Namibia: We Don't Want Things Imposed On Us - Chief Kooper

THE communities affected by the 1904-1908 genocide want to negotiate reparations with Germany themselves as they do not want something imposed on them by the government, the Nama Traditional Leaders Association's chairperson, Petrus Kooper, says.

Kooper, who is also the chief of the Kai-||Khaun Nama clan, was speaking at the eighth /Hai-/Khaua Traditional Authority festival at Berseba on Saturday.

"We are saying nothing else will enjoy our support because here we are, experiencing the results of the loss of rights over the land and resources forcefully taken away from our predecessors, and we are told that we have no claim for restitution because such claims will promote tribalism," he stated.

Kooper said there is a rich variety of ethnic groups in all African states, and multi-culturalism is a living reality.

Giving recognition to all groups, respecting their differences, and allowing them to all flourish in a truly democratic spirit does not lead to conflict but prevents it, he added.

"What creates conflict is when dominant groups, be it political or otherwise, force unity down our throats which only reflects the perspectives and interests of the powerful, dominant groups within a given state," said Kooper.

The chief added that conflict does not arise because people demand their rights, but because their rights are being violated.

"Such an approach seeks to prevent the minority marginalised groups from voicing their concerns and perspectives," the chief added.

He further stated that one could not use domination or threats to discourage people from competing for what is rightfully theirs, and everyone in Namibia is entitled to whatever economic benefits exist.

He questioned the lack of benefits for people living in areas where the extractive industry is active, saying people from other regions who have shares benefit from these resources at the expense of locals.

"We have nothing; we are even struggling to benefit from corporate social responsibility grants," Kooper stressed.

Over 100 000 Ovaherero and Nama people were killed as a result of an extermination policy initiated by German colonial troops between 1904 and 1908.

Namibia and Germany are currently engaged in state-to-state negotiations on the genocide issue.

The dialogue with Germany on reparations is taking place under the leadership of the government's special envoy, Zedekia Ngavirue.

President Hage Geingob recently reiterated that Germany is not ready to pay reparations to the affected communities in monetary terms, but would instead fund development projectswithin their areas.

- Nampa

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