The inhabitants of Kaokoland, Himba and Hereto, have recently gained prominence in the discussions concerning a controversial hydro-electric power scheme in their region. They are depicted as southern Africa's `most traditional pastoralists' by groups opposing the dam and those demanding it. The article describes how Kaokoland's pastoralists suffered tremendously from the politics of encapsulation the South African government adopted against them. Having been enmeshed in interregional trade networks, commodity production and wage labour around 1900, they were isolated by the South African government within a period of twenty years. Buffer zones for the commercial ranching area and prohibitions on movement across other newly invented boundaries limited their spatial mobility. Trade across borders was inhibited altogether. Pastoralists who had diversified their assets during the previous fifty years and had taken the chance of a first wave of commercial penetration were forced back on to subsistence herding.
We have difficulty. We cry. We are imprisoned. We do not know why we are locked up. We are in gaol.... The borders are closed. The borders press us heavily. We cannot live. We are in a kraal.(1)
Glorified by Namibia's booming tourism industry, the Himba of northwestern Namibia (Kunene Province, but still mainly known as Kaokoland) are cherished as the last remnants of the `old Africa'. Photographs depicting them as a traditional pastoral people anointed with red ochre and wearing leather garments decorate Windhoek's shops and major tourism magazines. The heated debate over a huge hydro-electric scheme on the Kunene, right within the area the Himba live in, has made Kaokoland one of the most highlighted corners of rural southern Africa. Television stations have taken up the issue, and minority rights groups are protesting at the death of yet another indigenous culture and the destruction of a scenic, allegedly untouched, landscape. At the same time the Namibian government sees the dam as a unique chance for the local population to develop. Although prodam and anti-dam campaigners disagree on many points, they are united in describing the Himba as an isolated group of herders who have clung to ancient lifeways, untouched by modern commodity exchange and cut off from the vicissitudes of the global system.
Remoteness, isolation, subsistence herding detached from the economic transformations brought about by colonialism are stereotypes that most African herder societies are confronted with. They are deemed to live in bounded self-sufficient communities, to accumulate livestock beyond economic rationality and at the cost of a fragile environment (the infamous `cattle complex') and to derail any form of development with their pronounced conservatism (cf. Bonte and Galaty 1991:3-4 for a comprehensive critique of such conceptions). Waller and Sobania (1994: 45), however, argue that `much of the debate over pastoralism and its development in modern Africa unfortunately takes place in the virtual absence of any historical context...'. While their ideas are developed on the basis of case studies from East Africa, the same misconceptions are continually applied to herding societies in southern Africa. Current economic formations found in northern Namibia are not to be understood as mere adaptations to an arid environment.(2) They are profoundly shaped by a century of colonialism: boundaries restricted their spatial mobility, a prohibition on livestock trading forced them into subsistence herding and the forced internal relocation of large numbers of people led to environmental degradation. Recent economic and environmental problems within the pastoral economy of north-western Namibia are in many ways similar to those other African pastoral economies have to cope with (cf. Shipton, 1990; Ensminger, 1992; Galaty and Johnson, 1990; Galaty and Bonte, 1991). In Namibia's national economy Kaokoland's herders play only a marginal role. Livestock marketing within the area is still in its infancy and is dominated by outsiders. The occasions on which livestock can be sold profitably are rare and a lot of trade is still conducted as barter trade at rates very unfavourable to local pastoralists. Kaokoland's economy is still based on livestock husbandry only, as there is little opportunity for economic diversification. The causes of the crisis are sought among the herders themselves. They are blamed for being hesitant to destock in the face of degradation and drought, accelerating the process of desertification by overstocking. Their conservative attitude and their cautious way of approaching innovation seem to be the hallmarks of their ancient but outdated mode of production.
