A Close Knit Group

(Jorries Seibeb)


In the past, most of Namibians survived through hunting and gathering. They had no access to shops, education or health facilities. Thus, they did not stay at one place for long, but were living a nomadic way of life, moving from one place to another in search of food and water. Besides food and water, these people were also searching for of grazing for their animals. Another reason for migration was marriage, where the wife had to live with her husband’s family and move with them wherever they went. Drought also forced people to migrate.

Bonds through Marriage

The Fransfontein community consists of many different ethnicities, such as the Khoekhoe speaking people and the Herero speaking people. Because of inter-linkages through marriages, we don’t see each other as different from one another, but as brothers and sisters and friends. In the past, when a Nama man fell in love with a Damara woman and they had a baby, the woman’s family would call the child Namab when male and Namaros when female, referring to the father’s ethnic group, and vice versa.
Also in the past, the people from Fransfontein had a unique way of handling relationships. Usually, if a man’s parents saw a young woman at a neighboring house or farm, and this particular young lady was very hardworking, had good manners and was in general an enticing person, they wanted her for their son to marry. This process was referred to as “sen” in Khoekhoe and “okuvareka” in Herero, which means that they like and love the woman. After “sen”, the man’s parents would approach the woman’s parents and they would start talking about this particular woman they had “sen” for their son. They would talk about the woman in a metaphorical kind of way. For example, they would say: “We have noticed a very beautiful flower (referring to the woman) growing at your house which attracted us to pay a visit here. We would like you to look after this pretty flower for us.”
However, the two young people would have no knowledge whatsoever of these events. To introduce the couple to each other and to their respective in-laws, the man’s parents would usually take him for a visit at the woman’s house. The woman would then be asked, at a later stage and with her parent’s permission, to do some work, for example household chores, at the man’s family’s house. The man would then, when the woman was at his house, go out with his father and collect honey and field-fruits, while his mother stayed with the woman at the house and prepared food for them. This was also a kind of “test” for the two. The woman was tested whether she could handle household chores whilethe man was trained by his father how to take care of his future family. After this process, when the man and woman became mature enough, the marriage proposal by the man’s family followed. From my viewpoint, these types of marriages lasted longer, meaning that these people were usually only separated by death, as they vowed during their nuptials.
However, nowadays, life has changed dramatically. Things have become much more modernized. These days, people marry today and divorce tomorrow. There is also a sense of irony in this, because marriages of the past, although they were “arranged” easier, were long lasting, while modern marriages, which are much more difficult, are like a candle in the wind; they don’t last very long. Nowadays, and I say this with all due respect, marriage is treated like a business transaction, meaning that if you do not have money or status, you are not suitable material for marriage. To highlight the strong bond through inter-linkages in Fransfontein, here are a few examples:

  1. Mr. Hiskia Langerman, a Nama man from the Swartbooi-clan, is married to Mrs. Sarafia “Tokoto” !Aebes, a Damara woman from the #Ao-daman-clan, and together they are having eight children.
  2. Looking at the Family-tree diagram included here, we can clearly see that Mrs. Magrietha “Tsubahe” Pienaar, a Nama woman from the Swartbooi-clan, is married to one of my cousins, Gerson ''Nama'' Haraeb, a Damara man from the #Ao-daman-clan.
  3. Another classic example is that of Mr. Tobias Nerongo and Mrs. Lorraine !Nawases, he being a Herero and she a Damara woman from the #Ao-daman.
  4. My younger brother, Ribardt Seibeb, is also having a baby with a Nama woman, Renathe “Kana-kana” Hendricks from the Swartboois.
  5. Also, my colleague, Francois Dawids, who is from the Swartbooi-clan, is married to Erine “Namaku” Snewe, whose father, a Damara man, is my mother’s mother’s sister’s son. In traditional terms, she is regarded as my daughter.
My Family Tree

Due to migration and marriage, the different groups in Fransfontein became one in almost every aspect. Their traditions and customs became very similar. That is why the people of Fransfontein are such a close-knit group, regardless of their origin. This can also be witnessed through the way these people share things with each other. Thus, children born within Fransfontein grow up with all these cultures, which may mean that in the future, new groups might form, e.g. the Khoekhoe/Herero culture.

