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Rhenish Mission House

Omaruru | Namibia

The oldest building in Omaruru, the Rhenish Mission House, has played a significant role in late 19th and early 20th century Namibian history. Its importance can be summed up in the text of the Official Gazette of the time proclaiming:

'Portion of this old Rhenish Mission House was built in 1868 by the Evangelist Daniël Cloete. In 1870 the Rev. Gottlieb Viehe erected a house, directly next to the existing portion. In this house, in 1874, the Rev. Viehe translated the New Testament, the Litugical prayers, and the Catechism into the Herero language, and thereby Herero was elevated to a written language. Later, between the years 1887 and 1900, the Rev. Eduard Dannert joined the two buildings into one'.

In total the mission house had 7 rooms, including a kitchen and covered with a reed and clay roof. From 1873 to 1886, Viehe educated white children of the community in his study. Other notable events are:

  • 1881: Extension built to care for casualties wounded in the Nama-Herero conflicts.
  • 1885: Viehe added a weather station.
  • 1887: Chief Tjiseseta concluded a (so-called) Protection Treaty with representatives of the German Protectorate.
  • 1894: Mission house used as a military barracks after the trial of the murderer of the trader P. Christie.
  • 1895-1898: Accommodation for high ranking German officers.
  • 1904: Shelter for German refugees of the Herero insurrection.
  • 1907-1964: Mission house.
  • 1968-1975: Restored by and let to the Bohm family.
  • 1976-1981: Let to Mr A Kuhlmann, son of the late missionary Rev Kuhlmann.

The Rhenish Mission House was proclaimed a national monument on 15th January 1986. It underwent complete restoration in 1990.

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