Territory of South West Africa
Motto: Viribus Unitis
(Latin for "With United Forces")
Location of South West Africa in Southern Africa
|Status||Mandate of South Africa|
and largest city
|Sir Edmond Howard Lacam Gorges|
|28 June 1919|
|21 March 1990|
|Currency||South West African pound (1920-1961)|
South African rand (1961-1990)
|Today part of||Namibia|
Part of a series on the
|History of Namibia|
Previously the colony of German South West Africa from 1884-1915, it was made a League of Nations mandate of the British-ruled Union of South Africa following Germany's defeat in World War I. Although the mandate was abolished by the UN in 1966, South African rule continued despite it being illegal under international law. The territory was administered directly by the South African government from 1915 to 1978, when the Turnhalle Constitutional Conference laid the groundwork for semi-autonomous rule. During an interim period between 1978 and 1985, South Africa gradually granted South West Africa a limited form of home rule, culminating in the formation of a Transitional Government of National Unity.
As a German colony from 1884, it was known as German South West Africa (Deutsch-Südwestafrika). Germany had a difficult time administering the territory, which experienced many insurrections against the harsh German rule, especially those led by guerilla leader Jacob Morenga. The main port, Walvis Bay, and the Penguin Islands were annexed by the UK in 1878, becoming part of the Cape Colony in 1884. Following the creation of the Union of South Africa in 1910, Walvis Bay became part of the Cape Province.
As part of the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty in 1890, a corridor of land taken from the northern border of Bechuanaland, extending as far as the Zambezi river, was added to the colony. It was named the Caprivi Strip (Caprivizipfel) after the German Chancellor Leo von Caprivi.
In 1915, during the South West Africa Campaign of World War I, South Africa captured the German colony. After the war, it was declared a League of Nations Class C Mandate territory under the Treaty of Versailles, with the Union of South Africa responsible for the administration of South West Africa. From 1922, this included Walvis Bay, which, under the South West Africa Affairs Act, was governed as if it were part of the mandated territory. South West Africa remained a League of Nations Mandate until World War II and the collapse of the League of Nations.On December 17, 1920 , the League of Nations gave a type C mandate to the Union of South Africa to administer South West Africa and ensure the well-being of the populations .
In 1921 , a South African administrator was appointed. German officials are invited to return to Germany. More than 1,500 German civilians followed them . Only 6,500 German settlers were allowed to stay at first while the immigration of white South Africans intensified, often on very modest terms to whom financial aid and land were allocated. The name of the capital, Windhuk, is "Afrikanerized" in Windhoek .
Although the South Africans inherit a territory which underwent genuine ethnic cleansing under German colonization , segregationist laws were nevertheless adopted to supplement the old German provisions (prohibition of vagrancy outside reserves, prohibition for a native of resign from his job without authorization from his boss, internal passport , restrictive employment contracts) . Between 1922 and 1925 , indigenous uprisings took place in particular among the Basters of Rehoboth who claimed their independence. They are severely repressed .
Lutheran Church of Windhoek (1910), colonial heritage of German missionaries who had evangelized South West Africa.
In 1924 , the German colonists represented only 37% of the white population (against 83% in 1913) . The same year, the political parties specific to South West Africa were created. The whites then founded three parties: the national party of Frikkie Jooste (Afrikaner), the Union party (anglophone) and the German Alliance of South West Africa (German Union) .
In 1925 , the white community elected its first representatives to the legislative assembly of South West Africa (eighteen elected, to which were added six members appointed by the administration) . The German Union in favor of independence wins thanks to the votes of Anglophobic Afrikaners and hostile to the South African Union . The vanquished merged and formed the Unified South West Party which became the majority party in the following elections (and will remain so until the 1950s) .
In 1925 , 43% of the territory was made up of reserves under the authority of customary chiefs ( Ovamboland , Kavangoland , Hereroland , Damaraland , Namaland , Kaokoland ), 41% of the land belonging to whites and the rest to the State or to the Basters of Rehoboth .
Miners at Tsumeb mine in the 1920s
In 1926 , all natives of South West Africa became nationals of the Union of South Africa . The former German colony is now considered to be South Africa's fifth province.