Looking at historical transformations in Kaokoland between 1915 and 1960, I will trace the process of marginalisation and encapsulation of Kaokoland's wealthy pastoralists and show that the recent mode of livestock production is a process more of historical transformation than of pristine adaptation to an arid environment. This process took place at numerous different levels: newly defined borders inhibited mobility; trade was severely hampered by regulations; forced inoculation campaigns, anti-poaching drives and state-controlled labour recruitment conflicted with indigenous herd management. Elsewhere (Bollig, 1997a) I have described how the Himba/Herero(3) had become enmeshed in a network of trade relations during the second half of the nineteenth century in southern Angola, after fleeing Kaokoland because of frequent raids by Swartboois and Topnar commandos (Lau, 1987). In southern Angola the refugees worked for commercial hunters of Boer and Portuguese origin (Clarence-Smith, 1979), sold their labour to plantation owners and acted as mercenaries for the Portuguese colonial army (Stals and Otto-Reiner 1990).
Those who had stayed behind in Kaokoland traded ivory, ostrich feathers and eggshells and other tropical commodities with Ovambo and Portuguese traders (Kuntz 1912, Vedder 1914). Oral traditions (Bollig, 1997b: 33 ff., 241 ff.) emphasise the active role herders took in the rapidly developing colonial market of southern Angola. On both sides of the river Kunene the pastoral economy was highly diversified by the end of the nineteenth century. Stock losses during drought and livestock epidemics (e.g. rinderpest in 1897) were compensated for by investing more labour in non-livestock-based activities: trade, commercial hunting, wage labour and soldiering. Changes under the Portuguese colonial system, including taxation and forced labour after 1910, led many Himba to cross the Kunene once again and to return to Kaokoland during the first two decades of this century. In 1917 the South African government took control of the area. It soon became clear that the new rulers intended to exert more control in Kaokoland than the Germans had ever done. In the 1920s and 1930s new boundaries were imposed, and from the middle of the 1920s onwards trade was inhibited by numerous regulations. Vaccination campaigns, anti-poaching drives in the 1930s and 1940s and labour recruitment activities in the 1950s had severe repercussions on the regional economy.(4)
THE EMERGENCE OF BOUNDARIES AND THE LIMITATION OF SPATIAL MOBILITY
Although the German government had fixed Namibia's northern boundary with Portugal as early as 1886 (Demhardt, 1991-92) it had done little to control the border. People were free to move to and fro. The border between Ovamboland and Kaokoland was not fixed at all during German times, and the rulers of the western Ovambo kingdoms (Uukwaludhi, Uokuolonkadhi, Ongandjera) expanded their spheres of interest into Kaokoland. In fact Vedder (1914) reports that some inhabitants of Kaokoland regarded themselves as subjects of the Ovambo king of Uukwaludhi. Only the boundary of the commercial farming area to the south was controlled. The entire area, comprising some 100,000 [km.sup.2], had changed hands several times within a decade. After being sold by a Swartboois chief to a German merchant in 1886, it was transferred in 1891 to the German government which in turn sold it to the London and Berlin-based Kaoko Land & Mining Company only a few years later. However, the company never commenced exploitation of the mineral deposits, even though it sent several surveyors there. It was disowned by the South African government in 1920. In 1907 Kaokoland had been declared an area beyond the Police Zone and hence was not patrolled or administered at all. Besides a few exploratory tours by mining surveyors and government officials, the German government took very little interest in the area. From the perspective of herders and commercial hunters (both Himba/Herero and Boer) Kaokoland was a non-administered area that promised considerable profit if exploited appropriately. The situation changed drastically with the commencement of South African rule. From the beginning the South African government showed that it was determined to administer Kaokoland more closely and enforce boundaries with more rigour than its predecessor. In 1917 and 1919 it sent out reconnaissance expeditions to Kaokoland to assess the number of weapons harboured there and to disarm local people if necessary. At a very early stage the colonial government prohibited moves across the Kunene into southern Angola, to and from Ovamboland and to and from the Police Zone, and restricted trade between local herders and Portuguese or Ovambo traders. A policy of encapsulation was set in place which corresponded to the economic aims of a settler-based economy and the ideas of tribes and tribal territories the colonial administrations cherished in those days. The definition and maintenance of boundaries were of crucial importance to this policy.
