The birth of a new Nation - NAMIBIA
In 1884, Namibia was first declared a German colony by chancellor Otto von Bismarck, thereafter known as German South West Africa.During World War I, the colony was occupied by South Africa, a member of the British Commonwealth. In 1920, South Africa undertook full administration of the then South West Africa. On 26th August 1966 the South-West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) began guerilla attacks on the South African forces - this day is celebrated as Heroe's Day in Namibia today - and was the start of a long way to Namibia's independence.
Seeking a private place away from public media, the Joint Commission established by the Brazzaville Protocol met in an extraordinary session at Mount Etjo, in central Namibia, on 8 and 9 April 1989. Angola, Cuba and South Africa attended, as did the United States and the Soviet Union, as observers. The Special Representative and the Administrator-General attended by invitation on 9 April. At the conclusion of the meeting, the parties adopted the "Mount Etjo Declaration" of re-commitment to all aspects of the peace process, and urged the Secretary-General urgently to take all necessary measures for the most rapid and complete deployment of UNTAG so that it could fully and effectively carry out its mandate. The "Mount Etjo Declaration" was one of the most important steps leading to Namibia's Independence Day on 21 March 1990, lead by Sam Nujoma, sworn in as the first President of Namibia.
Jan and Annette Oelofse and their staff at Mount Etjo Safari Lodge were most honoured and privileged to have hosted this historical and most important event in Namibia's history. We at Mount Etjo Safari Lodge take pride in our country's progress since this day and invite all our guests and visitors to reflect upon the birth of the "Land of the Brave".
Excerpt from an official report:
"Early Saturday Morning April 8, 1989 until mid-morning on Monday, the Joint Monitoring commission met at Mount Etjo. The assembly was attended by a number of observers, including the Soviet delegation, the American delegation led by Dr Chester Crocker, the then under secretary of State for African Affairs. For the South African Delegation, Mr. Botha, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mount Etjo apparently constituted one of the highlights in his political career. It was not all talk and hard bargaining, at the end of each session the delegates mingled freely and there was not a vestige of the aftermath of the protracted armed struggle which eventually even led to the involvement of Cuban mechanized and motorized forces. But these events belonged to the past, as Cubans, South Africans and Angolans enjoyed the pleasant early-autumn weather at Mount Etjo, the scenic and comfortable lodge surroundings. The delegations reaffirmed their commitment to fulfill the obligations undertaken in the accord of December 22, 1988 for the peaceful settlement of the conflict in the southwestern region of Africa in order to facilitate the restoration of peace and to promote the full application of Resolution 435. Namibia was born."
Read more about our Namibian history at the Mount Etjo Information Center.
Conservationist Jan Oelofse
"Give back to nature, more than you take out"
This is the philosophy and goal, of Jan Oelofse, a world-renowned conservationist, who founded the Okonyati Game Sanctuary during 1975. Jan grew up in Namibia and left for East Africa in his early twenties to begin his career working as Game Catcher for Tanganyika Game Limited, owned by the legendary Mr Willie de Beer. He gained tremendous experience of wildlife, while capturing and preparing wild animals for long journeys to European Zoos. The game was caught, taken care of for months and taken by ship from Taganyika’s seaport to their European destinations. Jan was responsible for the care and well-being of the animals on the entire journey. During 1960, while working for Paramount Pictures, he captured and trained all the animals for the film "Hatari", starring John Wayne, Elsa Martinelli, Hardy Krüger and many more famous actors. After a years work of training the animals and filming in Tanganyika, Jan left aboard a DC 6 with approximately forty of his trained animals, via West Africa, South America and the West Indies to Hollywood, where the final filming was done.
Game Capture Revolutionized
Even though Jan had many offers for employment in the United States, his passion for wildlife and Africa soon brought him back, where during 1964, he was employed by the Natal Parks Board in the capacity as Game Capture Officer. Thousands of animals were shot yearly in the attempt to alleviate grazing in Parks. The task fell on Jan’s shoulders to try and remove the animals alive. After applying the method from East-Africa, capturing animals on horseback and in nets, a time consuming and tedious method with high mortalities, Jan finally came up with the idea to capture animals in mass with woven opaque plastic sheets and the aid of a helicopter, during 1968. This technique, now known as the "Oelofse Method", revolutionized conservation in its entirety in Southern Africa. Translocation of animals could now take place in mass and thousands of animals were and are still re-located to private sanctuaries, conservancies and National Parks throughout Southern Africa. He visited South America, parts of America and many other places on invitation, to teach and assist other bodies of conservation’s in their endeavours to capture wild animals in mass. Jan, a dynamic and enterprising man soon started his own capture business.
Okonjati Game Reserve
He returned to Namibia during 1975, leased approximately 5000 hectare of land, a farm with the name of Etjo previously used for cattle ranching. He pitched his tents under a huge Acacia tree, fixed the telephone to the tree trunk, and with only N$ 700.00 in his pocket, courage, determination and the love for nature, he worked towards his goal. He re-introduced many new species of game to the leased land, which he later purchased, together with neighbouring land, named Okonjati and thus founded the Okonjati Game Sanctuary. It took him and his wife Annette 30 years to build up the Okonjati Game Sanctuary to its size of over 30 000 hectares today and create an environment for thousands of animals and birds. Elephants were introduced during 1985, as well as many different species, like the rare Roan and Sable Antelope, who found a place of refuge in the sanctuary.
Read more about Jan Oelofse, the famous conservationist, game capturer and adventurer in his biography "Capture to be Free", written and compiled by his wife Annette Oelofse. The book can be ordered at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Okonjati Game Reserve
The Okonjati Game Reserve is the lifelong dream of Jan Oelofse. In a world that continuously sees the destruction of natural habitats, it was his aim in 1975 to create a naturally self-sustained environment where all types of African animals could survive. The game reserve originally consists of several cattle ranches, which one by one over the past 30 years were bought and integrated. Family Oelofse never hesitated if adjacent property could be bought, even though this often brought great financial risks. The greatest joy was to tear down the cattle fences and to offer more habitat to all animals. Today the Okonjati game reserve is 36 000 hectares large, all pristine natural land, offering over 10 000 mammals sanctuary. Over 600 different bird species may be observed at Mount Etjo, hundreds of different reptiles and thousands of different insects. The maintenance of a healthy ecosystem allows for the survival of even very rare species.