Town in Namibia

The small town Karibib is located almost exactly midway between Windhoek and Swakopmund on B2 road. The town renowned for the high quality marble (considered to be the hardest in the world) mined near the town. It was used in various government buildings in Namibia, Parliament buildings in Cape Town and during the construction of Frankfurt International airport. The only gold mine in the country, Navachab, is also located in the vicinity of Karibib, where gold was discovered in 1984. Below is short information on some historical buildings in the town.

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The Kaiserbrunnen

On recommendation of the emperor Wilhelm II the Wunschler Jose Rafael from Uslar, Germany, was sent to German South West Africa ( SWA ) in 1906 in order to help Oberstleutnant Victor Franke. He was well-known for his ability to find underground water by means of a divining rod. Although the public was very skeptical about this, he was able to successfully locate a total of 172 waterholes between 1906 and 1908 - the borehole next to the Kaiserbrunnen is one of many.
The water basin with drinking trough at the back was built from granite and cement in 1906. The prevailing favourable winds allowed to erect a wind pump, which was in later years sold by the municipality. In 1985 it was discovered that the water level has dropped to such an extent, that since the borehole is dry.
Karibib was at that time supplied with water mainly from the boreholes of Halbichs-Brunnen, the Kaiser-Brunnen and later on from an additional borehole at the Eselskuppe (hills in the vicinity of Karibib).
The Kaiserbrunnen at the northern outskirts of the town were declared a national monument on the 16th of June 1986.

The Halbich Branch

The company Eduard Halbich & Co. was the oldest European trading establishment in the history of the country and is closely intertwined with the history and development of Karibib. The foundation for such undertakings were laid down by Eduard Halbich (Sr.) in Otjimbingwe in 1864, although actual trading activities were only started in 1873.
In November 1900 Eduard Halbich ( Jr.) relocated the main business to Karibib, as the traffic increased dramatically due to the progressing completion of the railway link between Swakopmund and Windhoek. The farm Karibib was at a later stage bartered for farm Okomitundu; the business erven no. 46 in Main Street made room for a shop, two houses in the eastern side for the family with a smithy and a workshop in the western side. While the shop was run by Eduard Halbich, the workshop was run by the brother Wilhelm Halbich.
On the 3rd of November 1984, the original E. Halbich shop finally closed its doors and the entire stock was auctioned. A part of the old furniture was bought by the National Museum in Windhoek, the rest was taken over by the municipality of Karibib.
As part of the old town, the entire building complex was declared national monument on the 1st of April 1986. The old shop was renovated in 1995, and currently in use by an ostrich company.

The Rosemann Building

Gustav Rosemann came to Deutsch-Sudwestafrika in 1884 and was an apprentice with Mr. Gustav Voigts. As an independent trader, he settled in Otjimbingwe. On the 5th of August 1897, Rosemann bought a piece of land in Karibib from the second chief of the Hereros, under chief Zacharias Zeraua and the negotiators Victor Emanuel and Nicona Katjipatera, which initially was used as resting place for his visits to the town while still situated in Otjimbingwe.
In the year 1898 the business Rosemann and Kronewitter was founded in Otjimbingwe. When in 1900 the railway station was built in Karibib, Rosemann und Kronewitter immediately established a store on their acquired erven opposite the railway station.
Kronewitter left the business in 1901, while Rosemann was highly decorated for his fighting in the Herero revolt. His daughter later married the son of Hugo von Goldammer, the first postmaster of Otjimbingwe. In 1949 the Rosemann business was taken over by Mr. Max Bartels and Mr. Willy Meyer. In 1958 the building was sold to Mr. Graser, and in 1968 the building contractor J.O. Liedtke bought the Rosemann building.
As part of the old town, the building was declared national monument on the 20th December 1979. Currently it is in use by a local bank and was renovated and enlarged in 1996.

