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Explorations of ‘Kaoko-Feld’ 1894-96 by Dr Georg Hartmann, accompanied in 1895-96 by Eberhard Rosenblad
Compiled by Sian Sullivan for
Future Pasts and Etosha-Kunene Histories
Last updated 05/12/2020

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Explorations of ‘Kaoko-Feld’ 1894-96 by Dr Georg Hartmann,

accompanied by Eberhard Rosenblad in 1895-96

In 1893 the German Colonial Society transfers all rights it has acquired from Lüderitz (incl. to Sesfontein and Franzfontein) to Hirsch and Co., later the Kaoko Land and Mining Company, a London-based company represented by Dr Georg Hartmann in strategic alliance with the German colonial governor Leutwein[1]. Hartmann in this year is working for the South West Africa Co. in Otavi District (Gebiet) south of the Etosha salt pan where he had started his geographic research and receives a cable from the South West Africa Co. to begin an expedition for the Kaoko Land and Mining Company into the middle part of the ‘Kaoko-Feld’, defined at the time as an area from  the coast to the 15th longitude and from the Kunene river in the north to the ‘≠Ugab’  (!U≠gab) north of the Brandberg to the sea north of Cape Cross[2]:

[t]he main task of this expedition was the mining and agricultural investigation of the middle Kaoko area to beyond Sefsfontein. On top of that it should try to travel along the Hoanib River to the coast and to investigate the landing conditions there. This expedition [see 1894] should therefore be the first attempt to explore the unknown coast at this point [119] and I confess that accepted with great enthusiasm to execute this expedition.[3]

It is this Hartmann that both the ‘Hartmann’s Valley’ in Kaokoveld, and the Hartmann’s mountain zebra (Equus zebra hartmannae[4]) of north-west Namibia and south-west Angola, are named after.

In 1894 Hartmann makes his first expedition to ‘Kaoko-Feld’ – from Otavi, to Otjitambi, along Hoanib to ‘Seßfontein’, along the Hoanib to the coast, then back southwards on the gravel plains across the Uniab and Huab rivers to meeting point at Sorris-Sorris, thence back to the limestone concession area of the South West Africa Co. south of Etosha and north of Damaraland – and in the text reporting on his travels he opens by observing that in the map of the day of ‘Deutsch-Südwest-Afrika’,

the whole unknown coast from Swakop-Mund to the northern border is like a blank white sheet of paper, and and yet we see a lot of names and numbers there, proof that up to a certain [115] extent the exploration of the coast has been attempted. … in the year 1832 [this was in 1829 with Morrell’s account published in 1832, see above], on which occasion captain Morrell about under 21° s. Br. discovered the so called Ogden Harbor and built a detailed description of it. After that it was a precious Harbor with an opening to the north, directly at the mouth of a river, which has reed grass and bush vegetation up to the Beaches was enough. Captain Morrell also met a native branch here, the inhabitants of which he is considered to be nasty looking, but very kindly described. It is interesting to hear that the same cattle breeding, even if the number of their goats and sheep was small.[5]


“Director of the South West Africa Company Dr Georg Hartmann, (4.8.1865 - 12.7.1946), recruited Rosenblad to accompany him on an expedition to the Skeleton Coast to investigate the possibility offinding a suitable harbour on the Namibian north coast. Photo: Publication Kurt Schwabe 'Mit Schwert & Pflug in DeutschSudwestafrika'. 1904. Page 381.“ Source: scan from Rudner and Rudner 2007, p. 94.

Hartmann observes that English exploration of the coast had confirmed no suitable landing place between Swakopmund and Portuguese territory in the north[6].

Hartmann’s expedition to ‘Kaoko-Feld’,

consisted of me and an English mining engineer, two miners, about fifteen natives as servants, three ox carts with sixty trek oxen, a small two-wheeled cart, which we covered with four oxen, eight riding horses and necessary slaughter cattle; we were able to buy flour for provisions, rice, coffee etc. only for two months, in Otavi as there was no more available, but I sent a reliable transport driver with an ox-cart to Walvis-Bai to buy provisions and to meet us in the middle of the Kaoko-Feld, at a precisely marked Water station Sorris Sorris on the ≠Ugab east of the Brandberg.

   Our expedition started from Otavi at the end of March 1894. We

marched fairly precisely in a west-southwestern direction and, for example, ran through the large limestone area near Otjitambi in the east to enter the primary rock area of the Kaoko field.[7]

“Otjitambi, water holes in the sandy rivier; Dr. Hartmann's camp with the northern expedition”. Source: Figure 1, Hartmann 1897, p. 115.

Hartmann describes the Otavi mines as ‘well-known’ and the area ‘near Grootfontein and north of Damara Land’ as representing ‘excellent cattle breeding and arable land’, and notes that [t]he scenic change is quite striking’ from the ‘limestone area east of Otjitambi and south of Etosha’, to after Etosha where he notes ‘immense’ antelope herds[8]. Here, ‘the grass plains with soft soil and the abundance of water in the area under the ground, mean that this area can be used for agriculture’[9]. Etosha is described as ‘an enormous salt marsh, which looks like a frozen lake’, with more unmapped salt pans occurring in ’Kaoko-Feld’ further west[10]. He takes eighteen ‘basic’ soil samples for analysis at the Royal Geological Institute in Berlin which show that ‘the ground is more or less alkaline everywhere’ being ‘proof that the area used to be the seabed and was formed as a precipitation from the sea’, and comments again on ‘the high agricultural value of this area’[11]. Heading northwest from Otjitambi to the Hoanib on this first ‘Kaokofeld-expedition’ by Hartmann and his ‘small caravan’ he notes that they had to cross small rivers every day which flowed to the west:  

[t]he mighty table mountains in the far west, which we could already see from Otjitambi, and which, according to their position, filled the whole middle part of the Kaoko-Feld, accompanied us further and further north. In a way, we were moving on the border area between the limestone area in the east and the granite area in the west…[12]

It is April 1894 when they passed Otjitambi, ‘and the rainy season was still in full swing’, the watercourses rapidly flowing ‘[a]fter each thunderstorm’, only to dry up again soon afterwards[13]. When they reach the Hoanib they, ‘follow its course deeper and deeper into the mountains. By Ohamuheke or Sefsfontein (which they reach in mid-April, by which time it seemed that the rainy season was over[14]), we were in the midst of the mighty table mountains that and which were separated by wide erosion troughs[15]. He notes the silt in the valley saying that ‘this whole area must have formed a coherent table thousands of years ago, and for thousands of years erosion has washed away, cleft and gnawed away the tableland …[16]. They find enough water for their livestock in pools collecting the granite rock benches and Hartmann observes that there is ‘wonderful grass for livestock breeding on the slopes of the mountains’, and gallery forest including palm trees in the Hoanib, which he explains ‘proof that in the protected valleys of thalers of the Kaoko-Feld the tropical zone enters from the north’, plus irrigation available ‘where there is enough groundwater’[17] [= perhaps indicates that he observed gardening in Sesfontein on the Hoanib?].

Hartmann thus proposes that large-scale livestock breeding is suitable between Otjitambi and Sefsfonteinwith agriculture limited to gardens[18]. He notes ‘large herds of antelopes, like springbok, kudu, gemsbok, eland[?] the harte-[?] and wilde-beest[?]’, they see lion tracks near Otjitambi and several times on their journey to Sesfontein lion circle their camp at night after their horses[19]. On the mountain slopes he observes ‘numerous herds of guaggas [Hartmann’s zebras] graze, another proof that there is still enough grass between the bushes’ and they meet their ‘first giraffes in the Hoanib east of Sefsfontein [Seßfontein]’[20]. West of here ‘the game-wealth decreased fast since it had rained little here’ but they are told [by whom?] ‘that there is still enough grass and drinking water in places unknown to us high in the mountains’[21]. On the Namieb (Namib) they meet ‘small herds of ostriches, which became more and more numerous in the south’ and he reports that the ‘mountainous Kaoko-Feld is known to be ‘rich in leopards, baboons, snakes and scorpions’[22].

With ‘Hottentot guides’, Hartmann travels west of Sesfontein along the Hoanib towards the coast:

[t]o the west of Sefsfontein, there seemed to have been little or no rain. The consequence was that we had to march to the coast under great thirst and terrible heat. In addition the stony and curly [bumpy?] ground over all was bad for travelling with ox carts. After three days’ west of Sefsfontein, our ox carts under the engineer Rogers turned south and drove across the mountains in a southerly direction to the west side of the central mountain range [at |Ūb?]. I myself walked along the Hoanib with a small cart and some riding horses to reach the coast. Especially on this leg we suffered from thirst again. The Hoanib itself retained its lush bush vegetation. Gradually towards the coast it became lower and reminded us of the influence of the coastal climate. … In the Hoanib we suddenly couldn’t go any further, because of a mighty sand dune wall of 50-100 m high, which seemed to extend to the N and S into the infinite distance. My Hottentot guides told me, that the coast was not far on the other side of the sand dunes, and in fact we reached [125] it on horseback after a six-hour ride. The surf was quite significant and seemed to have the same texture both to N and S, as far as we could see through binoculars [as far as our glass reached]. With our lack of provisions we could only stay for two days and had to try to catch up with our ox carts as fast as possible. From the beach, which was almost without vegetation, we returned over the mighty sand rampart to our camp behind it at the end of the Hoanib River, where our small cart was standing, and from here we drove in a SE direction in order to get the tracks of our ox carts under Rogers’ guidance. When we had the Hoanib River valley behind us, we found ourselves on a mighty plain, the so-called Namieb, which seemed to extend to the S as well as to the N in an infinite way, and which would have formed a single connected table or terrace, if I may say so, if it had not been cut by the Hoanib River valley. Far to the west, towards the coast, the eerie sand dunes shimmered, of the same nature as those sand dunes which prevented the Hoanib from flowing directly into the sea; on the other side, far to the east, there was a broad front, as it were a wall, the table and cone mountains of the inner Kaoko-Feld.

