we had stayed overnight, and after breakfast at 7:00, filled up with petrol and left at 8:25 on our way to Windhoek.

Accommodation at the Kang Ultrastop on the Trans-Kalahari Highway in central Botswana

Accommodation at the Kang Ultrastop on the Trans-Kalahari Highway in central Botswana

This time the only vehicles we saw on the road were big trucks, mostly 26-wheelers, and they were fairly few and far between. It is obvious that this is a mainly commercial highway. It probably cuts off quite a bit of the journey time betweeen Windhoek (and points north, like northern Namibia and Angola) and Gauteng, but tourists might prefer to travel a longer but more scenic troute, through Upington. This route is miles and miles of miles and miles.

The Trans-Kalahari Highway somewhere north-west of Kang, where most of the traffic is 26-wheelers

The Trans-Kalahari Highway somewhere north-west of Kang, where most of the traffic is 26-wheelers

We did discern three varieties of Kalahari scenery (I’m sure the local Bushmen would tell you there are hundreds of kinds of Kalahari). The ones we saw were (1) Bush and grassveld, (2) Bush and sandveld and (3) Smaller bushes with scattered big trees.

Kalahari bush and grassveld, about 65 km north-west of Kang

Kalahari bush and grassveld, about 65 km north-west of Kang

About 100 km further on we came to the bush and sandveld variety:

Kalahari bush and sandveld, about 160 km north-west of Kang

Kalahari bush and sandveld, about 160 km north-west of Kang

And a bit further on we passed through the third type — low scrub with scattered trees.

One often reads descriptions of the Kalahari, or of people travelling through it, but they are rarely illustrated, and I know my picture was somewhat different from the reality. Previously I had only seen the southern fringes, and the central Kalahari was not what I imagined it to be.

A third type of Kalahari scenery -- low scrub with scattered trees

A third type of Kalahari scenery — low scrub with scattered trees

For the first 100 km or so from Kang we passed black plastic rubbish bags at regular intervals, until we reached the teams picking up the rubbish and hoeing thorn bushes out of the verges, I imagine it must help to provide employment for local people, not that the Kalahai here has a large population. We saw fewer animals on the verges than yesterday.

Beyond the cleaning teams, we saw at some of the roadside sitplekkies what they were doing — there were polycarbonate cold-drink bottles, and polystyrene hamburger boxes everywhere, and we had to walk quite a long way into the bush to take photos that didn’t have the foreground full of them.

The sigh that everyone seems to ignore

The sign that everyone seems to ignore

There are some creatures that seem to like the rubbish though…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese birds seem to congregate at the sitplekkies. We didn’t have our bird book with us, but they seem to be a species of crow.

The map showed a village 138 km from Kang, but we saw no sign of it, and one of the first settlements we saw after the highway turned left towards the Namibian border was Tsootsha, about 300 km from Kang, and from there there was still another 100 km to go to the border at Mamumo.

We were struck by the politeness and professionalism of the customs and immigration officials on the Botswana side of the border, and the rather lax and couldn’t-care-less attitude of those on the Namibian side. When we went to pay the road fund contribution they were sitting on their desks eating lunch, and seemed to mildly resent the interruption.

The scenery was slightly different on the Namibian side, for a while at least. The bush seemed greener, and more familiar. I wondered whether it was because of different farming methods, because the border is not based on any natural geographical features — it is an arbitrary line, drawn on a map by people who had probably never been within 5000 kilometres of it, colonial officials playing at maps in London and Berlin — we’ll cut off this bit from Namibia and and give it to Botswana in exchange for the Caprivi Strip.

We reached Gobabis at 3:20 pm, nearly 7 hours and 500 km after leaving Kang. Actually it was 2:20, because Namibian time is now an hour behind South African time, tho0ugh I think they have daylight savings time in summer. Gobabis should have been familiar territory for me, but wasn’t. I used to come here about once a month when I lived in Windhoek. But after 40 years, the town had changed beyond recognition. Now there were islands with trees down the middle of the main street where in the past there had been a central strip of tar, with wide gravel stretches on either side. Now there were branches of all the major chain stores in southern Africa, and we saw at least two specialist stationery shops. Back then there were a couple of banks, a couple of general dealser stores, a hotel and farming cooperatives and suppliers. Perhaps it is the Trans-Kalahari Highweay that has brought prosperity to Gobabis,.


