Day 20: The Scourge of the Kaiserbird

Me and my long suffering wife Ingrid at the site of the temporary headquarters of the fateful 1908 expedition to capture the KharaKhoen Nama chief Simon Koper. This site is on South African soil but normally not accessible. We had the good fortune to visit the site twice.

Readers of this blog or of my book, The Scourge of the Kaiserbird will know about my obsession to locate the site of the Battle of Seatsub where 55 Kharakhoen Namas under the leadership of the Simon Koper as well as 13 German soldiers died on 16 March 1908. In October I will lead another expedition to that area.

What have we accomplished so far? We have learnt a dozen ways of how not to find the site. We have also found a certain number of relics confirming the presence of the temporary headquarters at a place called Geinab.

I mentioned before that Wulf Haacke, renowned herpetologist of the Transvaal Museum, conducted no less than five search expeditions in the 1990’s. Since the early 2000’s Carsten Mohle, a German field guide and ex-military man and his group have also carried out five search expeditions. I have personally also been on three expeditions, once with Mohle.

The area is totally devoid of all forms of human life and has always been like that, except when the KharaKhoen lived and hunted there. These people could survive without water when they had tsammas. So when enemy forces pursued them they always had the strategic advantage. All other humans will perish in the parch dry desert.

The German forces came from Aranos and Gochas in present day Namibia. They trekked with their 710 camels down the two river beds of the Aoub and the Nossob. Somewhere along these river beds the camels had their last drink of water on 10 March. They would only drink again on 18 March. On their backs they carried the meagre water supply of the soldiers. Imagine an expedition of that magnitude. It stands in stark contrast to the band of Namas who numbered less than 200 who had only tsammas to prevent them from dying from dehydration.

The camel mounted forces arrived at Geinab and rested there. That is where we found the relics. We found empty and rusted bully beef tins, water tins, horse shoes and even empty rifle cartridges and live ammunition.

It was from Geinab where the German expedition entered Bechuanaland’s territory. Somehow ( a story for another day) the Namas had left tracks and the Germans followed them for four days until they met up and the battle took place.

In October we will again be looking for relics of the kind we found at Geinab but at the site where we think the battle took place. We will be looking for a concentrated number of Vickers Maxim machine gun cartridges, using specially imported metal detectors.

The Scourge of the Kaiserbird,” originally published in Afrikaans as “Die Keiservoël Oor Namaland,” is available from all leading bookstores in Namibia, through Namibian Book Market, and in South Africa from Upper Case, formerly Graffiti, in Menlyn Maine. Copies can also be ordered from  It is available on Kindle and worldwide in paperback from Amazon. Visit my Amazon author’s site by clicking on where you can also place orders. 


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