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WP4. Retracing and Spatialising Coloniality in Etosha-Kunene

In WP4, we deepen our historicisation of the ecological and policy spaces of Etosha-Kunene in WP1 through analysing historical engagements with these spaces by an array of (male) colonial actors from predominantly Sweden, Britain and Germany, dating back to the mid-1800s. See map below.
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A number of narratives exist in the form of written journals and other accounts (for example, Galton 1890[1851]; Andersson 1861; Möller 1895-96 in Rudner & Rudner 1974) for which detail is largely missing from recent analyses of spaces in Kunene (for example Rizzo 2012; Bollig & Olwage 2016). Further, little or no spatialisation or retracing of these historic journeys has been carried out despite the rich information they contain regarding specific places visited, routes taken, peoples encountered and the natures observed, utilised and collected. In particular, the significant impact of this early period on indigenous fauna – attested to in documentation by European hunters that speaks of the decline of fauna that they themselves caused (for example, Galton 1890(1851); Andersson 1861) – arguably constitutes a neglected yet major driver of the later perceived need for ‘game conservation’ (cf. Mackenzie 1988; also Bollig & Olwage 2016). This occluded history merits detailed chronological and spatialised reconstruction for Etosha-Kunene conservation territories, as we have started to do in the Map embedded above.


              In WP4, then, we focus on review and mapping of a series of journals and journeys from 1850 to 1925 by colonial actors who played a large historical role in creating the later impetus for protecting Etosha-Kunene species and spaces. Our aim is not to valorise the colonial perspectives and projections of these key actors, but in part to use the narratives they contributed to make more visible the peoples and places they encountered and wrote about, in juxtaposition with oral narratives recorded and analysed elsewhere in our project (also see Hayes 2009). Because of the inbuilt imbalance of colonial authorship, which means that most (although not all) of the texts of these times were written by the actors we draw on, it is paradoxically these same texts that provide some voice for the presence and perspectives of the African peoples encountered and engaged with in specific places. In doing so, the texts often communicate historical contexts that are little known and poorly understood in contemporary times.

              Please note in the map above and the linked texts below we quote directly from the series of texts listed with each of the travellers-hunters-traders-missionaries we work with below . We do not endorse the sometimes derogatory tropes their prose is steeped in. We are interested in these narratives because they provide some witness to the presence of peoples encountered unable for multiple reasons to author history in the same written form.  

The links in the list below are to ongoing literature review distilling information from the journals and other texts linked with these actors:


- James Edward Alexander (British): 1836-37

Journeyed north from Cape Town, across the Orange River (!Garieb) via Lilyfontein and Aris, to the Kamiesberg, the !Khuiseb River, west to Walvis Bay, and then east via ≠Gans / Gamsberg to Niais (Krumnek) near |Ae||gams (Windhoek), then back south to Cape Town.

Primary source material:
Alexander, J.E. 2006[1838] An Expedition of Discovery into the Interior of Africa: Through the Hitherto Undescribed Countries of the Great Namaquas, Boschmans, and Hill Damaras, Vols.1 and  2. Elibron Classics Series, orig. published by London: Henry Colburn.

Alexander, J.E. 1838 Report of an expedition of discovery, through the countries of the Great Namáquas, Boschmans, and the Hill Dámaras, in South Africa. The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London 8: 1-28.

- Francis Galton (British) and Charles John Andersson (Anglo-Swede): 1850-1851

Galton was a ‘wealthy gentleman-explorer’ backed by the Royal Geographical Society in London (Hayes 2009, p. 241). Accompanied by Andersson, son of Englishman Llewellyn Lloyd and a Swedish mother (Hayes 2009, pp. 241-242), he journeyed by boat from Cape Town to Walvis Bay, then inland through !Khuiseb and Swakop Rivers, to Erongo and north to Namutoni (Etosha) and Owambo.

Primary source material:
Galton, F. 1852 Recent expedition into the interior of South-Western Africa.
Journal of the Royal Geographical Society 22: 140-63.

Galton, F. 1890[1853] Narrative of an Explorer in Tropical South Africa. London: Ward, Lock and Co. [also Galton, F. 1953 Narrative of an Explorer in Tropical South Africa. London: John Murray, Albermarle Street].

Galton, F. 1853 Preface [to 1st Edition], pp. xi-xiii in Galton, F. 1890[1851] Narrative of an Explorer in Tropical South Africa. London: Ward, Lock and Co. 

Andersson, C.J. 1861 Lake Ngami or Explorations and Discovery During Four Years of Wanderings in the Wilds of Southwestern Africa. New York: Harper & Brothers.

