ONDANGWA is the first sizeable town you encounter after crossing the veterinary cordon fence at Oshivelo, north of Etosha’s Von Lindequist Gate. Slightly less frenetic, and less populated than neighbouring Oshakati – it has a population of about 23,000 – it was established in 1890 as a Finnish mission station at the western edge of the Ondonga Kingdom. Following World War I, the British decided to base their administration here; the South African colonial government then followed suit, and from 1918, Ondangwa became the main assemblage point for labourers being recruited to work in the mines and farms in the Police Zone or in South Africa. Once the apartheid regime established Oshakati as the new capital of Owamboland in the mid-1960s, which then became the regional capital post-independence, Ondangwa’s political importance faded. However, commerce in the town is still growing, and likely to expand further, given Ondangwa’s strong rail and air links, and strategic location on the main transit route between Namibia and Angola – the busy main junction in the town centre sees the B1 turn northwards to Oshikango, Namibia’s main border with Angola 60km away.

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