European to set foot on Namibian soil was the Portuguese Diogo Cão in 1485,
who stopped briefly on the Skeleton Coast, and raised a limestone cross
there, on his exploratory mission along the west coast of Africa.
European to visit Namibia was also a Portuguese, Bartholomeu Dias, who
stopped at what today is Walvis Bay and Lüderitz (which he named Angra
Pequena) on his way to round the Cape of Good Hope.
inhospitable Namib Desert constituted a formidable barrier and neither of the
Portuguese explorers went far inland.
In 1793 the
Dutch authority in the Cape decided to take control of Walvis bay, since it
was the only good deep-water harbour along the Skeleton Coast. When the
United Kingdom took control of the Cape Colony in 1797, they also took over
It was not
until the 19th century, when European powers sought to carve up the African
continent between them in the so called "Scramble for Africa", that
Europeans – Germany and Great Britain in the forefront – became interested in
territorial claim on a part of Namibia came in 1878, when Britain annexed
Walvis Bay on behalf of the Cape Colony, confirming the settlement of 1797.
In 1883, a
German trader, Adolf Lüderitz, bought Angra Pequena from the Nama chief
Joseph Fredericks. He soon renamed the coastal area after himself, giving it
the name Lüderitz. Believing that Britain was soon about to declare the whole
area a protectorate, Lüderitz advised the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck
to claim it. In 1884 Bismarck did so, thereby establishing German South West
Africa as a colony (Deutsch Süd-West Afrika in German).
In 1915, during
World War I, South Africa, being a member of the British Commonwealth and a
former British colony, occupied the German colony of South-West Africa.
On December 17,
1920, South Africa undertook administration of South-West Africa under the
terms of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations and a Class C
Mandate agreement by the League Council. The Class C mandate, supposed to be
used for the least developed territories, gave South Africa full power of
administration and legislation over the territory
dissolution of the League of Nations in 1946, South Africa refused to accept
United Nations authority and to replace its mandate with a UN trusteeship. In
1966, the UN called for South Africa's withdrawal from the territory, and officially
renamed it Namibia in 1968. South Africa refused to obey. Under a 1974
Security Council resolution, South Africa was required to begin the transfer
of power or face UN action but South Africa only handed over limited powers
to a new multiracial administration in 1985 Installation of this government
ended South Africa's direct rule, but South Africa retained an effective veto
over the new government's decisions. Finally, in 1988 South Africa agreed to
a plan for independence. SWAPO leader Sam Nujoma was elected president, and
on March 21, 1990, Namibia achieved independence.
Western heraldry was introduced in Namibia by the
Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão who raised a stone
cross at Kaap Kruis (Cape Cross) when he set foot on Skeleton Coast in 1485.
about the heraldry of the Portuguese Seaborne Empire
As in the next few centuries the peoples of
Namibia were largely left to their own fate, the coats of arms of the Dutch
East India Company and the United Kingdom can hardly be considered as
belonging to the heraldic history of the country.
It is only at the end of the German presence in
Namibia that a heraldic tradition was founded.
1884 - 1915
A coat of
arms for Deutsch Südwest Afrika was designed in 1913 by the German Ministry
arms granted by the Germans to South-West Africa in 1914 but never received
there because of the war. It was therefore unknown until its rediscovery in
1933. The shield is surmounted by the
German Imperial Crown. 
Arms: Azure, a bull’s head, between its horns a
diamond radiant Argent, and a chief Or, an eagle Sable, billed and clawed
Gules, on its breast quarterly Argent and Sable. 
The coat of arms, together with the coats of
arms of the other lost colonies of Germany, was published about 1933 in a
German Magazine called Afrika Nachrichten. In this magazine it was discovered
by C. Pama and mentioned in his “Lions and Virgins” about South African
Heraldry. He writes:
….just before the First World War, in 1912
and 1913, the then state-secretary of the Imperial Colonial Office
(Reichskolonialamt), Dr. Solf, had made a journey during which he visited all
the German colonies and some of the British possessions as well. He was
struck by the fact that these British colonies did have their own colonial
badges, and that by placing them on the Union Jack local colonial flags could
be designed which were nevertheless all of one British pattern. This
impressed him greatly and on his return to Germany he sent a memorandum to the
Emperor Wilhelm II in which he stressed the desirability of adopting such
symbols as well in German colonies, and went so far as to suggest that
designs should be made immediately.