- Charles John Andersson (Anglo-Swede): 1850-1867

Son of Englishman Llewellyn Lloyd and a Swedish mother (Hayes 2009, pp. 241-242) Andersson journeyed to south-west Africa with Galton, travelling inland from Walvis Bay first with Galton and then in multiple journeys throughout the western and northern parts of the country.           

Primary source material:
Andersson, C.J. 1861 Lake Ngami or Explorations and Discovery During Four Years of Wanderings in the Wilds of Southwestern Africa. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Lau, B. (ed.) 1987 The Matchless Copper Mine in 1857: Correspondence. Charles John Andersson Papers Vol. 1. Windhoek: Archeia 7, National Archives.

Lau, B. (ed.) 1989 Trade and Politics in Central Namibia 1860-1864. Charles John Andersson Papers Vol. 2. Windhoek: Archeia 10, National Archives.

- James Chapman: 1849-63

e.g. In 1855 journeys from Kalahari in the east towards ‘Walvisch Bay’, via ‘Eikhams’ (Windhoek).
Primary source material:

Chapman, J. 1971[1855] Travels into the Interior of Africa. Cape Town: A.A. Balkema.


- Thomas Baines: 1861-

Primary source material:

Baines, T. 1973[1864] Explorations in South West Africa. Salisbury: Pioneer Head.

- Axel Eriksson (Swedish):

Primary source material:

Rudner, I. and Rudner, J. 2006 Axel Wilhelm Eriksson of Hereroland (1846-1901). His Life and Letters. Windhoek: Gamsberg Macmillan.
Johansson, P. 2007 The Trader King of Damaraland: Axel Eriksson, A Swedish Pioneer in Southern Africa. Windhoek: Gamsberg Macmillan.

- Thule Gustav Een (Swedish)

Primary source material:

Rudner, I. and Rudner, J. 2004[1872] Memories of Several Years in South Western Africa (1866-1871) by Thure Gustav Een. Windhoek: Namibia Scientific Society.

- Hans Schinz (German):

Primary source material:
Schinz, H. 1891 Deutsch-Südwest Afrika. Oldenburg.

Schinz, H. 2012 Bruchstücke: Forschungsreisen in Deutsch-Südwestafrika, ed. Henrichsen, D. Basle: Living Legends 9, Basler Afrika Bibliographen.

- Hugo Hahn (Russian-German), Rhenish Missionary:
Primary source material:
Lau, B. 1984-85 Carl Hugo Hahn Tagebücher / Diaries 1837-60. A Missionary in Nama- and Damaraland. 4 vols. & Part 5: Registers and Indexes. Windhoek.
NAN.A450.14 4/1 Big Game in Ovamboland by C.H.L. Hahn, undated.


- Gerald McKiernan (American): 1875-79
Primary source material:
Serton, P. (ed.) 1954 The narrative and journal of Gerald McKiernan in South West Africa: 1874 – 1879. Van Riebeeck Society Journal 35.


- Palgrave (Cape Colony British): 1876-

Primary source material:
Coates Palgrave, W. 1877 Report of W. Coates Palgrave, Esq., Special Commissioner to the Tribes North of the Orange River, of his Mission to Damaraland and Great Namaqualand in 1876. Cape Town: Saul Solomon and Co.

- Dr Georg Hartmann (German) and Eberhard Rosenblad (Swede): 1894-1896, Kaoko-Feld Expeditions 

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. 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. 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. 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'. In a further expedition to Kaoko-Feld in late 1895-96 he is joined by a Swedish naval captain Eberhard Rosenblad, who at the time is working as a hunter and trader for Axel Eriksson and is based at Eriksson's farm Aukas near Grootfontein. The expeditions are intended to search for guano and minerals. Through engaging German officers to set up a series of 'supply stations' on the coast at the mouths of the '≠Ugab', '||Hu!ãb' and '|Uniãb' rivers, as well as at 'Gaobis' (Koabes) south of the !Uniab-≠Gâob (Aub) confluence, Hartmann's expedition manages to travel down the coast from the Khumib to the Ugab. His parties are assisted throughout by local Nama guides in especially Sesfontein and they also encounter 'Ovatschimba' near !Nadas and 'Seebuschmänner' at the mouths of the Hoarusib, Hoanib and !Uniab.

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

Primary source material:

Hartmann, G. 1897 Das Kaoko-Gebiet in Deutsch-Südwest Afrika auf Grun eigener Reisen und Beobachtungen. Verhandlungen der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin 24: 113-141.

Rosenblad, E. 2007[1924] Adventure in South West Africa 1894-1898. Trans. by Rudner, I. and Rudner, J. Windhoek: Namibia Scientific Society.