   The Namieb was almost as flat and smooth as a table and the travelling on it is extremely pleasant. But the vegetation here was very low: very sparse grass growth, here and there small crippled bushes and the also very occasionally occurring strange Welwitschia. We were in the barren coast region, which, like at Walfisch-Bai and Swakop-Mund, wash around 60 km wide. … The many brackish water points on the Namieb prove no less [126] than the evidence of the sea from which the African continent became raised. By moving diagonally and southeast across the Namieb, we approached the central mountain area of the Kaoko-Feld from which the Namieb ran away. In the western part of this mountainous area we continued our journey to the south. We crossed the Uni!ãb and Hu!ãb river and found our ox carts northwards from the Brandberg. This last part of our journey in the middle of the mountain country, at deeply cut gorges past, uphill, downhill, steep embankments downwards and just as steep higher up, the ground is literally sown only with rocks which consisted of fist-sized to child-sized pieces of basalt, this part of our journey was extremely tedious and arduous. Unfortunately, our car broke down here, and we had to walk for two days, until we reached our ox carts achieved. The horses were lame and sick from the brackish water. Our belongings were loaded on them and two riding oxen which had carried our ox cart until then. We were very happy when we reached our ox carts, but especially when we finally reached the eagerly awaited provisions car at Sorris Sorris east of the Brandberg. Sorris Sorris is, like I already mentioned, a great beautiful watering place in the valley of the vegetation-rich ≠Ugab[!U≠āb]-river, which comes from the east and closely circumnavigates the Brandberg to the north[of the mountain]. Here we rested for two days. Then we had to write our report about the course of the expedition and to hurry to bring the results to Walfisch-Bai … With the food truck some fresh horses had also come along. On them I put two very reliable servants for the route from Sorris Sorris to Walfisch-Bai, amounting to approximately 250 km in not quite four days, which given the African conditions with the lack of water and food is a very favorable performance. I managed to give our reports to the “Nautilus” which was just leaving for Cape Town.

On this first Kaokofeld expedition in 1894 I had learned that in relation to animal husbandry and as Ackerban[?] said for the area between Otjitambi and Sessfontein refers also to the whole central part of the Kaoko-Feld up to the western border of the Great Table Mountain Range, i.e, this area is ideal for breeding in a bigger style, but limited for agriculture. This area is thus sharply [127] differs from the coastal belt of 50-60 km width in the west. Within this coastal belt the vegetation is very low when it does not equal zero. We are here under the rule of coastal climates. It is an area where the rain does not fall every year, … an area that has no agricultural value for us. Moreover, the few water points in this area are brackish, and partly undrinkable. Geologically this area is of the highest interest, since it allows insight into deep stratification allowed, and it is in this area that valuable mineral findings may be made. On this expedition I only crossed the sand-dune wall to the coast at the mouth of the Hoanib and saw that here the heavy surf and the powerful sand dunes mean that a traffic route [between the coast and inland] cannot be created…

[128] After finishing this Kaoko-Feld expedition I returned to the concession area of South West Africa Co., the one described above, the limestone area south of the Etosha and north of the Damara country, and continued my geographical recordings there.[23]

In 1894 a Swedish naval captain Eberhard Rosenblad (1861-1945/6), of an ennobled southern Swedish family, travels from Gothenburg via England ‘where most of the equipment for the expedition was purchased’, via Lisbon to Mossamedes / Namibe[24], then through ‘Ovambo-land’ to Grootfontein area via Humbe, and in the next few years makes a series of journeys through the north-west and central areas and to the coast[25]. Resigning from the navy on 6 April, soon after his daughter is born and dies on 20 February, he journeys with other Swedes to South Africa on 9 June with the hunter and trader Axel W. Eriksson, who had been visiting his home town of Vånersborg[26]. Eriksson had already spent many years in ‘south-west Africa and had a sizeable business dealing in ostrich feathers, ivory, cattle, etc.’ and the expedition aimed ‘to penetrate the interior of south-west Africa and to carry on trading with cattle and local produce’[27]: ’[t]hey land in ‘Mossamedes’ [Namibe] where wagons were waiting, joining ‘several other hunters with their wagons’ and spending time hunting along the Kunene[28]. Travelling near Pedro Grande in the Angolan pro-Namib, Rosenblad declares ‘[t]he heat is terrible. The air and the mountains seem to be shimmering’[29].

Writing near Chibia, Rosenblad continues,

Eriksson had employed about thirty black servants to perform the tasks of hunters and cattle-herders and to work with the wagons. They belonged to different races and tribes: Hottentots, Bushmen, Ovambos, as well as Cattle Damara [Herero] and Berg Damara [nb. this was in southern Angola!]. Our best hunters were two Berg Damara called Tom and Jim [unlikely he could pronounce their real names], as well as a Bushman called Dekopp. The first-mentioned two were very jealous of each other and almost very day they argued about who was the better shot. The quarrel often ended in a quiet fight. Among the others there was a deaf-and-dumb Berg Damara called Gummi who I preferred and who used to accompany me when I went hunting. … Eriksson had [also] engaged a fairly experienced female cook called Sofi, who was said to have been baptized. She generally managed the cooking fairly well, but then, we were not very demanding.[30] 

Leaving Chibia on 7 September, ‘[i]n addition to our ordinary servants, our company had more than doubled because of hangers-on who followed the wagons like jackals’[31].

Main Journeys by Eberhard Rosenblad 1894-1898. Source: scan from Rudner and Rudner 2007, p. 4.

A hunting party of Axel Eriksson that includes Eberhard Rosenblad travels through ‘Ovamboland’ to Aukas, Eriksson’s farm, in Grootfontein district[32]. Later in the year Rosenblad travels with Eriksson to Walvis Bay, meeting Dr Georg Hartmann in Grootfontein on their return[33]. Hartmann invites Rosenblad on ‘his expedition on behalf of the Otavi Minen- und Eisenbahngesellschaft [Otavi Mining and Railway Company] to investigate a route for transporting copper by rail from the Otavi area to the coast, and to explore the coast for a suitable harbour’[34].

In the spring of this year, Dr George Hartmann is again commissioned by the Kaokoveld Land and Mining Company to undertake an expedition to ‘the Kaoko-Feld’ to examine ‘the whole coast of the ≠Ugab-river north of Cape Cross to the Kunene mouth for guano and landing sites’[35];  i.e. ‘to explore their newly acquired territory for minerals and guano’, and he sets off in this year ‘on the first of a number of expeditions in which he was to traverse the region from east to west and also travel along the whole coast from the Kunene mouth to Swakopmund’ – and ‘[a]lthough he discovered no deposits of value’ [this is incorrect – Hartmann’s first expedition to ‘Kaoko-Feld’ was in 1894, see above], in 1904 he ‘produced the first map of the Kaokoveld that was based on actual observation’ (see below)[36], and he publishes a text from his travels in 1897 [see 1894]. Based on his first Kaoko-Feld expedition [see 1894] Hartmann realises that exploration of the full coast would require provisioning stations along the coast: without this, horses, oxen and people could not move along the coast because of lack of water and grazing[37]. Hartmann rides to Aukas (Axel Eriksson’s farm, north-east of Grootfontein) to speak to Eberhard Rosenblad who was there, saying that,

he was about to equip a grand expedition to the Kaokoveld, and for this purpose he had engaged a couple of English mining engineers. In addition, the completely unknown coast-line would be thoroughly explored, especially to find a suitable place to construct a harbour. There were rumours that deposits of guano had been discovered at the coast and these were also to be located. Hartmann wanted me to go along and, as there was no objection from Eriksson, I decided to take part in the expedition, and I then moved to Grootfontein where the preparations were already underway.[38] 

At Grootfontein, and because ‘the reconnaissance of the coast had to be undertaken on horseback’, Hartmann gives Rosenblad riding lessons in which ‘[h]e was a very strict taskmaster’ making Rosenblad ride without stirrups, a requirement for which he was later grateful[39]. Whilst at Grootfontein ‘Hartmann, a medical officer and I’ make ‘a couple of short excursions to Otavi and some other places’[40]. Surveying ‘a high mountain close to Otavi … accompanied by a Hottentot called Daniel’ who guards the horses, Rosenblad shoots and wounds a baboon in a large troop,

but I felt very bad when I saw the poor animal standing upright and pressing soil against the wound to stop the flow of blood. During the attempt to escape, the baboon stopped from time to time, grabbed a fresh handful of soil and then continued the flight, holding his hand pressed against the wound in his side. He finally collapsed and I ended his sufferings with another shot. However, I had had enough of this kind of hunting, and in future left all apes in peace.[41] 

They return to find ‘Daniel lying dead drunk on the ground’ and, failing to rouse he, leave him there, learning when he later arrives back in Grootfontein that [82] ‘he happened to meet another Hottentot who had treated him to honey beer. He received a thorough hiding to cure him of his taste for this drink’[42].

