Rehoboth – The Rehoboth Baster community in Namibia on Monday remembered the battle of Sam Khubis in Rehoboth with an ecumenical worship service before departing for Sam Khubis, some 50 kilometres south-west of Rehoboth.
Chairperson of the Sam Khubis festival committee, Albert Alberts, relayed to Nampa that the historical battle took place on May 8, 1915, when the German colonial army attacked the Baster people, who had fled to their last stronghold of Sam Khubis.
The fear of total annihilation by a better equipped German army created a strong sense of common destiny among the Baster people, said Alberts.
“Early that morning, the Germans attacked our people at Sam Khubis, where a large part of the community had found protection. The fighting lasted until the evening. The Basters feared that the bigger artillery of the German army would mean a total defeat and possible extinction, but the Germans withdrew from the fight the next day,” Alberts continued.
He further said the escalation of events started on April 13, 1915, when the German authorities demanded armed Baster troops from the Baster Council to go to Otjiwarongo to guard prisoners of war.
“If these demands were not met, all weapons in possession of the Rehoboth Basters were to be handed over to the German army. The Germans gave the Baster Council a three-day deadline,” he noted.
However, according to Alberts, the following day, the Germans unexpectedly disarmed Baster soldiers in Sandputs.
“Several of the Baster soldiers tried to escape as result one was killed and another one escaped to tell the Baster Council of the events. In the days that followed, several armed skirmishes occurred, leaving a number of Baster and German soldiers dead,” he remarked.
This year’s activities, in remembrance of the events, kicked off on May 1 with a church service at Farm Uitdraai, where the Baster vow was renewed. It proceeded to Farm Garis, where the then Baster Kaptein, Cornelius van Wyk’s family was wiped out by the Germans.
Alberts said the commemoration is important in the sense that the youth need to know what happened to their ancestors.
“The commemoration is very important for our younger ones, as they will be the future torchbearers of the Baster community and know about the atrocities against their people. The onus is on them to carry on with the commemoration to pass on the knowledge to their future generations.”
After the worship service and lighting of the festival torch, about 50 men on horseback accompanied by people dressed in the traditional attire of the Baster, led by the Namibian Police Force traffic unit, took the road to Sam Khubis via the B1 national road.
The festivities continued on Tuesday at 04h00, with a drama on how the Germans attacked the Baster community on May 8, 1915, followed by a worship service and wreath laying, along with a moment of silence and gun salute for the fallen Baster heroes. – Nampa