Journal Vol. 55/2007

Wissenschaftliche Beiträge über Namibia; Scientific contributes about Namibia
Vogt; Guenther; Hoffmann; Fisch
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Journal Vol. 55/2007

english Reihe: Journal
Verlag: Namibia Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft
Windhoek, 2007
ISBN: 978-99916-40-73-0 (Namibia)
Broschur, 17x24 cm, 136 Seiten, viele sw-Fotos, Abbildungen und Karten

english Series: Journal
Publisher: Namibia Scientific Society
Windhoek, 2007
ISBN: 978-99916-40-73-0 (Namibia)
Soft cover, 17x24 cm, 136 pages, numerous bw-photos, maps and Illustrations


Vogt, Andreas
A tiny piece of Cape Town - A glimpse at Walvis Bay (1900) from Judge Gutsche's photo album

Hoffman, Karl
Unser Klima - gestem, heute und morgen?

Guenther, Mathias
"Poor Baines has his troubles ..." Thomas Baines and James Chapman afoot in the Kalahari, 1861

Fisch, Maria
The Tawana's military campaign into Kavango

Extract: A tiny piece of Cape Town - A glimpse at Walvis Bay (1900) from Judge Gutsche's photo album


A rare set of circumstances played into the hands of the author a number of personal documents of Judge Clemens Gutsche, who was the Supreme Judge of the High Court in Windhoek between 1920 and 1930. In 1926, he was also the second president of the SWA Scientific Society.

Before he took up this prestigious position, this distinguished gentleman had just relinquished a profound military and academic career, when he resigned from the office of Commanding Officer of the coastal defence systems of the Cape in the rank of a Full Colonel, attached to the Cape Garrison Artillery, and from the office of a legal professor at the University of Cape Town.

It was, however, not the first time Gutsche had been to South West Africa. As member of the Cape Garrison Artillery, he had visited Walvis Bay briefly in 1900 in the rank of a Sub-Lieutenant. His photo-album includes some remarkable pictures and postcards from this period, which are reproduced and annotated here, most of them for the first time.


Aufgrund einer Reihe auBergewöhnlicher Umstände, gelangte eine Anzahl persönlicher Dokumente von Richter Clemens Gutsche, dem Oberrichter in Windhoek zwischen 1920 und 1930, in den Besitz des Verfassers.

Bevor Richter Gutsche dieses ambitionierte Amt antrat, hatte diese distinguierte Persönlichkeit gerade eine auBergewöhnliche militärische und akademische Laufbahn beendet, die des Kommandierenden Offiziers der Küstenverteidigung des Kaps, der Cape Garrison Artillery, im Range eines Obersten (Colonel), und als Rechtsprofessor der Universität von Kapstadt.

Es war jedoch nicht das erste Mal, dass sich Gutsche in Südwestafrika befand. Als Mitglied der Cape Garrison Artillery hatte er bereits Walvis Bay im Jahre 1900 im Range eines Leutnants besucht. Sein Photoalbum enthält einige bemerkenswerte Bilder und Postkarten aus dieser Periode, die hier abgedruckt werden. Die meisten waren bisher unveröffentlicht. Im Jahre 1926 war er auch der zweite Präsident der SWA Wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft.

Key words:

Cape Town, Cape Garrison Artillery, Cleverley, Gutsche, Clemens; HOPE, NIOBE, Topnaars, Walvis Bay.


Background on the settlement of Walvis Bay Given a steady supply of water and pasture for cattle, a human settlement will spring up. If there is, on top of it, access to the sea, eventually a harbour will appear.

Walvis Bay is no exception, although the Namib Desert has always acted as a natural shield from the inland from time immemorial. Only members of the Topnaar community settled in the mouth of the Kuiseb River, drawing their water from Rooibank, grazing their livestock in the dry Kuiseb riverbed, catching fish in the Walvis Bay lagoon and collecting all kinds of seafood along the shore.

Early Portuguese seafarers had already known the bay and called it "Ridge of Rock". The nobleman Pereira, who had taken part in a voyage to the east, referred to the bay as "a shallow bay, where fish of all kinds including whales were abundant".

Dutch ships explored the western coast of Namibia as early as 1677, when the BODE from the Cape made it to Sandwich Harbour. It was also the Dutch who gave Walvis Bay its name: The men of the WAERWIJCK reported abundant whales there in 1723, which promised a rich haul in whale oil and baleen. Their report carried name of this bay for the first time, which is still in use today - Walvis Bay.'