As we headed west for Windhoek the main road too was unrecognisable. On my monthly trips 40 years ago, it had been gravel from the airport at Ondekaremba, 40 km east of Windhoek to Gobabis, though construction teams were building the tarred road, leading to frequent detours. I think it was only on my last trip there that the tarred road had been completed all the way. In many places it followed a different route, giving different views, like this one of the approach to Witvlei.

Witvlei, Namibia

Witvlei, Namibia

The hills in the distance were a familiar sight, but I was used to seeing them from a different angle.

As we approached Windhoek, the road from the airport into town was more familiar, and we stopped to take photos of the Auas mountains. They were a familiar sight when I lived in Windhoek, so I would not dream of taking a photo of them, but absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I wanted a memento of a once-familiar sight that I will probably never see again in my lifetime.

Auas mountains, east of Windhoek

Auas mountains, east of Windhoek

We reached Windhoek at 17:37, South African time, just over 9 hours and 718 km after leaving Kang. We went to stay with Val’s cousin Enid Ellis and her husband Justin. I first met Justin when he came to Windhoek in 1970, with a group of Anglican students from Stellenbosch University, who had come to spend part of the Christmas vac working for the church there. When I was deported from Namibia a couple of years later,  along with the bishop and two other church workers, I met Justin again at a student conference, and tried to persuade himn to go to Namibia to take our place. Whether as a result of my blandishments or something else, he eventually did so. I met Val and her cousin Enid at the Anglican parish of Queensburgh, which I was looking after for a year while the rector was overseas, and they went on a holiday to Namibia in 1973, and then Enid went back in 1974 to work there, and married Justin. Then they too were deported, and spent several years in England, returning when Namibia became independent in 1990.

The story continues here.


Namibian turning point – forty years ago today

Forty years ago today the World Court announced its judgement that South Africa’s rule of Namibia was illegal. It happened, most appropriately, on the Winter Solstice. Until then the nights had been longer than the days and getting longer. But thereafter, though the nights were still longer than the days, they were getting shorter.

It was to be another nineteen long years before the last South African troops crossed the southern border, and Namibia heaved a collective sigh of relief.

The longest night was still the longest night, but for the first time it gave real hope, hope that the dawn was getting ever closer. Nothing changed, yet everything had changed.

Here’s what I wrote in my diary at the time, for what it’s worth. Perhaps I should explain, by way of background, that I was at the time a self-supporting priest in the Anglican Church in Windhoek and worked at the Windhoek Advertiser as a proof reader, and that Deve de Beer (who also worked for the Anglican Church) and I were stringers for the Argus Africa News Service, which fed most of the evening newspapers in South Africa.

Monday 21 June 1971

I took Musrum up to Woodway to have its silencer fixed, and then Dave took me to work. I sent off stories to the Argus Africa News Service about the World Court verdict due to be given today. There was a surface calm, and apparent indifference, but people in high places appear to be worried. Die Suidwester had an editorial asking people to keep calm, and not to take hasty decisions, and Dirk
Mudge, the acting administrator, also made a plea for calm.

At lunch time I went to the court, and saw Chris Nicholson there. He said he had heard on the radio that the World Court had decided by 13 votes to 2 that South Africa had no right to be in South West, and thought it would be interesting to see who the 2 were. It would be a guide to the impartiality of the court. If they were British and French, it would show that national self-interest dominated the proceedings, rather than a real concern for justice.

We carried the story on the front page of the Advertiser, and Cowley wrote an editorial about Bantustan presidents or leaders going overseas to do a power of good to the homelands policy. Jimmy [Jimmy Simpson, the subesitor]was bitter about the World Court, and said it looked like his fishing would be over. When I asked him why, he said, “Well, with the United Nations taking over”. I don’t see why the United Nations will prohibit Jimmy from fishing, but he seemed convinced they will.

After work I went to the diocesan office and Dave was there; I went out to see Clemens Kapuuo, but was told he had gone to town, and on the way saw Johan Penderis walking back from rugby practice, and gave him a lift. I went out again later to try to find Clemens Kapuuo, calling at the diocesan office again. Abraham Hangula was there, and he asked what the verdict was and when I told him he beamed and shouted “Alleluia!” and then said “If the South African government leaves, then we can really preach the gospel.”

