Karibib - central Namibia
The small town Karibib is
located just midway between Windhoek and Swakopmund. 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.
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
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
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
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.
Approxiately 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
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
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
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, Karibibmall town
Karasburg is located 700 km from Windhoek and 110 km from the border with
South Africa at Ariamsvlei.
It has a number of 24 hour garages, one hotel (Kalkfontein Hotel) and three
bed and breakfast establishments: Hoons B&B, Pela Pela Backpackers and
Jeannie's B&B. Transport: Intercape Mainliner bus with pick ups and drop
offs in front of SP Motors. Bank Windhoek and First National Bank offer
money-changing facilities and ATMs. There is a post office (8.00 - 16.30
daily, 8.00 - 11.30 on Saturdays). State Hospital is located on the southern
outskirts of town. Phone code: 064. Police: 10111.
Source of information & ©: Henckert Information Centre, Karibib