The Emperor agreed with Solf and the German
Bureau of Heraldry, the Heroltsamt, was asked to submit suitable designs at
their earliest convenience.
Before being shown to the Emperor, the
designs had to be approved by Johann Albrecht, Duke of Mecklenburg, under
whose supervision they were made.
When they finally reached the Emperor, he
was satisdfied with most of them; on other drawings he suggested small
alterations, in his own handwriting, and tye final drawings could then be
made. In fact they were made, but in the meantime the war broke out, and they
were never sent off to the colonies for which they were destined. 
The original drawings, together with an explanation were published recently on Internet by Mr. Jörg M. Karaschewski (in German).
[present] arms were designed in 1961 by Dr. Coenraad Beyers. (...) The mining
industry is represented by two minehammers and three triangular diamonds,
agriculture by the head of a karakul ram and an Africander bull, and history
by the German eagle, the Namutoni Fort and a Portuguese padrao. Two local
animals, a springbok and a kudu are used as supporters and the gemsbok, also
well known in South-West Africa, is
used as a crest. The whole is placed on a mount, with a growing welwitschia
mirabilis in the foreground, which also contains the motto viribus unitis (With United Forces)
on a silver scroll. .
Namutoni is the name of a formerly police- and
military settlement in the south-east of Ethosha National Park in Namibia.
The name means ”high place” in Ovambo
language because it is situated on a limestone hill. Namutoni was founded as
Okaukuejo by the German Colonial Government
in 1897 to mark the northern border of German influence. In 1901/1902
a military fortification was build which is the reason that it was called
1990 - present
and a new achievement were adopted on the 2nd of February 1990. The shield of
the achievement is identical with the flag.
Arms: Tierced per bend sinister Azure, Gules and
Vert, in the first a sun radiant of 12 rays Or, the bend Gules fimbriated
Crest: On a wreath lozengy Vert and six pieces Or,
an African Fish Eagle rising proper.
Oryx-antelopes (Oryx gazella - Bovidae), proper.
Compartment: A desert charged with a Welwitschia
Motto: UNITY LIBERTY
Æ See illustration in the head of this essay
and its symbolism are laid down in art. 8 of the Constitution. The flag is
parted of blue and green by a red left bend with white edges. In the blue triangle
in chief there is a yellow sun with twelve rays.
• Red is
for the people and its ambition to realize a future of equal chances for all.
• Blue is
for the Atlatic Ocean and the importance of water for the development of
is for the natural wealth and agriculture.
White is for the peacefully living together of the Namibians of all
races or tribal descent.
golden sun is the symbol for life and power.
supporters are two Oryx-antelopes (Oryx gazella - Bovidae), known for
their elegance and courage. They represent the Namibian fauna.
African fish-eagle (Haliæetus vocifer - Accipitridæ) on the wreath is
the symbol of the North and of the Namibian waters. The fish-eagle is famous
for its view and symbolizes the future of Namibia.
shield stands on a compartment charged with a welwitschia mirabilis,
the oldest plant of the world.
is UNITY LIBERTY JUSTICE.
shows the achievement encircled by the legend NAMIBIA and the motto,
separated by two twelve-rayed suns.
The emblem of the armed forces is the
West Africa should have ten Homelands: Caprivi, Kavangoland Ovamboland, Bushmanland, Damaraland,
Hereroland, Kaokoveld, Namaland, Rehoboth (Basterland) and Tswanaland. 
three of the Homelands were effectively founded: Caprivi, Kavango en Owambo.
These were granted self government.
For these homelands flags as well as coats of arms were designed.  The Homelands were abolished in
Strip became a part of German South West Africa after the Heligoland-Zanzibar
Treaty on July 1, 1890, between the United Kingdom and Germany. The Caprivi
Strip in Namibia gave Germany access to the Zambezi River and thereby to
German colonies in East Africa. In exchange for the island of Heligoland in
the North Sea, Britain took control of the island of Zanzibar in East Africa.
