May 14, 2013

Rehoboth Basters: Emotional Commemoration At Samkhubis

On May 13, Rehoboth Basters commemorated massacre by Imperial Germany at Sam Khubis in 1915. The event was emotional and featured motivational speeches.

Below is an article published by

"I am very ashamed for what my people did to your people. I want to apologize on behalf of my people for what my people have done," were the words of German born Britta Wagner who attended the 98th Samkhubis commemoration last week Wednesday outside Rehoboth.

Wagner was sobbing as she expressed her sadness and shame over the atrocities the imperial German troops committed against the Baster people. Wagner attended the ceremony as part of the South African performing arts group South Roots, currently on tour in the country with Namibian-born Australian- based jazz singer Cynthia Denton.

"My heart is pounding. I am shaking, I am so honored to be here to share this with you today, but I cannot even sing now if I think what my forefathers did to your people," she sobbed just before the South Roots group, of which she is the coordinator, took to the stage.

The Samkhubis commemoration originates from a solemn pledge to God, that the Baster community made immediately after the onslaught by the German forces on May 8, 1915, during an attack that left nine dead and 24 seriously injured. On that dreadful day, the German imperial troops attacked the Baster people who had fled to their last stronghold at Sam Khubis, some 80 km southwest of Rehoboth.

The day has been religiously commemorated since then, with a two-day gathering on the site to commemorate the Baster people's near-extermination at the hands of the German imperial troops. This year's slogan was 'The Crossroad. Where Do You Stand?'

During the event pastor Jannie Beukes from the Lutheran Church urged the Baster community to stop blaming government for the absence of development and instead to be be proactive in bringing about the development they yearn for. He called on them to bear in mind that their forefathers built their own fortunes from literally nothing and they should therefore follow suit, and educate themselves and look for wisdom that would guide them.

"We must develop positive characteristics, stop criticizing government. Our forefathers worked together, they relied upon each other and they were blessed with wisdom. They helped each other during hardships and they did things for themselves, look at the building here, it is a masterpiece. These are the qualities we were blessed with and many of these men did not have any form of education, but they worked hard and prospered. Let us follow in their footsteps and use our hands and our brains," Beukes urged the Baster community.

He beseeched them to respect and honor their past and heritage while always considering the future in order to make the best decisions. He scolded young people for their reluctance to honor their heritage, adding that that heritage and traditions should be deemed sacred and be taught to children by their parents.