Day 37: The Scourge of the Kaiserbird: Nichodimas Cooper

Nichodimas Cooper visited me this past week. Since our October expedition he has been to Windhoek, Gaberones, Pretoria and Kimberley, searching for leads towards our shared goal of finding the Lost Battlefield. He is now heading towards the National Archives in Cape Town.

Once again I interrupt the story in a way to introduce another remarkable personality, Nichodimas Cooper, the PRO of the Botswana Nama Development Trust. He came to visit and stay with me earlier this week because he is a man with a mission.

Nichodimas is a direct descendant of Simon Koper, the Nama leader who fled from Namibia in 1908 and who was pursued by Captain Friedrich Von Erckert and his 400 men on 700 camels. Von Erckert was shot by Koper’s men but Simon Koper escaped and lived in Lokgwabe, Botswana until his death in 1913.

Nichodimas and I have been searching for the battlefield where Von Erckert and 12 of his men were buried. This battlefield is somewhere inside the Botswana part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Our group went on another search in October and we plan yet another search in February 2020. A week or two after we left Botswana Nichodimas took the ten hour journey to Windhoek to search for more information in the Namibian archives. He then went back to Botswana and traveled to Gaberones where he scoured their archives before heading to Pretoria. He spent the night with us and then moved on to the Cape following certain leads.

Why does a young man such as Nichodimas do this? He was a very successful tour guide working in Chobe and Moremi until a Dutch tourist asked about his peculiar (for a Motswana) surname. A few weeks after the Dutchman had departed some information came from him. In this manner Nichodimas learnt about his heritage, the story of his ancestor, Simon Koper, also spelt Kooper, Cooper or Copper at the time.

The Namas of Lokgwabe are very unique in respect of their language and culture. Basically they are the only Nama speakers in the country and they have lived mostly in the tiny village of Lokgwabe since March 1908. Nichodimas says that their language is influenced by Tswana and the Nama language of Namibia is influenced by Afrikaans.

Nichodimas is even more obsessed with finding the battlefield than I am. He was always the last man standing swinging his metal detector left and right in the searing heat when I had long retired to the shade. He knows that finding the battlefield will bring in the German tourists and some development which will go some way towards righting the injustices of 110 years ago.

Nichodimas Cooper in front of the Mitsubishi Triton swinging his metal detector. In the background is the camera crew.

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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