Although the long dress and the unique headdress of the Rehoboth-Baster women has today disappeared from the everyday scene it is still worn during special ceremonies such as the annual festival commemorating the Baster people’s fallen heroes during the battle of Tsamkhubis, which took place with the German Schutztruppe on May 8, 1915.
The ancestors of the Rehoboth-Basters, who were descendents of white fathers and Khoekhoe mothers, originated in the northern frontier districts of the Cape Colony during the first half of the nineteenth century. At De Tuin, south of the Orange River, a mission station was founded for them in 1863. It was soon taken over by the missionary Friedrich Heidmann, who was to play a significant role in their further history. Marginalized by increasing numbers of Trek-Boers, who invaded the area with their large herds of cattle and some marauding groups of San and Koranna, the Basters, accompanied by their missionary, left De Tuin and moved northward. Towards the end of 1868, they crossed the Orange River and, inspired by the Nama and Oorlam people, elected Hermanus van Wyk as their ‘kaptein’.
After a short sojourn at places such as Warmbad and Bethany, a group of ca 300 people settled at Rehoboth in 1870. After lengthy negotiations with Abraham Swartbooi, the previous owner of the Rehoboth-area, and the Special Commissioner of the Cape Government, W.C. Palgrave, the Basters finally gained ownership of their newly acquired land in 1882. Continue reading