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German apology without reparations an 'insult', say Namibia's Herero and Nama

posted 17 Oct 2016, 06:47 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 17 Oct 2016, 06:50 ]

Namibian Herero and Nama people accuse Germany of genocide in 1904 and 1907, demanding a formal apology. The government is in negotiations with Namibia but the Herero and Nama say they have not been included and they have complained to the UN.

BERLIN, GERMANY (OCTOBER 14, 2016) (REUTERS) - Namibia's Herero and Nama communities want more than an apology from the German government for a three-year campaign of slaughter that saw tens of thousands killed by their colonial overlords.

In July, Angela Merkel's government agreed to formally apologise to Namibia for what is considered the first genocide of the 20th century and a prelude to the Holocaust in which six million Jews were murdered.

Namibian representatives and descendants of those killed, speaking in Berlin on Friday (October 14) said an apology without reparations was an "insult".

"We understand that they say it is an apology without reparations. Apology without reparations. If that is what the German government intends to do, we would appeal to the representatives of the German people assembled in the Bundestag to seriously reject that position of the executive branch of the German government, because it would seriously constitute a phenomenal insult to the intelligence, not only of Namibians, the descendants of the victim communities, but to Africans in general, and in effect - to humanity," said paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro.

"It will represent the most insensitive political statement ever to have been made," he added.

The Herero and Nama resisted German attempts to take over their land and were gunned down by the thousands. Survivors were forced into concentration camps where many succumbed to starvation and disease, historians said.

The Herero went from an estimated 80,000 people to 15,000. Almost half of the 20,000 Nama people were killed.

German troops kept women in concentration camps to rape them.

The colonial administration then went on to take skulls away for discredited research in which the Germans tried to show the racial superiority of Europeans.

Some of the skulls have been repatriated but there are an estimated 300 more African skulls in German universities that Namibia wants brought home.

"You practiced on our people how to commit a Holocaust, and then simply came to perfect it on the Jews. And you apologised, and you paid them reparations. But because we happen to be of a different skin colour, Africans, the German government is saying for us it is only an apology and that's it," said Rukuro.

Germany has begun discussions with the Namibian government towards reconciliation but representatives of the Herero and Nama, say they have not been represented in the negotiations.

"My question is: is the German government aware that those handpicked individuals paraded as representatives of the descendants of the victims are actually members of the ruling party and not necessarily traditional leaders from the Nama or the Herero communities. The legitimate leaders are left behind," said Moses Kooper, a traditional Nama chief.

Namibia was colonised by Germany in the late 1800s, and was known then as South West Africa, before being colonised by South Africa at the beginning of World War One, until independence in 1990.