Date of Award
Moore School of Business
Director of Thesis
During my spring 2015 Semester at Sea voyage, the ship docked in Walvis Bay, Namibia for five days. Prior to the voyage, I knew nothing about Namibia’s history. I was surprised to learn of its treacherous past and the role Germany played in shaping its political and economic condition. I took a tour of the Himba settlement, driving hours across the barren, dry land to a small circle of huts. Women cover their skin with red clay and continue the tradition of sauna bathes, never bathing in water in their entire lives. The Himba culture was captivating and it was immense honor to be welcomed to their homes. We also stopped to see the Bushman, or San people, to learn about their fleeting lifestyle. Without enough land or livestock to survive on, both the Himba and San are becoming ever more dependent on tourism and modern-day jobs. They fight to preserve their culture, aware that doing so becomes more difficult each year. Most men wear t-shirts and shorts, and dinner is no longer fresh, but store-bought.
For lunch we stopped at a German farm. The majority of working farms in Namibia are owned by Germans, first acquired during colonization in the early 20th century. Upon returning to the ship, I learned more about German colonization, and came across the Herero War and the first genocide of the 20th Century. The Holocaust in Europe was not Germany’s first genocide, yet most of the world only studies the Second World War. The death of 80% of a population at the hand of a major European power should be acknowledged, and so I dedicate my senior thesis to telling this story. The Herero tribe’s fight for acknowledgement and reparations for the atrocities committed between 1904-1908 is a significant issue still debated today. The Herero are relentless in trying to regain enough land to sustain a cattle-herding lifestyle once more.
Bracht, Melanie, "Genocide in German South West Africa & the Herero Reparations Movement" (2015). Senior Theses. 37.