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Old Location Cemetry

Windhoek | Namibia

There were 2 cemeteries used in Windhoek between 1904 and 1960. One was the Gammams Cemetery and the other was the 'Old Location Cemetery'.

The Gammams Cemetery was used from 1904 until 1927. Some members of the Herero community were buried here as a result of the Herero uprisings against the Germans in 1904. Soldiers were court-martial and executed without representation or appeal and then buried by the Gammams River. Many of the graves are unmarked and the first identifiable tomb was that of Zacharias Kukuri, a co-commander of the Herero forces with Samuel Maharero. He was buried here in 18th April 1905. The second identification of a grave was that of Filemon Tjituka, who was buried on 11th November 1912. He was appointed to represent the interests of the Mbanderu in German concentration camps in 1907, who surrendered as a result of Von Troppa's issue of the Schiessbefehl (order to shoot). The last person to be buried here was Ehrenfried Nganjako on 4th November 1926. It wasn't until 1st December 1964 that it was officially closed.

By August 1923, the Windhoek Municipality had determined that a new site to the west of the river was needed as there was no space left in the Gammams Cemetery. It is known today as The 'Old Location' Cemetery and is so called because it bordered the reserve for black residents of Windhoek under apartheid rule. By October 1924 the cemetery was ready for use.

In 1926 the municipality awarded a specific amount of graves to every racially determined population group. A year later, the coloured community applied to have their dead buried in the white section, so a separate section of the cemetery bordering the 'Old Location' Cemetery was granted to them.

There are around 12,000 graves and gravestones in the cemetery including an historic mass grave of those who were shot and killed on 10th December 1959 for refusing to be forcibly removed from the old location to Katutura.

The 'Old Location' Cemetery was used from 1927 to 1960 and was provisionally proclaimed a national monument on 9th December 1987. Unfortunately the proclamation lapsed on 8th December 1992 without having been renewed.

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