Namibia’s German Colonial Past


Originally uploaded by Thomas Roche

Great travel article in the New York Times on Namibia, focusing on the country’s lingering remnants of its German colonial history.

It was getting toward evening in Swakopmund, on the desert coast of Namibia, and at Kiki’s Pub just off Kaiser-Wilhelm-Strasse, the Pilsener was starting to flow. Swiveling on a stool with a stein of Hansa Draft in his fist, a stout fellow in safari shorts and with gray mutton-chop whiskers was chatting emphatically in German with the young bartender. Waitresses bearing the day’s catch moved through the room, its walls decorated with colonial-era German maps of Africa and sepia-tinted photos of Schutztruppe (German protection force) soldiers riding camels through the bush.

As we headed for the door, the bartender bade us goodbye with a hearty “auf wiedersehen.” Then we stepped into a stiff, salty breeze and strolled past a turn-of-the-century army barracks to our bed-and-breakfast, the Prinzessin Rupprecht, a former military hospital built in 1908.

Squeezed between the Namib Desert and the frigid South Atlantic, Swakopmund was founded in 1892 as a port of entry into Africa for the Schutztruppe. Today, it has the dislocating feel of a Baltic Sea resort set in the tropics — ornate Wilhelminische-style architecture juxtaposed against palm trees and a bustling African crafts market. It is also perhaps the most atmospheric vestige of a forgotten era: the 30 years, from 1884 to 1914, when Germany ruled Deutsche Sudwest Afrika, a vast, sparsely populated protectorate bordered on the west by the Atlantic, on the east by the Kalahari Desert.

Read More.



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