The Woll House

Around 1900, Mr. Georg Woll erected a trading outlet with living quarters on erven no. 45 of the Kaiserstrasse in the typical colonial architectural style. The northern part local  granite was  used, while the western part grey Karibib marble from local production was used.
Due to the great drought and the worldwide depression, the German private school was housed here in 1933. Two rooms were used as classrooms, while an old clay building was used as hostel by the Redecker family.
The buildings were declared national monument on the 15th of May 1986, and is currently used as residence and garage.

The Supplies Post

These buildings were erected on erven no. 149 by the Schutztruppe in 1911 to serve as supply post for their operations in this area. During later years it was used as workshop for the marble works with additional residence for the owner.
As part of the old town, the supplies post was declared national monument on the 15th of May 1986. It is currently in use by the marble works.

The Hotel  "Zum Grunen Kranze"

Karibib once had six lucrative hotels and pubs, such as the Grune Kranz, the Kaiserhof, the Sechserpott, Rubiens Hotel, Rosemann and a pension,  but little is known about the exact history of these establishments.
Approximately in 1913 Heinrich Hedeler erected this building on erven no. 61. After his death his wife Anna Hedeler continued with the business, and by 1923 it was commonly known as "Hedelers Hotel". By 1926 though, the future town clerk Alois Simkowsky was already registered as the owner of the hotel. In 1936 the hotel is known as "Hotel H Forster". Three years later, it is known as "Hotel Gruner Kranz". In 1948 the hotel saw as owner a certain RW Rollin.
In 1958 Mr. Karl Schulte bought the old hotel. The main house was used to accommodate the bakery, while the guestrooms were used as residence.
As part of the old town, the building was declared national monument on the 15th of May 1986. The bakery is still in place.

The Railway Station

In  1899 the Halbich family donated 6 hectares of land to the brigade responsible for building the railway line. The company Max Zimmermann & Co. from Swakopmund entered contractual obligations on the 5th of April 1899 to complete the building by 1st December. The actual building works began only on 1st of June 1900 and the building was completed in April 1901.
The railway station accommodated the railway offices, a restaurant, a post office as well as first and second class lounges for waiting travellers. When the ordered leather furniture for the lounges arrived in Karibib, it  was realized that it could not be get in through the doors. Accordingly, the carpenter Ufer and the building contractor Zimmermann had to help to save the railway directorate from an extremely embarrassing situation. At the same time the building served as residence for the station master, the master of the workshop as well as the postmaster. The operator of the restaurant, Mr. Heinrich Kahl, also had his living quarters in the railway station.
The train ride from Swakopmund to Windhoek was arduous and very long. Karibib was halfway and the passengers naturally stayed over. A great deal of the Karibib community life was happening around the railway station. Opposite the station were the hotels Rosemann, Rubien as well as the Kaiserhof of Mr. Heinrich Kahl (after his episode as restaurant operator). Back then, the railway line was still in front of the railway station (where the B2 road is running now). At a later stage the line was relocated to the back of the station (north) in order to accommodate increasing traffic in the town.
During the Herero rebellion the station served the community as recluse. Between the station and the two hotels a wall from sandbags together with barbed wire were erected. On the 6th of May 1915 the station was occupied by South African soldiers. Only in 1917 was it allowed to use the building for railway and post purposes. Unfortunately, the soldiers left a serious infestation of louse behind - a circumstance which was loudly complained about with the present magistrate Captain Gage. The South African government immediately dispatched a group of three men to disinfect the buildings.
After the second world war the post bought their own piece of land right opposite of the station, where it is still today. The old station on erven no. 198 is currently in use by a restaurant and various other small commercial outlets. Although the railway station is one of the oldest in town, it has not yet been declared a national monument.

The Old Cemetery

A short end out of town on the road to Navachab gold mine on the left hand side lies an old cemetery which was repeatedly the focus of restoration efforts. A list of all graves is currently only available at the national archives in Windhoek.

Source of information & : Henckert Information Centre, Karibib


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