Journey by Eberhard Rosenblad with Dr Georg Hartmann and Von Estorff in 1895-96, and Von Estorff’s route after Sanitatas. Nb. On this journey Hartmann does apparently make in separately to the Kunene River, see text. Source: scan from Rudner and Rudner 2007, p. 22.

On 1st August, and with ‘the English engineers Pearson and Crighton’, Rosenblad’s party leave ‘with all of the wagons for the watering-place Aimab in the Kaokoveld to wait there for Hartmann and the other participants who had been held up by other duties and were to arrive on horseback as soon as possible’[43]. They stop for a couple of days at Outjo ‘which lies on the border of Kaokoveld and has a large spring’, being where ‘an old trader called Lambert [Thomas Jan Lambert – an English trader from the Cape – m. a daughter of a Dorstland trekker – Engelina Oosthuizen, and was ‘the first white settler at Outjo’[44]] had had his trading business for a long time’ although,

[u]ntil recently he had had much to suffer from Hottentots and Damara, but since German troops had been stationed here, he had been left in peace by the natives. Twice he had been close to losing both life and property.

   Some months ago, before the arrival of the troops, one of the rebellious Damara chiefs called Kahirro turned up at Outjo accompanied by his entire horde of warriors. He behaved in a most threatening manner and demanded that Lambert immediately put his house at his disposal, and eventually became so aggressive that Lambert’s wife and daughters had to flee headlong into the bush-veld where they stayed for several days in the wet and cold and almost without any food.

   Another time, when Lambert had received several wagon-loads of goods from Walvis Bay, a crowd of Hottentots from the northern part of the Kaokoveld and under the command of their chief Jan Ugamab [|Uixamab] paid a visit to do business, as they called it. Lambert, who from experience knew these people as well as the manner in which they were accustomed to pay for the goods, thought it best to keep away until the pack of robbers had tired of waiting.

   The wagons were still standing there fully loaded so that the Hottentots, who were after all masters of the situation, without further ado could have taken what they wanted and left. But, strangely enough, they did not touch the goods. They waited patiently until the following day, hoping that Lambert would appear, but when this did not happen, Jan Ugamab sent out people to search for him. As he was hiding among the bushes not far away, this was an easy task. They found their quarry within a short time. A Hottentot grabbed the beard of the frightened trader and he was dragged to the wagons in triumph.

   [83] There he had to unpack everything himself in front of the covetous crowd. They took whatever they liked, asked carefully the cost of everything, and then left with a promise to pay on a suitable occasion. It goes without saying that this was the same as never, because even had they wanted to, they certainly had nothing with which to pay.[45] 

Leutwein establishes a military station at Outjo in this year[46], presumably partly to intervene in and prevent circumstances such as those outlined above.

Hartmann and his party leave Grootfontein on 25 August 1895 for Aimab (north of Outjo), which they reach on 24 September, joining Rosenblad and company there[47].

In Hartmann’s text he summarises geographical information from this journey as follows,

[t]he first Kaokofeld expedition had taught that in the Hoanib good grass and fresh water in the form of groundwater occurred up to the sand dune wall; on the other side of the dunes we even found reed grass spots relatively close to the beach where it’s possible to dig for groundwater, proving that the water of the Hoanib seeps under the sand dunes down to the sea. It was now to be assumed that the others rivers of the Kaoko field, like the IUni!ãb, IIHu!ãb, ≠Ugab and so on, behave in a similar way with regard to grass and water. It then only mattered that before carrying out the coastal expedition we sent individual river expeditions along these rivers to set up a food station at the mouth of the river in question, in any case as close as possible to the beach, where [129] grass and fresh water was to be had. From my Hoanib expedition I knew that these river expeditions alone would have to struggle with great difficulties. It was clear to me, however, that it would have to be possible to carry them out with the utmost energy and by using all available strength. According to my calculations, there were three such stations on the coast of the central Kaoko-Feld: one at the mouth of ≠Ugab, the river that flows north of the Cape Cross, one at ||Hu!ãb mouth and finally one at |Uniãb mouth. According to the map they were on average about 80 to 190 km from each other. According to the natives and especially some Hottentots of Seßfontein which I had on my first Kaokofeld expedition, the sand dunes become lower north of the Hoanib and are very low by the time the !Khumib-River is reached. It was therefore to be assumed that especially in the north the traffic from the interior to the coast presents fewer less difficulties than along the Hoanib.

… At this time the English Guano Company was already active at Cape Cross, [130] exploiting the large guano deposits in the salt pans immediately behind Cape Cross, ?undercutting German Colonial Society for German Southwest Africa with great pecuniary advantage?. The branch of this company at Cape Cross could be the southern terminus [?of exploitation of potential northern deposits?].

   To gain as much time as possible, I intended to explore first the northern part of the coast of the Kaoko field whilst proven guides establish the three stations at the Estuaries of the above mentioned rivers of the middle Kaoko-Feld. This plan seemed to me purposeful because with travelling from the northern, that is the most distant and unknown area starting from the coast, in a southerly direction so to speak, I travel towards supplies instead of away from them. Major Leutwein was gracious enough to accept the requests of various officers who travelled to meet me in Grootfontein, to accompany me in this interesting expedition. And it was doubly pleasant for me, to place the leadership of the above three river expeditions into the hands of men who with all their energy and the greatest toughness would fulfill their tasks.

   With the large spatial distances and the lack of any connection, the instructions for these river expeditions only had to be be kept within the broadest possible framework. Like a military mission a clear and unambiguous mark directive was given to each leader concerning only the purpose and aim of his task, with all ways and means to achieve this goal given to him. Of course the equipment for every river expedition was provided to the smallest detail, consisting essentially of: 1 ox cart, 10 trek oxen, slaughter cattle, 4-6 riding horses, provisions and especially oats for three months, the necessary instruments, magnesium light, rockets and red flags. So-called critical days were finally identified, where the stations should be is established. Lieutenant Volkmann took over the organization of the three southern river expeditions and carried out the ≠Ugab expedition himself. Lieutenant Helm took over the expedition along the ||Hu!ãb, finally Captain v. Estorff the one along the !Uni!ãb The latter wanted accompany me to the northern Kaoko-Feld and from there to return to station at the |Uni!ãb mouth before my appearance there. I liked to weave in here the judgement of the old and famous elephant hunter Erikson, who has probably travelled the farthest around in our protected area, who at first thought my plan was unfeasible, and described the whole expedition as a first class achievement.

   [131] The expedition to the middle Kaoko-Feld at Sorris Sorris east from the Brandberg left under Lieutenant Volkmann at the beginning of September, the northern expedition under my leadership began to collect in Otjitambi in September for their march in the NW direction.

   … we left Outjo to go north to the Etosha Pan and try to find a way to get from there in western direction via Okahahana to penetrate into the northern Kaoko-Feld. Large Ovambo accumulations north of Okahahana with hostile intentions, due to rumors from the Damara [Herero] that the Germans would come to wage war and take away their land, took place [however], and the immense dry areas west of Okahahana, which are only passable during the rainy season, when there is water in the form of large Vleys or puddles, made it advisable to turn back and take the old route via Otjitambi.[48] [From Grootfontein on 25 August Hartmann reaches Aimab on 24 September, and Otjitambi on 31 October[49]]

On returning to Aimab, Rosenblad’s party encounters a large herd of ‘quaggas’ (Hartmann’s  zebra):

They had probably scented our horses which they took for strange relatives, and with which they now wanted to become more closely acquainted. It was truly an impressive and unforgettable sight to see this giantic herd of hundreds of animals coming straight towards us at a wild gallop, making the ground tremble under their thundering hooves. … [84] then I had all the trouble in the world to remain in my saddle. At last, when we were only a few hundred metres from the wagons the quaggas stopped, and after they had received a couple of welcoming bullets from our waiting comrades, with the result that two animals fell on the spot, the rest suddenly turned right about and stormed back, faster than they had come.[50] 

The expedition leaves Aimab in the beginning of October, Rosenblad writing:

and soon we passed the werft of the Hottentot chief David [Swartbooi] at the Otjitambe[Otjitambi] watering-place. David, a man of some forty year pleasant face, was very debauched and was not considered to be endowed with sufficient qualities of leadership, but otherwise he was a kind and well-meaning man. [see Hartmann’s Otjitambi image in 1894 above, which may in fact have been taken on this expedition in 1895].

   The missionary [Rieckmann[51]/Reichmann] who could not tolerate him because he had several wives, did all he could to have another Hottentot appointed as chief. This man, a cousin of David, was known as a great rascal, however, and as the German government was very strict about maintaining the status quo, the missionary’s behaviour resulted only in ill-feeling and could easily lead to unpleasant complications. Therefore Hartmann rode over one day to the politicizing preacher who lived in nearby Franzfontein, to urge him not to become involved in matters that did not belong within his field of office. Shortly afterwards David rose in rebellion against the Germans, but to everyone’s surprise proved himself to be both a brave and humane man, so that after his capture he was well treated.

