Namibia pulls down statue of German colonial “founder” of capital Windhoek
Namibian authorities have removed a controversial statue of German colonial officer Curt von Francois, who was seen as a symbol of colonial oppression, following pressure from local activists.
The monument was erected in 1965 to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the city of Windhoek, now the capital, which was credited to von Francois. Critics petitioned for the removal of the monument to a man who led German troops in a massacre of native people, and they dispute the idea that the city was founded by Germans. Scores of Namibians celebrated as the statue of the German colonial officer Curt von Francois was removed this week from a pedestal in front of Windhoek’s city buildings, where it stood for more than half a century.
Von Francois was governor of the area, then known as German South West Africa, from 1891 to 1894. But historians and activists dispute the idea that Germans, who colonized Namibia from 1884 to 1915, founded the city, arguing that native people were living in the area decades before the Germans arrived.
The statue’s presence whitewashed atrocities by German colonial forces and South Africa’s apartheid government against native Namibians, says Hildegarde Titus who is with the A Curt Farewell movement that in 2020 petitioned for the statue’s removal. South Africa’s white minority government, which controlled Namibia until it won independence in 1990, forcibly removed black residents from an area of the city called the “Old Location” in 1959.