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Compilation: Dag Henrichsen
This book contains the facsimile reprint of the first African newspaper published in Namibia - South West News / Suidwes Nuus. Issued in 1960 in Windhoek, it has to be regarded as the earliest example of independent African journalism in Namibia.
South West News was the only newspaper in Namibia at the time with a non-racial and nationalist concept. It was also a community paper for the Old Location, the African township in Windhoek, whose residents were threatened with force removals. The paper was launchend shortly after the shooting in December 1959 at the Old Location.
The history of South West News forms but a chapter in the various activities of the Windhoek Old Location and the role of that community in the cultural and political life of Namibia after the Second World War. In this book, which comprises a reprint of the newspaper, plus an appendix of English translations of those items which appeared in other languages, Dag Henrichsen provides a professional content-analysis, which will enable the reader to have a fresh appreciation of the lives and struggles of the people of Namibia in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
He occupies a unique position, being simultaneously an outsider and an insider. Having grown up, on the one hand, a white Namibian from a notable family, he obviously approaches black society with a certain degree of fascination and easy professional detachment. On the other hand, being a third-generation Namibian, he has sufficient depth of understanding of his country and society as a whole. Despite the complimentary remarks which Dag Henrichsen makes about my own contributions to his efforts of researching and analysing the material in this book, every credit should go to him for the passion and the unprecedented dedication he has shown for South West News and the history of his country in general.
It is true that Dag Henrichsen asked me many questions about our activities and about almost everything that went on in the Old Location at the time South West News was founded. He also referred drafts of his texts to me for comment. However, I preferred to leave him to make independent analyses and interpretaions of the paper, confining myself to the correction of factual errors.
He now presents us and the newspaper to the world, warts and all. And warts there were many, since we were clearly neither professional in the field of journalism nor knowledgeable at that time. But we had the will and the determination to do something about the lives of our people and the destiny of our country. Some of our contributions were not original, but derivative. Nevertheless, in borrowing, we selected what we thought was good for our society and, in that sense, the ownership of what we published remained ours.
Fortunately - or unfortunately - the printed word can neither be ignored nor changed. Hence, South West News is here again, to expose everything that we were. Our only consolation is that somewhere in our humble attempts there must have been something good. We trust that readers paging through this forgotten relic will learn something from it. Being the good historian that he is, Dag Henrichsen has conveyed much of the history of South West News in the process of analysing and presenting the paper, and so has made my task relatively simple.
What follows is a simple chronicle of the events which preceded and led to the appearance of the newspaper, as well as a brief account of what forced South West News to close shop.
In January 1959, the South West Africa Progressive Association (SWAPA) organised a reception to welcome me. It was held in the Sybil Bowker Hall of the Windhoek Old Location in conjunction with the Municipality of Windhoek who had newly engaged me as the first black Namibian social worker. In my address I stressed, inter alia, the importance of a newspaper for the black population of Namibia. This point was reflected in the report on the event which appeared in the Allgemeine Zeitung. [...]