all submissions via email only
In 1903, after 20 years of colonization, 712 European women lived among 3,970 European men in German South-West Africa. What to do? Rape. Although rape by German men of Herero and Nama women was common, prior to 1904 not a single case of a white man raping an African woman came before a German court. This became particularly acute in the attempted rape, and then murder, of Louisa Kamana.
Louisa Kamana was married to the son of Chief Zacharias. The two gave a ride to a German settler, who, that night, “made sexual advances” on Louisa Kamana. She refused. He killed her. The Court acquitted him. The case was appealed, and the settler was given three years in prison. Rape and murder of Herero women were common occurrences. The case only went to trial because a Chief’s family was involved, and no one among the Herero thought three years made up for a Herero woman’s life and dignity.
That’s the story of the genocide as well. Women and children were targeted. When the Herero were ‘allowed’ to escape into the Kalahari Desert, it was assumed most would die. It was also assumed more women and children would die. That assumption was correct. The German authorities explained that Herero women and children had to die because they carried dangerous diseases. Meanwhile, the German press shrieked that Herero women were ‘black amazons swinging clubs and castrating their foes’.
And so good riddance.