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Moordkoppie (Murder Hill) Okahandja Namibia


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Moordkoppie (Murder Hill) Okahandja Namibia


A National Heritage Site



Moordkoppie Okahandja


Moordkoppie ( Murder Hill ) can be seen on the East side from the B1 road as it By-Passes the town of Okahandja.


Moordkoppie ( Murder Hill ) is surrounded by a 2 meter high razor wire fence. The site around the fence is used as a weekend drinking venue for some of the locals. It is littered with filth, broken beer bottles, plastic bags flutter from their hanging places on the wire fence. A sad, but stark indication of some local attitudes


For one-hundred-and-fifty-years the rocky outcrop known as Moordkoppie ( Murder Hill ) has been steeped in a somewhat sensational and popular myth. Modern historians are of the opinion that the reports of the Herero and Rhenish Missionaries on the events of that period were grossly exaggerated for the purpose of justifying a 'Liberation War' to overthrow Jonker Afrikaner and his Oerlom followers.


Sir Francis Galton (Fellow of the Royal Society) arrived at the Barmen Mission on 30th September where the missionaries told him of the massacre in the latter days of August 1851. It reads as follows:


"The evening of the next day found us at Barmen, which if we were to avoid the Hottentots, would probably be the starting-point of my exploring expedition. Mr. Hahn, a Russian by birth, and married to an English lady, and a Missionary of considerable influence, was the founder of this station.


Mr. Kolbe and his young wife, who had been attacked by the Hottentots at Schmelen's Hope, had come here for refuge. They had lost nearly everything. It seems they had quite recently occupied the place, and that the poorer natives had settled in great numbers by them. Kahikene, one of the four or five principal chiefs in Damaraland, had also trecked there with many of his men and large herds of cattle. He had always behaved in a very friendly way to the Missionaries; but this was the first time that either he, or any of the influential Damaras, had encamped within easy reach of a Mission

station. Kahikene showed no distrust, but lived in the friendliest relations with Mr. and Mrs. Kolbe, and they had sincerely hoped by his means to get a firmer footing that they then had in Damaraland. Just at this time, one night a troop of mounted Hottentots galloped up to the place, firing at and murdering all they could catch. Kahikene narrowly escaped; the Hottentots scoured the country in every direction, and a most fearful night was passed. In the early morning Jonker came reeling drunk to the Mission house, ordered the door to be unbarred, and behaved in the coolest way, - demanding some breakfast, and so forth; and then departed with his men, and the oxen, and what else they had robbed. It is very difficult to find out how many people are killed or wounded in occasions like these, as hyenas soon devour the dead bodies, and those who survive scatter in all directions, so that no clue remains towards the numbers


missing. I saw two poor women, one with both legs cut off at her ankle joints, and the other with one. They had crawled the whole way on that eventful night from Schmelen's Hope to Barmen, some twenty miles. The Hottentots had cut them off after their usual habit, in order to slip off the solid iron anklets that they wear. These wretched creatures showed me how  they had stopped the blood by poking the wounded stumps into the sand. A European would certainly have bled to death under such circumstances. One of Jonker's sons, a hopeful youth, cam to a child that had been dropped to the ground, and who lay screaming there, and he leisurely gouged out its eyes with a small stick.


I had no reason to think that this outrage on Mr. Kolbe's station was any worse than the usual attacks that the Hottentots and Damaras make upon one another; but the Damaras are savages, and are not supposed to know better, while Jonker is a British subject, born in the colony, and his best men are British subjects too. Missionaries and teachers in great numbers have been amongst them, or their fathers, for years and years; and the home of these people, thought now they have trecked on to the tropics, is properly on the border of the Orange River."




Galton refers to Jonker Afrikaner and his Namas as being Hottentots, and the Herero and Damara as being Damaras. The whole central area of Namibia being known at that time as Damaraland. Galton calls the Herero Chief Kahitjene by the name Kahikene.

Galton does not consider the skirmish to be 'any worse than the usual attacks that the Hottentots and Damaras make upon one another'. He makes no further comment about the matter, and even visited Jonker at his kraal in Windhoek'. It should be considered that not as many were killed as have been previously speculated on.

He observed and spoke with only 2 women who had suffered amputation in order that their anklets, which were made of Iron (not copper) could be looted. Galton had previously noted the practice of 'Damara' women wearing iron anklets, stating "they treasure iron as do we gold".

He makes no further reference to any human remains being seen as he treks his way to 'Okahandja' and then on to Windhoek.


Acknowledgements and further reading:  H9, P1

Okahandja Local Area Attractions

Gross Barmen Hot Springs

Herero Chiefs' Graves  Moordkoppie Accommodation

Von Bach Dam Resort

Herero Day   Okahandja
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