The second half of the 18th century saw the first British annexation of Walvis Bay with the coasting vessel STAR proclaiming Walvis Bay and the surrounding country British Territory. The annexation was not yet officially recognised. A monopoly was, however proclaimed over the rich whaling and sealing grounds, and for 30 years these industries thrived under naval protection. A large barter trade developed between the ships' crews and the Topnaars living in the dunes.2

The 19th century was the era of the ox-wagon, being the earliest link with the pastoral and mineral wealth of the interior. The first ox-wagon, that of Sir J.E. Alexander, reached Walvis Bay after an epic journey form Cape Town in 1836. Its crew had covered 4000 miles and procured valuable information about the country.3

In 1844 Walvis Bay's first permanent European settlers appeared on the scene, these being the Dixon and Morris families. They opened a thriving trading station, supplying fresh meat to passing ships and exporting cattle to St Helena. In order to facilitate access to the harbour, Jonker Afrikaner had a road built from Windhoek to link Walvis Bay effectively to the interior.

In 1845 the Rhenish Mission established a mission station at Rooibank. Explorers into the interior made frequent use of the port and, for instance in 1856, James Chapman came through to Walvis Bay from Lake Ngami with seven wagons each laden with 1,200 Ibs. of copper ore which he shipped to the Cape. The discovery of copper greatly increased the number of wagons reaching Walvis Bay, and by 1857 several mining companies were established in the port. The wagons were usually fully loaded with trading goods for their return trip to the interior, and there was a monthly shipping service to the Cape.4

The war in the interior during the 1860s also had its effect on Walvis Bay, with the settlement being menaced on many occasions. The reason was that arms and ammunition poured into the country via the port. In 1867 Walvis Bay was attacked by the Namas, trading stores were raided, and the printing press at Rooibank, the first ever in the country, destroyed.

A company of British redcoats was despatched aboard the ship PETREL in 1868, marched to Rooibank, hoisted the Union Jack and issued a severe warning to anyone who threatened the lives of Europeans and their property.5 Annexation of Walvis Bay in 1878 Since the inhabitants of the interior had petitioned for protection and annexation to the British government of the Cape, Special Commissioner W.C. Palgrave was sent to the territory with special instructions to investigate the situation.

As the Cape government felt that the grave elements of discord which existed amongst the Hereros and the Namas would in future seriously embarrass the Cape Colony in its responsibility of ensuring peace, Palgraves' plea of annexing the whole country flopped. But the Thirstland Trek had started in the mean time, and in order to prevent the Boers from seizing the port, it was decided to annex the Walvis Bay and 12 miles of surrounding land."

The annexation occurred in 1878, marking a period of uninterrupted government of this enclave first of British rule (1878-1884), then by the Cape Colony (1884-1910), the Union of South Africa (1910-1961) and finally by the Republic of South Africa (1961-1994), until Walvis Bay was finally integrated into the sovereign Republic of Namibia.

In 1885 the land surveyor P.B.S. Wrey, who hailed from the Cape, surveyed the territory of the British enclave around Walvis Bay. This was performed on the instruction of the British government and served to demarcate the border between the newly founded colony of German South West Africa and the British enclave of Walvis Bay. One of the wooden boundary posts was proclaimed as a national monument in 1967.7

During the next six years after 1878, German influence was to become strongly entrenched in the interior and along the coastline. The Rhenish Mission put up a small church building in Walvis Bay, which had been prefabricated from wood in Hamburg and brought to Walvis Bay by ship, where it was erected in 1880. In 1891 the church was enlarged and in 1918 it was moved to its present location. It is the oldest building still standing in Walvis Bay and nowadays used as a clubhouse for the Lion's Club.8

Swakopmund arises as competitor to Walvis Bay By 1884 British possessions was limited to Walvis Bay only, which however remained, the main port of entry. When the Witbooi rebellion broke out in 1893, hundreds of German soldiers and such a great deal of arms and ammunitions landed at Walvis Bay that the Cape government threatened to close the harbour. This possibility and the undesirability of the trade to the interior being dependent on a foreign port influenced the German government to develop neighbouring Swakopmund. By 1897 German ships were successfully working cargoes at their new port of entry, and at the turn of the century Walvis Bay had lost its position of eminence.9

Timber jetty for Walvis Bay:

In reaction to Swakopmund's strong challenges as the port of entry, the Cape government now erected a 616 ft. long timber jetty at Walvis Bay. The new jetty was fitted with a crane and a small steam launch to tow lighters between the jetty and the seagoing vessels. A 2ft.6 in. gauge railway track was laid from the jetty to the warehouse, and 2,5-ton trucks drawn by mules provided transport.10 […]