   The further north we went, the more plentiful became the supply of game. We encountered giraffe on several occasions. Here they occurred in herds, and then we had our fill of their delicate marrowbones. Gemsbok were also plentiful.

   One day, when a Hottentot soldier named Tjoloweiss and I were out hunting, we had a large herd of gemsbok within range, at which the good man [also described by Rosenblad as ‘eccentric’] became so excited that he forgot all caution. He kept on firing with his rifle and was so occupied with this that he did not notice a lightly wounded animal unexpectedly charging to attack. I was some paces away from Tjoloweiss, noticed the charging animal in the nick of time, and succeeded in shooting in time.[52] 

From Otjitambi travelling north-west Rosenblad notes that ‘[w]e had lately quite often heard lions roaring during the nights’ and makes reference to a wagon belonging to a Boer with the Swedish-sounding name of Andersson[53] ‘on a hillock in the valley’ [text indicates near ‘Otavi’, i.e. ’Gauko Otavi’],

[t]he plain is as even as a floor and at its furthest end the mountains stand out in sharp outline. The bush below them is pitch-black.

   The work of the day is done. There is peace in the camp. Hartmann and the engineers have long since gone to sleep. Only the servants are stiII staying at the fires, but they are tired and silent because the day’s travelling has been long and the exertion great.

   It is one of those wonderful African moonlit nights which I do not believe I am capable of describing. There is a peaceful stillness over the landscape. I have set up my instruments some hundred metres from the camp to take observations. It is so light that I can read the chronometer without the aid of a lamp.

   Just as I am occupied with this, there is a shot, and it seems to me that the bullet passes close to my ear [shot by the Boer Andersson[54]]. I hastily tum about to see a magnificent lion that has silently stolen right up to me, but now races off to the nearest mountain.

   In my fright I drop the sextant, leave the instruments, and run for my life in the opposite direction towards the wagons.[55] 

They decamp and leave ‘Otavi’, i.e. ’Gauko Otavi’ later in November 1895, continuing northward, [89] the first ‘unusually heavy’ rains, including ‘hailstones as large as doves’ eggs’ falling soon after[56].


Hartmann writes:

… After six days we crossed the Hoanib, which runs to Seßfontein far to the west, and then headed directly for the Ovambo-Land and reached [Kaoko] Otavi, an area rich in springs, in early October, not to be confused with the other Otavi south of Etosha. Here Captain von Estorff, who was stationed in the southern direction travelled via Seßfontein towards the IUni!ãb river, while we in the northern expedition after some rest days continued our march in a western direction, towards the magnificent Hoarusib-river, which had lush tropical vegetation with palm groves and gallery forests, which we crossed and travelled until we reached at last the watering place Sanatanta in the !Khumib river, which could act as the base, from which the actual coastal expeditions could be sent.

   There were two English miners on the northern expedition, taken from the mining expeditions of South West Africa Co. and the mining investigation of the explored area, as well as a Swedish navy captain named [Eberhard] Rosenblad, whose acquaintance I had made in Grootfontein, where he was with the elephant hunter Erikson, a born Swede, having coming travelled there eastwards from the Portuguese colony [Angola, in July 1894 Eberhard travelled from Mossamedes / Namibe through ‘Ovambo-land’ to Grootfontein via Humbe]. In the absence of a German naval officer, I was delighted that Herr von Rosenblad accompanied me and helped me with the investigation of the coast through willingly promising to support landing sites. Also with the northern expedition was a sergeant of the Schutztruppe, named Fröde, to whom the administration of the provisions, the supervision of servants, the regulation of the inspanning and outspanning etc., and [132] who, like many other things, carries out his task quite masterfully. On our march from the Osombawe Mountains to [Kaoko] Otavi we moved again along that border area, where the eastern limestone area and the western primary rock area meet. Mighty grass plains, interrupted by bush forest areas, which are Ovambo land, soon made a wavy hilly terrain space, which became more and more torn and fissured the more we approached [Kaoko] Otavi. Here we found ourselves again in the middle of Kaoko mountains with its table and cone mountains, and this scenic picture remained the same until we reached the !Nadas river. This river originates directly at the western slope of the central table mountains and does not flow west wards, as shown on the map, but in a southwestern direction towards the sea [? could he be referring to the Khumib, which flows distinctively southwest rather than westwards and would match his route]…[57]
Hartmann seems to make a surprising suggestion here that the grass plains here with soft soils would be suitable for agriculture ‘on a larger scale’, the ‘absence of winter frosts’ making the area appropriate for ‘plantations’ of coffee and sugar cane
[?seems strange ][58].[59] 

“Hoarusib River, landscape in the river valley west of Otavi (Kaoko).” Source: Hartmann 1897 Figure 2, p. 117.

“On the march through the mountains from Hoarusib river to Sanatantas” [presumably Sanitatis]. Source: Hartmann 1897 Figure 3, p. 121.

After Kaoko Otavi, perhaps in vicinity of Sanitatas according to map above, Rosenblad writes:

[w]e were now getting closer and closer to the Kunene River, and soon we arrived at an area that was a popular haunt of elephants, judging by the dung. We made repeated attempts to find these animals but they were very shy probably because they were constantly being harassed by the Hottentots living around here. However, we were shown a ravine that they frequented at [90] night to drink and bathe, and Hartmann and I lay there for 2 nights, ready and hoping to get a couple offine elephant tusks as a memento.

   The direction of the wind was unfavourable the first night, so that the elephants certainly had sensed our presence and gone elsewhere.

   But we had better luck the following night. We heard a rustling in the forest and listened intently. It was followed by the snapping of trampled bushes and broken branches. Then six giant beasts strode slowly and solemnly down towards the water. We could see them distinctly in the moonlight.

   We lay still while they were busy drinking and spraying water over their huge bodies. It was wonderful to watch these giants of the wilderness in their natural state from such a short distance. You could almost imagine being transported back in time to a fabulous dream-world.

   When the elephants had finally had enough water inside as well as outside and prepared to move off, we selected the two biggest ones for sacrifice. They were shot behind their shoulders and did not get very far before they collapsed. …

   [91] When we reached the dead animals, we found that our booty consisted of two big males, but that their teeth - in this country the hunters usually use this word instead of ‘tusks’ - were broken and also otherwise damaged.

   As the method of hunting that we had had to employ on this occasion was unsporting and could be regarded as unnecessary slaughter, we decided never to use it again. It is a different matter when you encounter the animals in daytime and in the open veld.

   One day we were visited by the important chief Jan Ugamab [!Gomen Nama, |Uixamab], who arrived from his headquarters at Zesfontein [Sesfontein] accompanied by about 40 of his subjects. The crowd came marching in a long single file with the chief at the head, a most comical sight [patronising / othering / delegitimising]. As they filed past us with very serious and solemn expressions, each of them in turn shook hands with us without saying a word.

   Hartmann welcomed them and treated them to meat and tobacco. With the help of an interpreter he then informed Jan Ugamab that it would be most wise of this bandit to keep within bounds in future, as the German government was not to be trifled with and had their eyes on him.

   Thereafter Ugamab’s prime minister, an old noseless Hottentot, replied on behalf of the chief, promising to turn over a new leaf. At least, this was the interpreter’s version of the speech.

   It is quite possible, however, that the high state official had said just the opposite and had used the occasion only to arrange a little comedy for the pleasure of his fellow-tribesmen. The interpreter was naturally also a Hottentot and as such cunning and spiteful towards all whites, therefore it would not have required much persuasion to get him to perform that role. Previously other chiefs had behaved in the same manner.

   After these diplomatic matters had been completed, our worthy guests broke up, again shook hands with everyone, and marched off in the same imposing order as on their arrival.

   [92] I It was this Ugamab who had done such strange business with Lambert in Outjo. As punishment had not followed this misconduct, he, encouraged by success, had recently carried out the following exploit in about the same way.

   A trader in Walvis Bay called Sichel had undertaken a journey to the Kaokoveld with two wagon-loads of goods, hoping to open a new market. Everyone who had the slightest knowledge of conditions in the Kaokoveld knew that this was a daring venture, but Sichel was hoping to make some money, and probably also relied on the respect that the German troops had instilled in the natives.

   He was very courteously received by Ugamab and was asked to display his wonderful wares, and the wagons were off-loaded and the bartering commenced. Every object that appealed to the chief was put aside. After an enormous heap had been piled up to their mutual satisfaction, the hour of settlement arrived, but Ugamab constantly found the fixed prices to be too high and mentioned a ridiculously low price which he declared himself willing to pay.

   Finally Sichel lost his patience and ordered his servants to reload the goods. But then Jan Ugamab also gave an order for Sichel to be tied to the shaft of his own wagon and flogged until he relented and admitted that his prices were shameful. This happened and it was not long before Sichel found it best to declare himself satisfied with the prices that had been offered. After that he returned to Walvis Bay, certainly with much experience gained, but literally also fleeced even to his bare body.