The southern boundary
By proclamation No. 40 of 1920 the boundaries of Outjo district were defined as including the whole of Kaokoland. However, the Native Commissioner of Ovamboland, based at Ondangwa, was to administer this vast area. Eight years later proclamation No. 26 of 1928 declared two-thirds of Kaokoland (the northern portion) as part of a game reserve. In 1939 proclamation No. 10 created the new Kaokoveld District and established an administrative centre at Opuwo (van Warmelo, 1951). All these proclamations included definitions of the southern border of Kaokoland, which after 1920 changed very little (Odendaal Commission, 1962-63: 89). After the pass laws of 1923 had been imposed, crossing the southern boundary of Kaokoland in either direction meant undergoing a tiresome process of applications and submissive begging at various police stations. A report from 1938 shows how difficult it was to travel between Kaokoland and the Police Zone in those days. Authorities had to be consulted at several places and a prolonged stay, e.g. due to family obligations, necessitated yet another formal application for an extension of the permit. All permits had to be authorised by high-ranking administrative staff at Windhoek; district officials were allowed only to endorse the travel documents. The restrictive and centralised handling of passes is further evidence of the fact that while `white affairs' were frequently handled in a decentralised manner, giving some authority to the district level, `black affairs' were to be handled by the centre in Windhoek only.
Permits to Natives to Visit Kaokoveld: It seems necessary to remind district officials that they have no authority to issue permits to natives to enter or visit the Kaokoveld, without the authority of the Secretary. While I was there a permit was produced which had been issued on the 9th December 1938, by the Welfare Officer, Otjohorongo Reserve, giving four natives, named Job, Moses, Johanna and Julia, permission to proceed to Outjo to obtain authority to go to the Kaokoveld in connection with the deaths of relatives. Authority was granted at the Magistrate's office, Outjo, and the permit was extended by the Station commander, Tshimhaka. Actually the object of the natives' visit was to take back 18 relatives to the Police Zone. As, however, the entry of such a number of natives from the Kaokoveld to a Reserve in the Police Zone for permanent residence would not have been allowed the visit was simply a waste of time and would have been prevented had the required authority in terms of circular instructions been sought from Windhoek.(5)
The administration of the Police Zone, in this case the Magistrate of Outjo, was eager to control strictly the inflow of people from Kaokoland (and, of course, other parts of northern Namibia). Men were welcomed as workers with a fixed contract that clearly stipulated the purpose and duration of their stay, but all other forms of social contact between Kaokolanders and their relatives or friends in the Police Zone were inhibited. The colonial government wanted to preclude the establishment of so-called black spots in the white ranching area. The ideal worker was a single black male between 20 and 40 years of age. Women were not allowed to enter the Police Zone at all. The following quote is remarkable, as it is one of the very few referring to women in Kaokoland. The communication between the administration and Kaokoland's pastoralists was between men on both sides and on topics which were thought of as `male', such as politics, borders, cattle and trade. In this context it is noteworthy that early accounts (e.g. Vedder, 1914) report on Himba/Tjimba women conducting trade between central Kaokoland and the western Ovambo polities. The South African administration saw women mainly as a threat to the law and order policy of the Police Zone and tried to keep them beyond the borders of `white civilisation'.
Passes to enter the Territory should not be given to these Natives unless exceptional circumstances necessitate their entering ... No pass should be given to women to enter. The object of the above Proclamation is to restrict the number of natives entering the Territory and to keep a check on them, and ordinary visiting passes should therefore never be issued to them.(6)
However, in spite of these major obstacles, the people of Kaokoland managed to stay in touch with mainstream developments in central Namibia. Archival records show that at least since the late 1920s the Truppenspieler movement (Werner, 1990) found supporters in Kaokoland. Despite severe problems on the road, delegates from Okahandja and Windhoek visited their compatriots in Kaokoland and spread the gospel of the movement. Some of Kaokoland's leaders went to Windhoek for applications to the government. However, there is little doubt that the restrictive handling of the pass laws severely affected contact between Kaokoland and central Namibia. Kaokoland was conceptualised as a separate landscape inhabited by separate people, Kaokolanders, as they were called in later reports. The isolation of Kaokoland became more intense after 1929 when the southern part bordering the Police Zone was `cleared'.