My grandparent’s history

My grandmother, Rosalia Seibes, daughter of Josua Seibeb and Lucia !Gaoses, was born on the 4th of May 1926 at the farm Fridel Greench/ Tsaub in the Otjikondo-district. Rosalia and her parents and family members had to leave this farm. According to Fridel Green., the farmer he was working for, Rosalia’s father, Josua, had apparently lost some sheep while looking after them. The family then moved to Edmundsfelde/ Mâ-#kheib, a commercial farm. Edmundsfelde was at that time owned by an English-speaking fellow, named Bath who later sold both the farm and the workers present to another English-man named George Andrew who also owned another farm, called Mahlzeit/ Xam//gaub.
When he moved back to England, Andrew gave one of his workers, my great-grandfather Josua Seibeb, to his brother, Clinton Andrews, who was the owner of a farm called Andrews in the Otjikondo-area. While there living on the farm Andrews, one of Rosalia’s brother’s, Fillipus Seibeb, became sick, and they decided to move away from Andrews. They resettled at Rehderstal/Nauris, today known as Ohorongo-Safaris, owned by a German-speaking man named Rehder. This is where Rosalia met and fell in love with my late grandfather, Josef //Naobeb.
Rehder, was notorious for being very rude, and Josef found himself at the receiving end of this when he was fired from his work for no reason at all. They had to move from there and Rosalia had to split from her family in order to follow Josef. She moved with her newfound love to farm Sharon, owned by Jan Kotze. After working there for several years, Josef also acquired a reasonable number of goats. One day, these goats entered the garden of the farm owner and were shot on sight. Josef complained about this loss and was fired on the spot.
They moved back again to Edmundsfelde/ Mâ-#kheib, which was now owned by two German ladies, last names Kosler before it then taken over by another German, named Makura. The workers then moved to Hotsaus, where they worked for Paul Swartz. According to the old people, the fountain at Hotsaus, after which the farm itself was named (“Ho”= find and “tsaus”= fountain/spring), was found by a /Gai-o-dama man, from the Damara group. The Koslers then acquired farm /Hei-poort.
Because of inadequate grazing, Josef and Rosalia settled at farm Twyfel around 1946. At that time, the farm was owned by an English speaking person. Josef was working on this farm with his brother-in-laws but they did not get along very well. Due to this, Josef moved to farm Zebra for not even two weeks before he and his family had to move again. The owner of farm Zebra complained that Josef had acquired too many goats and that this was depleting his farmland, forcing Josef to move. He went back to the farm Edmundsfelde, still under the ownership of Makura where Josef was employed for ten years. Finally, he was given a small portion of land by Makura on which to keep his animals. He lived on this land and went to work on the farm every morning.
Josef also owned two dogs, and these dogs would usually be left at the post when he went to work. A ‘post’ is a smaller settlement within the communal area. During his absence, Josef’s dogs hunted by themselves and would often chase antelopes to the farm owner’s house. The farmer became angry about this and shot one Josef’s dogs which resulted in conflict between Josef and Makura. Josef decided to leave the farm, but peacefully, and he re-settled at farm Leghorn, owned by a German called Kohler. However, this farm was later bought by a man named Van Zyl.
Josef’s animals now added up to 40 head of cattle and more than sixty goats. While Josef was staying at Van Zyl’s farm, his brothers Jonas Matsuib and Efraim Gurirab, who stayed on the communally owned nearby Ganeb post, would often visit him at Leghorn. His brothers advised Josef to move his cattle to Ganeb-post. Josef moved his animals to Ganeb-post but this developed into a problem. Josef had to regularly go and supervise his animals at Ganeb-post. The farm owner was annoyed by Josef’s now regular absence from the farm and Josef and his family moved to Ganeb-post.
Then Commissioner, Lappie Labuschagne, during one of his usual routines on the farms, came to Ganeb-post. He noticed that the place was overcrowded and told Josef: “Josef, you have only come here recently. You must now move to Konob-post, another communal farm.” Josef and his family then moved to Konob-post but due to water-problems, he had to take his animals to Fransfontein and back everyday. Today, the Seibeb family still resides at Konob-post.


Through marriage and migration, different cultures and traditions are brought together. We must acknowledge this diversity. Our ancestors taught us that everyone should be respected, and through introducing us to different cultures and traditions by way of marriage, they have armed us with a very rich family history, a unique way of life. In conclusion, I Joseph “Jorries” Seibeb, as a Damara man, have a Nama brother and sister and a Herero brother and sister.

Designed with Free CSS Templates