   He did not have any reason to praise that market, and for a long time he had to suffer many jibes and sneers because of his stupidity and greed.[60] 

In December they continue ‘northward to penetrate to the Kunene River’, with the route becoming ‘worse and worse’ and ‘from time to time one of the heavy wagons overturned’[61].

Hartmann writes:

From our main camp near Sanatantas [Sanitatis reached on 23 December[62]] in the !Khumib river with an ox cart, the 16 best trek oxen and the 8 best horses I advanced to the watering place !Nadas in the !Nadas river, of that watering place, which, as already mentioned before, is located on the western edge of the central Bergland. In front of us the Namieb-plain, and from a mountain we could blurred and foggy, small hills can be seen, which we took for the sand dune wall. We were now in the driest time of the year, and according to the statements of natives [image caption indicates they were a ‘group of poor Damara (Ovatjimba)’, which we met here, there was no water either west nor north of !Nadas, with the exception of the Kunene River.[63] 

“!Nadas, watering place in the !Nadas river. Mr. Crighton [perhaps the English mining engineer mentioned in Hartmann’s text?] with group of poor Damara (Ovatjimba)”. Source: Hartmann 1897 Figure 4, p. 123.

West of !Nadas began the vegetationless rough coastal region, where we do not have access to food for our cattle. Nevertheless, I wanted to go from here to reach the coast like the Kunene. After several resting days at !Nadas in which our oxen and horses could eat up a lot and rest, we started our march to the coast on 29 December at noon 12 o’clock. After three hours trekking time, the eight inspanned oxen were exchanged with the eight loosely driven oxen were exchanged, and the same applied to the saddled horses. In this way we travelled the whole afternoon and night. In the night we crossed the Namieb and drove into the range of hills, from which we [133] left !Nadas for the sand dune wall. It turned out that these hills were smaller granitic and basaltic hills, with sand blown against them everywhere on the north-eastern side. Sand dunes were only sporadically present. The sand dune wall was small and single sand dunes were shrunk and showed their inner core, namely the naked rock, whose weathering led to the formation of sand and thus the sand drifts or sand dunes. Only with difficulty could we find our way through the heavy sand, which everywhere covered the ground covered, and we soon had to leave the cart behind. Only the next morning at around 10 o'clock from one of the granite hills could we see in the far west the sea surface, which stretched dark black to the horizon, and the surf as a fine white line. It was an uplifting feeling and with a longing heart, we looked at the goal of the project, which we now saw so close at hand. But still we had to ride four full hours we had to ride until we could see the coast itself. A mighty salt pan, which we could only carefully [cross?] held us up for a long time shortly before the beach. It was separated from the sea by a low beach wall of 2-1 m height separated, which extended to N and S for miles. The surf was very heavy, just like at the Hoanib mouth, and through our glass it seemed to the north and south not to be better. Since our horses had neither food nor drinking water, we had to return inland through the following night and arrived on the third day with our oxcart for happy days happy again in !Nadas, after we had been on the Namieb when a misfortune happened, when the cart drawbar broke. But our animals had their great performance behind them, the distance of 80 km from !Nadas to the coast and back without drinking water and to have put back with very meager food. From !Nadas we had visited the coast in exactly a western direction and does not at the mouth of Nadas, but even further north, still north of the Munutum foot, reached about 40 km south of the Kunene. Water and food shortages had made it impossible for us to continue our journey to walk along the coast.[64] [cont’d 1896]

Hartmann’s and Rosenblad’s coastal Kaoko-Feld journey continues into the new year of 1896 …

Hartmann writes:

   After some rest days in !Nadas we undertook a ‘proof’[Vorstofs] trip to the Kunene, but only on horseback. We rode away at noon 12 o'clock, and every two hours one unsaddled for half an hour. I assumed that we were going to reach the Kunene the following morning but were still riding by the the next noon, [134] early around 10 o’clock. We were tired, hungry and thirsty, as were our horses, on the eternally same looking grass steppe along the St. Marien river [Marienfluss] when suddenly around a rock corner we saw the Kunene River winding with its lush tropical vegetation, its palms and ana trees and especially its running water. On seeing this we felt as if electrified, and all tiredness was forgotten. The same feeling was shared by our horses. In full gallop we ran towards the river, cheering and cheering hurrah. – But since we are thinking of the way back and the coastal expeditions still to come, we could not give our horses a chance to stay here more. We tried to ride along along the Kunene River on this side of the river but rocks and sandblows prevented this and finally, and with the full ignorance of the fords, which are found through the Kunene, I thought it advisable to turn back instead of losing more time here. It was with really sad hearts that we said goodbye to this wonderful river and after a twelve-hour ride, not counting the rest breaks, we reached our small stock at !Nadas. So the northernmost part of the coast is closed to us.

   The enormous abundance of game in the whole northern area was remarkable, it is a true El Dorado for the hunter for all antelope species up to the rare rooibuck [?] and waterbuck [?], one sees ostrich herds up to 100 animals; from big game the elephant appears in herds, in smaller troops the giraffe, and isolated rhinoceros. The traces of lions are nuerous, they only clear the field where the elephant appears, and they move with the big antelope-herds which move around to the good grass-grazing pastures in the country.

   In the following days I tried to travel along the Sechomib river, a small river between the !Nadas and the !Khumib, to penetrate the coast. Here I also found neither grass nor water, but only a brackish swamp, which the Sechomib disappears into after travelling through the middle of a granite hill range, which is again interspersed with small sand dunes. Here on the coast, where I only have the most reliable servants, the misfortune happened to us that the horses ran away from us at night. We had them tied to a log of driftwood but it was probably the humid cold, and above all the hunger and thirst, which caused them to get rid of it to disperse. While I spent the night at this desolate deserted place alone wrapped in a blanket on a small fire behind a sand dune close to the beach and the monotonous lamentation of the jackals, the raging and roaring [135] listened to the surf and the howling of the cold and humid southwest wind, my servant marched on foot after the horses, which he brought back following afternoon after an absence of 14 hours. I probably do not need to explain how much I longed for his return and with what indescribable joy I welcomed him. So this was the second time a futile attempt was made to find a place for a station on the coast.

   Only at the !Khumib estuary did we succeed in finding grass and drinkable brackish water relatively close to the beach which would enable a small station for longer stays. The same was also possible on the Hoarusib, and from the Hoanib I already knew from my first Kaokofeld expedition, that it would be possible to create a provisioning station at the estuary on the western side of the sand dune wall. From the !Khumib estuary the coast both in northern direction to the !Nadas, as well as in the southerly direction to Hoarusib, a thorough examination for landing places and guano was made, performed step by step from station to station along the entire coast to the ≠Ugab river. Even before we made the connection with the middle Kaokofeld expedition, with the next station at the |Uni!ãb mouth, our provisions for the northern expedition were almost completely finished. Our renunciative life at the coast at the !Khumib and Hoarusib mouth will probably never disappear from our memory! There, due to the lack of flour, rice and livestock, we ground the oats for the horses in a coffee mill and sifted them daily in a butter box, the bottom of which we had pierced with a nail, in order to bake small rolls of oatmeal mixed with straw, and we enjoyed 14 long days of nothing else, until we made the connection with the middle Kaokofeld expedition. The achievements of our trek oxen were admirable. While I was on horseback along the beach, the ox carts moved in parallel further inland around 60 km away on the same path I took one and a half hours year before. But at that time it was the rainy season and even then there were not numerous water points full of water. Now we were in the driest time, and most water holes were dry or so brackish that they were undrinkable. The little available grass was withered, and the sun was burning in the on the barren desert surfaces. Cold ruled at night, due to the fast loss of radiation.[65]

Rosenblad writes:

With the new year, we commenced a slow return journey because the animals were very exhausted and therefore had to be spared to enable them to survive all the way to Swakopmund.

   Our plan was first to reach the mouth of the Kumib [Khumib, Chumib] River where Sergeant Froede and I were to stay for a time to study the country, while Hartmann had things to do elsewhere.

   One midday we arrived at a small spring that contained so-called brack water. This was so salty that even the thirsty animals would not drink it. We had just arranged ourselves as comfortably as possible for a well-earned siesta [sic], when a native reported that a number of ostriches were in sight. We quickly grabbed our guns, rushed out and hid behind some nearby rocks from which we could see the splendid flock, which consisted of several hundred birds fast heading straight towards the spring. I had never before witnessed such a sight, because inland the ostriches generally occur in smaller flocks or single families.

   The wagons were hidden behind a hillock, and the birds unsuspectingly came close to us.

   Then we opened fire, with the result that within a few seconds five ostriches were left on the field of battle. The rest dashed away in frantic flight but we did not waste any ammunition on them as we could see that the feathers were worthless.[66] 

During this event, Rosenblad triggers a shot from his Mauser rifle by accident, ‘and the bullet almost grazed the head of Hartmann who was just in front of me. To be sure he came out of it all with minor shock and some very expressive oaths about my carelessness, but I had learnt a good lesson for the future’[67].

Rosenblad echoes Hartmann above, writing:

[w]e had not had any complaints until then, but our provisions were precariously low. We still had some tinned food but not even a single pinch of flour. I was accustomed to living for long periods on meat only, but the poor Germans who had never been out like this suffered badly.

