The Road of the Man Called Love and the Sack of Sero: The Herero-German War and the Export of Herero Labour to the South African Rand

This article suggests how oral histories can retain memories of important aspects of the past which have been totally ignored in contemporary accounts or later historical studies. It shows that in Herero oral history in northeastern Namibia, the phrase ‘Ondjira ja Korusuvero’ (The Road of Love, or rather, The Road of the Man called Love), which refers to the export of labour to the South African mines, is central to an understanding of the origins of the Herero-German war (1904-1908). Similarly, in Herero oral history in northwestern Botswana, ‘Ekutu ra Sero’ (The Sack of Sero) refers to labour recruitment to the mines in South Africa, as well as to social circumstances in the immediate aftermath of the war. The article discusses the validity of the arguments presented in these oral histories and presents archival material that substantiates Herero oral accounts of the origins of the war. It argues that Herero oral histories offer a sophisticated analysis of the causes and the impact of the war. Notes, ref., sum.

Title: The Road of the Man Called Love and the Sack of Sero: The Herero-German War and the Export of Herero Labour to the South African Rand
Author: Gewald, Jan-Bart
Year: 1999
Periodical: The Journal of African History
Volume: 40
Issue: 1
Pages: 21-40
Language: English
Geographic term: Namibia
External link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/183393
Abstract: This article suggests how oral histories can retain memories of important aspects of the past which have been totally ignored in contemporary accounts or later historical studies. It shows that in Herero oral history in northeastern Namibia, the phrase ‘Ondjira ja Korusuvero’ (The Road of Love, or rather, The Road of the Man called Love), which refers to the export of labour to the South African mines, is central to an understanding of the origins of the Herero-German war (1904-1908). Similarly, in Herero oral history in northwestern Botswana, ‘Ekutu ra Sero’ (The Sack of Sero) refers to labour recruitment to the mines in South Africa, as well as to social circumstances in the immediate aftermath of the war. The article discusses the validity of the arguments presented in these oral histories and presents archival material that substantiates Herero oral accounts of the origins of the war. It argues that Herero oral histories offer a sophisticated analysis of the causes and the impact of the war. Notes, ref., sum.