Namibia: Nama Could Become Own Liberators On Genocide Reparations

Left column: German soldiers Right: Namibian prisoners chained (file photo).

Chief of the Kai-||Khaun Nama clan, Petrus Kooper, has warned that the Nama will "become their own liberators" if the government continues to exclude them from the genocide reparations talks with Germany.

He made these remarks on Friday during the official opening of the first-ever Nama cultural festival at Keetmanshoop.

The outspoken tribal leader said the Nama people would be left with no option but to become their own liberators to protect their rights and fight for their interests if the government did not engage them on their own terms around genocide reparations.

Kooper did not provide details about the terms he referred to.

"If we cannot be allowed to peacefully negotiate our reparations with the German government, which is willing and ready to sit down with us, then we are left with no choice but to launch our own self-help reparations programme to satisfy our needs," he stated.

Kooper added that there could be chaos, and that "the author of the chaos" would this time not be the commander of Germany's armed forces, but the Namibian Defence Force (NDF)'s commander-in-chief, which is President Hage Geingob.

He was quick to say that the Nama people would not do anything unlawful, but simply sacrifice for what was rightfully theirs.

"This time, we shall not flee to any neighbouring country," he stressed.

Nothing about us without us, anything about us without us is against us," Kooper threatened.

He also reminded the German government that it had an obligation under international protocols and conventions to directly deal with the descendants of genocide victims.

"If you, for reasons unknown, think that you can pay our reparations through a proxy and on terms not agreed with us, know from this day onward that you are doing that at your own risk because our demand for reparations will continue, and will in no way be cancelled or nullified by dealing with an unauthorised agent," he said.

Ambassador Zed Ngavirue is the Namibian government's special envoy in negotiations with the German government over the 1904-1908 genocide.

He declined to comment on Kooper's remarks over the weekend, saying he was only appointed by the government to lead the genocide reparations talks.

However, he was aware that the government had talks with some Nama and Herero leaders, who had felt excluded from the genocide reparations talks, but he could not say how these discussions ended.

"I don't know at what stage the discussions are now, as well as the terms regarding genocide reparations the tribal leaders had suggested to the government," Ngavirue added.

Presidential spokesperson Alfredo Hengari yesterday said the Presidency would only comment after having studied Kooper's remarks.

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