WHEN visited by the new German ambassador to Namibia, Onno Huckmann, on February 6 2013, Prime Minister Hage Geingob could not have been more correct and straightforward on the atrocities committed against the Namibian freedom fighters by the German imperial forces.
He correctly stated that "reconciliation is built on the admission of wrongdoing as a first step to mending the atrocities committed". He said: "We cannot stop people from talking about reparations. It is their right to do so. People are paining. They are hurt..." Geingob continued: "Let us handle this issue carefully, and not tell people not to talk about it", because, according to him, "if people were not allowed to talk they would resort to other means in order to show their anguish".
These are great and wise words from a leader who is expected to take over State House after the next elections. These words are great and wise when directed not only towards the German government, but also towards any other entity that committed atrocities.
The party that propelled Geingob so close to the top office of the land has itself committed similar atrocities against Namibian freedom fighters. It is no secret that the party he will soon lead and represent has murdered thousands of innocent Namibians, mainly outside Namibia, between 1976 and 1990. He needs no reminding as he reportedly cited how he, himself, nearly became a victim of the same party's atrocities.
How will Geingob, as the new party and country leader, honestly address the German government on the atrocities committed at the beginning of the last century when he himself is also faced with recent atrocities committed by his own party against his own people?
It will require of him a high level of intelligence, boldness, honesty, and independence of mind to address these two sets of atrocities. Geingob should avoid playing double standards when it comes to serious matters such as these. His leadership will leave behind a remarkable legacy when he will have the courage to tackle these two uncomfortable issues consistently.
The first step he should take is the very step he wants the German government to take: admittance of wrongdoing by his own party, and then reconciliation will become possible at home, as his logic dictates. With such an achievement, Geingob should tell the German government that victims should not be stopped from talking of their ordeal and that it is not only their right to do so but also that they are in pain!
Without recognising that people are hurt, as he correctly observed, they can resort to any means in order to show their anguish! If the descendants of the German genocide victims are so hurt today, what more of Swapo's living victims, their direct relatives, friends, and survived witnesses?
In the late '70s Geingob was Swapo's organising secretary and a member of the Central Committee that ordered, among many others, the following fighters to dig their own graves and decide the positions they wanted to be shot in at Central Base and Base X, near Senanga in Zambia's Western Province: Joel Toromba, Junias Kaxweleni, Gotlieb Nakaambo, Theophilus Sheya, Leonard Iilya, Titus Unona, Nestory Shanghala, Jason Ndinoshiho, Jackson Hamupembe, Gideon Ambunda, Hatwiikulipi Naiyuma, Michael Nghitewa, Philip Kalimba, and the list goes on.
He remained a Central Committee member when they (Swapo leaders) collectively tortured and murdered thousands of more freedom fighters in Zambia and Angola in the subsequent years.
Until his party has admitted its own wrongdoing, Geingob and those around him will find it complicated to handle the genocide issue and very difficult to pressurise the German government into any reparations.