The Dorsland Trekkers were originally granted free land in the area that went on to become Grootfontein by a certain W.W. Jordan, an adventurer and trader, who claimed to have bought a vast tract of land from Ndonga King Kambonde, in exchange for some cash, weaponry and brandy. In 1885, the Dorslanders declared the area the Republic of Upingtonia (later Lydensrust), after the prime minister of the Cape Colony at the time, whom they thought would offer support. None was forthcoming, however, leaving them reliant on protection from the Germans. The republic was doomed from the outset, as the Boers were variously challenged by Herero, San and Owambo groups, who disputed their claim to the land, and when Jordan was killed by Owambo King Nehale in 1887, the republic crumbled and was absorbed into German South-West Africa.

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