OvaHerero/OvaMbanderu and Namas remember genocide victims

30 Mar 2014 14:20pm
SWAKOPMUND, 30 MAR (NAMPA) – The lives of OvaHerero/OvaMbanderu and Nama people who perished during the 1904-1908 genocide were commemorated at Swakopmund in the Erongo Region on Saturday.
The commemoration was held at the old Swakopmund cemetery in the vicinity of the town’s central business district, which was the site of one of a number of concentration camps in then South West Africa where thousands of OvaHerero/OvaMbanderu and Namas lost their lives at the hands of members of the German colonial forces.
The commemoration event was amongst others led by OvaHerero Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako.
The event was also used as an opportunity to report to the ancestors that some of the skulls of those who perished in the war have been repatriated, which was done by Riruako.
Thirty-five skulls and three skeletons were recently repatriated from Germany to Namibia.
A Namibian Government delegation travelled to Germany early in March to receive the human remains taken to that country for experiments, purportedly to prove the superiority of Europeans over Africans, at the turn of the 20th century.
Speaking during the commemoration ceremony, Nama Genocide Committee chairperson Ida Hoffmann called for urgent round-table discussions and for reparations from the German government for the wrongs committed against the two communities during the colonial era.
“The Namas and Hereros take the genocide acts as serious. It is genocide that the Germans committed against us, and we therefore insist on a round-table discussion, reparations, apologies and reconciliation,” Hoffmann stated.
She said reparations should amongst others involve the purchase of the land and the construction of schools, houses, roads and clinics for the affected communities.
“It should be clear that the Namas and OvaHerero are not in confrontation or at war with the German government. We are just insisting on compensation for the wounds of the past. That is why we insist on an urgent dialogue with the German government,” she said.
Hoffmann went on to say the German government is making reparations to individual Jews and the state of Israel for acts of genocide committed in the 1930s and 1940s.
She said the OvaHerero and Namas want to know what the legal or moral distinction is between genocide suffered by the Jewish people and genocide which affected Africans.
“Surely, in a modern world, a racial distinction cannot account for this difference, so the concern by the OvaHerero and Namas must be seen in the same light as that of the Jewish,” Hoffmann insisted.