The story of Grootkolk - the forgotten war.... (Twee Rivieren)

Easy read section is below the image.

German South-West Africa was a colony of the German Empire from 1884 to 1915, And the area presently known as Mier and Botswana, was annexed to what was formerly British Bechuanaland.

The relations between the Germans and the indigenous peoples continued to worsen. Under German colonial rule natives were routinely used as slave labourers who were mistreated in several ways. Herero prisoners were herded into concentration camps and exploited as human guinea pigs. Even cattle stolen from the Herero's and Nama's. Starting in 1893 the following years saw many local uprisings against the German rule.
Hendrik Witbooi
In 1904 war was declared formally by the old Hottentot Captain Hendrik Witbooi, leader of the Witbooi Nama's, supported by the leaders of the Herero's and Nama's.

One by one the Hottentot leaders surrendered or were killed, including Witbooi in 1905. One leader remained, named Simon Koper Captain of the !Khara-khoen or Fransman Nama's, who continued the struggle.

By 1908, the Schutztruppe (an elite German Regiment) had moved large numbers of men and better equipment into the Kalahari, in order to combat the Koper's threat. Koper gathered a few hundred followers and began to move south-east, following the dry course of the Nossob river. He entered South African territory and the the British Bechuanaland, present day Botswana.

On 4 March 1908, German Captain Friedrich von Erckert, received the order to cross the border persue and defeat Koper. Realizing that they would enter  dry wilderness with very little water, the Germans chose to use 710 camels instead of horses. Two forces moved across the border, who met at Geinab. Here they set up a posting station for carrying messages to the then South West Africa. Geinab was the old Hottentot name of Grootkolk. The troops used a big Camel Thorn tree as a lookout post. Unfortionately the tree, still bearing horseshoes, which the Germans nailed to the trunk as a ladder, burned down in a large veld fire in 1976.

On the 12th of March 1908 the Germans entered Bechuanaland and reached Molentsan Pan. Simon Koper became aware that they were being persuit and he assembled his men and they began heading deeper into the Kalahari. The Germans discovered that Koper and his forces were located at a pan called Seatsub.

The Germans moved forward and a battle began just after five in the morning. Captain Von Erckert was killed but Koper and some of his men escaped by leaving the previous afternoon. Captain Gruner took command and ordered a bayonet charge. In the scuffle, the rest of the Nama's escaped and fled even deeper into the Kalahari. The Germans had lost 13 and had 20 wounded. The Nama's lost 59 men. Due to lack of water Gruner and his men turned back to Geinab with their injured.

The Germans visited Geinab repeatedly during this period. Reports of German patrols kept on monitoring Koper's men and their movements.

According to legend the Germans placed small garrisons at every waterhole, and sat down to wait for Simon Koper and his men to die of thrist. Geinab was one of these outposts.

Simon Koper did not die of thrist, as he and his men lived on the Tsamma melons. They scouted round Geinab and planned an attack. The Germans had trenches dug around Geinab so one night Cooper put his snipers into the high Camel Thorn trees. No Hottentot ever wastes a shot, and when Cooper's men opened fire at close range Geinab, the German soldiers started falling.

The surviving Germans jumped on their horses and headed west. Koper's mounted men barred the path and captured the survivors. They were led back to Geinab. Koper's men stripped them of their uniforms, then told them to march back nked to their own country. As the marched, the Hottentots shot them down. No doubt some Germans ran, making better sport for the Hottentots. It was a war in which no quater was given, and the survivors of the Geinab garrison were shot to the last man.

Koper eventually requested the Brithish goverment for asylum and they allowed him to settle in Bechuanaland on the condition that he stayed out of German territory. He never returned, but his supporters kept up the struggle. Koper died of old age at Lokwabe in 1913.