Axel W Eriksson - The Trader King of Damaraland
As a 19 years old, Axel W Eriksson became employed as an assistant to the explorer Charles John Andersson in South Africa - an adventure that lasted for 36 years. Eriksson never forgot his hometown Vänersborg and donated nearly 1,000 birds from South West Africa. This donation led to Vänersborgs museum.
When Vänersborgs city and grammar school in 1883 got a major donation of birds and mamals from the southwest of African, it was the starting point for the construction of Vänersborgs museum. Donator of the African collection was the former citisen of Vänersborg, Axel W Eriksson (1846-1901). Eriksson´s achievement was the fruit of an equally long as remarkable zoological research tradition in Vänersborg .
In the 1830´s, the British big-game hunter and naturalist Llewellyn Lloyd (1792-1876) moved to Vänersborg. Lloyd wrote several acclaimed books about the culture and fauna around the lake Vänern for the British audiences.
Lloyd´s son Charles John Andersson (1827-1867) had the same zoological interest as his father. Encouraged by this interest, he travelled to South Africa in 1850. His main field of occupation came to be in southwest Africa, now Namibia. Within a few years, Andersson reached international fame through his books about the expeditions to Lake Ngami in 1853 and the River Okavango in 1859. Andersson also established a solid trading station in the resort of Otjimbingue .
In 1865 Andersson hired the young butcher´s son from Vänersborg, Axel W Eriksson as assistant. Eriksson also had his zoological interest aroused by Lloyd at home in Vänersborg . After Anderson´s death in 1867 Eriksson came to stay in South Africa. Here he founded a trading post in Omaruru in central Namibia . The trade in ivory, ostrich feathers, livestock and weapons gave Eriksson considerable wealth and political power.
Eriksson focused primarily on bird life - ornithology, in his zoological research. One result of this research is the donation of nearly 1,000 birds that he in 1880 gave his hometown Vanersborg. The birds that can be seen in the museum´s lower north hall is one of the museum´s main collections. When Eriksson died in 1901, trading operations were a remnant of its former glory and wealth had dissipated .
Axel W Eriksson´s business is today a historical basis for the partnership between Vänersborgs municipality and town of Omaruru in Namibia.