Swartbooi calls for unity in quest for reparations

22 Oct 2014 07:50am
KEETMANSHOOP, 22 OCT (NAMPA) – //Karas Governor Bernadus Swartbooi has called on all Namibians to unify behind the call of the Herero and Nama for reparations from the German government.
Swartbooi spoke at the renaming ceremony of the Keetmanshoop Military Base to the Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi Barracks on Tuesday.
He said Namibians should become more vocal about the atrocities committed by the Germans in erstwhile Namibia. Swartbooi said a lot of harm was caused that cannot simply be erased for the sake of country-to-country diplomacy or special initiatives implemented in Namibia by the German government.
Swartbooi said the extermination of Namas and Hereros by the Germans was the precursor to the Jewish holocaust.
Thousands of Hereros and Namas were killed, tortured, enslaved and starved to death between 1904 and 1908. This was widely regarded as the first genocide of the 20th century. The Jewish holocaust, where millions were killed, took place from 1938 to 1945.
Swartbooi said the world gave recognition to the Jewish holocaust and gave it due respect in terms of reparations, but failed to do so with the Nama and Herero genocide.
“The reason is partly because we are quiet. Whenever this particular issue is raised, people say it is tribalism. They ask ‘Where are the Kavangos, where are the Owambos?’. They say do not refer to specific tribes,” Swartbooi expounded.
He said it was not a competition to prove which tribe outdid the other, but about collectively correcting the atrocities of history and fixing the errors of the past.
“As a country, we are not together on this issue,” he stated.
In tribute of the late Hendrik !Nanseb Witbooi, Swartbooi read extracts from ‘The Hendrik Witbooi Papers’ which he also retold in Nama during the naming ceremony.
He described Witbooi as a heroic defender of his motherland, who already during the 19th century actively called for unity of purpose between the different Namibian tribes in protecting itself.
Swartbooi said Founding President Sam Nujoma continued that message, and that Swapo was now doing the same.
Hendrik !Nanseb Witbooi was chief of the /Khowese people; he died during battle with the Germans on 29 October 1905.