March 2021

At the end of every month, we're publishing a summary of all the interesting facts shared on our social media platforms.

In March we covered the only coal fired, steam power station in Namibia and we looked at the history of Namibia's Blood Transfusion Service and the township of Katutura. We also made a turn at the National Museum's administration building which, turns out, is also referred to as the 'mother of schools in Windhoek'.

Posted on 2 March: Van Eck Power Station

If you've ever been in or around Namibia's capital, chances are good that you've seen the two chimneys of the Van Eck Power Station...

Named after Dr. H.J Van Eck (who's research played an important part in the development of the Ruacana Hydroelectric Power Station), the Van Eck Power Station was built as an emergency/standby station that could only be operated for short periods of time.

When the first two 30MW Units were commissioned in 1972, Van Eck became the first Power Station to implement a 'dry cooling method' in Southern Africa. A third Unit was commissioned in 1973, and the last during 1979, bringing the total production capacity to 120 MW. To date, it is the only coal fired, steam power station in Namibia.

Often referred to as the 'leaning tower of Windhoek', one of the two 103m chimneys is decked with metal bars. According to public record, the skewness was caused by a miscalculation during construction and the bars were added as counter measure...

Posted on 9 March: The Blood Transfusion Service of Namibia

Did you know that the The Blood Transfusion Service of Namibia has been operational for almost 60 years?

Back in 1963, when the service was first established as the Southwest Africa Blood Transfusion Service, the institution only collected blood, as local testing facilities were not available yet. For the next 23 years, all blood units were sent to and tested in South Africa, until our own, fully operational blood transfusion service was finally opened behind Windhoek's Central Hospital in 1987.

After Namibia gained its independence in 1990, the institution's name was changed to The Blood Transfusion Service of Namibia (NamBTS).

A post about NamBTS just wouldn't be complete without some statistics about blood donations in Namibia, so we contacted their office and received very kind assistance from Mr. Titus Shivute. According to him, last year's statistics showed that only 1% of our population are active blood donors - a mere 27,050 people. To sustain the demand from hospitals and medical centers around the country, NamBTS needs an average of 150 blood donations per weekday. That's a demand of 750 units per week and roughly 3,000 per month!

We really don't want to offend anyone and be the cause of blood clots, but read that last part again, we think it says enough...

Posted on 16 March: National Museum of Namibia

Although much can be said about the National Museum of Namibia, we recently discovered some other interesting facts about the building that was constructed 114 years ago...

Did you know that this building situated opposite the Alte Feste is officially regarded as 'the mother of schools' in Windhoek? Neither did we!

Between 1907 and 1988 no less than 6 schools developed from the 'Kaiserliche Realschule' that initially started with 4 classrooms and 74 students.

The schools that originated due to the increasing number of children in Windhoek includes the Deutsche Höhere Privatschule, Orban School, Windhoek High School, Delta School Windhoek, Delta Secondary School and Emma Hoogenhout School.

Following the evacuation of the last school that occupied the premises, the whole building complex was renovated in 1989 and in 1990 the Department of Civic Affairs and Manpower transferred the building to the State Museum, which formed part of the Department of Education.

Today, when visiting the museum, a detailed report about the building's history can be viewed in the foyer's display area. Other collections displayed in the museum focusses on natural and human sciences, but the building mainly serves as the administrative headquarters of the National Museum of Namibia's other display center namely the Alte Feste Museum.

Posted on 30 March: Katutura

When researching facts about Namibia, I sometimes find stories that attract mixed emotions about our past and resulting present. Stories that try to explain historic decisions, those that challenge our understanding about history and also those that are hard to hear so they're not told too often. Such are the stories I found about one of Windhoek's biggest townships. A place where people did not want to live. A place called Katutura.

During the 1950's, the Windhoek municipality (together with the South African administration) decided to forcefully move all non-white people to a new location north-west of Windhoek. Understandably, most residents opposed this plan and did not want to move as they already settled and adapted in the two existing locations; the Main Location (also referred to as Old Location) and the Klein Windhoek Location, both established in 1912.

For months, resistance to moving to the new location built up between locals and the foreign authorities until finally, at the end of 1959, opposition by Main Location residents reached a high when Herero women made a protest march to the Administrator's residence on December 3rd. Five days later, all municipal operated facilities like buses, the beer hall and the cinema were effectively boycotted by locals who were desperate to prove their worth. On the night of 10 December 1959, a protest meeting held in the Main Location developed into a violent confrontation with the police. The police shot and killed 11 people and 44 others required medical attention. This event is known as the Old Location uprising and is the reason December 10th was declared Human Rights Day, a public holiday in Namibia.

The transfer of people to the new suburb took several years and by 1962 approximately 7,000 indigenous people were moved to Katutura, a word meaning "the place where people do not want to live" in Herero. The Old Location was officially closed on 31 August 1968 and was later developed into a residential suburb, known as Hochland Park.

In 2019, a campaign to rename Katutura was launched by Hendrich Amutenya and fellow activists. Amutenya argued that the name of the Katutura township has a bad connotation and reflects poorly towards a now free and independent Namibia. The name 'Ubuntura', a portmanteau of 'ubuntu' and 'Katutura', was suggested but a final decision is yet to be announced…

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