The descendants of the victims of the Ovaherero and Nama genocide of 1904-1908 by German imperial/colonial troops are spread across the globe, some of them now resides in countries such as Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and in Europe and North America amongst many other countries and Continents. And in light of this, what some representatives of the Namibian government are claiming and doing regarding the ongoing reparation negotiations literally undermines the plight of the majority if not of all Ovaherero and Namas on this noble historical course. The Namibian government’s unjustifiable actions such as wasting millions of taxpayers’ money on foreign lawyers consultation fees at the expense of holding formal public stakeholders meetings with the members of the affected communities on the negative effects of genocide leaves much to be desired. This genocide issue is an international issue which falls within the realm of international relations and global politics, therefore, which is not suppose to be negotiated on the basis of the terms and conditions exclusively set or spelled out by two state actors (the Namibian and German governments) without wider consultations and acceptance by the descendants of the victims of genocide who are spread across the globe.
The claim by some representatives of the Namibian government that, it ought to be the one pursuing this genocide negotiations with the German government due to its state actor status (sole representative) is half correct, therefore off the mark and totally misleading the political novice and some of the un-alert members of the public. This Namibian government claim is not completely correct in consideration of the fact that some descendants of the victims of the genocide who resides in other countries and continents, particularly, those who are yet to reclaim their Namibian citizenship on ground of their origin, cannot be represented by the Namibian government or anyone else at the moment without their consent, and in the same vein no one has any right to exclude them from this negotiations, if they are really intended to bring closure to this ugly historical chapter between the Germans, Ovaherero and Namas wherever they are found.
What is true though, is that, the Namibian government has a full right to participate on equal footing on this negotiation, just like any other interested multi-stakeholders concerned, but it is not the sole representative of the Ovaherero and Nama on the genocide case, for it (the Namibian government) to dictate the terms and conditions – exclusively setting the agenda on historical facts surrounding this genocide. The descendants of the Ovaherero and Namas ought to be part and parcel of agenda setting and formulation of modalities on the genocide negotiation with full ownership of the entire process, but not as marginal or peripheral participants at the invitation and mercy of government as it is the obtaining situation at the moment. The claim by some representatives of the Namibian government, that they are the ones to drive this negotiation process with the members of the affected communities being at the mercy of government as it is currently the prevailing scenario, it is not only wrong, but it is a display of highest ignorance coupled with unspeakable arrogance on their part. Genocide is a crime against humanity, and for any crime, there is a direct injured party, and the injured parties on this genocide in reference are the Ovaherero and Namas and no amount of political expediency, manipulations, bullying and hypocrisy will alter or distort that sad and most unfortunate historical reality.
There is no dispute that other Namibians may have suffered from collateral damage of the genocide war, but the direct injured parties remain the Ovaherero and Namas wherever they are found, in the four corners of this globe or planet earth. Hence the Ovaherero and Namas are the direct victim of this genocide who ought to seek redress on the matter with German authorities as it is the norm on settlement of cases of this nature in international relations and international law. The case of the Jews of Europe (the holocaust) is one reference amongst many others.
Genocide is the crime against humanity as per United Nations’ convention, therefore it defies logic that German the culprit, is the one setting and dictating the terms and conditions on how the crime (genocide) it has committed must be settled/redressed with some of our government representatives in approval almost in everything. To the dismay and disapproval of the majority of the affected communities, we have heard and read about some of our government representatives on the negotiation championing and marketing German’s notorious position of intending to give aid in the form of Project and Scholarship Funding to Namibia instead or reparations. Again it defies logic that the Namibian government which is not the direct injured party, want to use its state actor status, to minimize, undermine or weaken the fully participatory role of the affected communities on the basis of a hogwash claim that it has been elected by Ovaherero and Namas amongst other Namibians in general. This government claim is not only baseless and insensitive but rather suspect, as even in this country which is 100 % under its mandate and jurisdiction, injured victims of crime decide who represent them in seeking redress. Can government inform all and sundry as to why is seeking redress on the genocide is an exception in approach? On what grounds will the Namibian government represent Ovaherero and Namas who are not Namibians?
Who will represent them if the German and Namibian governments are colluding and collaborating on the basis of none inclusive wrong negotiation approach which is sidelining, undermining and blocking the participation of the representatives of the affected communities from a wider constituency background from across the globe as outlined above?
