The small water
fountain at Namutoni - an introduction:
explorers Charles John Andersson and Francis Galton were the first
Europeans to 'discover' the Etosha-Pan passed by the Water-Hole at Namutoni
on 29 May 1851, Galton wrote,
"passing a reedy, boggy fountain (Namutoni),
we came an hour after to Omutchamatunda, which was thronged with
Ovampos and their cattle. We were received very hospitably, and had
a tree assigned to camp under."
In 1897 the Rinderpest
swept through Southern Africa decimating the vast cattle herds. The
proactive response of the German authorities was establish quarantine stations
at Okaukuejo and Namutoni and to draw a quarantine cordon
between them bordering the southern edge of the Etosha-Pan.
All known of animals that crossed the line were shot. The original
constructions at Namutoni were built of reeds. The small garrison consisted of a non-commissioned officer, a medical orderly and
two troopers. The huts were situated near to the reedy, boggy water hole.
Convenient, but accompanied by the threat of malaria, living
conditions were primitive.
Following the end of the cattle plague the little
frontier post served the purpose of monitoring trade with the Ovambo.
The movement of firearms and ammunition was of concern to the German
authorities. The previous fifty years had witnessed a brisk trade in
fire arms within the territory.
In 1901 the first German Schutztruppe military presence was
established at Okaukeujo. A tall round lookout tower (not the one
that can be seen today) was built, and by 1903 it was decided that
the post at Namutoni should be upgraded, militarised, and a more substantial
building of stone and mud-brick was erected that measured 24m x 10m as can be
Rumblings from the South:
The vast area of land running south of the Etosha
to the approximate latitude of the Swakop River was inhabited by the
Damara and Herero tribes. The German colonial administration's
oppressive expansionist policies had been the cause of ongoing
frustration to the Hereros for nearly twenty years. 1896 had
witnessed a liberation uprising that was brutally suppressed by use of the
had not dampened the will of the people. On 11 January 1904 Chief
Samuel Maharero gave the order for the Herero tribes to take up arms
and declared war on the German occupiers. The Herero had invited the
Ovambo to join them in the native uprising, but had received no
response from the Ovambo leadership. The Ovambo tribal lands laid
roughly from the southern edge of the Etosha-Pan northwards into
Angola and were not under German administration. The Ovambo Chiefs
had maintained a relatively cool, but diplomatic relation with the