I gave Dina a lift to Katutura, and ran out of petrol. I asked her what she thought about the World Court decision, and she said she didn’t think. But she asked all sorts of questions, like what would South Africa do, what would happen if they pulled out, and would they really pull out. When I got to Clemens Kapuuo’s shop there was a group of men standing outside, Mbuende among them. Mbuende introduced me to the others, who were Herero councillors from Aminuis. One of them burst out “We are so glad about the World Court decision that our country is ours”, and there were great smiles all round. Mbuende said that Kapuuo was not at home, but had gone to Omaruru. I asked if any of the councillors was prepared to make a statement, but they all wanted to wait until Clemens came back.

I then asked him about a Mr Meroro, the chairman of Swapo, who had recently issued a press statement denying that he had said what the SABC had said he had said. Mbuende took me to see him – his shop was nearby – and he said he would not like to make any comment until he had spoken to his vice president in Walvis Bay. But he would say that he was very pleased with the decision. He seems quite a pleasant bloke – though
not a leader like Clemens Kapuuo. I took Mbuende back to the diocesan office to see the bishop, and arranged what was to happen about the Herero church conference, but the bishop and Dave had gone to see pastor Reeh. We spoke to Clive Whitford who said we could quote him as saying he was “overjoyed” by the World Court decision. He said I should attribute it to “a white professional man” and not to a “teacher”, since he and Chris Roering were the only teachers (white) in town who could possibly make such a remark.

I took Mbuende back to Katutura, and started writing stories for the Argus Africa News Service, which we went to put in the telegram box at the post office, and returned to listen to Vorster’s speech on the radio at 8:00, which was predictable enough. It was funny to hear a man who bends the law to suit his own purposes complaining that others were doing this. The fact that it was the British and French judges who dissented might lend credence to this, because it was their national self-interest that was at stake.

After the speech Meroro phoned, and said I should ring the acting president of Swapo at Walvis Bay, Nathaniel Mahuiriri, and he would give me a statement, and how he did. They seemed to be having a party at his house to celebrate the decision, and he asked loudly in Herero what they all thought of the judgement, and everyone clapped. He said he regarded the judgement of the World Court as the judgement of God, and that they did not hate whites, the whites must stay, but there must be no more
apartheid, no more homelands, only one homeland for all, one nation, one Namibia. He went on for half an hour, cataloguing his objections to the contract labour system, saying Vorster’s speech on the radio was hypocritical, and when I asked him what he thought of Clemens Kapuuo, he said Swapo respected him as an honest man who spoke for his people; unlike Ushona Shiimi who was a stooge, a puppet, a tape recorder, who repeated what he was told to say.

That, I thought, was true, but nobody in their right mind could take Ushona Shiimi seriously, or think he spoke on behalf of anyone but the South African government. I have not met a single Ambo who does not think Ushona Shiimi is a big joke. After the call ended, I wrote out his statement, or the relevant bits of it, and Dave wrote a description of Windhoek at lunch time, and then we dumped those in the telegram box too, and then went off to have a drink at the Berg Hotel to celebrate, and went home to bed.

Sharpeville and Namibia

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre, and the 20th anniversary of Namibian independence.

Someone sent me a newsletter from the Anglican Diocese of Namibia, and here are some excerpts from it

Theological Education

To address the chronic shortage of clergy in the diocese, the diocese has put together a group of 53 candidates to prepare them for ordained ministry. All are registered with Theological Education by Extension College of Southern Africa (TEEC). 6 are registered for Diploma in Theology and Ministry, 6 of them are registered for junior certificate in Theology (called AWARD) and 41 are registered for Certificate of Competency in Theology. This group is under tutorship of The Rt Rev Petrus Hilukiluah, our retired Suffragan bishop, The Very Rev Jeremy Lucas, our Associate Dean and Rector of the Cathedral, and The Ven Lukas K. Katenda, Diocesan Secretary & Treasurer. Progress on this program is recorded for last year with many passed their exams and assignments above average. The assignments and exams are marked in South Africa. This year they are doing their second year and have been dispatched to various parishes for their practical lessons.