In 1928 , the white population reached 28,000 inhabitants, or 10% of the total population. Afrikaner farmers stand side by side with former German landowners. On huge farms of 10,000 to 100,000 hectares, they develop the intensive breeding of karakul cattle and sheep . As for the rights of black populations, they remain restricted to those granted during the German era: private land ownership is prohibited to them and those who are employed cannot move outside their residential areas unless they have a pass. .
For twenty years, the colony sinks into oblivion . The rail network is however completed and linked to the South African network . There are few investments in a territory whose status is not final and will remain uncertain for a long time . The exploitation of diamonds, various minerals and livestock are the only riches of the territory.
After Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, the Germanic community began to believe in the return of the Southwest . Sections of the NSDAP are formed in the colony. They were quickly banned by the South African government but the suspicion generated led it to intern at the start of World War II more than 1,200 of the 10,000 German speakers in the territory . In accordance with the London Agreement of 1923 , the South West Germans were however exempted from serving against their country of origin and escaped their incorporation into the South African army .
The Mandate was supposed to become a United Nations Trust Territory when League of Nations Mandates were transferred to the United Nations following World War II. The Prime Minister, Jan Smuts, objected to South West Africa coming under UN control and refused to allow the territory's transition to independence, instead seeking to make it South Africa's fifth province in 1946.
Although this never occurred, in 1949, the South West Africa Affairs Act was amended to give representation in the Parliament of South Africa to whites in South West Africa, which gave them six seats in the House of Assembly and four in the Senate.
This was to the advantage of the National Party, which enjoyed strong support from the predominantly Afrikaner and ethnic German white population in the territory. Between 1950 and 1977, all of South West Africa's parliamentary seats were held by the National Party.
An additional consequence of this was the extension of apartheid laws to the territory. This gave rise to several rulings at the International Court of Justice, which in 1950 ruled that South Africa was not obliged to convert South West Africa into a UN trust territory, but was still bound by the League of Nations Mandate, with the United Nations General Assembly assuming the supervisory role. The ICJ also clarified that the General Assembly was empowered to receive petitions from the inhabitants of South West Africa and to call for reports from the mandatory nation, South Africa. The General Assembly constituted the Committee on South West Africa to perform the supervisory functions.
In another Advisory Opinion issued in 1955, the Court further ruled that the General Assembly was not required to follow League of Nations voting procedures in determining questions concerning South West Africa. In 1956, the Court further ruled that the Committee had the power to grant hearings to petitioners from the mandated territory. In 1960, Ethiopia and Liberia filed a case in the International Court of Justice against South Africa alleging that South Africa had not fulfilled its mandatory duties. This case did not succeed, with the Court ruling in 1966 that they were not the proper parties to bring the case.
There was a protracted struggle between South Africa and forces fighting for independence, particularly after the formation of the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) in 1960.
In 1966, the General Assembly passed resolution 2145 (XXI) which declared the Mandate terminated and that the Republic of South Africa had no further right to administer South West Africa. In 1971, acting on a request for an Advisory Opinion from the United Nations Security Council, the ICJ ruled that the continued presence of South Africa in Namibia was illegal and that South Africa was under an obligation to withdraw from Namibia immediately. It also ruled that all member states of the United Nations were under an obligation not to recognise as valid any act performed by South Africa on behalf of Namibia.
South West Africa became known as Namibia by the UN when the General Assembly changed the territory's name by Resolution 2372 (XXII) of 12 June 1968. SWAPO was recognised as representative of the Namibian people, and gained UN observer status when the territory of South West Africa was already removed from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.
The South African authorities established 10 bantustans in South West Africa in the late 1960s and early 1970s in accordance with the Odendaal Commission, three of which were granted self-rule. These bantustans were replaced with separate ethnicity based governments in 1980.
|Bantustan||Capital||Years||Most represented tribe|
|East Caprivi||Katima Mulilo||1972-1989||Lozi|
|Bantustan||Capital||Years||Most represented tribe|
South Africa had illegally occupied neighboring Namibia at the end of World War II, and since the mid-1970s, Pretoria had used it as a base to fight the communist party in Angola.