Windoek, Namibia, 29 August 2012

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September 27th 2012
Published: September 27th 2012
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Windoek, Namibia, 29 August 2012

We arrived in Windoek at lunch time and booked into our rooms. We then had a pizza for lunch and caught the hotels bus into the city. Tom had a haircut and I found a card and present for Tom. Cards are certainly not a thing that the Namibians do as I had a difficult time finding a card. I also had worse trouble finding a get well card for my little granddaughter, Gemma, who is having her little bent ear corrected on 7 September. I found a DVD with African images and music on it and post cards with African animals for a get well card. We were too late to post the card for Gemma because we got there just after 4.30pm even though the locals said the Post Office closes at either 5.00pm or 5.30pm – devastated. When we got back to the hotel, I found the bar sold stamps and there was a post-box outside the entry of the hotel – I hoped it would get to Kerrie’s house by the 7th September.

We then saw a restaurant with a balcony so because it was an hour from sunset and it was really hot so an icy cold beer was called for. The weather became balmy while we were sitting there and again, there was another beautiful African sunset.

As it was another hour before we met the rest of the group we decided to walk to the Joe’s Beer House restaurant for dinner. We arrived there before the others so had as good opportunity to look around this very interesting building. It had local memorabilia everywhere. It was quite unique – the pictures will tell some of the story but where we sat was where there was no roof so our area was lit with moon-light as well as the restaurant lights. It was beautiful.

The meal we had there was amazing. I ate a kebab which had a variety of meats on it – ostrich, crocodile, zebra, kudu and chicken. The kudu was the best – tender and tasty. Tom had a gemsbock (oryx) steak which was also delicious. We all caught the hotel van back at about 11.00pm.

The City of Windhoek is traditionally known by two names: Khoekhoe: hot springs, and Otjiherero: place of steam. Both traditional names reference the hot springs near today's city centre.

Theories vary on how the place got its modern name of Windhoek. Most believe it is derived from the Africaans word Wind-Hoek (wind corner). Another theory suggests that Captain Jonker Afrikaner named Windhoek after the Winterhoek Mountains at Tulbagh in South Africa, where his ancestors had lived. The first mention of the name Windhoek occurred in a letter from Jonker Afrikaner to Joseph Tindall, dated 12 August 1844.

Around 1840, Jonker Afrikaner established a settlement at Windhoek. He and his followers stayed near one of the main hot springs, located in the present-day Klein Windhoek suburb. He built a stone church that held 500 people, which was also used as a school. Two Rhenish missionaries, Carl Hahn and Franz Kleinschmidt, started working there in late 1842 and were two years later driven out by two Wesleyans, Richard Haddy and Joseph Tindall. Gardens were laid out and for a while Windhoek prospered, but wars between the Nama and Herero eventually destroyed the settlement. After a long absence, Hahn visited Windhoek again in 1873 and was dismayed to see that nothing remained of the town's former prosperity. In June 1885, a Swiss botanist found only jackals and starving guinea fowl amongst neglected fruit trees.

Colonial era

In 1878, Britain annexed Walvis Bay and incorporated it into the Cape of Good Hope in 1884, but Britain did not extend its influence into the hinterland. A request by merchants from Luderitzbucht resulted in the declaration of a German protectorate over German South-West Africa in 1884. The German colony came into being with the determination of its borders in 1890 and Germany sent a protective corps, called the Schutztruppe under Major Curt von Francois, to maintain order. Von François stationed his garrison at Windhoek, which was strategically situated as a buffer between the Nama and Herero, while the twelve strong springs provided water for the cultivation of food. We saw a very big German influence that has been maintained today, with many German Street signs.

Present-day Windhoek was founded on 18 October 1890, when Von François fixed the foundation stone of the fort, which is now known as the Alte Feste (Old Fortress). After 1907, development accelerated as people migrated from the countryside to the city. There was also a larger influx of European settlers arriving from Germany and South Africa. Businesses were erected on Kaiser Street (presently Independence Avenue), and along the dominant mountain ridge over the city. At this time, Windhoek's three castles, Heinitzburg, Sanderburg, and Schwerinsburg, were built.

South African administration after World War I

The German colonial era came to an end during World Was 1 when South Africa troops occupied Windhoek in May 1915 on behalf of the British Empire. For the next five years, a military government administered South West Africa. Development of the city of Windhoek and the nation later to be known as Namibia came to a virtual standstill. After World War II, Windhoek's development gradually gained momentum, as more capital became available to improve the area's economic climate. After 1955, large public projects were undertaken, such as the building of new schools and hospitals, tarring of the city's roads (a project begun in 1928 with Kaiser Street), and the building of dams and pipelines to finally stabilize the water supply. It also introduced the World's first potable re-use plant in 1958, treating recycled sewage and sending it directly into the town's water supply.

We loved the ‘feel’ of the town and enjoyed out time there. The next morning after a hearty breakfast in the restaurant, we left at 9.00am.

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