Because of the shortage of clergy in the Diocese, we now rely heavily on our retired clergy to run parishes. But age is age. We must make sure that we are not abusing our retired clergy who deserved a restful retirement after decades of service to the church and the community. We owe a big thank you to our retired bishops, The Rt. Rev Shihala Hamupembe who serves as the Director of St Mary’s Center replacing Mrs. Canner Kalimba who retired. He first served as Chaplain to the High school during the first two years of his retirement. He is now looking up to the diocese to find a suitable replacement for him. The Rt. Rev Petrus Hilukiluah served as Diocesan Coordinator for HIV and AIDS and later Director of Theological Education Training Program for the Diocese.

Bishop Shihala has indicated that he would like only to act as Mission Director for St Mary’s Mission Center. He is looking forward to his replacement, during this year. The Cathedral Chapter and the Diocesan Standing Committee appointed Mr. Josef Hanghome to become the new Director of St Mary’s Mission. Doing his Certificate in Theology, he has been registered with University of Management doing Certificate in Administration and Secretarial course, as a preparation the daunting task of managing St Mary’s Mission.

Please pray for this young man to be equipped with commitment, dedication and enthusiasm as well as the divine power to dwell on him. Another landmark appointment is that of Mr Lineekela Daniel, who also is doing his Certificate in Theology. Mr Daniel was appointed to become the Manager of Christ the King Conference and Training Center. The Center is in the dilapidating condition and Mr Daniel will make sure the renovations have taken place and maintenance is carried out on a regular basis. He will be supported by a staff of one clear and temporary cooks.

The report is compiled by the Ven Kaluwapa Lukas Katenda
Diocesan Secretary & Treasurer, 24 Februiary 2010

There was much more, and lots of pictures. One thing that shocked me about it was that the only names of people I recognised were those who are retired. Shihala Hamupembe, the retired bishop, I first met when he stayed overnight with us in Windhoek on the way to a youth leadership course in Mindolo, Zambia, and we had to keep his presence secret because the Security Police were looking for him and trying to prevent him from leaving the country — something we knew from the chance overhearing of a conversation on a police radio in a police station. Later, after I had been deported from Namibia, he stayed with us in Durban while on vacation from the seminary he was attending, and we got him to put his youth leadership training to good use by taking our parish youth group on a camp in Zululand.

Another seminary student, Eradius Mwaetako, stayed with us in one of his vacations, and the report said that he too was retired.

It was also interesting to read that 53 Namibian students were enrolled with the TEE College. When I was in Namibia 40 years ago, I was trying to get Namibian students enrolled in Theological Education by Extension courses, but the only project for such a programme, started by the Christian Institute, went through about four directors in as many months, and seemed in imminent danger iof collapse. I talked to some friends, Rich Kraft in Zululand and John Aitchison in Pietermaritzburg, and we decided that if the Christian Institute could spend half a million Rand and not produce a theological course, we could produce a theological course and not spend half a million Rand. So we started on a shoe string, writing course material that was highly illegal, because John Aitchison was banned and later I was too. We called it the Khanya Theological Correspondence Course, and it later combined with two other schemes to form the Theological Education by Extension College (TEEC), and is it was good to see that 53 Namibian students have enrolled in it. I’ve told more of the story of theological education here: Tales from Dystopia III: Theological education in a totalitarian state: Khanya

One thing that struck me as curious about the report, though, is that Bishop Petrus Hilukiluah, whom I also met as a seminary student, seems to have added an h to his name, as has the diocesan bishop. I knew him as Petrus Hilukilua. Is the extra h a special honorific for Namibian bishops? In which case, why doesn’t Shihala Hamupembe spell his name Hamupembeh? Just wondering.

Death of an old friend

This morning, in an amazing coincidence, I mentioned an old friend in a blog post on another topic, on my other blog, and as I was writing the sentence that mentioned him my cell phone beeped with a message from him, letting me know that his wife had died. He was Hiskia Uanivi, whom I had known as a student at the Paulinum, the Lutheran theological seminary in Namibia, and this is what I had written Tales from Dystopia III: Theological education in a totalitarian state: Khanya:

Two of the students, in particular, became friends of ours. One was Zephania Kameeta, who later become bishop of the Lutheran Church, and a cabinet minister after Namibia became independent; the other was Hiskia Uanivi, who later fell out with Swapo and lived in Angola under the protection of the Angolan government, returning after independence.

