Heinrich Vedder
Hermann Heinrich Vedder was a German missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

, linguist
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, ethnologist
Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.-Scientific discipline:Compared to ethnography, the study of single groups through direct...

 and historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

. Originally a silk weaver, he received missionary training in Barmen
Barmen is a former industrial metropolis of the region of Bergisches Land, Germany, which in 1929 with four other towns was merged with the city of Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia. Barmen was the birth-place of Friedrich Engels and together with the neighbouring town of Elberfeld founded the...

 between 1894 and 1903, whereafter he was sent to German South-West Africa
German South-West Africa
German South West Africa was a colony of Germany from 1884 until 1915, when it was taken over by South Africa and administered as South West Africa, finally becoming Namibia in 1990...

. There he founded the Rhenish Missionary Society
Rhenish Missionary Society
The Rhenish Missionary Society was one of the largest missionary societies in Germany. Formed from smaller missions founded as far back as 1799, the Society was amalgamated on 23 September 1828, and its first missionaries were ordained and sent off to South Africa by the end of the year.The...

 in 1905 and worked as a missionary until his death, first for the black workers and prisoners-of-war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

 in Swakopmund
Swakopmund is a city on the coast of northwestern Namibia, west of Windhoek, Namibia's capital. It is the capital of the Erongo administrative district. As a seaside resort, the weather is cooler here in December to January so the territorial administration moves to Swakopmund for these months...

 and from 1922 onwards in Okahandja. A suburb of Okahandja is named Veddersdal (Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

: Vedder's valley) in his honour.

Vedder spoke fluently Oshindonga, Khoekhoe, and Otjiherero. He spent a lot of his time recording oral history and folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

 and wrote school textbooks in Otjiherero and Khoekhoegowab.

His best known works are the ethnographic treatise Die Bergdama on history and culture of the Damara
Damara people
The Damara are an ethnic group who make up 8.5% of Namibia's population...

, his work on the history of South-West Africa, South West Africa in Early Times, and his contribution to The native tribes of South West Africa.

Works by Heinrich Vedder

  • Die Bergdama. 2 Volumes. Hamburg : Friederichsen, 1923 (Hamburgische Universität. Abhandlung aus dem Gebiet der Auslandskunde, Vols 11 & 14, Series B, Völkerkunde, Kulturgeschichte und Sprachen, Vols 7 & 8)
  • with Carl Hugo Hahn
    Carl Hugo Hahn
    Carl Hugo Hahn was a German missionary and linguist who worked in South Africa and South-West Africa for most of his life. Together with Franz Heinrich Kleinschmidt he set up the first Rhenish mission station to the Herero people in Gross Barmen...

    and Louis Fourie: The native tribes of South West Africa. 1. ed. New impr. 1928. - London : Cass, 1966
  • South West Africa in Early Times. Being the story of South West Africa up to the date of Maharero's death in 1890. Cass & Co. London 1966

Works about Heinrich Vedder

  • Walter Moritz: Dr. Heinrich Vedder, Vom Ravensburger Seidenweber zum berühmten Afrika-Missionar. (Dr Heinrich Vedder, From silk weaver from Ravensburg to famous missionary in Africa.) Kreuzfeld, Lempp, 1973
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