Mirroring Namibia’s miner evolution

The Republic of Namibia came into existence in 1990 – and today (28.01.2014) hosts the Baton Relay.

The University’s student connections reflect the evolution of the territory of modern day Namibia, from a former German colony known as South-West Africa (from 1884) to a League of Nations Mandate territory under the administration of South Africa as a result of the 1915 South-West Africa Campaign of the First World War.

Captain George Mowat (Ch4/4/2/2/198)

Captain George Mowat, MB CM 1895, a veteran of the Anglo-Boer War, was living and working as a railway Medical Officer in Johannesburg when WWI began.  He joined the Pretoria Regiment obtaining the rank of Captain, and served through the campaign in then German South-West Africa. On the close of hostilities, he joined the South African Infantry and was sent to Europe with the South African contingent as a Captain in the 4th South African Infantry (South African Scottish). He was killed on the first day of fighting in the Battle of Butte de Warlencourt, Pas de Calais, France, fought between 12th-19th October 1916.

Our only Namibia-born student (up until 1965) was John Francis Laurence Sinclair, who came to study Engineering in 1940. Sinclair’s father, James, was a mine captain of Grootfontein, which from 1893 was the headquarters of the South West Africa Company that established cooper and lead mines. Sinclair must have returned with his family to their hometown of Lerwick, Shetland. We are currently looking into his identity as a possible British Flight Lieutenant (pilot) of the RAF Reserve, who was killed in action in 1945 during WWII.

Specimen of fluorite, tourmaline, beryl and K-feldspar, GLAHM 111690

Namibia’s richness and importance as a mining region is also reflected in the University’s collections: The Hunterian holds a number of geological and mineral specimens from Namibia, with the Alasdair Mackay collection being one of the largest. The image on the right includes green cubic crystals of fluorite, with tourmaline or schorl and pale blue beryl, all on a K-feldspar crystal.


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Filed under Africa, Commonwealth of Nations

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