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Cornelius Frederiks: The Fierce Namibian Freedom Fighter Who Gave German Colonizers A Tough Time

Cornelius Frederiks The Fierce Namibian Freedom Fighter Who Gave German Colonizers A Tough Time

Politicians in Berlin, Germany, agreed four years ago to change street names related to atrocities committed by German colonial authorities during their colonization of Namibia, giving protestors a triumph. In April 2018, parliamentarians voted to approve new names for streets in the “African Quarter” after more than a decade of debate.

During the 1904-1908 massacres, German conquerors of what was then known as southwest Africa, now Namibia, massacred tens of thousands of indigenous Herero and Nama people. Historians have dubbed it the first genocide of the twentieth century. Streets in Berlin’s African Quarter, in the northwest, contain the names of some of the perpetrators, such as Lüderitzstraße, named after South West Africa’s founder, Franz Adolf Lüderitz.

It was announced in 2018 that those names on the streets would be changed with those of liberation fighters like Cornelius Frederiks, who spearheaded the Nama people’s resistance. Cornelius Frederiks would so take the place of Adolf Lüderitz.


Frederiks was dubbed “the most deadly enemy of the German Imperial Forces” by historians for his valiant fight against German invaders attempting to take over Namibian territory. Germans attacked what is now Namibia, in Southern Africa, in 1884. The Germans invaded Namibia, led by Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismark and Duke of Lauenburg, to prevent the British from expanding their domains into Namibia. The Germans declared Namibia a German state and dubbed it German southwest Africa after the successful invasion.

Namibia’s indigenous peoples, the Herero and Nama tribes, owned the land and were affluent cattlemen and farmers. They lived in complex and well-developed social situations prior to the German invasion, but between 1884 and 1903, they watched helplessly as the Germans took over their lands and properties, slaughtered their labor force, and sent them away into slavery.

In January 1904, members of the Herero ethnic group revolted against invading Germans who had conquered regions in central, western, and eastern Africa as part of the rush for African lands. The Battle of Waterberg was the culmination of the resistance against the Germans. The Germans, on the other hand, triumphed and drove the Herero into the Namib desert, where they died of famine and thirst.

Another group, the Namaqua or Nama, rose up against the Germans in October of the same year. In this battle, Frederiks was crucial. He had previously joined Hendrik Witbooi and other captains or freedom fighters who had declared war against the German imperial government as a church elder and now head of the !Aman people, a clan in the Nama tribe. Frederiks led numerous military actions against German forces, becoming a thorn in the side of the Germans, who referred to him simply as “Cornelius.”


After the first extermination order that punished the Herero people, German General von Trotha issued a second extermination order on April 22, 1905. In his command, the German General promised bounties for Nama leaders, both dead and alive. Frederiks and Witbooi were included, with Frederiks receiving 3,000 points and Witbooi receiving 5,000. Witbooi died at Vaalgras in 1906, but Frederiks continued to lead the !Aman from Bethanie village until he, too, had to surrender in 1906.

Overall, the Nama people were treated similarly to the Herero, since they were beaten by conquerors. In Luderitz Bay, the Germans established the Shark Island Concentration Camp, where they dumped detainees, including Frederiks, as well as the bodies of the slain locals. The island is located along the coast, and the weather was extremely severe and cold, making it unsuitable for habitation. The hostages were abandoned and died of starvation, cold, or disease. On February 16, 1907, Frederiks perished there as well, owing to the harsh conditions. In 2002, a memorial to Fredericks and the !Aman community was constructed on Shark Island.

According to this source, his cemetery is near the town of Luderitz in Namibia, on the Shark Island peninsula, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Despite the fact that many hostages’ bodies were tossed into the sea or left unburied by German officers, historians believe he was given a decent burial by the Nama people. Some of their body parts were even transported to Germany to be analyzed by anthropologists. Some say that Frederiks’ head was transferred to Germany as a result of this.

Last year, the German government stated that it would pay up to $1.3 billion in aid to Namibia over an unspecified length of time to formally recognise Germany’s role in what has been described as a genocide against the natives of what is now Namibia.


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