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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa



Okahandja is situated about 70km, north of Windhoek and is the first major town en route to the north or west / coast.

Okahandja holds a quaint atmosphere steeped in history and tradition. There are many historical sites to visit and a large variety of birds to view. It is crammed with many small businesses including supermarkets, banks, pharmacy, hardware and clothing stores, vehicle and tyre repair facilities, a launderette and dry cleaners, hairdressers, stationary shops, shoe shops, a photo developer, computer and Internet shop, hotels & other accommodation establishments, doctor's rooms and a hospital, bakeries, numerous restaurants and a sports bar, to mention a few. There are the larger industrial businesses too.

The word, 'Okahandja' is derived from Otjiherero (a local tribal language) and means 'The place where two rivers flow into each other to form one wide one.' (Or a 'short broad river.') These two rivers are the Okakango and the Okamita, which flow only during the summer season and are dry throughout most of the year. The weather in Okahandja is mild during the winter months and rarely goes below 0°C. But during the summer months, (from September to March) when it is relatively hot, temperatures of up to 45°C during midday are not uncommon.


Okahandja is rich in history and it revolves mostly around the Herero and Nama people. Chiefs Tjamuaha and Kahitjene came to Okahandja in 1800 to establish themselves here. Chief Tjamuaha was the father of Chief Maherero, who was known to be the great leader of the Herero people. In 1827 the first white person, Heinrich Schmelen a German pastor, came to Okahandja and called the place 'Schmelenverwachtung'.

The Rhenish Mission sent two missionaries, Hugo Hahn and Heinrich Kleinschmidt to Okahandja in 1844 to do church work. All was peaceful in Okahandja until 23 August 1850, when the 'Bloodbath of Okahandja' took place between the Nama and Herero speaking people. Today the site where this historic battle took place is known as 'Moordkoppie' and is situated behind the town's school next to the Windhoek - Karibib main road.

Jan Jonker Afrikaner moved to Okahandja in 1854, where he later died. Chief Tjamuaha also died in the same year but had previously advised his son, Maherero, that he should stand up against the Nama-speaking people and overpower them. This was to be the beginning of a 7 year war. True to his great leadership, Chief Maherero, conquered the Nama people and they in turn turned to the Germans for protection. On the 12th of January 1904, the Herero speaking people rebelled against the German occupation, but were chased off into the Kaiserkop area, East of Okahandja.

In 1870, the first school was established by Rhenish missionaries. Many other businesses flourished in Okahandja, including Wecke & Voigts which was established in 1892. Unfortunately, the original building burnt down, and has been replaced with a smaller shop, still on the original site on the corner of Bahnhof Strasse and Voortrekker road. On 25 June 1894, Lentwein created a military station in Okahandja, a date regarded as the date when Okahandja was officially established. Soon afterwards, in 1895, the first postal services at Okahandja began, with camels being used to transport the mail. The first post office at Okahandja was built in 1896, and still stands in the main street.

Due to the historical fact that two Herero Chiefs, Kahimunua and Nikodemus, were shot by the Germans in Gobabis and were buried at the Bantu Kirche, off Martin Nieb street, every year towards the end of August, the people of Okahandja remember them, on what is now called Maherero Day. Thousands of Herero’s come to Okahandja to pay tribute to their fallen heroes. A grand procession of brightly colored traditional dresses, military outfits and prancing horses proceed along a route which starts at the grave sites and moves on to a site on the other side of the main Windhoek road. Here, a great tribal banquet and celebration is held where people from all walks of life are always made to feel welcome at this important event.

Interesting Facts

Annually in August, the Herero communities celebrate the Herero Festival on Maharero Day – gathering in Okahanda to pay respect to their fallen heroes during the independence struggle

The wives of European missionaries from the 19th century inspired the colourful Victorian-style dresses that clad the traditional Herero women. To make one dress 9 -12m of fabric is used.


  • Okahandja Woodcarvers Market
  • Cemetery Traditional Herero Chiefs (Tjamuaha †1859 – Maharero †1890 – Samuel Maharero (1856-1923) and Fredrich Maharero (1874-1952).
  • Graves
  • Traditional Leaders Jonker Afrikaner (†1861) Hosea Kutako (1870-1970) Clemens Kapuuo (1923-1978).
  • Kahimemua Nguvauva (1850-1896).
  • Mission Church (1876)
  • Old German Fort (1894)
  • Municipal Library (Paul Gaerdes Public Library)
  • Station Building (1902)
  • Gross Barmen Resort
  • Von Bach Dam
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