Jacob Marengo

Map of Südwest
Hartwin Gebhardt, who was born and raised in Namibia (Südwest until 1990), provided the following:

Also spelled "Morenga," "Marinko," etc. (Uwe Timm wrote a brilliant novel, containing a lot of actual material from the archives in Berlin and Windhoek, titled "Morenga". I don't know if it's been translated into English. A veritable treasure trove.) Together with Hendrik Witbooi Morenga was probably the most important Nama leader in the war against the Germans. Strangely, for a fairly race-conscious people, he was of mixed ancestry (his father was Nama, his mother Herero). Educated on a mission, he spoke at least three "white" languages (German, Afrikaans and English) in addition to Nama and Herero. He managed to elude the Schutztruppe for a long time, pulling off daring raids and then escaping over the Oranje River into South Africa. As a Bondelswaartz chief Morenga was unique in that his fighters consisted of both Herero and Nama, at least in the early stages of his campaign. He was supplied by (mostly) English traders, who were encouraged by a British government quite happy to embarrass the cousin Kaiser. Only when the British and German governments decided to cooperate, launching a raid from South Africa using combined forces, was he defeated and killed (he was shot dead on September 17, 1907). Unlike many other resistance leaders, he tended not to kill his prisoners.

Hartwin Gebhardt

My mother was born and went to school in Luderitz. Some of the more adventurous kids (she was one) used to swim around the Haifischinsel (where prisoners were kept and starved) during sports. Amazingly, neither she nor her generation knew anything specific about either the history of the island or the Herero genocide, although her father actually came out to Namibia as a sergeant in the Schutztruppe (he was one of the camel riders who crossed the Namib desert for the first time). It seems the Namibian German psyche has gone into denial and suppressed a lot of the fairly recent history. The old-timers will mostly vehemently deny that anything reprehensible happened.
Hendrik Witbooi, 1825-1905
Hendrik Witbooi features on the (new) Namibian Dollar. His collected letters (actual copies plus English translations) are available from the Windhoek archives. He corresponded with Leutwein, and also with Samuel Maharero, chief of the Herero, who urged him to combine forces with the Herero in order to drive out the invaders (Nama and Herero were 'traditional' enemies, always involved in skirmishes relating to cattle theft). Had Witbooi ever received these letters, they might actually have stood a chance, at least initially. The letters were given to the Baster chief Hermanus van Wyk of Rehoboth who gave the letters to the Germans instead.

From Revolt of the Hereros :

On October 29 [1905] Hendrik Witbooi was mortally wounded in a raid on a German supply train. [...] His final words were "It is enough. With me it is all over. The children should now have rest." Von Trotha, ever generous to his foes, commented to the messenger who brought the news: "You couldn't have brought me a more beautiful message." [1]


The Nama [aka Bondelswaartz; "Hottentot" is now considered derogatory], descended from the Khoi/Khoisan, have a fascinating history. They trekked north from the Cape Province in South Africa and crossed the Oranje into what was then simply wilderness (German colonial history being a very belated effort and then a very short-lived thing), pressured by mostly Afrikaaner settlers. (The Afrikaaner Voortrekkers in turn were being pushed into the hinterland by British settlers.) The Nama were already strongly influenced by the colonizers. They are still bilingual, speaking both Afrikaans (all their clan/family names are Afrikaans) and Nama, which is a 'click' language related to Bushman (San). One of the first acts of war against Hendrik Witbooi (by a group of Afrikaaner farmers, all rigid Christians seeing their domination of the black races as God-ordained) was the blowing up of his church in Gibeon (Hendrik Witbooi was a Christian preacher as well as a leader).


  1. Bridgman, Jon M., The Revolt of the Hereros, Univ. of California Press, 1981 p.153
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