Captain Hendrik Witbooi was born around 1830 in Cape Colony. He came from a long line of leaders among the Orlam tribe of the Nama. His father Moses Witbooi, uncle Jonker Afrikaner, great uncle Jager Afrikaner, and grandfather David Witbooi all being chiefs.
Well versed in multiple languages, his early education came by way of a Lutheran missionary. Later he would receive education in other religiously founded schools in Namibia. Between the ages of 25 and 26 he worked as a teacher. By his mid-30s he had moved back to Gibeon to help his tribe.
BECOMING A LEADER
A rift between Hendrik Witbooi and his father Moses occurred when he left his tribe to follow a group of tribespeople in heading north in May 1884. Almost three years later in February 1887, Moses Witbooi would be killed by his subchief Paul Visser. There were skirmishes over who should be the leader and Hendrik began making moves to take power. After outlasting and defeating several rival leaders, Hendrik would shoot and kill Visser in early July 1888. His goal as leader was unifying the Namaqualand region.
By the spring of 1893, the Witbooi Nama, the Gibeon-based tribe that Hendrik Witbooi directly oversaw, faces an attack by the Germans. Hendrik would face off against the Germans until September 1894 when he signed the Treaty of Gurus. This treaty saw him surrender and give the Germans assistance against other tribes in the region.
This treaty lasted until Hendrik led a revolt against the Germans in October 1904. Three years prior, the Witbooi Nama made up some of Germany’s military force. Hendrik was killed in combat a year later on October 29, 19, 5 at 74-75. Hendrik Witbooi was recognized as one of Namibia’s national heroes on August 26, 2002.
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