Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

25 January 2013

Namibia: Talking About Closet Skeletons

Chief Parliamentary Whip, Hon Peter Katjavivi this week took up the issue of reparations for wartime genocide with a group of visiting German parliamentarians.

Briefing the so-called Parliamentary Friendship Group, Katjavivi said "As you may recall, the Director General (DG) of African Affairs in the German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Walter Lindner visited Namibia in February 2012. This visit was followed by Hon. Roth Karin of the SPD on 21st April 2012 and Hon. Niema Mossavat of Die Linke on a later date." At those meeting bilateral relations were discussed as well as the Herero genocide of 1904.

"Our discussions with the dignitaries hinged on the following" said Katjaviva listing them as "Bilateral relations between Germany and Namibia, the unfinished business of the atrocities committed by German colonial forces against the Namibian people, the subject of the phased return of the human remains (skulls) of Namibian ancestors from Germany."

"As you may be aware, this subject of the skulls has touched a sensitive raw nerve within Namibia and strained our Namibia Germany relations. This is what necessitated the visit of Ambassador Walter Lindner."

On the German Special Initiative for Namibia, Katjavivi said the major challenge relating to this programme has been the slow pace of disbursement of the funds and other logistics under this programme, to the intended beneficiaries. "Our understanding now is that some of these challenges have been addressed and you will be able to have the benefit of hearing from the responsible officials during this visit."

Referring to the Hereros who returned to Namibia under much fanfare by Paramount Chief Riruako, Katjavivi said "these people are settled in Gam and desperately need support in the area of education, health and community development through sustainable initiatives."

As a parting shot, the Chief Whip said "during our various meetings, we also highlighted the fact that there has never been any form of acknowledgement from the German Government of the Namibia National Assembly 2006 Resolution on Reparations which Namibia forwarded to the German authorities."

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