Hiskia came with me and another friend on a tour of South Africa at the beginning of 1971, and was amazed to see that in South Africa the grass was so green yet the cattle were so thin. Hiskia was engaged to another student, Albertina Eises, and they were married on 30 October 1971.

I was deported from Namibia three months later, and so did not see them much in their married life. Hiskia completed his studies and became a pastor in the Lutheran Church, and later left Namibia, and worked for Swapo in exile. He fell out with the Swapo leadership, however, believing that they were collaborating with the South African government. He lived in Angola under the protection of the Angolan government, and returned just before Namibia became independent, as leader of a workers revolutionary party.

A couple of years ago Hiskia and his family were in Pretoria, and came to visit us. and we saw each other for the first time in more than 30 years. Their children and ours had grown up. It was good to see them again, and I was sorry our meeting could not have been longer. I’m sure Hiskia must have fascinating stories to tell about his adventures. And it would be interesting to to have heard what Albertina did in this time, but now I’ll never hear it from her.

The picture shows Albertina, Dangi, Uetu and Hiskia Uanivi, when they visited us on 4 March 2007.

And today came the news that his beloved Albertina had died. May her memory be eternal!

New SAMS Web page

Since August 2007 the Southern African Missiological Society has had a new web site at

Please go there to see the latest news and information about SAMS. The material on the old site at will be retained to preserve links and search engine listings, but, with the exception of the AIC pages and material, it will no longer be updated.

In future I may use the old site to post more material specifically on African Independent Churches (AICs).

the next SAMS congress will be held on the campus of the North West University in Potchefstroom/Tlokwe from 23-25 January 2008. Since the Edinburgh 2010 organising committee has asked SAMS to take responsibility for the commission called “The development of Christian communities in contemporary contexts”, the SAMS business meeting agreed to focus in the following two congresses on gathering and analysing stories of vibrant and sustainable Christian communities in Southern Africa. The theme for the 2008 SAMS was fixed as “Mission in humilty and hope: Stories of hope-giving Christian communites in Southern Africa.” It was also agreed that hope-giving has alot to do with healing and reconciliation, so that a concerted effort will be made to gather stories of healing and reconciling communities.

The martyrs of Epinga

Persecution and the suffering church –

Ovamboland, Namibia

On Sunday 30 January 1972 the congregation of St Luke’s Anglican Church, Epinga, was coming out of church after Mass. Epinga is about 30 miles east of Odibo, where the main Anglican Church in Ovamboland is situated. While going from the church, members of the congregation were accosted by a police patrol, and were told they were not to attend any meetings. They scattered into the bush, and then when the police vehicles had departed, they came back together again asking what it was all about when police on foot surrounded them.

They were searched for weapons and one young boy aged about 18 was carrying a walking stick. The chief of the police began poking a stick into his face and shouting at him. The boy lifted up his arms to ward off the blow, whereupon the policeman shot him through the head. The whole patrol then opened fire, and shot at him until his skull was a bloody pulp. Seeing this the congregation fled, and several of them were shot as well. Four died instantly, and another is said to have died later in hospital.

Those who died are: Thomas Mueshihange, Benjamin Herman, Lukas Veiko, Mathias Ohainenga. The wounded were Seimba Musika, Phillipus Katilipa and Kakaimbe Hidunua. The parish priest still had some fragments of the skull of the boy who was first shot in the vestry of the church. In the early church too, it was the custom to bury the bones of the martyrs who had died for Christ under the altar of the church, and to erect churches on the tombs of the martyrs.

At the inquest into the deaths, the police said they had been attacked by a group of 100 Ovambo armed with axes, pangas, bows and arrows (the Rector of the parish said they were armed with Bibles, prayer books and hymn books). The police also said that after making “exhaustive inquiries” they had been unable to identify any of the dead except Benjamin Herman. Almost all the affidavits at the inquest were from the police, and those of non-police witnesses (who were wounded) attest to the fact that the congregation was not armed. The inquest magistrate found that the police had opened fire “in the execution of their duty”.

The Archdeacon of Ovamboland compiled a list of the names of the dead and wounded, together with their next-of-kin (the spelling of the names above may not be correct, as they were transmitted orally, by telephone).

