So, continuing our family trip, we will explore tonight Luderitz, with a little bit of history.
Luderitz is a small coastal town in the Southwest of Namibia.
It is the second commercial port after Walvis Bay.
Luderitz is notorious for its wind blowing more than 300 days in a year.
The town of Luderitz was previously named Angra Pequena (Narrow Bay), when the Portuguese Navigator Bartolomeu Dias step foot here in 1487 and erected a stone cross, on Luderitz Southern Peninsula.
To understand Luderitz better, let me give you some historical context:
German Southwest Africa was a colony of the German Empire, under Bismark from 1884 until 1915, although Germany did not officially recognize its loss of this territory until 1919, with the Treaty of Versailles.
You will see on the map dated 1915, that Namibia was invaded by the Germans, and Walvis Bay, was part of the British Empire.
In 1883, Adolf Luderitz, who was one of Germany’s first prominent colonialists, signed an agreement with Chief Joseph Frederick of Bethanie, in what is now Southern Namibia. The treaty gives the German businesseman rights to the area around the strategic harbour of Angra Pequena, which he renamed Luderitz.
In those years, Zacharias Lewala, who was a worker in a diamond mine in Kimberley, South Africa gained experience in the recognition of rough diamonds
Later, he worked in Luderitz at the maintenance of the railway under his German Superior August Stauch.
In 1908, while he was working near Kolmanskop, which is 10km from Luderitz, he discovered several stones which he suspected to be diamonds.
Zacharias Lewala dutifully reported it to his Boss.
Mr Stauch and his friend Nissen, as they realized they were diamonds, initially kept the knowledge secret, and only announced it after securing about 35 hectares around Kolmanskop to continue diamond searching.
Afterwards, realizing that the area was full of diamonds, the German government then prohibited entry to almost the entire extent of Namibia’s Southern Coast, declaring it the Speergebiet, meaning forbidden zone, where no one can enter without a permit.
It was the start of the diamond rush, the town of Luderitz observed an economic boom between 1908 and 1914. Luderitz was at the time known, as Africa’s richest town.
For the anecdote, Zacharias Lewala apparently received nothing for his find, not even some form of gratitude; while many, like August Stauch made a fortune, which he later lost through bad investments and the Great Depression.
The 30 years of German colonialism made a big imprint in the country, in many ways. In Luderitz, it can be seen today in the beautiful architecture of some houses.
In the next blog, we will be visiting the Diamond mind of Kolmanskop and the glittering lifestyle they had at the time.