Bridging a hundred year-old separation
!Khara Khoen Nama community that was split into two groups when one group fled to Botswana during the war of National Resistance against German occupation, were finally reunited last weekend - more than a century later.
The gravestone unveiling of the late !Khara Khoen Kaptein Simon Kooper in Lokgwabe in Botswana united the once tightly-knit community, which was divided over a 100 years ago.
Kaptein Charles Cooper, great-grandchild of Simon Kooper, who is now the leader of the Nama community in Botswana, said his subjects had never met their relatives on the Namibian border, and had only heard of them.
He stressed that the unveiling of the tombstone of their late leader should not be the only thing in the unity path of the !Khara Khoen. “Let the Nama community in Botswana and those in Namibia be know each other forever”, he stressed.
Isak Klaasen, member of the !Khara Khoen community in Gochas made the entombment of the grave of the late Kaptein Simon Kooper, which was made possible through the assistance of the German government.
The Kaptein requested to be invited when the !Khara Khoen and other Nama communities in Namibia are having traditional festivities as they are one people.
He called on his people to show their culture to their Namibian counterparts. He further advised the Namibian delegation to address any misunderstanding or disputes through negotiation as there are bound to be such occurrences.
Simon Kooper, known as /Gomxab, was born in the early 1800s in Pella Northern Cape, and was the traditional leader of the !Khara Khoen otherwise known as Fransman Namas, a sub-clan of the Namas from 1863 till 1909 when he fled to Botswana, then British Protectorate.
He supported the /Khowesen, Witbooi Nama under the leadership of Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi in their resistance towards German colonialism in Southwest Africa.
They were however forced to sign a protection treaty with the German Empire represented by Theodor Leutwein.
However the treaty lasted only until the Herero and Nama War which began in 1904 – 1907 and in which Kooper again sided with Witbooi.
The Germans defeated the resistance army in the battle of Swartfontein on 15 January 1905. Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi died in that battle.
Kooper was forced to flee first into the Kalahari and later to recede into Botswana. From there they repeatedly and for several years mounted guerrilla attacks at the Schutztruppe, actions that propelled Kooper to fame.
He settled in Botswana in 1909 around Kaartlwe pan in the vicinity of Lokgwabe in Botswana until his death in January, 1913.