Can­nons dumped into a lake

go! Namibia - - GUIDE TSUMEB -

When you drive along the B1 from Tsumeb to the Von Lin­d­eq­uist gate into Etosha, the turn-off to Lake Otjikoto is so in­con­spic­u­ous that few peo­ple pay it any at­ten­tion. But an im­por­tant chap­ter in Namibia’s his­tory played out here and brought Ger­many’s nearly 30-year rule in South-West Africa to a close.

Near the start of WWI, gen­er­als Smuts and Botha landed in Swakopmund with South African troops. They in­vaded the in­te­rior in four cam­paigns and cor­nered the Schutztruppe in the north, where they were cut off from the coast. On 1 July 1915, the South Africans de­feated the Ger­mans. Eight days later, gen­eral Louis Botha, ma­jor Vic­tor Franke and other se­nior of­fi­cers signed the Khorab peace treaty – there’s a small mon­u­ment at the 500 km marker on the rail­way line near Otavi to com­mem­o­rate this day.

The Ger­mans went down with a bang. They dumped their can­nons into Lake Otjikoto north-west of Tsumeb so the South Africans wouldn’t get their hands on them. In the early 1980s, divers brought some of the guns back to the sur­face. This was no easy feat: The lake is 60 m deep on av­er­age and connected to an un­der­ground cave sys­tem that goes deeper than 145 m in places. Visit the lake (en­trance fee R30 per per­son) and sit on the banks. Think about what you know (and don’t know!) about its murky depths. The turn-off from the B1 is about 20 km north of Tsumeb to­wards Oshiv­elo (GPS: S19.19443 E17.55076).

The can­nons and other ar­tillery re­trieved from the lake are now kept in the Tsumeb Mu­seum, but there are still about 19 guns re­main­ing in the wa­ter. Plus, leg­end has it, a safe with un­known con­tents…

The mu­seum also houses other items used by the Ger­man and South African armies and pris­on­ers of war, and fea­tures eth­no­log­i­cal ex­hi­bi­tions about the dif­fer­ent peo­ple of Namibia. There’s also a fas­ci­nat­ing dis­play of crys­tals (all mined in the De Wet shaft) and info about the rail­way line built be­tween Swakopmund and Tsumeb in the early 20th cen­tury.

Where? The mu­seum is in Pres­i­dent Street – look for the black steam lo­co­mo­tive in the gar­den. Open­ing times: Mon­day to Fri­day from 9 am to noon and from 2 pm to 5 pm; Satur­day from 9 am to noon. Cost: R30 per adult; R5 per child aged 6 – 13. Con­tact: 00 264 67 220 425;

Tsumeb Mu­seum

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