Today In Fact, 02 August

When I was young and feckless, there was fad amongst some of our less cool neighbours involving the purchase and reading of picture books. These black and white picture books had actors who would be photographed in different poses with a variety of stories attached. One of the more silly booklets was “Kaptein Caprivi” and it was clearly a propaganda exercise for the Apartheid government. The protagonist was a white actor who seemed to be invincible and did lots of fighting “on the border”.

Now you may or may not be aware that Caprivi is an actual territory, currently part of Namibia. During the last two decades of Apartheid South Africa, the Caprivi strip was the main theatre of military operations for South African troops.

It is a 450 km spit of land linking the northern part of Namibia eastward to the Zambesi River. It used to be called Itenge and its capital is a small dusty town called Katima Mulilo.

The German Chancellor Leo von Caprivi, in 1890 negotiated this land with the British in exchange for Germany’s claim on Zanzibar. The Germans annexed the land and called it “Caprivi” in his honour.

There has been a long standing dispute between Namibia and Botswana over an island on the Chobe River which both countries claim. The Island was assigned by the International court in 1999, to Botswana.

Within months the Caprivi Liberation Army sought secession from Namibia. The CLA, led by Mishake Muyongo, on this in 1999 launched its secession in Katima Mulilo, occupying the state-run radio station and attacking a police station, the Wanella border post, and the local army base.

The rebellion was put down within a few days and Muyongo and his fellow secessionists went into exile in Botswana and now Denmark.

There are many dozens of similar secessionist movements in Africa and around the Globe. Hopeless causes almost all of them because they are based upon outdated notions of nationality and national sovereignty.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer (

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