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Powder Magazine

Otjimbingwe | Namibia

The German missionary Johannes Rath founded the Rhenish mission station at Otjimbingwe in 1849. It gradually developed into a thriving trading centre for the entire Herero community, struggling for survival having lost huge herds of cattle to the Nama.

The economic power of the Afrikaner family and other European traders such as Charles Andersson proved almost impossible to infiltrate. Dr Carl Hugo Hahn, also of the Rhenish Mission Society established the Rhenish Missionary Trade Company at Otjimbingwe in 1969 by acquiring stock from Andersson who had been injured in a battle with Jan Jonker Afrikaner and as a result had ceased his trading ventures.

Between 1860 and 1870, Otjimbingwe was attacked by Jan Jonker's men several times. As a result the entire Herero community up-sticks and left, leaving the Europeans to defend for themselves. The Powder Magazine was erected at some haste to protect the remaining community. It could store weapons, ammunition and food and offered protection against attack many times.

The Powder Magazine deserves recognition as it is a result of community based fortification erected by civilians and not a larger military of political decision.

The Powder Magazine is situated next to the former Hälbich wagonry at Otjimbingwe and was proclaimed a national monument on 3rd October 1950.

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