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On the afternoon of  May 29 1922, two De Havilland DH9 bombers equipped with mounted machine guns flew low over Guruchas, the largest settlement in a “native reserve” occupied by the Bondelswarts people of southern Namibia. Their decades-long dispute with successive colonial governments had flared up again — this time in response to an annual tax on hunting dogs, among other things.

Since dawn there had been “a profound anxiety everywhere”, Richard Freislich writes in The Last Tribal War. When the planes appeared, the women and children in the village, and the fighters in the hills, turned to watch “a few small black objects fall from the sky”...

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