Captain Andreas Lambert: A brave warrior and a martyr of the Namibian anti-colonial resistance (18
14 Jan 2011 - Story by Shampapi Shiremo
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CAPTAIN Andreas Lambert was the grandson of the famous Amraal Lambert who arrived in the Gobabis area in 1814 from south of the Orange River.
Together with Jonker Afrikaner, the grandfather of Andreas Lambert, Amraal was a super-power in the cattle raiding business during the 1830s and 1860s respectively. However, Jan-Bart Gewald (1999:26) points out that in the early 1860s Amraal
Lambert's polity was shattered by the twin impact of lung sickness, which devastated the Nama cattle herds, and smallpox, which decimated the Nama settlement at Gobabis. Coupled to these natural reverses was the collapse of the southern trade network following the disintegration of Afrikaner hegemony in central Namibia. It can therefore be said that with the ascension of Andreas Lambert to the Kai/khauan helm in the '1870s', this community regained its former glory in trade, cattle raiding and independence from foreign domination.
For example, in the mid and late 1870s, when a large part of Namibia was threatened by aggressive Boer expansionism, Andreas Lambert put himself on record as a fierce opponent to Boer settlement not only in his area, but for the entire Namibia. For example, on December 31, 1876, Lambert would write to the Boers the following; "Yes, I have heard that you are now trekking in search of land to settle on, either to buy or borrow, and three of your party were at Gobabis on Captain Adrian Lambert's Station just before my arrival, to ask his permission to allow you the right of going further into the country, but this he refused, and he was perfectly right in doing so. So now this letter is written in the names of all the Captains of Damaraland, and the Under Captains and people, and in the name of all the 'Hottentonts' in Namaqualand and their people. Well, you Boers, what land do you search for? Here is no land that we can sell, lend, or give you; our land we require for ourselves; so immediately upon receipt of this letter, make up your minds to go back once, in haste once, in haste twice, in haste three times, back, back, back, you go to your own country, away from Rietfontein, - that is not your place, who gave you the right to live there? And if you will not listen to this letter, and it goes bad with you, you will have yourselves to blame and not us." (Jordan, W.W:169)
The fact, that together with Saul Shepherd, Lambert declared himself to speak on behalf of all the Chiefs and people of Namibia at that time, puts him as one of the early Namibian nationalist. During the time of Lambert's letter to the Boers, present Namibia was only known by names, 'Namaqualand' which stretched from central to the southernmost of present Namibia and 'Damaraland' stretching from central to the present northern borders of Namibia.
As from the 1880s onwards, the Kai/khauan led by Andries Lambert became much stronger and controlled trade activities emanating from South Africa's former Orange Free State along the routes to Walvis Bay. This control by Lambert upset some Tswana communities, mainly Kgosi Moremi's Batawana of Ngamiland and Petere Sebego's Barolong in the Ghanzi area. The Chiefs of these communities complained that most often Captain Andreas Lambert interrupted their trade efforts when he attacked and confiscated trade commodities from them and thus were loosing out on the profits. Thus, in around 1884, Kgosi Moremi of the Batwana dispatched a strong contingent comprising of the Maalola regiment to attack the Kai/Khauan. However, Thomas Tlou (1985:78) writes that the 'Khoi' prevailed over the Maalola regiment, which was repulsed due to the Khoi's firearms and horses. Since then, no African community in the vicinity of present-Botswana and Namibia would dare to attack the Kai/Khauan on their own.
Thus, even when the German colonizers arrived in the country and going from one to chief to another wanting to sign 'protection treaties', like Captain Hendrik Witbooi, Captain Andreas Lambert refused to sign. Werner Hillebrecht (2002) writes that due to that refusal to sign the 'protection treaty' with the Germans, in 1894, shortly after his arrival in the colony, Governor Theodor Leutwein made a surprise attack on Kai/khauan's settlement at Noasonobis with a military force.
In March 1894, Leut-wein, accompanied by 'Schutztruppe', Batswana auxiliaries and a canon, galloped into 'Noasonobis', which was the settlement of Andreas Lambert. Leutwein established his camp in the centre of the settlement and after two days had Andreas Lambert executed for murder and theft, and replaced by his brother Edward Lambert as chief of the 'Khauas Khoi'.
According to Werner Hillebrecht (2002) one of the trumped up charges Lambert was sentenced to death for was that he instigated the murder of a German trader and for robbing a Tswana settlement. Up to now, it remains a mystery as to the name of the said German trader whom Captain Andreas Lambert was accused of instigating to be killed. After the execution of Captain Lambert, which is likely the first execution of a prominent Namibian traditional leader by the Germans in Namibia, Leut-wein confiscated the Kai/khauan's weapons and forced those who had not fled to sign a "protection treaty". He also confiscated some of their territory.
Hillebrecht adds that not surprisingly, the Kai/Khauan rose to fight the Germans again, two years later, in 1896, together with Ovaherero loyal to Nikodemus Kavikunua and with the Ovambanderu under Kahimemua Nguvauva. The Kai/khauan alliance put up fierce resistance, but they were overpowered by the German forces. Captain Edward Lambert, who remained faithful to his people although he had been imposed on them, after the execution of his brother Andreas by the Germans, fell in battle at Gobabis. Most of the Kai/Khauan members, including women and children were then kept prisoners at Windhoek and interesting to take note that since then this community does not exist as a unit Namibia today.
The confiscated Kai/khauan's land was later used for resettling the Angolan Boers and their capital, 'Naosonobis' was renamed Leonardville, after the Dutch Reformed Church Minister Leonard. Hillebrecht rightly concludes that the fate of Captain Andreas Lambert and his brother Edward remains forgotten.