Hermann Heinrich Vedder (* 3 July 1876 in Westerenger, Westfalen, Germany; † 26 April 1972 in Okahandja, South-West Africa) was a German missionary, linguist, ethnologist and historian. Originally a silk weaver, he received missionary training by the Rhenish Missionary Society in Barmen between 1894 and 1903, whereafter he was sent to German South-West Africa in 1905 and worked as a missionary and teacher trainer until his retirement, first for the black workers and prisoners-of-war in Swakopmund, then at the small mission station Gaub in the Otavi Mountains, and from 1922 onwards in Okahandja, where he taught at the Augustineum school. After his retirement, the National Party Government of South Africa nominated his as Senator to represent the Namibian 'natives' (who had no vote) in the South African Senate, where he vehemently defended the policy of apartheid.
Vedder spoke fluently Oshindonga, Khoekhoe, and Otjiherero. He spent a lot of his time recording oral history and folklore 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, his work on the pre-colonial history of South-West Africa, South West Africa in Early Times, and his contribution to The native tribes of South West Africa. Vedder's historiography has been heavily criticized by recent academic historians for being not referenced and for its colonial apologetics and settler bias.
He received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Tübingen (1925) and Stellenbosch (1949). A suburb of Okahandja is named Veddersdal (Afrikaans: Vedder's valley) in his honour.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)
(the same in English:) The Bergdama. Köln, Rüdiger Köppe
with Carl Hugo Hahn 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
Kurze Geschichten aus einem langen Leben (Short stories from a long life, autobiographical). Wuppertal, Rheinische Missionsgesellschaft, 1953
Hans Martin Barth: Von draussen: Hermann Heinrich Vedder (1876-1972). Fragen und Anfragen zu einem geistlichen und weltlichen Leben. In: Missionsgeschichte, Kirchengeschichte, Weltgeschichte / ed. Ulrich van der Heyden, Heike Liebau, p. 405-424. Stuttgart, Steiner, 1996
Julius Baumann: Mission und Ökumene in Südwestafrika, dargestellt am Leben und Werk Dr. Hermann Heinrich Vedder. Leiden, Brill, 1967
Brigitte Lau: 'Thank God the Germans came'. Vedder and Namibian historiography. In: Brigitte Lau: History and historiography, 4 essays in reprint. Windhoek, Discourse/MSORP, 1995
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
Wahrhold Drascher and H.J. Rust (ed): Festschrift Dr.h.c. Heinrich Vedder: ein Leben für Südwestafrika. Windhoek, SWA Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft, 1961