- Peter Möller (Swedish): 1895-96
Journeyed southwards through southern Angola, west of Etosha Pan, through Omaruru and west to Walvis Bay
Primary source material:

Rudner, I. and Rudner, J. 1974[1899] Journey in Africa Through Angola, Ovampoland and Damaraland 1895-1896 by P. Möller. Cape Town: C. Struik.

- Paul Rohrbach (German): 1903-05

Spent time in Südwestafrika as part of the German Colonial Service.

Primary source material:

Rohrbach, P. 1909 Aus Südwest-Afrikas schweren Tagen. Berlin: Wilhelm Weicher.


- C.H.L. 'Cocky' Hahn: 1916-

Primary source material:
Hayes, P. 1998 Northern exposures: the photography of C.H.L. Hahn, Native Commissioner of Ovamboland 1915-1946, pp. 171-197 in Hartmann, W., Silvester, J. and Hayes, P. (eds.) The Colonising Camera: Photographs in the Making of Namibian History. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press.

- Major Charles N. Manning (Anglo-South African): 1917, 1919

Journeyed from Ondangwa via Outjo and Sesfontein through Kaokoveld.
Primary source material:

‘Manning Report 1917’ (NAN SWAA 2516 A552/22 Kaokoveld, Major Manning’s Report, 1917), with additions made from his extracts of his diary.

NAN ADM 156 W 32, General Kaokoveld Report by Major Manning, 15 November 1917.

Manning’s handwritten ‘Diary Notes, for Secretary for the Protectorate’ 04-050817.

Manning’s handwritten ‘Diary Notes Extracts’, Manning, C.N. 1917 Extracts From Diary of Major C.N. Manning (Resident Commissioner Owamboland) during period of duty in Kaokoveld, S.W.A. 161117-081117 Submitted 9th November 1917 to the Secretary for the Protectorate. Windhoek: South West Africa. NAN Kaokoveld: Major Manning’s Report. Vol. 1. 1917 SWAA.2516.A552/22.

Statement taken by Major C.N. Manning at Zesfontein, Kaokoveld in presence of Lt. Olivier, 2nd M.C. from Native Chief Vita, alias OORLOG or ORO, on 19th August 1917.

Manning letter to van Ryneveld 140817.

NAN SWAA 2516, Report by Major C.N. Manning re 2nd Tour to Kaokoveld; Disarmament General, 25 August 1919.

- the American Denver Expedition to Etosha: 1925-26.

 Primary source material:

Gordon, R.J. 1997 Picturing Bushmen: The Denver African Expedition of 1925. Athens, Ohio: Ohio Univ. Press.


The narratives of these actors, and the routes and places with which they are entwined, record changing perceptions and practices regarding Etosha-Kunene that have acted to shape the cultures and natures encountered there (Gordon 1997). To date they not been systematically read together, nor have their narratives been spatialised or brought into conversation with indigenous African narratives, experiences and perspectives (WP2).


Proposed milestones, outputs and personnel: Sian Sullivan and Ute Dieckmann will lead on WP4, making full use of possibilities for closely reading texts in both English and German. Again, this WP will be conducted iteratively through the project with outputs including:


  1. a series of interactive online and printed maps entangled where possible / appropriate with those created in WP2;


  1. peer reviewed articles on:
    i. systematic reading together of these different narratives – target Journal Namibian Studies;
    ii. coloniality and the construction of natures and cultures in Etosha-Kunene – target journal Environmental History.


Andersson, C.J. 1861 Lake Ngami or Explorations and Discovery During Four Years of Wanderings in the Wilds of Southwestern Africa. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Bollig, M. & Olwage, E. 2016 The political ecology of hunting in Namibia’s Kaokoveld: from Dorsland Trekkers’ elephant hunts to trophy-hunting in contemporary conservancies. Journal of Contemporary African Studies 34(1):61-79.

Galton, F. 1890[1851] Narrative of an Explorer in Tropical South Africa. London: Ward, Lock and Co.

Gordon, R.J. 1997 Picturing Bushmen: The Denver African Expedition of 1925. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press.

Hayes, P. 2009 A land of Goshen: landscape and kingdom in nineteenth century eastern Owambo (Namibia), pp. 225-254 in Bollig, M. & Bubenzer, O. (eds.) African Landscapes: Interdisciplinary Approaches. New York: Springer.

Mackenzie, J.M. 1988 The Empire of Nature: Hunting, Conservation and British Imperialism. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press.

Rizzo, L. 2012 Gender and Colonialism: A History of Kaoko in North-western Namibia. Basel: Basler Afrika Bibliographien.

Rudner, I. & Rudner, J. 1974(1899) Journey in Africa Through Angola, Ovampoland and Damaraland 1895-1896 by P. Möller. C. Struik: Cape Town.

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