Chronology of Namibian History

From Pre-historical Times to Independent Namibia
Dierks, Klaus
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Chronology of Namibian History

Subtitle: From Pre-historical Times to Independent Namibia
Author: Klaus Dierks
Publisher: Namibia Scientific Society
2nd edition, Windhoek 2002
Soft-cover, 15x21 cm, 484 Seiten, some bw-photos

From the Preface:

An updated and well-researched chronology of Namibian history is long overdue. In particular, a chronological and properly indexed delineation of the pre-colonial and mandate periods following World War I, and of the period leading up to Namibia's independence, has long been lacking. This chronology depicts "Namibia's Road to Freedom"; the country's striving for freedom and independence is the red thread woven through the rich tapestry of its history since long before the onset of formal colonialism in 1884.

The advent of colonialism in the last quarter of the 19th Century serves as the starting point for this research, and the seemingly endless yam of facts and figures that flowed from the colonial presence is followed to its logical conclusion - the birth of the Republic of Namibia on 21 March 1990. Community awareness of ancient historical roots, associated with oral traditions about the origins and migrations of many Namibian communities play an important role in the revival of their cultures in post-independent Namibia and is reflected in this chronology. The author, being an engineer by profession as well as a historian, has applied an "engineering approach" to this chronicle, which serves to advance its accuracy.

Chronologies tend to be tiresome to read, but they are informative and useful, particularly if they incorporate a comprehensive index, as this one does. This chronology can be used as a reference source in researching, for instance, what events took place in a specific year, the delimitation over time of Namibia's boundaries, the full spectrum of United Nations resolutions adopted on Namibia, or the leadership and dates of birth and dissolution of political parties and other interest groups. It must be noted, however, that the chronologies of Namibian history produced to date, including this one, are inevitably problematic in that, because the country's archaeology is still in its infancy, a comprehensive account of its pre-colonial history cannot be produced with any certainty. For this reason also, historical evidence on the whereabouts, lifestyle and development of many Namibian communities is scarce, if not totally lacking.

This chronology has been divided up as follows. The first section chronicles the pre-historical period from the southern African Middle Stone Age to approximately 1200 AD, at which time the first archaeological evidence of human-made pathways in Namibia came into being. The next section takes us into the period of the explorers, hunters and traders who resided in Namibia between 1486 and 1800. This period is followed by the pre-colonial period of the missionaries, and the section on the missionary period is divided into two sub-sections: the period of missionaries arriving to work in Namibia, and that of the missionaries interfering in Namibian politics.

We then enter the formal colonial period, which began with the advent of German rule in 1884. This formal colonial period is divided into four sub-periods: the initial period of occupation from 1884 to 1889, the period from 1890 to 1903 which saw the Initiation of active resistance against the German administration (nineteen uprisings by various Namibian communities against the Germans during this period, all in all there have been 30 uprisings against the German/ South African colonial authorities between 1890 and 1959), the period from 1904 to 1906 when the resistance culminated in central and southern Namibia, and finally the period from 1906 to World War I when the Germans consolidated their power.

The next section chronicles the period of South African rule in Namibia, and this period is divided into five sub-periods: the period of South African military rule from 1915 to 1918, the period from 1918 to 1945 when Namibia became a Mandate of the League of Nations, the period from 1946 to 1956 when the United Nations endeavoured to make Namibia a UN Trusteeship Area, the period from 1956 to 1974 when the struggle against South Africa commenced, and finally the period from 1975 to 1987 which saw a succession of South African interim administrations and the Start of the attenuated process leading to independence.

The final section covers the period immediately preceding independence in 1990, and the subsequent reintegration of Walvis Bay and the Atlantic off-shore islands into the new Republic of Namibia in 1994. The historical researcher is presented with several unique problems in relation to the earlier periods of Namibian history. Apart from the fact that information sources on these periods are fragmentary, contradictory, or just non-existent, the Gothic-like handwriting of German missionaries and officials makes the available sources exceptionally difficult to work with. [...]