BY JINGO - Colonial History & Wargames Page


By Dennis Bishop


The area populated by the tribes of the German colony can be divided into two distinct types of topography. These are the healthy grasslands of the Central Plateau and the deserts. There are no perennial rivers and only a few "periodic" rivers like the Swakoo River. The landscape had only a few tracks and one railroad, although later a second railroad would be built.


The Herero numbered 80,000 people in 1904. These people were divided into nine different tribes. Most of these people were Christians, had European names, wore European clothes and were armed with hunting rifles and shotguns. They were also good horsemen.

The tribes were organized under a Supreme Kaptein elected by the other Kapteins. In 1904 this was Samuel Maharero who resided with the Okahandja tribe of 20,700 people living in 150 villages. The Okahandja tribe was the largest and wealthiest of the Herero tribes.

The Waterberg Herero of Kaptein David consisted of 4500 dependents and 500 warriors and Kaptein Kambazeni with a like number of people. They were located to the north of the Okahandja tribe and may formed the reserve which attacked the German farms.

To the west of the tribal grounds of the Okhandja were the Omaruru and Otjimbingwe Herero. The larger Omaruru tribe of Kaptein Manasse consisted of 13, 000 people and Kaptein Michael led the 800 warriors. The Otjimbingwe were led by Kaptein Zacharias and counted 7800 people and 700 warriors led by Kaptein Ouanja.

The 2000 Otjinga of Kaptein were located somewhere to the south of the Okhandja. This small tribe shared grazing lands with the larger Okombahe tribe led by Kaptein Kaptein David Kariko. His tribe counted 9000 people.

The five remaining tribes were identified to the east. These tribes had no exact count made, so the table is conjectural. The Kapteins of the tribes were: Tjetjo and Traugott, Mambo, Ombondju Ombondja, while the last was presided over by the father and son combination of Riarua and Asa-Riarua.


Unlike the Herero, who were generally concentrated in one area, the Hottentot were spread over several different areas. The term Hottentot is a general term applied to several different peoples. These peoples numbered approximately 20,000 in 1904 and according to records it appears that one in twenty-three of these was a warrior. While owning fewer cattle than the Herero, these warriors were more experienced in Boer tactics which relied upon raids using rifle armed mounted men.

The northern most tribe of the Topnaar Hottentots were led by Kaptein Jan Uichaman. There are no reliable numbers for the size of the tribe as it wavered at the beginning of the rebellion and was disarmed. However, it does appear that 33 armed warriors joined the rebels.

To the south of this tribe was the Zwartbooi. This tribe also wavered and was disarmed. Distinguishable leaders included Kapteins David Zwartbooi, Samuel Zwartbooi and Joel Zwartbooi.

The most influential and numerous tribe of the Witbooi Hottentot was not Namas, but Orlams. The Orlams were "mixed blood" people that the Dutch refused to recognize as legitimate products of sanctioned unions. These tribes were led by Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi and numbered approximately 2000 people in 1904. When the Witbooi Herero surrendered there were 420 warriors and 500 non-combatants. The other tribes included: Kaptein Isaak Witbooi's 200 warriors and 172 non-combatants, Kaptein Samuel Isaak's 74 warriors and 65 non-combatants, and Kaptein Sebulon's following of 105 warriors and 172 non-combatants.

To the west of the Witboois was the Franzmann tribe led by Kaptein Simon Kopper. This tribe contributed 120 warriors to the rebellion. The Franzmann tribe was supported by 190 warriors of the "Red Nation." South of the Witbooi were the Veldschoendrager Hottentot lead by Kaptein Hans Hendrick. This tribe contributed 150 to 200 warriors to the rebellion. Further south were the Bondelzwart Hottentot led by Kaptein Johannes Christian. It has been written that this tribe contributed 120 warriors to the rebellion.

In addition to these tribes, there were the Orlam, or Baster, tribes. These were tribes made up of "mixed blood" people like the Witbooi. These tribes split in their loyalties so that while some joined the Germans others joined the rebellion. Jan Jonker Afrikanaar's Aicha-Ain tribe, Hermanus van Wyk's Rehobother tribe and Christian Goliath's Bersheba tribe remained loyal to the Germans. The Bethanie tribe of Paul Fredrik remained loyal to the Germans, while the Bethanie tribe of Cornelius Sturman joined the rebellion with 200 warriors and 176 dependents.


On the extreme northern border of the colony were located the tribes of the Ovambo. These tribes consisted of 100,000 to 150,000 people divided into seven general tribal groups. Unlike their neighbors to the south, the Herero, these warriors were armed with only bows, knobkerries and daggers. These warriors fought on foot.


The Berg Damaras, "mountain blacks" numbered approximately 30,000 people. These were generally subjects of the Hottentot. The deserts were populated by 3,000 people called San, or Bushmen, who lived in small family groups.
These are numbers identified as being involved in the conflict, not total numbers of people in the tribes.
Tribe Kaptein Warriors Dependents
Supreme Kaptein Samuel Maharero 0 20,700
Okahanja Frederick Maharero 800

Willi Maharero 400

Kajata 500

Joel Kavizeri 400

Justus Kavizeri 200
Otjimbingwe Zacharias 450 4,500

Ouanja 350 3,500
Omaruru Manasse 1500 15,000
Okombahe Daniel Kariko 1000 9,000
Waterburg David 500 4,500

Kambazeni 500 4,500
Otjinga Saul 200 2,000
Eastern Tribes Tjetjo/Traugott 500 5,000

Mambo 200 2,000

Ombondju 200 2,000

Riarua 300 3,000

Asa-Riarua 100 1,000
Bondelzwart Johannes Christian 120 100
Witbooi Hendrik Witbooi 420 500

Isaak Witbooi 200 172

Samuel Isaak 74 65

Sebulon 105 172
Franzmann Simon Kopper 120 100
Veldtschoendragers Hans Hendrick 150 130
Red Nation Manesse Noreseb 100 100
90 100
Zwartbooi David Zwartbooi 50 100

Samuel Zwartbooi 50 100

Joel Zwartbooi 50 100
Topnaar Jan Uichamab 35 50
BASTER TRIBES (Orlams, or half-breeds)
Bethanie Cornelius Sturman 200 176

Paul Frederick 50 45

David Christian 46 40
Bersheba Christian Goliath 25 20
Rehobother Hermanus van Wyk 20 20
Aicha-Ain Jan Jonker Afrikander 15 20
There were approximately 10, 000 Bushman living in small genes in the Namib Desert.







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