Katutura is a former apartheid township on the outskirts of the City of Windhoek.
There was a time when communities were self-sufficient in Namibia. The many tribes here survived either completely off the land by hunting and foraging for tubers, roots, eggs and such, or off their livestock and agricultural produce. Europeans started to arrive in the late 1700s. Missionaries started arriving in the early 1800s. Trading was introduced throughout the 1800s. Land grab and exploration was undertaken by the colonists in the mid to late 1800s. The Namibian tribes were suppressed, some tribes decimated through war and genocide in the early 1900s, and the rest enslaved in the various forms that both the German occupants and ensuing Apartheid regime invoked.
By the 1950s, Namibia was well-settled and the Windhoek municipality was now at the heart of the country. Large urban projects were being undertaken, and the municipality wanted to expand and whiten the city, which meant moving the blacks and coloured people into another location. The city built a settlement of housing estates where that was earmarked for the black and coloured settlement and tried to forcefully move people.
Many blacks and coloured people already owned properties or were settled for a long time in the desired area where the city wanted to expand the white population. Needless to say there were refusals and protests. On December 10, 1959, a demonstration took place in the ‘Old Location’ and Rosa Mungunda set fire to the Mayor’s car. The police shot and killed 11 people and injured 44 others. The Apartheid hospitals refused to treat the wounded. The violence and fear caused between 3,000 and 4,000 people to flee to the new settlement area that became known as Katutura, “the place where we do not want to settle.” The uprising was a rallying cry for independence.
Today, December 10 marks Human Rights Day in Namibia. It remains a testament to gaining freedom from the suffering and injustices that Namibian people endured for over a century.
Even though Independence was won in 1990, after many years of blood shed and hardship, a large percentage of Namibian black and coloured people still live in Katutura. Katutura itself has expanded and now is home to over 130,000. People come looking for work in Windhoek from all around Namibia and since most are poor, they have no choice but to settle in Katutura, in the old established area of the township, or in an informal settlement area, or in a squatter camp.
The children that Family of Hope Services supports all live in Katurura. Most of them live in the common tin structures, without electricity or running water.Many must walk for up to 15 minutes in both directions to fetch water and carry it back to their homes. The city of Windhoek provides public toilets, public water taps, and collects a leasehold fee for the property.
The cost to rent a tin structure without services is often as much as $85 USD per month. The cost to rent a tin structure with services can be as much as $170 USD per month.