History of Gobabis

History of Gobabis

Like many other towns in Namibia, Gobabis developed around a mission station and its apartheid history which and that was established in 1856 by Friederich Eggert of the Rhenish Missionary Society. Gobabis is a small town situated on the route from Windhoek to Botswana.

Gobabis is situated some 110 km from the Buitepos Border post with Botswana and around 205km from the capital city. The town is in the heart of the cattle framing area, and is considered to be the capital of eastern Namibia. Its is also known as the ''Little Texas'' of Namibia, Gobabis is so proud of its cattle farming, that a statue of a large bull with the iscription "Welcome to Cattle Country'' greets visitors.

In the latter half of the 1800s and the early 1900s several conflicts flared up between the Mbanderu and the Khauas Khoikhoi, as well as between the settlers and the indigenous people.

The Gobabis district was proclaimed by the German authorities in February 1894 and in June the following year Gobabis was occupied by a German garrison. While the military fort, built in 1896/7, has long since disappeared, one of the few buildings dating back to that era is the field hospital, or Lazarette, which has been declared a national monument.

The Gobabis Locations

According to Father Dohren of the Roman Catholic Mission at Gobabis, the first native huts to be erected in what could be described as the first location at the town of Gobabis were build near Spitskop around 1910. These huts were subsequently demolished and a new native area was established near the creamery, but the area was cleared in 1920 and the residents moved to a new area south of the town.

When that area, in turn, was required as a landing site for private aeroplane, the location for Blacks was moved to a new site approximately 2,5 km south of the town. Certain provisions of the Urban Areas Proclamation (Proc. 34 of 1924) were applied to the Gobabis urban area by three government notices in 1935, and location regulations were promulgated on 2 July the same year. Special compounds were established for contract workers employed by the municipality, the railways and the creamery, while the location itself was subdivided along the ethnic lines. An Advisory Board consisting of six residents was appointed in 1949. The old location eventually made way for Epako ("narrow defile", place at which the rivers runs between the koppies), which was established north-east of the town at a later stage.

Köhler is the only published source to provide employment statistics for the residents of the black location. According to him, most were employed by various government departments, the municipality, and private businesses and as domestic servants. Furthermore, there were three general dealers, one butcher, one café owner, four shoemakers and a few firewood dealers in the location in 1956. A small number of stock (which declined over the years) was kept on the commonage.

A separate township for Coloureds known as Nossobville was also established; this township had 415 inhabitants in 1973.

Locations and Reserves

The initially somewhat informal arrangements regarding segregated urban settlement and native reserves introduced during the German colonial period became increasingly rigid as apartheid policies were enforced under the South African administration. Movement of the greater part of the population had been restricted by the introduction of the pass system during the German period already.

Non-Europeans were allocated certain sections of towns outside which they could live without permission, and outside the towns they were confined to reserves created by the white administration - unless, of course, they worked on White-owned farms. Gobabis, too, had its locations, which resorted under the municipality (assisted by Advisory Boards), while three native reserves, Aminuis, Epukiro and the Eastern Native Reserve, were situated in the district. serves fell under the control of first the magistrate and then the native commissioner stationed at Gobabis, and were administrated by welfare officers in the reserves themselves.

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