The protracted negotiations for the German government to apologise and pay reparations for the 1904-08 genocide is one that requires serious introspection from all affected and non-affected communities, especially the Government Negotiation Team (GNT) and that of the affected communities.
The two groups currently have different stand points-albeit fighting for the same cause.
This division has played well into the hands of the German government, this is evident in the fact that the Germans are the ones controlling navigating the narrative to suit their agenda.
Germany has to date refused to acknowledge the mass killings as a genocide, despite the facts on the ground stating otherwise.
The word atrocities has been identified to replace genocide.
The 2006 parliamentary motion that set the process in motion to hold Germany accountable is a double-edged sword if interrogated closely: On the one hand it set Namibia’s affected communities on course to seek restorative justice, and on the other hand it exposes Namibia’s inability to set its domestic differences aside when fighting a common international enemy.
The negotiations between the two States are somewhat misplaced, Namibia’s parliament has adopted a motion and by extension a common position on the matter while the Bundestag continues to be divided. One begs to ask the question, with whom is the GNT negotiating?
The genocide issue is very emotive for those who have been affected in one way or another, however, both the GNT and the affected communities should remember that emotions do not win negotiations.
The only way to overcome the remnants of General Lothar von Trotha’s order to shoot “any Herero, with or without a rifle, with or without cattle” is by maintaining a sober mind at all times.
Whether the Germans call it atrocities, the facts are that tens of thousands of Herero were forced into the Kalahari desert, their wells poisoned and food supplies cut. Those who had survived were rounded up and placed in concentration camps, where they were beaten and worked to death in squalid conditions. Half of the total Nama population were also killed, dying in disease-ridden death camps such the infamous site on Shark Island, in the coastal town of Lüderitz. By 1908, only 16,000 remained, historians say.
Surely this is self-explanatory.
Germany and Namibia share excellent bilateral ties, and since independence the German government has pumped significant aid into our country: whether this support is based on a guilty conscious or a genuine calling is a debate for another day.
Development aid is important to any developing country, but that should not cloud the campaign for justice.
Much has been said about how the reparation money should be used if the the negotiation outcome is in Namibia’s favour. What will it be used for? Who will benefit?
The extermination order was clear on killing any Herero and the Nama communities were not spared either, so if logic prevails then only the two affected communities should benefit. What is government’s position on this matter?
The silence and the GNT’s way of doing things without even giving the public an update is part of the factors causing friction between the two groups.
The GNT is so tight-lipped it does not even want to reveal how much money Germany must pay for the deeds committed.
With no public gatherings taking place to solicit input from affected members, this practice should be denounced to pave the way for inclusivity and broad consultation.