The indigenous people of Namibia were the Bushmen and Hottentots. In the 16th-18th centuries waves of migration of Bantu tribes came from the north. From con. 1870s Europeans begin to seize land, as a result of which the Walvis Bay area became a British possession (1878), and the rest of Namibia became the German protectorate of South West Africa (SWZA, 1890). During the 1st World War, Namibia was occupied by the troops of the Union of South Africa (SA). In 1920 he received a League of Nations mandate to administer the former German possession. The colonial period was marked by repeated uprisings of the indigenous population against foreign domination, which were brutally suppressed. Particularly ruthless was the massacre of the Herero and Nama tribes in 1904–07.
With the transition of the South African Republic under the rule of the South African Republic, the system of racial segregation was legalized in the country, and since 1948 its extremely harsh form – apartheid.
In the 1950s the first political organizations of the African population arise. The most significant of these is the People’s Congress of Ovamboland, created in 1957; transformed into the South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO), which led the struggle to overthrow the colonial yoke. In 1966, the UN abolished the mandate of South Africa (as South Africa became known) to govern the Southwest Asia and created the UN Council for Southeast Asia. In 1968, by decision of the UN, SWA was renamed Namibia. However, South Africa refused to comply with UN resolutions, ruling Namibia as one of its provinces. Under these conditions, SWAPO started at con. 1960s armed struggle for the liberation of their country.
In order to undermine the authority of SWAPO, the South African government convened a conference in Windhoek in 1975 to discuss the future of Namibia with representatives of collaborationist organizations (the “Turnhalle Conference”). At this conference, South Africa agreed with them to hold elections to the National Assembly with the subsequent granting of independence to Namibia. In 1978, they were defeated by the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DAT), from whose representatives the Ministerial Council was formed – a puppet body of “self-government”. The UN refused to recognize this farce with elections.
In 1977, five Western states, led by the United States, created a Contact Group, which began negotiations on resolving the Namibian crisis with the government of South Africa and SWAPO. At the same time, the UN developed a plan for granting independence with free elections under international control. The efforts of the UN and the Contact Group led in 1982 to reaching a compromise between South Africa, DAT and SWAPO on the most important points of the UN plan, including the draft Constitution. However, South Africa soon put forward the withdrawal of Cuban troops from neighboring Angola as a condition for granting independence to Namibia. The position of South Africa was supported by the United States, which owned the idea of ”linking” the problems of Namibia and Angola. Meanwhile, the influence of SWAPO grew, some organizations that were part of the DAT went over to its side, and when the political leaders of the largest people, the Ovambo, declared their support for SWAPO, DAT in 1983 actually collapsed, and the National Assembly and the Ministerial Council were dissolved. South Africa attempted to put together a new political bloc obedient to it, from whose representatives a new National Assembly and a “provisional government” were formed, but they did not receive support either at home or abroad.
In 1986, there was a shift in diplomatic negotiations on linking the problem of the decolonization of Namibia with the withdrawal of Cuba from Angola; South Africa has lifted the ban on SWAPO’s political activities. In December 1988 – July 1989, a number of multilateral documents were signed regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops from Angola and Namibia and the procedure for granting Namibia independence.
In November 1989, the first free elections in the country’s history to the Constitutional Assembly took place. SWAPO won with 57.3% of the vote. DAT gained 28.6%. On March 21, 1990, the independence of Namibia was proclaimed. Sam Nujoma was elected President of the country.
The internal political situation was characterized both by a tendency towards reconciliation of the forces that fought against the occupying apartheid regime and collaborated with it, and by a sharp inter-party struggle. The parliamentary and presidential elections of 1994 and 1999 showed that SWAPO retained the support of the majority of the population. She won the majority of seats in parliament, and Nujoma was re-elected president twice.
The most important social problem for the government was land reform – the redemption by the state of surplus land from white farmers who had seized the most fertile land in the country under the colonial regime, and its distribution among landless peasants. The reform was announced at the beginning. 1990s, however, it was very slow, and by 2001, 35,000 Africans received land, and 243,000 were waiting in line. Some farmers agreed to sell uncultivated land, but charged a price that was much higher than its real value. The problem of land ownership exacerbated social tensions in the country and caused sharp disagreements within SWAPO.
In 1998-99, an uprising took place in the north-east of the country in the Caprivi strip, the separatist Movement for the Liberation of the Caprivi tried to achieve armed separation of this territory from Namibia. The uprising was put down.
The biggest achievement of the government in the field of foreign policy was the inclusion in 1994 of the port of Walvis Bay in Namibia. After independence, this only deep-water port remained under the jurisdiction of South Africa. Pretoria for a long time refused to include it in independent Namibia on the grounds that it was a separate British colony and was not part of the German Southwest Asia.
In 1998, Namibia intervened in the internal political conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She sent 2,000 troops to the DRC to help President Kabila. When news of the dead Namibian soldiers reached the country, Nujoma’s actions drew sharp criticism and some leaders quit the ruling party.