The Family Bible and Whip by Hendrik Witbooi

December 11, 2018 until February 17, 2019

On February 28, 2019, the family Bible and whip of the Nama leader Hendrik Witbooi (1834-1905), which were donated to our museum in 1902, were returned to Namibia by the state of Baden-Württemberg. In the exhibition, the two objects were shown for the last time in the Linden-Museum.

“The question of how we deal with cultural assets and other objects in our collections that were acquired in a colonial context is increasingly being discussed – far beyond museums. The topic is also gaining relevance in society, because coming to terms with the past is always the starting point for understanding the present. Baden-Württemberg is therefore facing up to its historical responsibility. The return of the ‘Witbooi Bible’ and Hendrik Witbooi’s whip to Namibia is a significant signal and an important step in the process of reconciliation,” said Minister President Winfried Kretschmann in November 2018. The handing over of the Bible and the whip by the Minister of Arts Theresia Bauer to the Namibian President Hage Geingob will take place during a solemn ceremony, organized together with the Witbooi family, on February 28 in Gibeon. “For us, the restitution is at the same time the start of a joint reappraisal of the German-Namibian colonial history,” said Minister Bauer.

The return of the Bible and whip was the first restitution of colonial cultural assets from a museum in Baden-Württemberg. The Bible is of great symbolic and historical significance for Namibia.

Hendrik Witbooi was “Kaptein” during the German colonial period and one of the most important leaders of the Nama groups. Today, he is a national hero of Namibia and is commemorated by numerous monuments. The family Bible with handwritten annotations by Hendrik Witbooi and other family members was very likely captured in 1893 during an attack on Hornkranz, the headquarters of Hendrik Witbooi, by German colonial troops, who proceeded with the greatest brutality and also murdered many women and children.