Rehoboth, Namibia

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Aerial view of Rehoboth (2017)
Aerial view of Rehoboth (2017)
Rehoboth is located in Namibia
Location in Namibia
Coordinates: 23°19′S 17°05′E / 23.317°S 17.083°E / -23.317; 17.083
Country Namibia
RegionHardap Region
ConstituenciesRehoboth Urban West
Rehoboth Urban East
 • Total639 km2 (247 sq mi)
 • Total28,843
 • Density44.4/km2 (115/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+2 (South African Standard Time)

Rehoboth is a town in central Namibia just north of the Tropic of Capricorn. Located 90 kilometres south of the Namibian capital Windhoek, Rehoboth lies on a high elevation plateau with several natural hot-water springs. It receives sparse mean annual rainfall of 240 millimetres (9.4 in), although in the 2010/2011 a record 731 millimetres (28.8 in) were measured.[2] In 2005, it had a population of 21,378 later increased to 28,843 in 2011, according to the 2011 Namibian Population and Housing Census.

Rehoboth is intersected from north to south by the national road B1, which also serves as the border of the two electoral constituencies in the town, Rehoboth Urban West and Rehoboth Urban East. Rehoboth is the core territory of the Baster community which still lives according to their Paternal Laws which were enacted in 1872.[3]


Rehoboth is divided into eight neighbourhoods, called blocks. The oldest part of the town is blocks A, B and C, of which block B contains most public services and shops. Block D is home to the wealthiest inhabitants of the town. Block E is the poorest neighbourhood and was originally (under Apartheid) designated for blacks. Blocks F,G and H are the newest neighbourhoods. The current mayor of the town is Mr. Pieters, living in Block E.

Public amenities include a public hospital, primary and secondary schools and a district court with resident magistrate. The Oanob Dam, approximately six kilometres from Rehoboth, supplies the town with fresh water. The majority of the population consists of Basters.


Stamps for German South West Africa postmarked Rehoboth 1901

The aboriginals of Rehoboth and its surroundings are the ǀHūǃgaoben, a sub clan of the ǀGowanîn (Dune Damaras/ Damaras of the Kalahari). They first came upon the hot water springs after the fall of the Damara Kingdom in the 16th century and named the site ǀGaoǁnāǀaus (Fountain of the falling buffalo). The nomadic Damara people would time and time again visit the fountain if water became scarce in the Kalahari. The ǀHūǃgaoben later permanently settled at ǃNawases 11 km (7 mi) NE of Rehoboth in the late 1700s. ǀGaoǁnāǀaus was later renamed ǀAnes (place of smoke) by the Kaiǁkhaun (Rooinasie Nama of ǃHoaxaǃnâs) who for a short period had settled there before migrating to Hoachanas. The "smoke" referred to the steam that was rising over the hot water fountains on cold winter mornings.[4] The ǀHūǃgaoben decided to settle at a distance from the fauna rich springs of Rehoboth so as not chase away game roaming the site.

In 1845 ǁKhauǀgôan (Swartbooi) clan arrived under the leadership of Willem Swartbooi (ǃHuiseb ǂHaobemâb) and Franz Heinrich Kleinschmidt of the German Rhenish Missionary Society. Kleinschmidt named the place Rehoboth that year, and established a Rhenish Mission Station there.[5] In 1864, the Nama abandoned the area as a result of an attack by the Orlam Afrikaners.[6] Rehoboth means "streets" [4] in Hebrew. The arrival of the ǀHôaǀaran (Oorlam Afrikaner) in ǀAeǁgams (Windhoek) in 1840 marked the start of the ǀHôaǀaran-ǁKhauǀgôan (Oorlam Afrikaner-Swartbooi Nama) feud. This feud lasted from 1840 to 1865, as the Oorlam Afrikaner attacked the Swartbooi Nama at Rehoboth in a bloody clash resulting in the Swartbooi Namas fleeing to ǃAmaib in ǃOeǂgâb (Erongo region). The Rehoboth area was mostly bare except the Swartbooi Nama who were sheltered by the ǀHūǃgaoben.

In 1870, the Basters, who had migrated out of the Cape Colony in 1868, moved into the territory and were granted permission to settle at Rehoboth[7] by the participants of the peace conference of Okahandja on 23 September 1870. Within a few years, the Basters were closely linked to the town of Rehoboth and became identified as Rehoboth Basters or Rehobothers. The population increased rapidly from an initial number of 333 in 1870, 800 in 1874 and 1500 by 1885. The growing Baster population settled in the surrounding areas, which would become known as the Rehoboth Gebiet ("Gebiet": German: area).

Rehoboth in 1908

In 1885, Baster Kaptein Hermanus van Wyk signed a 'Treaty of Protection and Friendship' with the German Empire which permitted him to retain a degree of autonomy in exchange for recognizing colonial rule. Relations between Rehoboth and Germany remained close for more than twenty years, but in 1914, following the outbreak of World War I, Germany's use of Baster soldiers to guard South African prisoners — contrary to the terms of their enlistment — led to armed revolt. German forces then attacked Rehoboth, committed atrocities against Baster civilians and attacked refugees encamped upon the mountain of Sam Khubis, but, despite repeated attacks and the use of superior weaponry, were unable to destroy the Basters' position. On the following day the Germans retreated and Rehoboth's Baster community was reprieved.[8]

Namibia was occupied by South Africa in 1915 and, ten years later, a second rebellion broke out at Rehoboth. This revolt collapsed, however, when colonial forces, armed with machine guns and supported by two warplanes, marched into the town and arrested more than 600 people.


Administratively, Rehoboth is classified as a town with its own council of 7 elected individuals.[9]

The 2015 local authority election was won by the SWAPO party which gained four seats (4,519 votes), while the local United People's Movement (UPM) gained three seats (3,101 votes).[10]


The town is served by Rehoboth railway station. There is also a private landing strip, for small aircraft near the Oanob Dam. To the west is Gamsberg Nature Reserve.

People from Rehoboth[edit]


  1. ^ "Table 4.2.2 Urban population by Census years (2001 and 2011)" (PDF). Namibia 2011 - Population and Housing Census Main Report. Namibia Statistics Agency. p. 39. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  2. ^ Menges, Werner (26 May 2011). "Rainy season was one for the record books". The Namibian. Archived from the original on 15 December 2011.
  3. ^ Shiremo, Shampapi (31 March 2012). "New Era - Hermanus van Wyk: The 'Biblical Moses' of the Rehoboth Baster Community". New Era. New Era. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  4. ^ a b Britz, Rudolf; Lang, Hartmut; Limpricht, Corenlia (1999). A Concise History of the Rehoboth Basters until 1990. Rehoboth: Klaus Hess Publisher. p. 12. ISBN 9991674713.
  5. ^ "Rehoboth, Namibia". Namibia 1-on-1. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  6. ^ Dierks, Klaus. "Chronologie der namibischen Geschichte, 1864" [Chronology of Namibian History, 1864] (in German). Klaus Dierks. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  7. ^ Shiremo, Shampapi (26 May 2011). "Hermanus van Wyk: The 'Biblical Moses' of the Rehoboth Baster Community". New Era. Archived from the original on 31 March 2012.
  8. ^ "Sam Khubis". Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  9. ^ "Know Your Local Authority". Election Watch (3). Institute for Public Policy Research. 2015. p. 4.
  10. ^ "Local elections results". Electoral Commission of Namibia. 28 November 2015. p. 3. Archived from the original on 10 December 2015.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 23°19′S 17°05′E / 23.317°S 17.083°E / -23.317; 17.083