We are back from our 2019 expedition to search for the Lost Battlefield of the Kalahari, exhausted, dehydrated, tired and worn out. At long last I can begin to tell the story of the week that was.
Our trip began at 05h30 on the Friday morning when the South African members of the group departed from Pretoria. The Namibians had left Windhoek the previous day and the Botswana Namas were waiting for us in Lokgwabe. We traveled in a convoy but lost contact at the Skilpadnek border. One of our vehicles made a “slight” detour ending up in Lobatse but the others arrived safely in Lokgwabe at 18h00, a trip of 12 hours for us.
We were just in time for the presentation by Carsten Möhle, the Namibian tour guide and ex-German soldier who had already been involved in five previous searches. Carsten gave an excellent talk and showed us beautiful images some of which I had never seen before. The talk was well attended by the Nama community of Lokgwabe. They asked poignant questions and gave many comments.
Readers must reflect for a moment on the unique and interesting nature of the Lokgwabe Namas. These people are all the direct descendants of Simon Koper and his small tribe of KharaKhoen Names who fled then German South West Africa, were pursued by the German Schutztruppe, they fought in the great battle of 16 March 1908. After the battle the surviving Namas fled into Bechuanaland (today’s Botswana) with their leader Koper and they continued living there, in relative isolation, until today. So Lokgwabe is home to this very small and unique group of Nama people most of whom are still speaking their language. Nowhere else in Botswana are there any Namas living in any significant numbers.
Nichodimas Cooper, or Nico as he is affectionately known and Edwin Saloo are two of the board members of the Botswana Nama Development Trust who are trying to conserve and protect the Nama culture in Botswana. They organise cultural events and run a small museum and do what they can to further the Nama cause. I am always very impressed with their dedication and hard work. Their efforts make me wonder about my own Afrikaner culture and how many people are simply complaining and doing nothing about it. We are a few million Afrikaners in South Africa but the Botswana Namas only number a few thousand.
After Carsten’s presentation Xander van Wyk, metal detector specialist and I presented a sum of R10 000 to the Botswana Nama Development Trust to enable them to buy some much needed electronic equipment.