Namibia: Damara, San Welcome Inclusion in Genocide Pact

Tens of thousands of Namibians, mainly the Nama and Ovaherero, were killed in what is called the first genocide of the 20th century.

Damara and San traditional authority leaders have welcomed with open arms news of their inclusion into the genocide deal reached with Germany over the mass killing of Namibians more than 100 years ago.

Over the years, leaders of the Damara and San communities have been calling for their inclusion in the genocide negotiations, saying that their people too were killed and enslaved by the Germans.

Some of the Damara people are said to have been sold to distant West African countries such as Cameroon. The alleged enslavement of Damara tribal people by the Germans is said to have begun in the 13th century.

In a joint declaration between the two governments, confirmed as legit by senior government officials, the two governments acknowledged that indeed the Damara and San communities were also massacred, therefore, will also benefit from the financial aid worth more than €1.1 billion (N$18 billion) over 30 years, as indicated in the declaration.

Reacting to the news yesterday, ǃKung, Juǀʼhoan-speaking community, chief Royal /Ui/o/oo said he welcomes with open arms the news of his community's inclusion into the genocide pact.

"What government need to do now is to consult with San traditional leaders and map out how our communities are to benefit from the said projects," said /Ui/o/oo, who is also the deputy minister of marginalised communities.

"We want education for our children, our areas developed and land of our own. In fact, we want five commercial farms with title deeds, where our people will be resettled," he said.

Damara clan /Khomanin Traditional Authority chief Rosa Namises said although she welcomes the news, she is partly surprised that they have all along been excluded in the talks while they have always maintained that they too were killed by the Germans. "I know that many will be questioning in what capacity I am speaking. I am the unrecognised /Khomanin Traditional Authority chief. The people's chief. It has always been our stance that we too were killed during the 13th century, our land was taken since we are the custodians of the land in the central part," said Namises, who is also a prominent social activist.

Secretary general of the Damara King's Council Abner Xoagub also welcomed the development, saying that it is a fact that the Damaras were also killed.

"Bullets don't discriminate, there is historical evidence our ancestors died in their thousands. So, we definitely welcome the news," Xoagub said.

Offer accepted

Meanwhile, chairperson of the Ovaherero/Ovambanderu and Nama Council for the Dialogue on the 1904-1908 Gerson Katjirua yesterday at a press briefing said although they are not satisfied with the N$18 billion offered by the German government, they resolved to accept the offer because what is paramount to them is not the amount of money, but the "restoration of our dignity".

"This process was and will never be about making money from the German government, or from the accomplices who met in Potsdam, Berlin in 1885 when Africa was divided on a silver platter amongst the Big Five," Katjirua said.

Thus, he said, genocide is a consequence of the resolutions taken at Potsdam, during the Berlin Conference and those countries should be held separately and collectively accountable for the evil deeds committed at that time against "our ancestors".

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