Rehoboth Baster Community

Sam Khubis

Published by Nov 30, 2011

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Every year on the 8th of May, the battle of Sam Khubis is remembered. This historical battle took place on 8 May 1915, when the German colonial army attacked the Baster people who had fled to their last stronghold of Sam Khubis. The fear of total annihilation by a better equipped German army created a strong sense of common destiny.

Sam Khubis Memorial Plaque

The battle turned into a miraculous survival, which is celebrated every year to remind the Baster people of the threats faced, which can be overcome together.

In 1885, the Kaptein of the Rehoboth Basters signed a Treaty of Protection and Friendship with the German government. This international treaty arranged the rights and duties of the Rehoboth polity vis-à-vis the German colonial power. This treaty continued to be operational until 1914 when World War One changed the political landscape.

The Basters refused to take up arms against South African troops that were threatening to invade German controlled South West Africa. They also refused to guard captured South African soldiers and did not agree to patrol outside the territory of Rehoboth.

The escalation of events started on 13 April 1915 when the German authorities demanded from the Baster Council that the armed Baster troops would go to Otjiwarango to guard Prisoners Of War. If these demands were not to be met, all weapons in possession of the Rehoboth Basters had to be handed in to the German army. The Germans gave the Baster Council a three day deadline.

However, the following day the Germans secretly ‘disarmed’ Baster soldiers in Sandputs. Several of the Baster soldiers tried to escape in which one was killed and another one escaped to tell the Baster Council of the events. In the mean time the Germans were also ‘disarming’ the Basters in Rehoboth. In the following days, several armed skirmishes occurred leaving a number of Baster and German soldiers dead.

These events lead to the cancellation of the 1885 Treaty by the German authorities who declared it null and void as of 22 April 1915. Consequently, the Germans sent many soldiers to Rehoboth, while in the mean time Baster families were fleeing to the Sam Khubis area, which was considered a militarily defendable position.

In the early morning of 8 May 1915, the Germans attacked the Baster stronghold of Sam Khubis, where a large part of the population had found refuge. The fighting lasted until the evening. The Basters feared that the superior weapons of the German army would mean a total defeat and possible annihilation the next day. However, the Germans withdrew from the fight the next day, leaving a relieved and hopeful Baster people behind.


  • The German withdrawal was caused by the South African army that was on the march and conquered the territory of South West Africa, including Rehoboth, to mark a new chapter in the struggle for self-determination of Rehoboth and the Baster people.









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