Quartered Azure and Or. In dexter head a lumber saw in bend sinister
Argent and sinister a mealie cob seeded proper. In dexter base an ox head
caboshed proper and sinister a tiger fish in bend sinister fanged Argent.
As a crest
issuing from a wreath Or and Azure an ascending fish eagle grasping in its
talons two ox tail switches in saltire all proper.
Supporters: Two elephants erect respecting
each other proper on a field Vert above an escroll Or with black lettering.
Motto: LUYEMI HAMOHO
Per bend sinister Argent and Azure. In dexter the head of a bull
caboshed proper; in sinister a tigerfish hauriant in bend sinister Argent.
Issuant from the whole five mahangu ears seeded spreaded and banded Or.
Supporters: Two bateleur (mountain cocks) rampant respecting each other proper.
On a mount Vert an escroll Or with
The outline of the shield is in the form of a shell (“npande”) which
is indigeneous to the territory and which was in earlier times used as means
of barter. It symbolizes the strife for a sound economy.
The bull’s head represents the cattle breeding without the people
The tiger fish is peculiar to the territory; it serves as food and is
also used to trade and symbolizes the necessity of industrial development.
The mahangu ears are part of the staple diet of the people and
symbolize their dependence on agriculture and their will to develop it.
The two bateleurs symbolize alertness to protect and promote the
interest of the people.
The motto LIPARU KAVANGO means:
Sacrifice for Kavango. 
photo Callie de Wet ©]
Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus - accipitridæ)
African troops took control of Ovamboland in 1917. Mandume Ya Ndemufayo (1894 - 6 February 1917) the last king of the Kwanyama,
took over the Kwanyama kingdom in 1911 and his reign lasted until February 1917 when he was killed when under
it became a bantustan called Owambo, intended by the apartheid government to be a self-governing
"homeland" for the Ovambo people. Self-government was granted in
1973. Owambo, like other homelands in South West Africa, was abolished in May
1989 at the start of the transition to independence. The region is now
commonly refered to as The North.
Arms: On a
blue shield seven ares of ivory proper, spaced equally and arranged in the
form of a circle, out of a circlet embellished with seven spearheads Or,
radiating upwards and outwards with each spearhead supporting an arc.
Crest: The shield ensigned with a wreath Argent and
Azure and issuant therefrom seven palm leaves proper, in base Or and
spreading radially upwards and outwards.
Supporters: Two black-faced impala’s rampant facing each
other, proper, on a mount Vert an escroll Gules with gold lettering.
Motto: TUNGA NOMBILI.
symbolic meaning is: the seven spearheads symbolize the seven Owambo tribes.
The spear is also a formidable weapon, used with the rule of the government.
The seven arcs of ivory represent the elephant of which there are many in the
country and which, because of its stature and strength is associated with
authority and power. The ivory arcs therefore, symbolize the authority of the
seven tribes who together constitute the governing body responsible for the
protection of the people as a whole and also of the individual. The palm tree
is indigeneous to the territory and also fulfills a place in the life of the
people. When someone commits an offence and is found guilty in a tribal court
of law, a palm leaf is used to met out corporal punishment. It is therefore
an instrument to enforce the law and maintain peace, and as such symbolizes
justice and peace. 
1917, Mandume Ya Ndemufayo, the last king of the Kwanyama of Ovamboland from
1917 to 1998, was killed in a joint attack by South African forces for
resisting South African sovereignty over his people.
© Hubert de Vries, 2009.01.20. Updated 2013.03.20
 Afrika Nachrichten, 1933 ca. In: Pama, C.: Lions and Virgins. Heraldic
State Symbols, Coats of Arms, Flags, Seals and other Symbols of Authority in
South Africa, 1487-1962. Human & Rousseau, Cape Town, 1965.
1965; pp. 111 - 112.
 Hesmer 1992 p. 111
 Arma, Quarterly Bulletin of the Heraldry
Society of Southern Arfica. Pp. 957-962