Namibia: Germans Challenged to Be Sincere On Genocide

Photo: Wikipedia
Herero prisoners of war, around 1900.
22 November 2019

The outgoing Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung representative to Namibia, Heiner Naumann, has urged the German government to have honest discussions with Namibia in order to reach a lasting reconciliation solution.

The genocide should be handled with the sensitivity it deserves to ensure that a solution is achieved, the outgoing country representative, who worked at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) since 2014, observed on Wednesday while saying his goodbyes to the Namibian political elite, non-governmental organisations and the government.

It was also the commemoration of FES' 30th anniversary in Namibia.

Naumann stressed the need to fully recognise the massacres committed in the early 1900s by the Germans in Namibia as genocide, so as to allow for the wounds to heal.

"It is important that while we move forward, the word genocide must not leave our mouths. The relationship between Namibia and Germany has always been a special one. Hence, we need to have frank engagements between our two countries to foster reconciliation amongst our people, going forward," he said.

Moreover, he believes that the two governments need to work on finding closure for the past atrocities, while forging a future premised on cooperation and an exchange of ideas.

Naumann has worked for over 36 years in advocacy, with five years in Namibia, and roughly 15 in Zambia.

Speaking at the same platform, new German ambassador to Namibia Herbert Beck said while he is yet to grasp the culture of the country and settle in, there is still a need for strengthened cooperation in the development, political and social spheres between the two governments.

"I have been here for six weeks now, but I would say I am now qualified to talk about the country's beliefs, and I would like to cement our relations, going forward", he added.

Vice president Nangolo Mbumba, in a speech read on his behalf by his special adviser Bernard Haufiku, highlighted the need for mutual cooperation between Germany and Namibia in the future.

Mbumba emphasised that Germany remains one of Namibia's key developmental partners, and agencies from that country have worked with the citizens in enhancing democracy as well as fostering development.

Germany's development minister, Gerd Mueller, had this year called the killings of Herero and Nama people in Namibia over a century ago a genocide, according to a report by Reuters. In that article, Mueller, one of the most senior German officials to regard it as such, echoed Germany's historic responsibility in Namibia. According to Reuters, he termed it a genocide during his visit to Namibia. Between 1904-1908, German soldiers killed 65 000 Herero and 10 000 Nama people after they stood up against land appropriations by colonialists. These killings saw historians and the United Nations referring to it as the first genocide of the 20th century.

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