West Africa

South-West Africa (Afrikaans: Suidwes-Afrika; German: Südwestafrika) was the name of what is today the Republic of Namibia.

As a German colony from 1884 it was known as German South-West Africa (Deutsch-Südwestafrika). Germany had a difficult time administering the territory, which, owing to the Germans' brutal native policy, experienced many insurrections, especially those led by guerilla leader Jakobus Morenga.

During World War I, in 1915, the region was taken from German control. After the war it was declared a League of Nations Mandate territory under the Treaty of Versailles, with South Africa responsible for its administration.

The Mandate was supposed to become a United Nations Trust Territory when League of Nations Mandates were transferred to the United Nations following World War II, but the Union of South Africa refused to agree to allow the territory to begin the transition to independence as it was essentially considered to be a de facto fifth province of South Africa, even though it was never actually incorporated into the country. South Africa's stance on its ownership to South-West Africa was due to the fact that she governed the territory for decades and had invested money on its infrastructure and modernization. Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands had been annexed by Britain as part of the Cape Colony in 1878, and thus became part of the Union of South Africa in 1910. Administration of Walvis Bay was later transferred by South Africa to SWA in 1922 and then again returned back to the Cape Province in 1977.

These South African actions gave rise to several rulings at the International Court of Justice. In 1950, it ruled that South Africa did not have any obligation to convert South-West Africa to a United Nations Trust Territory, but was still bound by the League of Nations Mandate with the United Nations General Assembly assuming the supervisory role. It also clarified that the General Assembly was empowered to receive petitions from the inhabitants of South-West Africa and to call for reports from the mandatory nation, South Africa. The General Assembly constituted the Committee on South-West Africa to perform the supervisory functions. In another advisory opinion issued in 1955, the Court further ruled that the General Assembly was not required to follow League of Nations voting procedures in determining questions concerning South-West Africa. In 1956, the Court further ruled that the Committee had the power to grant hearings to petitioners from the mandated territory. In 1960, Ethiopia and Liberia filed a case in the International Court of Justice against South Africa alleging that South Africa had not fulfilled its mandatory duties. This case did not succeed, with the Court ruling in 1966 that they were not the proper parties to bring the case. In 1966, the General Assembly passed resolution 2145 (XXI) which declared the Mandate terminated and that South Africa had no further right to administer South-West Africa. In 1971, acting on a request for advisory opinion from the United Nations Security Council, the International Court of Justice ruled that the continued presence of South Africa in Namibia was illegal and that South Africa was under an obligation to withdraw from Namibia immediately. It also ruled that all member states of the United Nations were under an obligation to recognize the invalidity of any act performed by South Africa on behalf of Namibia.

South-West Africa had been known internationally as Namibia since 1968, when the United Nations General Assembly changed the territory's name. This resulted in a protracted struggle between South Africa and forces fighting for independence, particularly after the formation of the South-West Africa People's Organisation in 1960.

The territory became the independent Republic of Namibia in 1990, with Walvis Bay only becoming part of Namibia in 1994.


The South African authorities established 10 bantustans in Namibia in the late 1960s and early 70s three of which were granted self-rule . These bantustans were replaced with separate ethnicity based governments in 1980.

The bantustans were:


See also

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