   Necessity is the mother of invention, and one day we came upon the idea of making bread with the oats brought along for the horses. The grain was ground in an old coffee-grinder, then the flour was passed through a sieve made by punching holes with a nail in the bottom of a tin. However, it was extremely time-consuming work to obtain enough for just one meal, and the sieving could never exclude all the husks. These stuck between your teeth and spoilt the otherwise tasty meal. The dough was then baked in the ashes.

   Our poor animals, oxen as well as horses, suffered much from lack of water and poor grazing. One or more of the former collapsed every day, the latter now had to be given half the daily ration of oats, and prospects for their immediate future seemed bleak.

   When we finally reached the Kumib River, these difficulties were forgotten for the moment. Hartmann, whom we met here, had succeeded in getting hold of a small supply of flour, so that we would not lack bread for the immediate future.[68] 


Rosenblad continues:

From the Khumib the journey continued via the Hoamsib [Hoanib] River [reached on 2 February[69]] to the mouth of the Ugab [River] where we were again to meet Hartmann who had ridden ahead with his detachment.

   Our supply of tinned food was exhausted shortly after we had left Hoamsib, but this did not cause much concern as we had up to now encountered masses of springbok, and had always had enough meat. It never occurred to us to save ammunition as we thought that there was a large supply of it in a cart.

   So as to avoid unnecessary delay, I had sent the wagons on ahead and had kept only a light open cart drawn by horses, which was quite sufficient for the needs of Sergeant Froede and me for the journey of reconnaissance.

   Imagine our shock when Froede and I discovered one lovely day that our entire supply of ammunition consisted of one single, I say one single, cartridge! This was inexplicable, because at Kumib we had both seen two large packets [97] of ammunition lying in the cart. Thus there was nothing else to do than to save the last cartridge for beasts of prey.

   In this area we were never safe from attacks by lions, and now we had to live solely on bread and coffee without sugar or cream for at least a fortnight. Had we not had the flour, we would have starved to death.

   This diet was highly unsuitable, weakened as we were by attacks offever and hardships. Within a short time we more resembled skeletons than human beings, and with each passing day we became more depressed so that we soon felt completely tired of life.

   It was now impossible to pass the time with hunting. The horses were so weak that it was only with the greatest difficulty that we could reconnoitre the areas, and in the end this also had to be abandoned.

   Thus all that remained for us was to lie on our backs and shake in the wretched cart. Subjects of conversation had long since been exhausted and we could no longer talk nonsense - we were too tired and irritable for that, and entire days would pass without our exchanging a word.

   All that temporarily pulled us out of our stupor - this is just the right word to describe our condition - was when the cart toppled over while we were travelling at night. And this happened frequently. Then we flew out together with all our belongings, and it took quite some time to gather them up again in the darkness. On these occasions we received some considerable knocks, and once Froede even had concussion when he landed head first on a large rock.

   Our only desire now was to reach Goabis [south-west of !Uniab-≠Gaob confluence] as soon as possible where the non-commissioned officer Cleve was in charge of a food depot.[70] 

In this journey to Goabis they are frequently bothered by lions who consume at least one of their emaciated horses[71]. Because of their lack of ammunition,

[s]omething that annoyed us immensely was that daily we lost the most excellent opportunities to hunt. Apart from the innumerable springbok that literally swarmed around us, we often had ostriches and large herds of quagga [zebra] within range. The latter did not hesitate to come right up to the car and look at the horses with the greatest interest. … We had to lie and look at all this while our stomachs cried out for meat.

   We finally arrived at Goabis long after midnight. Froede and I had not had the patience to go with the cart, but had gone on foot a couple of hours ahead. When we saw the fires of the natives, we fired our precious cartridge in our jubilation. And now the camp came alive at once. The dogs put up a terrible din, the livestock lowed and bleated, while the natives ran to and fro among the fires wondering what was happening.

   Cleve came rushing out with gun in hand but calmed down somewhat when he was addressed out of the darkness in his mother-tongue. …

   In Goabis I had expected to receive news from Eriksson about his future plans, but Cleve had not heard anything from the direction of Grootfontein. After we had rested for a couple of days and provided ourselves with a sufficient supply of ammunition, the journey continued southward and we reached the next provision depot, which was situated near the Brandberg, without any notable adventures. From here we made excursions to the mouth of the Ugab River as well as to Cape Cross, and after that we set off towards Swakopmund where the expedition was to be disbanded.[72] 

As they pass Spitzkopje [Spitzkoppe] they encounter a wagon,

the driver of which asked anxiously whether we had seen a couple of white men during the previous days, to which we replied in the negative. The man told us that he had been employed by two newly arrived Germans who planned to set up a trading-store at Spitzkoppe. The men had left the wagon a couple of days earlier to try their luck at hunting, but had not returned, therefore he feared that they had lost their way and perhaps died of thirst. We later heard that they had never been found.[73] 

This is the year that the Deutsche Kolonial Gesellschaft starts farming operations at Spitzkoppe under the management of Carl Schlettwein:

The farmhouse at Kleine Spitzkuppe 1896. Source: Rick Rohde / Future Pasts archive.

Rosenblad’s party arrive at Swakopmund, the final destination of the expedition, ‘which was at the time a very insignificant place consisting of some small houses, some stores, as well as a small hotel’[74].

Summing up, Hartmann writes:

   [136] Of the three other river expeditions, the one along the |Uni!ãb under Captain v. Estorff, found the least difficulties. The way along the |Uni!ãb was sometimes very difficult. But the sand dune wall was relatively low and was broken through by the |Uni!ãb. On top of that, there was found to be drinkable brackish water and grass almost to the estuary. Lieutenant Helm had far greater difficulties along the Hu!ãb. Through the consumption of poisonous water [?] he lost several of his horses and was forced to make his coastal surveys almost only on on foot. Lieutenant Volkmann had no less difficulty along the ≠Ugab. With two of his companions he happily reached the coast on horseback, but his animals there were also affected, probably also as a result of consuming poisonous brackish water. Volkmann was compelled, to march 60km along the beach to Cape Cross on foot from the ≠Ugab estuary, which on to on the map is much too far south. He and his companion marched with bare feet in the sea water to help[?] with strong swelling and inflammation [from marching on foot?], which kept him tied to bed in Cape Cross at the Guano Co. for almost four weeks. After four weeks he marched again on foot with his companion across the Namieb to the Brandberg, where half dying of thirst he then languished at the main warehouse at Sorris Sorris.

   By and large the exploration of the coast had gone smoothly. The individual expeditions fulfilled their special tasks and we travelled[?] the whole coast to Swakop-Mund. Sergeant Fröde, who had been with me at the Kunene also accompanied me all the way to Swakop. -

   The following can be said about the population of the Kaoko-Feld:

The originally ruling population here seems to be the Berg-Damara [Mountain Damara], that coal-black, compactly built race of people, which reminds one of the pure negro types of North Africa. Now they have moved to the southern part of the Kaoko-Feld and there are limited to the mountains. We find them numerously at the Brandberg, on whose plateaus still small independent tribes are to live, practising small animal husbandry (sheep and goat breeding), and north to the |Uni!ãb and Franzfontein. They are perhaps all in all a few thousand heads strong. Further to the north live Ovaherero - as they call themselves - or Damara, who seem to have immigrated from the north of the mountain Damara. They are Bantu-Negroes of slim [137] build, chocolate brown color, oval face with almond-shaped eyes, which differ sharply from the mountain Damara, but are racial relatives with the Ovambo in the northeast. The great dry spells between the Ovambo country and the Kaoko field prohibited these Ovaherero to spread out in an easterly direction. At the end of the last and in the first half of this century they seem to have been with still small herds in the south in Oruseva, Okombahe and then east via Omaruru (Okosondye) to Okahandja and to have hiked even further southeast. Only in the second half this century have they been hard pressed from the Hottentots in the south moving gradually northwards into areas then only inhabited by bushmen and few mountain-Damara in the area south of the Etosha, which was still full of elephants and other wildlife. So Waterberg or Otjozondjupa, which in the years of the early seventies was still a Bushman and mountain Damara mission station, was only in the middle of the seventies taken possession by the Damara [Herero] chief Kambazembi who, like Manasseh on Omaruru and Samuel Maharero on Okahandja, is still called “Kaoko-Damara” today. This shift of the tribes is interesting and worth knowing, as it proves that the Damara or Ovaherero are not of old age the masters of the land they now inhabit and claim [of course this would also be a narrative that is useful to the colonisers]. The Ovaherero or Damara still living in the Kaoko-Feld I estimate at several thousand heads. It is strange to see that in the seventies two small Hottentot tribes coming from the south have immigrated into the Kaoko-Feld and even far into the Portuguese territory instilling fear and terror not only to the natives, but also to the Portuguese; these are the Zwartboois on Franzfontein and the Toppnaers at Sefsfontein. Although small in number, with powder and lead and their own ruthlessness they have bent to themselves the Berg-Damara in the south and the Ovaherero in the north bent under itself armed with only with bows and arrows. On our first Kaokofeld Expedition we suffered first under the impudence of the Toppnaers on Sefsfontein but with wisdom and politics they later became friendly and even of great use to us. Especially on the second Kaokofeld expedition the Zwartboois, like the Toppnaers, rendered outstanding services. Deficiency of ammunition has now made them tame. At my instigation they recognized German patronage in 1894 and for the purpose of deputations sent the main players at the top to Windhoek. In the north of the Kaoko field I often had the opportunity to see, what a terrible fear [138] impoverished Ovaherero (who do not call themselves Ovatjimba, but Ovaherero and together with the people living further northeast Ovatjimba must not be confused), had of the Hottentot and what strict gentlemen these Hottentots are. I believe that these two Hottentot tribes hardly exceed thousand.

