SWAKOPMUND - The coastal town Swakopmund celebrated the 120th anniversary of its founding on Saturday. Although attendance was poor at the celebrations, the mayor of the town, Alderwoman Rosina //Noabes said she was pleased with the overall interest shown by the residents.
More than 40 exhibitors also took part in the celebrations.
//Noabes said that the poor attendance could have been due to the chilly weather experienced the past few days at the coast.
She added that tourists visiting the town would rather explore the different historic sites of the town “than attend events”.
Several coastal schools and musical bands also took part in the celebrations, which ended yesterday with a church service at the Tamariskia Sports stadium.
The former German settler Kurt von Francios founded the town in 1892.
Swakopmund was originally called Tsoakhaub - if loosely translated it means “hole opening” – by its Nama inhabitants.
Many believe that the word Tsoakhaub makes reference to the Swakop river that occasionally washes dead wood, dead animals and other natural debris into the Atlantic Ocean.
Upon its proclamation on August 8 1896, Tsoakhaub became known as Swakopmund.
Swakopmund was the first main harbour of the German colony. Walvis Bay, the closest deep-water harbour at the time, fell under British rule.
The area had fresh water, which was one of the main reasons the town was chosen as a harbour.
Swakopmund quickly became the main port for imports and exports for the whole territory, and was one of six towns that received municipal status in 1909.
Many government departments of the former South West Africa had offices in Swakopmund
But the harbour created by the Mole silted up, and in 1905 work was started on a wooden jetty, but in the long run this was inadequate.
In 1914 construction of a steel jetty therefore commenced, the remains of which can still be seen today. After World War I it became a pedestrian walkway.
It was declared structurally unsound and was closed to the public for seven years and in 2006 renovations to the portion supported by concrete pillars were completed, with a seafood restaurant and sushi bar being added to the end portion of the steel portion of the jetty soon after.
A new timber walkway was also added to the existing steel structure, and the steel portion of the jetty reopened to the public in late 2010.
Today Swakopmund is ranked among the best tourist destinations in the world mainly because of the diverse cultural experience the town offers, as well as its German historical background and German buildings.