The circumstances

The Rector of St Luke’s, Epinga was the Revd Stephen Shimbode The Archdeacon of Odibo was the Ven Philip Shilongo, of St Mary’s, Odibo. The Archdeacon of Ovamboland was the Ven Lazarus Haukongo, who had been Rector of the Parish of Holy Cross, Onamunama, which was close to Epinga. Most of the Anglican parishes in Ovamboland were among Kwanyama-speaking people, and were stretched out eastwards from Odibo along the border with Anglola, at intervals of about 10 kilometres.

Kwanyama-speaking people lived on both sides of the border, and many Anglicans lived to the north, in Angola, and until this time the crossed the border to attend church services. Most of the church buildings were no more than half a kilometre from the border fence.

A short time before this incident the South African government had declared a state of emergency in Ovamboland, which prohibited meetings. There was no time for news of this proclamation to have reached ordinary churchgoers in Ovamboland, so the members of the
congregation were almost certainly not aware of it.

There are various possible conclusions that one can draw from the inquest.

One is that the magistrate was either under the control of, or intimidated by the police, and saw it as his duty to exonerate them no matter what, and that he therefore either did not either ask for or consider evidence from all sides, and that the verdict was therefore a cover-up.

Another is that the magistrate was aware of what had happened, and that he considered that it was the duty of the police to shoot church congregations.

The brief report above was one that I compiled shortly after the events described, which were one of my closest encounters with persecution in which people were actually killed. A month after that I was deported from Namibia, along with the bishop, Colin Winter, the diocesan secretary, David de Beer, and a teacher, Toni Halberstadt.

No, it didn't quite happen like this in Ovamboland, this picture was taken in Mexico. But the circumstances are similar. If the people who died at Epinga had not gone to Mass, they might still be alive today. For the Mexican story, read "The power and the Glory" by Graham Greene.

No, it didn’t quite happen like this in Ovamboland, this picture was taken in Mexico. But the circumstances are similar. If the people who died at Epinga had not gone to Mass, they might still be alive today. For the Mexican story, read “The power and the Glory” by Graham Greene.

I thought the story of the Epinga martyrs deserved to be told, but the Anglican Church in Southern Africa was strangely reluctant to hear the story of its own martyrs. It honoured contemporary martyrs in Uganda, such as Yona Kanamuzeyi, in the church calendar, but not its own martys in Epinga. It dishonoured those who were imprisoned for their faith in South Africa and Namibia and other places by removing the feast of St Peter’s Chains (August 1) from the church calendar. So I thought I should tell their story here.

And since a blog is a journal of sorts, I reproduce my journal for 28 February 1972, which was the day on which I first heard of the events at Epinga a month earlier. It was my last official duty in the Anglican Diocese of Damaraland (as the Diocese of Namibia was then known) — to represent the Anglican bishop, Colin Winter, at the uniting synod of two Lutheran Churches in Namibia — the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Ovambokavango Church. We had received our deportation orders over the weekend, so the bishop was unable to attend himself. And deportation was itself persecution of a sort.

Monday, 28 February 1972

Early in the morning I went to the bishop’s house to fetch Philip Shilongo and Erica Murray to go to the Lutheran Synod at Otjimbingue. Erica came out alone, and said Fr Philip had not returned home last night, and said she thought he had been going round Katutura getting up a petition for the removal of the dean. We drove past Katutura to go to Abraham Hangula’s new house, but we found Fr Philip walking down the road, and he got in the car and came with us.

We were driving in the blue Combi, and refuelled at Okahandja, and got some road maps for Erica so she could see where we were going. We arrived about 10:00, and went and talked to Pastor Wessler. The bishop wanted us to discuss the whole situation in Ovamboland with the aim of issuing a joint statement on it, as Nangutuuala had asked him to do. Unfortunately the Ovambo delegates to the synod had not yet arrived, so we could only meet with the Evangelical Lutheran Church people.