   A quite degenerate and also in number decimated tribe the “Seebuschmänner”, the apparently bastardized Hottentot or crossbreeds between Hottentotten and Berg-Damara, probably less between Hottentots and bushmen are, live along the beach only at the mouths of the |Uni!ab-river up to the Hoarusib and sleep where in the dunes the ≠Naras [!naras] fruit is to be found. The tongue and lips need a long time to adapt to the aromatic, but afterwards pickling taste [of the fruit]. The cores also cause a burning pain in the anus. I only tried to eat it twice. The Sea bushmen, the real Sea Hottentot, must be at most 100 people [Köpfe - heads]. 

“Group of sea-bushmen at Hoanib mouth; captain with a woman in the foreground”. Source: Hartmann 1897 Figure 6, p. 129.

The results of this great Kaokofeld expedition can now be briefly summarized below:

As far as the coastal belt is concerned, the Namieb, that peculiar plain, which we call the first step to the African the highlands, runs through the Kaoko-Feld. The assumption that a sand dune wall runs between the beach and the Namieb, parallel with the Namieb through the whole Kaoko-Feld, has not proved to be true. Coming from the south, the dunes begin only north of the ≠Ugab river after granitic and basaltic hills, and north of the Huab river forms sand drifts and sand dunes. Further to the north these sand dunes increase in thickness and seem to reach their maximum at the mouth of the Hoanib. Therefore it also means that it is only the Hoanib that disappears between the sand dunes, while all other major rivers extend their valleys to the beach. The groundwater of all rivers is more or less brackish, even sometimes bitter and then poisonous. Our coffee, cocoa or tea which we enjoyed, almost always had a disgusting aftertaste and was sometimes undrinkable. The vegetation at the mouth of the large rivers consists of dense reed grass and bushes, all of which are salt plants, which are characterized by a matte coloring that plays into the gray and occur only in the coastal belt. They remind us of the grey-green vegetation at the Etosha salt pan, where also a special vegetation springs up from the salt-pregnated soil.

   [139] Between the beach and the coastal hills, which, like before said, on rocky hills or sand dunes, an on average 2 to 5 km wide plain, which is partly under, and partly slightlyly above sea level and in the former case forms salt pans with boggy ground. There, where the plain extends over raises the sea level, the soil is sandy or friable and occupied by single small sand dunes. After the beach is closed this level almost continuous through a 1 to 2 m high beach wall cut off from the sea. This beach wall still carries the traces of sea erosion, consists almost exclusively of brecciated scree and sand and is covered several times with beach dunes. From the occurrence of walrus bones and old driftwood on top of the beach wall, which lies embedded in the scree and sand there, without that it can still reach the high tide, the conclusion is justified, that this beach has been uplifted in recent times, and I would like to express the assumption that the whole beach today is still in the process of being lifted. At the mouth of the Hoanib they showed me living sea-bushmen reed grass places between the sand dunes, which only fifty years ago were ponds, on whose islands thousands of birds nested. These ponds stirred from the groundwater of the Hoanib. In the same proportion as the country raised, the water level sank deeper. Today the ponds are dry. The birds can no longer live on the small islands where they were protected from the jackals, brood and flew away. But the fresh guano, which rubs here still meter thick, reminds of their activity.

“Rietgrasfontein close to the mouth of the Hoarusib, on the north side of the spring, protected from the southwest wind, abandoned huts of the Seebuschmanner; two servants of Dr. Hartmann with horses”. Source: Hartmann 1897 Figure 5, p. 127.

In January L. von Estorff also finds ‘deserted, circular reed huts at the Uniab River mouth’ and on return in February finds here ‘a band of 30 “Bushmen” who had just arrived from the Hoanib River. They were living off narra for the most part’ and he also mentions finding ‘a narra knife made from elephant rib at the Hoarusib River’[75].

Hartmann continues:

   We have found fresh guano several times along the coast, but only in small quantities, for example in Cape Frio, at the Hoanib mouth and |Uni!ãb mouth, and it is hoped that in the great salt pans at the ||Huab mouth, which we did not search thoroughly enough could, and perhaps even after the Kunene, at the mouth of which large flocks of birds should breed, even more fresh guano foundwill be. The old [bird?] camps had a considerable size guanos at the !Khumib and Hoarusib mouth. At the moment another small expedition is at the |Hu!abmouth to investigate the local large salt pans on guano. The result is still to be awaited, before a final verdict on the guano findings is possible.

   Finally, I would like to say a few words about the surf conditions and the landing sites of the coast of the Kaoko field. As you know, along the whole southwest African coast a cold sea current [140] comes from the south towards the equator. On top of that the ruling wind is a southwest wind, and the consequence is that generally as a result of of these two forceful components, which add up, there is a heavy surf along the coast, which comes from the southwest against the coast and bumps into the coast at an acute angle.

   Only at the !Khumib estuary, about 10 km north and also 10 km south of it, have we found a very weak surf. Both places are located in indentations of the coast. Of both, the southern one is the more favorable. It lies about under 18° 2' s. Br. Here is only a crusher wave of about half a meter in height, which corresponds to the conditions in Walfisch-Bai. As a cause of this we discovered with binoculars from a coastal rock further south favourable surf south of the !Khumib-mouth, which is connected to and seems identifical with Cape Frio, from a submarine bank, which is almost rectangular to the coast immediately south of the aforementioned inlet in the sea and which was connected to the Africa Pilot with "Clan Alpine shoal" to match the specified bank or shallows. This submarine bank or shoal appears like a mole or breakwater and jerks the S and SW coastal current upwards, whereby the water is protected in the blind [invisible?] bay. Of course this landing place must be examined again from the sea, and here it is advisable, that the ships approaching from the north carefully approach the coast to avoid bypassing the submarine bank. If the investigations of this coastal area should yield a favorable final result for the northern half of our protected area, we would have also found a convenient landing place, which is about 600 km or by ship 3 to 4 days closer to Europe, than the Swakop mouth and Walfisch-Bai. The great value of the inland of Kaoko-Feld is as cattle breeding land and further north as arable and plantation land, especially if it is possible to use the water of the Kunene River for irrigation purposes as I have already illuminated. For the landing place at the !Khumib-Mund, the connection along the !Khumib river to the interior is not much more difficult than at Swakop-Mund. Only the middle mountain range of the Kaoko-Feld is likely to offer difficulties for the construction of a railroad or transport route, offering difficulties for ox carts. But once they reach the mighty plains that extend east of Otavi to the Etosha, there would be no more obstacles to a railroad construction on the Okahahana-Etosha route and further east past Grootfontein through [141] the Tebra-area[?] to Lake Ngami. Only recently, the expedition of Dr. Esser also found a landing site in the north of the Kaoko-Feld, north of the !Nadas-Flufs and only 20-25 km away from the Kunene estuary. It is therefore located in the area, which I did not reach, and I would like to emphasize that the landing sites we discovered are not identical. Which will be more usable, the future will tell us. Hopefully they both are. They both serve the same purpose, for the northern part of our colony and the two coastal points are at most 20 to 30 km apart, so it is for the general question: "Shall we build a railroad to Swkopmund to lie to the north to the Otavi mines south of the Etosha or from the !Khumib-mouth or Kunene mouth (Esser’s landing place). Viewed from inland, we have in the north so to speak only two openings into the colony, the southern opening at Swakop-Mund or Walvis-Bai and the northern one at !Khumib or Kunene mouth. The only important thing is to decide whether to build a railroad from Swakop-Mund to the Otavi mines or from one of the two northern landing sites from the Otavi mines. Since I have seen the northern part of our protected area as the most valuable, and since I consider it necessary that the Kunene area will be economically attached to us, I fully share Dr. Esser’s view that it is more important and necessary to for the northern area, to build a railroad from the !Khumib- or Kunene mouth instead of from the Swakop mouth across our reserve. Not only would the whole northern area be covered by such a railroad but our southwest African colony in its most developable parts would with a single blow be opened up, but it would also be possible with a trans-African railroad alone to cause life and activity, work and profit through transit traffic. Let us hope that the interest in our colony will by our nation will become even more active and lively, so that capital-strong and at the same time nationally minded men can be found who will give this thought practical form for the salvation of our colony and our fatherland.[76]

Axel Eriksson writes in a letter of early this year that Eberhard Rosenblad ‘is a very pleasant and friendly man to have as company’ [6] but unfortunately has ‘the weakness of looking too deep into the glass when there is the opportunity’[77].

In February 1897 a report by the Kaoko Land and Mining Company sponsored geographer and mining engineer Georg Hartmann is published[78], and Hartmann refers to the north-west as ‘Kaokogebiet’ (i.e. ‘Kaoko area’)[79].

