“Walking down Kaiser Street with my father, his hat would barely stay on his head as he would be constantly greeting people,” Dieter Voigts on his father.
Gerhard Voigts was often referred to as one of the last true gentlemen of what was then still South West Africa.
The son of Gustav Voigts, one of the founding members of Wecke & Voigts, Gerhard was born in Windhoek in 1905. While on holiday with his family in Germany in 1914, the First World War broke out. He was thus forced to stay in the country and completed most of his schooling there.
The young Gerhard was interested in biology and wanted to study further in this field. His father however forced him to stop school in his last year and go back to South West Africa. After the war the country had fallen into a severe depression and recession and Gustav Voigts needed his son to help with the business.
On his way back from Germany, Gerhard first spent about half a year in East London in South Africa as a trainee to a trader before joining the family business.
When Gustav Voigts died in 1934, Gerhard along with his brother Harald took over the running of the business. Gerhard dealing with the administrative duties, while Harald ran the store.
Gerhard is remembered as a very gentle and kind man. He would greet every staff member on his or her name when coming to work in the mornings. When handing out end of year bonuses, the staff nicknamed him Father Christmas and would phone the different departments asking: “has Father Christmas been there yet?”
A true farmer at heart he was involved in organisations such as the Farmers Association Karakul Breeders Society. He was also mad about horses.
Not only contributing to the country’s economy, but also to the upliftment of its people, Gerhard Voigts was an exceptional figure.
The farm Voigtskirch, situated not far north-east of Windhoek, was the second farm acquired by Gustav Voigts and bought in 1897. Trading mainly goods for oxen in the early years ofWecke & Voigts’ existence, the first store set up in Okahandja in order to trade with the Hereros well known for their cattle. Gustav Voigts built up and maintained a very good relationship with Herero Chief Samuel Maherero. Due to the good understanding existing between Wecke & Voigts and Maherero, he was allowed to buy goods on credit. This grew substantially over a period of time and in payment for his debt he sold Voigtskirch to Gustav Voigts.
In the 1920s in order to create an opportunity to help the country’s struggling economy in the recession and depression years after the First World War, Gustav Voigts set up one of the first creameries in the country on the farm. The idea was to supply the South African Union with butter. Werner Kauert was tasked to pick up the cream for the creamery once a week and would travel as far as Epukiro roughly 200 km away.
When Gustav Voigts’ son, Harald, retired from the business is 1965 he devoted himself to farming full-time on Voigtskirch.