History

Until the 19th century the area of the present day Rehoboth town was inhabited by Nama (Khoikhoi) groups who called it |Anis meaning smoke; referring to the cloud of condensed water vapour hanging over the hot springs in the morning.

The missionary Franz Heinrich Kleinschmidt of the German Rhenish Missionary Society named the place Rehoboth in 1845, when a mission was established among the resident Nama (Khoikhoi). In 1864, the Nama abandoned the area as a result of an attack by the Orlam Afrikaners.

In 1870, the Basters, who had migrated out of the Cape Colony in 1868 moved into the territory and were granted permission to settle at Rehoboth by the participants of the peace conference of Okahandja on 23 September 1870. In a few years, the Basters were closely linked to the town of Rehoboth and became identified as Rehoboth Basters or Rehobothers. The population increased rapidly from an initial number of 333 in 1870, 800 in 1874 and 1500 by 1885. The growing Baster population settled in the surrounding areas, which would become known as the Rehoboth Gebiet (meaning ‘area’).

In 1885, Baster Kaptein Hermanus van Wyk signed a 'Treaty of Protection and Friendship' with the German Empire which permitted him to retain a degree of autonomy in exchange for recognising colonial rule. Relations between Rehoboth and Germany remained close for more than twenty years but in 1914, following the outbreak of World War I, Germany's use of Baster soldiers to guard South African prisoners - contrary to the terms of their enlistment - led to armed revolt. German forces then attacked Rehoboth, committed atrocities against Baster civilians and attacked refugees encamped upon the mountain of Sam Khubis, but, despite repeated attacks and the use of superior weaponry, were unable to destroy the Basters' position. Next day, the Germans retreated and Rehoboth's Baster community was reprieved.

Namibia was occupied by South Africa in 1915 and, ten years later, a second rebellion broke out at Rehoboth. This revolt collapsed, however, when colonial forces - armed with machine-guns and supported by two warplanes - marched into the town and arrested more than 600 people.

Transport

The town is served by Rehoboth railway station. There is also a private landing strip, for small aircraft near the Oanob Dam. To the west is Gamsberg Nature Reserve.

Notable residents

Hermanus Beukes, early petitioner for Namibian independence.

Situated 87 km south of Windhoek at the foot of the Auas Mountains, Rehoboth is home to the Baster (literally, 'Bastards'), a fiercely proud and independent people who are the descendants of a group of farmers of mixed European and Khoisan blood. Nearby Oanob Lake is stunning, with new lakeside thatched chalets, well tended camping sites and a range of water sports and entertainment for families.