In 1897-98 the German Kaoko Land and Mining Company reportedly sponsors an expedition to Kaokoland by Hartmann[80], to search for ‘the opportunity for a further harbor along the northern coast and to look [274] for a possible track for a railway line’[81] [is this a reference to Hartmann’s journeys of 1894-96?]. He is reported as describing ‘Kaokoland as almost uninhabited’[82].

In 1900 Georg Hartmann reportedly writes in a secret report written in Sanitatas (southern Kaoko) that informants in Sesfontein tell him of ‘Portuguese hunters, who usually spent several months (August to November) at Otjijandjasemo, a significant water-place in northern Kaoko’ who would ‘enter the region with their ox-wagons or would cross the Kunene on horseback’, [d]epending on the Kunene’s water-level and on the quality of the roads’[83] [**check source and dates]. They would be ‘[w]ell-armed and supported by large numbers of African carriers and guides from southern Angola and from Kaoko’ and ‘would shoot up to 100 elephants all over the area and collect their loot at Otjijandjasemo’[84]. Hartmann considers Herero headman Kakurukouje / Kasupi of Ombepera in north-east ‘Kaoko’ to be involved with Portuguese hunting in the areas, ‘supplying these hunters with guides and carriers’ and with Ompebera acting as ‘one of the northern bases of the Portuguese business men, from where they got land for corn and oat cultivation to be used as forage for the horses’[85]. Kakurukouje / Kasupi is also allied with the Sesfontein Oorlam leadership, and is ‘involved in herding cattle belonging to Jan |Uixamab’, Nama ‘kaptein’ of Sesfontein, as well as paying tribute and supplying the Oorlam leadership ‘with information on herds, with herders, guides and menial work’[86]. He is ‘among the first men in the northern area to own a gun’[87].

In 1902-03 another report for Kaokoveld is produced by Kaoko Land and Mining Company sponsored mining engineer Georg Hartmann[88], in which he extemporises on the racial characteristics of peoples of the Kaokoveld in a prejudicial manner that continues into contemporary circumstances: Herero are framed as ‘are Bantu Negroes of slender build, chocolate brown color, oval faces and almond shaped eyes’ whilst Damara are a ‘jet black, stocky built breed’[89].

In 1903, work commences on a railway line from Otavi to the coast, as per Hartmann’s expedition to find a route in 1895-96, but is halted the following year ‘due to the Herero revolt’[90]. A map of north-west Namibia by cartographer Max Groll which became the basis for ‘the German war map of 1904’, ‘based on travels of Hartmann, Franke and Toennissen [an engineer called Toenessen]’, positions ‘ovaTjimba’ just south of the Kunene in the far west and ‘Bergdama’ in the mountains flanking the Khumib River, south-east of Cape Frio on the coast and north-west of Puros on the Hoarusib[91]. Bollig and Heinemann write that ‘[o]nly the Kunene and the Marienfluss are named as rivers’[92], but it appears that there are in fact names linked with the westward flowing rivers on this map (e.g. from south to north, Hoarusib, Chumib, Sechomib), although they are difficult to make out, and Hartmann certainly knew the names of other rivers as he writes about the !Nadas, Khumib, Sechomib, Hoarusib, Hoanib, ‘|Uni!ãb’, ||Huab, ‘≠Ugãb’, etc. [see 1894-96].

Dieckmann writes that the German Geographer Georg Hartmann produces a map of ‘Kaoko’ derived from his travels for the Kaokoveld Land and Mining Company, starting 1895[?] into 1897[?] - in the northern part of the map he positions ‘Heikum-Buschmänner’ with ‘Haiumga?’ below[93].

North-west detail of 1903 map drawn by Max Groll, based on the travels of Georg Hartmann (plus Viktor Franke and Toennissen [?** when is Toennissen’s expedition - NAN A326 Kaokoveld Expedition Toenissen. 1909. Referenced in Bollig 1997]). Source: Figure 1, Bollig and Heinemann 2002, p. 274, from Map XX, 81 ma, Max Groll, Staatbibliothek, Munich, downloaded from 14 August 2020.

Detail of Hoanib and Sesfontein of 1903 map drawn by Groll from Hartmann’s journeys.

[1] Rizzo 2012, pp. 63-64.

[2] Hartmann 1897, p. 118.

[3] Hartmann 1897, pp. 118-119.

[4] 5 December 2020.

[5] Hartmann 1897, p. 115.

[6] Hartmann 1897, p. 116.

[7] Hartmann 1897, p. 119.

[8] Hartmann 1897, p. 119.

[9] Hartmann 1897, p. 120.

[10] Hartmann 1897, p. 120.

[11] Hartmann 1897, p. 120.

[12] Hartmann 1897, p. 120.

[13] Hartmann 1897, p. 121.

[14] Hartmann 1897, p. 122.

[15] Hartmann 1897, p. 121.

[16] Hartmann 1897, p. 121.

[17] Hartmann 1897, p. 123.

[18] Hartmann 1897, p. 124.

[19] Hartmann 1897, p. 124.

[20] Hartmann 1897, p. 124.

[21] Hartmann 1897, p. 124.

[22] Hartmann 1897, p. 124.

[23] Hartmann 1897, pp. 124-128.

[24] Sylvander 2007[1924], p. 11.

[25] Rudner and Rudner 2007, pp. 4-5.

[26] Rudner and Rudner 2007, p. 5.

[27] Sylvander 2007[1924], p. 11.

[28] Rudner and Rudner 2007, p. 6.

[29] Rosenblad 2007[1924]: pp. 20, 28.

[30] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 26.

[31] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 27.

[32] Rudner and Rudner 2007, p. 6.

[33] Rudner and Rudner 2007, p. 6.

[34] Rudner and Rudner 2007, p. 6.

[35] Hartmann 1897, p. 128.

[36] Owen-Smith 1972, p. 29; nb. Bollig (1998, p. 170) writes that the Kaoko Land and Mining Company sponsored Hartmann to travel to Kaoko in 1897-98, although Hartmann’s text is published in February 1897 (Hartmann 1897).

[37] Hartmann 1897, p. 128.

[38] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 81.

[39] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 81.

[40] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 81.

[41] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 81.

[42] Rosenblad 2007[1924], pp. 81-82.

[43] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 82. Rudner and Rudner (2007, f63 p. 169) reference Von Weber (1979, p. 93) as mentioning that ‘two engineers ‘Toenessen’ and ‘Speak’ … accompanied Hartmann to plot a route for a railway line from Otavi to the coast’.

[44] Rudner and Rudner (2007, f66 p. 169).

[45] Rosenblad 2007[1924], pp. 82-83.

[46] Rudner and Rudner 2007, f66 p. 169 and references therein.

[47] Rudner and Rudner 2007, f65 p. 169.

[48] Hartmann 1897, pp. 128-131.

[49] Rudner and Rudner 2007, f65 p. 169.

[50] Rosenblad 2007[1924], pp. 83-84.

[51] Rudner and Rudner 2007, f71 p. 170, who also write that ‘Hartmann and von Estorff visited Franzfontein, now Fransfontein, where the missionary Rieckmann and his wife received them hospitably’, referencing Kutscher ed. 1982, p. 117).

[52] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 85.

[53] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 87.

[54] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 88.

[55] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 87.

[56] Rosenblad 2007[1924], pp. 88-89.

[57] Hartmann 1897, pp. 128-132.

[58] Hartmann 1897, p. 132.

[59] Hartmann 1897, pp. 131-132.

[60] Rosenblad 2007[1924], pp. 89-92.

[61] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 93.

[62] Rudner and Rudner 2007, f65 and f75 pp. 169, 170-171, after Kutscher ed. 1982, p. 119.

[63] Hartmann 1897, p. 132.

[64] Hartmann 1897, pp. 132-133.

[65] Hartmann 1897, pp. 133-135.

[66] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 94.

[67] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 95.

[68] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 95.

[69] Rudner and Rudner 2007[1924], f78 p. 171, after Kutscher ed. 1982, p. 119, map.

[70] Rosenblad 2007[1924], pp. 96-97.

[71] Rosenblad 2007[1924], pp. 96-97.

[72] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 100.

[73] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 101.

[74] Rosenblad 2007[1924], p. 102.

[75] Jacobson and Noli 1987, p. 174 and references therein.

[76] Hartmann 1897, pp. 138-141.

[77] Rudner and Rudner 2007, pp. 5-6.

[78] Bollig 1997, p. 14, cf. Hartmann 1897.

[79] Ref?**

[80] Bollig 1998, p. 170.

[81] Bollig and Heinemann 2002, pp. 273-274.

[82] Bollig 2006, p. 58.

[83] In Rizzo 2012, p. 39.

[84] In Rizzo 2012, p. 39-40.

[85] In Rizzo, p. 50.

[86] Rizzo 2012, p. 49.

[87] Rizzo 2012, p. 49.

[88] Bollig 1997, p. 14 cf. Hartmann 1902/03.

[89] Hartmann 1902-03, pp. 136-137 quoted in Bollig and Heinmann 2002, p. 273.

[90] Rudner and Rudner 2007, f63 p. 169.

[91] Bollig and Heinemann 2002, p. 275.

[92] Bollig and Heinemann 2002, p. 275.

[93] Dieckmann 2007a, p. 35.