OkahandjaOkahandja lies on the B1, about 70 kilometres north of Windhoek. Those who want to travel north or to the coast, must pass through the town at the sandy riverbed of the Okakango Rivier. Okahandja has 20 000 inhabitants and is the commercial centre of the area.
In 1872, the Rhenish Mission Society founded a mission station in Okahandja to try convert and pacify the Herero who settled in this area. The Mission Church was consecrated in 1976 and in 1894, Okahandja became a military base of the German colonists.
Okahandja is closely linked with the history of the Herero people in Namibia. Since the middle of the 19th century one of their most important tribal centres is situated here. In the cemetery near the Mission Church, lie the graves of their chiefs Tjamuaha, Maharero, Samuel Maharero and Hosea Kutako. The Herero leader Clemens Kapuuo, murdered in 1978, is also buried here.
Every year on the last Sunday before the 26th of August, is Herero Day upon which great festivities in honour of the ancestors buried in Okahandja take place. The colourful festive processions are very impressive. The Herero women wear voluminous Victorian dresses and the typical headgear that resembles bovine horns. The men wear khaki uniforms.
Okahandja has two big arts&crafts markets situated at the entrance and the exit of town, which are about the only interesting features of the place. 25 kilometres south-west, however, lie the Hot Springs of "Gross Barmen". In 1975, the former mission station was changed into a thermal spa. Hot water (65 degrees Celsuis) channels up from a depth of 2500 metres, is cooled and then flows into an indoor and outdoor basins.
Top: Festive pageant on Herero Day in Okahandja, held annually at the end of August. Left: Okahandja African Market.