By Ruth First
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Until then the United National South West Party, with fifteen members to the Nationalist Party's three, had dominated the Legislative Assembly. In the 195o elections sixteen Nationalists and two United National South West Party members were returned. Since then Nationalist Party strength has continued to grow, helped by Nationalist-rigged delimitations and a heavy influx of Nationalist-voting railwaymen and Civil Servants. The United Party can do nothing to arrest its own decline. The German vote was a key factor in the 1950 swing.
Ovambo women are rarely seen outside Ovamboland, apart from the very few who have been allowed, in recent years, to visit their husbands working on the mines or in large labour centres, where the men live a twelve- to eighteen month-long bachelor existence in closed compounds. Ovamboland is shut fast to the outside world. An Opposition member in the South West Africa Legislative Assembly told me: 'Ovamboland is a closed book. ' No one knows, except for senior government officials in Pretoria and the people themselves, sealed off by rigorous control of their borders.
They replied, said Fritz Gariseb, that they could not have a Chief serving both the people and the government. The main Berg-Damara Reserve is Okombahe, to which they were moved in stages from their former land at Aukeigas; but they also live in Otjimbingue, side by side with the Herero. In Okombahe the Berg-Damara were promised a Canaan. ' they ask. ' The Berg-Damara people have for decades been caught between the advance of White occupation and stronger tribes like the Herero and Nama, and they have been pressed into servitude by all.