|1897||The railway line from Walvis Bay
port to Plum near Rooikop is the second line to be built in the territory. The mules are
replaced by the steam locomotive "Hope" (22.08.1899; imported from the UK).
Port Railway Line: Walvis Bay: Second Railway Line in Namibia:
The colonial authority establishes a new district from the Ugab River to
the Kunene River with Outjo as district capital. Von Estorff becomes the first magistrate.
|29.03.||The German Administration establishes a government monopoly in the trade with arms.|
|April||A rinderpest epidemic which had
already entered the territory by late 1896 reaches Windhoek. The disease wipes out
Ovaherero cattle (approx. 50%). Locusts and drought force Ovaherero to sell their land and
cattle and work for German farmers. A cultural crisis of pastoralists losing their very
foundations ensues. Deprived of their wealth in cattle, weakened by the activities of
Samuel Maharero and Theodor Leutwein, and driven ever further into debt, some Ovaherero
chiefs attempt to recoup their losses through raiding (especially in the Ovambanderu
areas), exporting labour and selling land.
Amongst the German settlers, the most important impact of the rinderpest is that they gain access to land which had hitherto been inaccessible. The German punitive measures against those who had are accused of having "revolted" in 1896, together with the rinderpest, deplete the cattle herds along the White Nossob and Seeis rivers to such an extent that large parts of Hereroland are left open and ungrazed. Consequent high prices for beef encourage farmers to go into stock farming.
The fortress of Namutoni is built to regulate the "Red Line" (Otjituuo via Namutoni to Okaukuejo) and is established in 1896 to control the rinderpest. This quarantine corridor cannot be efficiently controlled, due to the shortage of experienced manpower..In due course, the disease is reported to be rife along all the trade routes from the north. Already in February the South African authorities request the German scientist Robert Koch and his assistant Paul Kohlstock to provide the recently developed vaccine against the rinderpest.
A further consequence of the rinderpest epidemic is the near collapse of freight transport between the coast and the inland. The authorities therefore agree to build a railway line between Swakopmund and Windhoek. With assistance of the colonial director Oswald von Richthofen and the commander of the Military Railway Brigade in Berlin, Nonus von Rössing, the beginning of the construction of the railway project is initiated for the same year. Not only economic but also political arguments initiate the development of railways in SWA. Already in 1896 Leutwein writes to the German Chancellor: "not the unlimited increase of the Schutztruppe but the construction of railway lines" should be used to strengthen the German power base in the colonies. The South African Prime Minister, Cecil Rhodes, is said to have remarked: "In the colonies railways are cheaper than canons and have a greater range".
|May||The first stamps with the overprint "Deutsch Südwest-Afrika" are printed on stamps of the German Reich (valid until 31.10.1901).|
|June||Dr. Kohlstock arrives in SWA. He starts a systematic inoculation programme in Hereroland. However, the method of vaccination is a somewhat uncertain affair. For instance, in Otjimbingwe, of the 6 178 cattle vaccinated with gall vaccine, 2 731 (43 %) die. Many Ovaherero resist the vaccine campaign. On the farm Etaneno near Omaruru some Ovaherero forcefully resist the inoculation.|
|06.07.||Erich Victor Carl August Franke reports that the Ovaherero leader Manasse Tyiseseta of Omaruru refuses to get his cattle inoculated.|
|July/August||Orlam Afrikaners in the extreme south-east rise up against the German authorities. The Germans are supported by Hendrik Witbooi.|
|05.07.||The first battle against Orlam Afrikaners ends in defeat for the Germans (Lieutenant Waldemar von Bunsen, District Chief of Warmbad and Lieutenant Helm).|
|02.08.||The reinforced German forces overpower the Orlam Afrikaners under their leader Kividoe in the battle of the Gamsib Ravine at the Oranje River. Following the battle, Kividoe and all his officers are executed after being extradited by the British, to whom they had surrendered.|
|01.09.||The post office at Uhabis is closed, and new post offices are opened at Groß Barmen, Seeis and Hohewarte.|
|11.09.||The first Military Railway Brigade
lands at Swakopmund. The brigade consists of the Demarcation Division (under Lieutenant
Kecker) and the Construction Division (under Second Lieutenant Schultze).
The Dama leader Cornelius ||Goreseb protests against the building of this railway line.
|September||Work begins on the state railway line between Swakopmund and Windhoek.|
|26.09.||The first kilometre of state railway line is laid.|
|20.11.||The first 10 km of state railway line to Nonidas is completed.|
|Dec./March 1898||Topnaars and ||Khau-|gõan
(Swartboois), together with some Ovaherero under Chief Kambata, stage uprisings against
the Germans in the Franzfontein, Otjitambi, Kamanjab and Grootberg areas. The Germans are
supported by Hendrik Witbooi.
The German War Cemetery at Outjo (Kunene Region) remembers also
the Uprising of the Topnaars and ||Khau-|goan (Swartboois) against the German Colonial
Power in 1897 and 1898, Photo taken in September 2004