Fr Philip told us what had happened at Epinga on January 30th at Fr Shimbode’s church, St Luke’s. He said that after Mass that Sunday, at about 1:00 in the afternoon, the congregation was coming out of the church, and a patrol, whether of police or army he could not find out, told the people coming out of church that they were not to hold any meetings. The congregation scattered into the bush, and when the lorries had driven off, they came together and began to discuss the incident, and asked each other what it was all about. Then the patrol surrounded them, and searched them for weapons. One boy, aged about 18, had a walking stick, and the leader of the patrol began shouting at him, and poked a stick in his face. The boy lifted his arms to ward off the stick, and the captain shot him with his revolver. Then the whole patrol opened fire, and shot his head to pieces. The congregation scattered again, and three of them were shot dead, and two or three more seriously wounded. One of the injured ones died later in hospital. One of the others had serious brain injuries, and they did not expect him to recover. Fr Shimbode still had some of the bones from the shattered skull of the boy who was shot first in the vestry of the church.

So lie in honour the bones of the martyrs who by the blood of their necks have borne
witness to Jesus, and to their faith in the kingdom of God; they shall shine like stars and move like sparks through the stubble, and their Lord will receive them with honour in his kingdom.

Some of the Paulinum students, who had worked at the Oshakati hospital during the vac, testified to the admission of people from that area who had been shot, and the numbers tallied. They also knew of others who had been shot on other occasions, but we did not know why, or the circumstances of the shootings.

We had lunch with the students and I met Miss Voipio, who wrote the booklet about the contract system. After lunch we returned for more discussions, and then had tea with Pastor Sundermeier and Pastor Kaipianen and Miss Voipio. Dr Sundermeier was now teaching at Mphumulo in South Africa, but had come up for the synod where the two Lutheran churches were uniting. After tea I phoned the Daily Mail, and had great difficulty in getting through, the dictate typist told me to hang on, and then cut me off, and then after three minutes I began to dictate the story, what Fr Philip had told us. I had just got to the part where I said “four people were shot dead” when we were cut off. I rang the operator at Karibib, and she said Windhoek had cut us off — there was a strict limit on trunk calls of six minutes, and there was nothing she could do about it. I had visions of what might happen with half a story like that going around, and told her it was a very important call, and did an excited Smitty act with her, but it made no difference. Later I talked to Father Kangootui, who had also come for the synod, and told him about our deportation.

The synod followed, and the opening session was a service, with a sermon preached by Habelgaarn, the guy from the Lutheran Church in South Africa. Bishop Auala presided over the first session of the synod then, which was greetings from other bodies and churches, and I represented the bishop in bringing the greetings of the Anglican Church.

Afterwards I met the combined church board with Fr Philip, and told them again what we knew of the situation in Ovamboland, but the Ovamboland people — bishop Auala and company, were stalling. They were sympathetic, but not interested. We went on till after 11:00, and there was no conclusion. Afterwards Pastor Maasdorp and Pastor Rieh came and apologised to me for the meeting, and both seemed terribly embarrassed by the prevarication of the delegates from the Ovambokavango Church. They felt they had let us down, but it wasn’t their fault at all. Then Pastor Diehl also came and apologised, and he too was embarrased by it all. Two delegates from the German Lutheran Church had earlier expressed support for us in the action we were taking against Dahlmann. We drove back to Windhoek, and after we reached the tar at Wilhelmstal, I stopped to let Erica take over. I went to sleep in the back, and Fr Philip acted as kudu observer, and there were many kudus on the road, all bent on suicide. We got back to Windhoek after 2:00 am, and I drove the Combi back to the hostel, feeling dead beat.

Some explanatory notes:

  • Daily Mail – I was a stringer (correspondent) for the South African Morning Group of Newspapers, and so regularly sent news reports to them. But the story of the Epinga martyrs was never published, except for the distorted account of the inquest. That is one reason why I thought it should be told here.
  • Smitty – was J.M. Smith, one of the craziest journalists in Namibia, whose legendary encounters with the Namibian telephone system were repeated years afterwards.
  • Dahlmann – another journalist, Kurt Dahlmann, editor of the Allgemeine Zeitung, who had been a Luftwaffe pilot in World War II. The Allgemine Zeitung under his editorship was an ultra-rightwing, almost neo-Nazi paper, which had recently published several slanders against Christian leaders in Namibia.

This post is part of a , in which several bloggers blog on the same topic on the same day. In this case the topic is “Persecution and the suffering church”. Below are links to the other blogs with posts on this topic.

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