New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Traditional Leaders Meet Pohamba On German Genocide

What happened to the Namibian people, especially the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama during the 1904-1908 wars, which led to the Extermination Order of October 2, 1904 against the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu, and the Extermination Order of October 22, 1905, against the Nama, "was genocide and reparation should be paid in order to redress and atone for the atrocities".

A delegation of Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama traditional leaders thus reiterated and so impressed upon the President, Hifikepunye Pohamba, when they met him at State House last Thursday.

The delegation was led by Ovaherero Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako, !Man Chief and Chairperson of the Nama Traditional Authorities Association, Dawid Frederick, and Senior Councillor, Sondy Tjiroze, of the Ovambanderu who represented the Ovambanderu Paramount Chief, Aletha Karikondua Nguvauva.

They met the President to implore with him on the way forward after the return of the skulls, on the pending return of the skulls that have so far been identified and lately the rejection by the German parliament, the Bundestag, of the motion by the Left Party this February in which the party sought to beg it "to acknowledge German colonial crimes in former German South-West Africa as genocide and working towards restorative justice".

In a document which the delegation submitted to the President, the delegation emphasised that "genocide and reparation cannot be taken off the table" and that any reparation package, "all inclusive" and in cash, in kind and in services and to be preceded by an official apology, cannot happen without a discussion among the relevant stakeholders.

"In our case, they should be representatives of the Namibian and German governments, and the representatives of the Nama, Ovaherero [and the Ovambanderu] in their capacity as the specifically targeted affected groups."

"Things like educational institutions, health centres, roads, telecommunication systems, transport systems, agricultural schemes," which they said are contained in their proposed reparation package titled: Joint Position Paper from the Nama and Ovaherero People on the Issue of Genocide and Reparation, which they also availed to the President, would not be for the Ovaherero and Nama only as it was the case in the Apartheid era, but for the benefit of all Namibians.

Regarding the return of the next consignment of skulls, the delegation was categorical "it is totally unacceptable that the remains of our heroes/heroines of this war (1904-1908) be brought home by the staff of the holding university and the staff of our embassy in Berlin without the involvement and participation of our people".

They emphasised the importance of rituals with the repatriation of these skulls, which "cannot be done away with by an unexplained act of total disregard to our cultural practices".

However, New Era has it on good authority that the Namibian Cabinet has agreed to "a manageable" delegation from Namibia to Germany to go and receive the skulls. This is contrary to the delegation of about 60 people including traditional leaders who last year went to receive the first 20 skulls, but which was seen by a section of the society as sizeable.

The delegation saw the rejection of the Left Party's motion as also a rejection of the Namibian parliament's 2006 motion on the matter of 'Genocide and Reparation'.

On the way forward the traditional leaders insisted on the participation of representatives of the affected communities in a discussion forum on the matter, which they said they have already proposed. Following the rejection of the motion by the German parliament, the delegation felt nevertheless that many of the issues the motion sought to address should continue to be addressed outside the parameters of the Namibian and German parliaments by "an enlarged group of stakeholders".

Such a discussion forum comprising members of parliament from each of the political parties in the parliaments of both countries as well as representatives of the affected groups, would discuss, among others, genocide as the main issue, and reparation, which is inseparable from genocide.

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