chapter  3
18 Pages

‘Realising the Self and Developing the African’: German Immigrants in Namibia

WithHeidi Armbruster

This paper is based on research among German immigrants in Namibia, a country with

a long history of colonisation. After Germany, the first colonial power, ceded the territory

as a consequence of the First World War, South Africa effectively ruled the country until

1990. Both former colonial powers established principles of white rule and initiated

settler communities, whose descendants still live in the country. This article examines

biographical narratives of German immigrants who have settled in Namibia since the

1950s. It focuses on their discourses of self-understanding in this postcolonial, post-

apartheid context. The discussion follows two related issues: the cultural models of

personhood that narrators use to represent their historical selves, and the ways in which

these models are applied to recent historical change in Namibia. The article concludes by

showing how both perspectives work to recycle colonial imaginations.