S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Schoenfelder, Mr Eberhard Bruno Willy (plant collection)

Born: 31 August 1892, Bochum, Germany.
Died: 23 December 1969, Farm Waterkloof, District Rustenburg, South Africa.

Eberhard Bruno Willy (or Willi) Schoenfelder, farm manager and plant collector, was the son of Lothar Schoenfelder and his wife Vera, born Schueman. He studied at the Deutsche Kolonial Hochschule, Witzenhausen, where he obtained a diploma in agriculture. In 1913 he moved to German South West Africa (now Namibia), where he worked on various farms. He also undertook a six month expedition on foot to the Katanga Province of the Belgian Congo (now the DRC), and other expeditions to southern Angola, Zambia and northern Botswana. Later he founded and managed the Northern Labour Organisation, Ltd. and during 1928-1930 visited its recruiting stations and trading stores in Okavango and the Caprivi Strip. On several occasions he met M.K. Dinter* and in the summer of 1933-1934 accompanied him to the northern part of Namibia.

Schoenfelder described some of his travels, and the vegetation of the regions he visited, in 'Eine Reise im Kaukaufeld' (A journey in Kaokoland) and 'Suedost-Angola und der Westliche Caprivi-Zipfel' (South-eastern Angola and the western Caprivi Strip) in Petermann's Mitteilungen (1933, Vol. 79, pp. 118-121 and 187-189; and 1935, Vol. 81, pp. 49-52 and 87-89). The latter article included a good map. The plant specimens he collected went to the National Herbarium in Pretoria, the McGregor Museum in Kimberley, the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, and the Botanischer Garten und Botanischer Museum in Berlin-Dahlem, Germany. The species Brachiaria schoenfelderi and Alectra schoenfelderi were named after him.

Schoenfelder also interested himself in the indigenous languages of northern Namibia. He first compiled a short vocabulary of four Ovambo dialects entitled Das versteht mein Ovambo: Zusamenstellung 200 wichtichster Saetze aus dem taeglichen leben in 4 Dialekten (Windhoek, 1936). During World War II (1939-1945) he was interned at Andalusia, a large internment camp that later developed into Jan Kempdorp. While there he published a Kwanyama-German dictionary entitled Handwoerterbuch des Osikuanjama (Andalusia, 1943). Upon his release he became manager of a farm owned by Consolidated Sugar and General Holdings, between Rustenburg and Kroondal in the Transvaal. He was married to Joyce Blossom Mitchell-Neill. After their divorce he married Dorothea Louise Marie Wenhold. He had no children.

List of sources:

Glottolog, at http://glottolog.org/resource/reference/id/76725

Gunn, M. and Codd, L.E. Botanical exploration of southern Africa. Cape Town: Balkema, 1981.

CBOLD Bibliography, Linguistics, at http://www.linguistics.berkeley.edu/~jblowe/CBOLD/Bibs/BibAu.41.html

Logan, R.F. Bibliography of South West Africa: Geography and related fields. Windhoek: SWA Scientific Society, 1969.

National Archives Repository (TAB), Source MHG, Vol. 0, Ref. 960/70, death notice of Eberhard Bruno Willy Schoenfelder.

Compiled by: C. Plug