The negative effects of genocide such as economic dispossession and plunder, human banishment into exile, cultural destructions such as loss of language are not confined to one geographical or territorial area (country), but rather continues to haunts the descendants of its victims, wherever they are found across the globe. By way of illustration, there are some Ovaherero and Namas residing in south western Botswana, in the Tsabong area and Kgalagadi areas who are unable to speak their language ( Otjiherero and Nama mother tongues) due to the cultural genocide they have suffered when their grand parents were forced into exile by the German genocidal war against them in1904-1908.
How will their destroyed cultural heritage be redressed by this ongoing genocide negotiations? This clearly demonstrate that, German which is still soaked with blood of the barbaric genocide on her hands cannot bring this matter to closure by dealing with the Namibia government, and some traditional authorities and genocide committees alone without involving the representatives of the majority of the other descendants of the victims of genocide it have so far excluded from across the globe. German is kidding herself if it is of some delusion and wishful thinking that, it will settle the genocide issue through manipulation on bilateral basis with the Namibian government. The more it duck and avoid to take full responsibility and assume a moral high ground of facing the reality to directly engage the Ovaherero and Namas as it did with the Jews of Europe concerning the Holocaust, the more it will radicalize the majority of the Ovaherero and Namas across the globe. The Ovaherero and Namas knows how best this process can be handled, therefore it must engage them for the best advices on the way forward. Some of us have tried to advise, even in close door meetings on how wrong is the current approach, but it appears that no one is heeding our calls.
Genocide is a complex emotive narrative which constitute the core of international justice and solidarity and universal human rights, and that is why it is treated as a crime against humanity.
Some representatives of the government of Namibia are quick to bash, intimidate ridicule and bully anyone who articulates this multi-stakeholder issue on its proper context. As if they are new agents of imperialism and neo colonialism representing the interests of German on this matter, with impunity they resort to insulting and humiliating anyone with a different view to their wrong approach on genocide negotiations. They do not listen with empathy to alternative voices of people of goodwill in order for them to realize that the path they are following in dealing with this matter will lead them to nowhere. The cheap talk that whoever is voicing a different view other than those of government representatives on the matter, is either bored by peace, or is a tribalist bent on undermining national unity, peace and stability in this country is devoid of any truth.
The rational progressive approach on handling this matter is to be inclusive as humanly possible. In order to achieve inclusivity, first and foremost both the Namibian and German government must recognize the undeniable fact that, the Ovaherero and Namas genocide is a multi-stakeholder issue of multi-national scope and magnitude, as oppose to one national form or nature. Thus from a state actors perspective, the German and Namibian government maybe the only role players, depending on whether other core stakeholders (Ovaherero and Namas from other countries) concerned will agree or consent to that approach. As for the descendants of the victims of genocide, they are of diverse background, be it culturally or otherwise, therefore there is a need to seek consensus amongst them in order to reach an amicable common understanding amongst them through their chosen representatives from across the globe. The Ovaherero and Namas have cultural and other structures that connect them to one another across the globe, therefore it will be effective to seek a way forward in handling the issue through those cultural structure and network channels. The Ovaherero and Nama structures and platforms that can be of effective use in this regard are traditional authority structures, religious or cultural platforms, youth committees, genocide committees etc. Consultations ought to have taken place within those structures and platforms at grassroots levels with timelines on collecting suggestions and recommendations regarding the fears and expectations of the affected communities on the matter. This progressive inclusive approach would have facilitated the buying-in of the process by the majority, if not all the members of the affected communities in the negotiation process. This approach would have enabled the affected communities to select their representatives to the negotiations.
Some of us are not questioning government’s role on this negotiations per say, but we are saying, we are the ones living the legacy of the genocide effects as direct injured parties, therefore no negotiations about us without us will be acceptable to us, as the adage goes. There is no one who can mandate himself or herself to negotiate on our behalf the injuries of genocide which we have suffered, without him or her hearing from and reaching consensus with us on our expectations regarding restorative justice and reparation. We are the survivors, therefore we are here to narrate our ordeal in seeking a new chapter of reconciliation with our enemies of yesteryears, with an aim of opening a new chapter of peaceful coexistence, based on mutual understanding and respect. This approach is the one that will contribute to everlasting peace and stability in our country in particular, and the entire world in general. Taking some of us for granted is not a solution, because as long as this matter is not amicably resolved to the satisfaction of the majority of the descendants of the victim of genocide who are spread across the globe, then it will remain a bluff and pending on the agenda, as the Struggle to seek restorative justice and reparation will continue!! The Struggle continues, Victory is Certain!!!