Popular resistance in Namibia, 1920-1925

Emmett, Tony
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The first five years of the South Africa mandate marked an important milestone in the development of resistance in Namibia. Between 1920 and 1925 resistance against colonial rule assumed a variety of forms unparallelled in Namibian history. The Bondelswarts rebelled in 1922 and the Rehoboth Basters, with their Herero, Damara and Nama allies, in 1925. Further smaller-scale outbursts of violence erupted in other parts of the territory, and rumours of a general black rising were rife amongst both black and white communities. Even the San, who were usually isolated from other black communities by their nomadic existence in marginal parts of the territory, resorted to stock theft and banditry on an unusual scale, becoming embroiled in skirmishes with the police and administrative officials. This period also saw the introduction of new forms of political organisation that transcended pre-colonial divisions and began laying a basis for national unity. Among the organisations that were established during this period were the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), the Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union (ICU), the African People's Organisation (APO) and the South West Africa National Congress (SWANC). In particular, UNIA with its pan-Africanist platform proved remarkably successful, spreading from the industrial centre of Luderitz to other urban centres, and then to the countryside. The resistance movements of this phase of Namibian history have thus far received little attention from researchers. The few studies of resistance during this period have concentrated almost exclusively on the two rebellions and, for the most part, treat these outbursts as discrete episodes unconnected with other manifestations of protest. Very little has been written about the various political organizations that came into being during this period, and where these are mentioned, it is usually in the context of urban centres such as Luderitz and Widhoek. Some of the most striking features of this period such as the diversity and scale of popular involvement and the rich network of relationships connecting the different strands of protest, have therefore gone largely unnoticed.
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented June, 1984
Government, Resistance to. Namibia, Namibia. Politics and government