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Manasse ǃNoreseb

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Jan 20, 2022

Manasse ǃNoreseb Gamab (also Manasse of Hoachanas, circa 1840–1 December 1905) was the thirteenth Kaptein of the Khaiǁkhaun (Red Nation), a subtribe of the Nama people in Namibia, between 1880 and 1905.[1] At the start of Imperial Germanys colonisation of South-West Africa, Manasse was one of the most powerful leaders in the area.[2]

Manasse ǃNoreseb (seated in the centre) with clan elders, Hoachanas 1897
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Manasse was the son of chief Gameb ǁNanimab and his wife Gamis. He was baptised at the mission station of Hoachanas in 1860 and married a Christian convert. When he was expelled from church in 1864 he also left his wife. Manasse then took a second wife and lived with the San people in the area of Hoachanas.[3]

When chief ǂGoraxab ǁOasib (Barnabas) died in 1871,[4] Manasse ǃNoreseb declared his candidacy to succeed him. Due to earlier conflict the missionaries at Hoachanas prevented him from becoming chief and installed ǀGâberob ǂGoraxamab (Petrus) in his place. When Petrus died in the Battle of Otjikango in the Herero–Nama War of 1880, Manasse again attempted to gain chieftaincy of the Khaiǁkhaun and succeeded. According to oral evidence, Manasse ǃNoreseb gave the order,[1] or at least did not object to,[3] the killing of Petrus.

From the start of his chieftaincy, Manasse ǃNoreseb had the powerful Hendrik Witbooi, leader of the ǀKhowesin (Witbooi Nama), as enemy. In 1882 he therefore signed a peace treaty with the Ovaherero under Maharero, staunch enemies of Witbooi. Chiefs Hendrik Windstaan of the ǁOgain (Groot Doden) and Jakobus Isaak of the ǀHaiǀkhauan (Berseba Orlam) also joined this treaty. In 1885, Manasse ǃNoreseb signed a peace treaty with the German Empire which had in 1884 established the colony of German South-West Africa.[3]

Fearing an attack by Witbooi he fled Hoachanas in 1889 and settled at Seeis, which was situated in an area under the control of Maharero. After Witbooi’s troops were defeated by the Germans in 1894, Manasse returned to Hoachanas in 1895.[3][4]

Witbooi attacked Hoachanas several times and broke the resistance of the Khaiǁkhaun. He installed a rival chief, ǃHoeb ǁOasemab (Fritz Lazarus ǁOaseb) and confiscated the land of the Red Nation. Heinrich Vedder opined that Witbooi’s intention was to defeat the Nama tribes one by one, lease the land back to them after he conquered it, and gain the position of a Nama Paramount Chief in the process. The German protection treaty did not help Manasse ǃNoreseb; the Germans never had the intention to help single parties within the same tribe.[5] They created a reserve at Hoachanas in 1902 and thereby confirmed the settlement as the home village of the Red Nation. By that time, however, the hostilities between the Nama clans had already severely weakened the position of the indigenous people in southern central Namibia against the German colonisers.[2]

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