Contesting Caprivi. A History of Colonial Isolation and Regional Nationalism in Namibia

  • Language: English
  • 336 pages
  • Illustrations, maps, tables, index
  • Vol. 10, 2011
  • ISSN: 2234-9561
  • ISBN:
  • Print: 978-3-905758-22-1
  • PDF: 978-3-905758-46-7
Bennett Kangumu

Contesting Caprivi. A History of Colonial Isolation and Regional Nationalism in Namibia

Caprivi, the remote and narrow Namibian strip of land encapsulated by neighbouring Angola, Zambia and Botswana, has a contested colonial and postcolonial history. Bennett Kangumu traces the politics of its people in this complex borderlands since the late 19th century. Neglected by German and South African colonial administrations, its inhabitants were often pushed towards neighbouring territories though not being an integral part of them. At the same time, South African apartheid and homeland politics emphasised the ethnization of local identities. Becoming a strategic location in the ensuing liberation wars of the late 20th century, its history is often one of conquest and resistance, plunder, betrayal and rivalry.

Kangumu shows how the inhabitants of Caprivi responded in various ways, notably in the form of regional nationalism when the Caprivi African National Union (CANU) was formed in the early 1960s. The Union’s merger with the dominant Namibian liberation movement, SWAPO, was a claim to end seperation and isolation, which, however, flarred up again in post-colonial Namibia.

Bennett Kangumu obtained his PhD from the University of Cape Town for this study. He has previously published on 20th century Namibian history and since 2008 has been the Rector of the former Caprivi College of Education, now the Head of the University of Namibia’s Katima Mulilo Campus.

1 Introduction by Lazarus Hangula

2 Pre-Colonial Caprivi: Conquest, Betrayal and Rivalry

3 Colonial Administrative Identity I: From 1890 to World War II

4 Colonial Administrative Identity II: From Bantu Reserve to Bantustan, 1939-1982

5 The Frontier Identity of the Eastern Caprivi Zipfel

6 Rival Histories and Contested Caprivi Identities

7 African Responses to the Caprivi Identities

8 Regional Nationalism and Repression

9 Secession: The Identity of People as ‘Caprivians’ and not Namibians

10 Conclusion

“This book enhances our understanding of the Caprivi to an extent that no previous
work has done. It succeeds in demolishing persistent myths about the supposed
lack of tradition and identity of the various ethnic groups in the area […] This is
a book no one will be able to ignore in any future historiography, not only of the
Caprivi and Namibia, but also in the wider context of south-central African history.”
Prof Dr Lazarus Hangula, University of Namibia

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