6 February 2018

Namibia: Rukoro Utterances Dismay German Foundation

Windhoek — Recent outbursts attributed to Ovaherero Chief, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro, has ruffled the feathers of the board chairperson of the Namibia-German Foundation (NaDS), Andreas Harris, who is appalled by the comments.

"It is with great concern that the board of NaDS takes note of the most recent statements by Paramount Chief Rukoro, which can be interpreted that German-speaking Namibians could become a target of violent attacks by the Ovaherero," Harris wrote in a statement yesterday.

Harris added that Rukoro even insinuated that local German-speaking Namibian citizens allegedly regard the Ovaherero people as "crazy".

He further stated it must be noted that German-speaking Namibians, as bona fide citizens of Namibia, have always maintained good relations with all population groups in the same manner other groups interact with them.

"In the interest of all Namibians, discussions of this dimension should be conducted in an unemotional and factual manner."

"Hate speech will lead us to nowhere," he stressed, adding that NaDS distances itself from any incitement and agitation.

Harris reminded the public of the outstanding ranking enjoyed by Namibia amongst very few African countries, it having the highest degree of press freedom and freedom of expression.

"We need to uphold the fine practice of open public debate and dialogue both on contentious and neutral issues, which the majority of organisations continue to uphold in the democratic dispensation of Namibia," he said.

He said NaDS is fully prepared to participate in mediation and reconciliation discussions.

Meanwhile, the court hearing last month in the case lodged against Germany for colonial-era genocide in Namibia was postponed to May 3.

This was the fourth hearing, for which Germany for the first time appointed counsel.

The Ovaherero and Nama people filed a lawsuit on January 5, 2017, suing Germany for excluding them from current negotiations between the German and Namibian governments concerning the 1904-1908 genocide committed on Namibian soil.

The initiators of the legal challenge are Ovaherero Chief, Advocate Rukoro, as representative of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA), and the late Chief and Chairman of the Nama Traditional Authorities Association, David Frederick, and the Association of the Ovaherero Genocide in the USA.

Up to 100,000 Herero and Nama are believed to have been killed by German imperial troops in the early 1900s in what was then the German colony of South West Africa.

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