This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Bantustans in South West Africa (Namibia)

Last modified: 2017-11-11 by bruce berry
Keywords: namibia | bantustan |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

See also:

The Bantustan policy in South West Africa

In terms of the League of Nations' mandate for South West Africa, the responsibility for the well-being and development of the indigenous (Black) population was vested in the Administrator of South West Africa, acting as an agent of the South African government. Traditional tribal authorities were, however, encouraged to play an active and increasing role in the administration of their own affairs. In 1922 the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations commented that "The Mandatory Governments are to be commended on their adoption of the principle of maintaining the former organisation of the tribes and recognising the power of the chiefs". At a later session of the Commission, Lord Lugard (the British African Administrator) had the following to say: "It is also a matter of congratulation that the system of governing the various tribes through tribal councils continues to prove satisfactory and is being extended". It would also be true to say that after taking over the administration of South West Africa in 1915, the South African Government had little choice but to rely, to a large extent, on the existing and re-established tribal authorities to rule large areas of the territory. It had neither the manpower, the means, nor the facilities to do otherwise in a country with a surface area of 824 269 square km and a population density which, even now, is only 1,4 persons per square km. As Robert von Lucius, the Southern African correspondent of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has pointed out, it is no exaggeration to say that the notion of ethnicity as a vital underpinning of public policy has been in practice for longer in what is now Namibia, than in South Africa. The formal establishment of ethnically based "homelands" in South West Africa was thus a logical extension of a system of government which had long been in operation in the Territory. After the 1948 National Party election victory and the formal implementation of apartheid in South Africa, the South African government viewed the creation of 'self-governing' states based on the boundaries of the major ethnic groups - both within the borders of South Africa and in South West Africa - as a means of fulfilling the political aspirations of the indigenous population. The evolution of these self-governing areas (or Bantustans) was seen as South Africa's answer to decolonisation. For South West Africa the stage was set when the South African Parliament passed legislation in 1968 to extend self-government to the "Native Nations of South West Africa" In terms of the Development of Self-government for Native Nations in South West Africa Act (1968) those areas under traditional tribal authority were set aside were to be "... reserved and set apart ... for the exclusive use and occupation by ..." the respective ethnic groups living in those areas. The remainder of the country (with the exception of Walvis Bay) was considered a single political unit in which the white population predominated. Within the next 10 years, three of Legislative Councils which had been established in terms of this Act were to acquire their own coats of arms and flags. These were Ovambo (formerly Ovamboland), Kavango (formerly Okavangoland) and Caprivi (formerly Eastern Caprivi). The coats of arms were to replace the South African and South West African arms on official documentation, while each of the Flag Acts specified that the respective flag "... shall be flown side by side with the National Flag of the Republic [of South Africa] at the buildings where the Legislative Council holds its sessions, at the principal administrative offices and at all main district offices of the Government ....., and at such places .... as the Government may determine". This practice continued until the formal dissolution of the South West African "homelands" with the granting of independence to Namibia on 21 March 1990.
Source: Coats and Arms and Flags in Namibia by FG Brownell (1992)
Bruce Berry, 25 November 1998