Pope Francis has come under fierce fire from Namibians, after omitting to mention the atrocities committed against the OvaHerero-Nama between 1904 to 1909, when he recently labelled the 1915 genocide against the Armenian people as the first event of this kind to occur in the 20th century.
Nudo Secretary-General Meundju Jahanika said there is no way the pope could not have heard of the OvaHerero-Nama genocide.
“On one end you might think that he might not know about the OvaHerero-Nama genocide and on the other end you might also think that he is selective, maybe because it involves black people and not of his skin tone,” said Jahanika.
“By not mentioning our genocide, it shows that he is selective and discriminatory in his remarks. He did it deliberately, because he has no regard for black people.”
Jahanika further questioned why the pontiff did not do his research on other genocides before making his remarks.
“We condemn his opinion. It should have never come from someone of his calibre.”
The pontiff’s omission has also sparked fierce debate globally, especially on social media.
Many questioned whether the pope could plead ignorance of history or whether he deliberately ignored the German genocide in the then South-West Africa.
Vatican notes have revealed that the pope recently met with a Namibian clergymen delegation, led by Roman Catholic Archbishop Liborius Nashenda.
Commentators said they should have used that opportunity to educate the pope about the OvaHerero-Nama genocide.
Namibian Sun was informed yesterday that the delegation is still in Rome and will return home soon.
Jahanika agreed that Nashenda and his team should use their trip to Rome to educate the pope about the OvaHerero-Nama genocide.
Swanu president Usutuaije Maamberua, whose party has also been calling for reparations to be paid by Germany, is of the opinion that the global community should be educated about the OvaHerero-Nama genocide.
He stressed it was difficult to say whether the pope omitted to mention this genocide deliberately or whether he was ignorant about what had happened.
“He is from Argentina – a developing country. He would not have done it deliberately, but this shows how the world is ignorant about the Namibian genocide,” Maamberua said.
“This is why I want us as Namibians to launch an information dissemination and education campaign about what transpired in Namibia.”
He said this should not only be done on a global stage, but Namibians also needed to be educated about the genocide, particularly about the methods used and the magnitude of what occurred.
Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) leader Hewat Beukes, who is also a member the Nama Technical Committee, promised to leave no stone unturned in its quest to get the bottom of the pope’s comments.
“If the pope made such an erroneous statement, he must correct it. It must be corrected and we will take it up in Parliament,” warned Beukes.
“We can’t rely on this government to have the statement corrected, because they are for the distortion of history. So we will take the matter up.”
Ueriuka Tjikuua of the OvaHerero/Ovambanderu - Council for Dialogue on the Genocide of 1904 said he did not agree with the pope’s statement.
“The first genocide of the 20th century was that of 1904. The pope was either not well informed or did not conduct research to acquaint himself with the correct facts. He must correct his statement,” said Tjikuua.
“In the same manner in which he (the pope) sympathises or condemns the Armenian genocide, he must do the same with that of 1904. He must also express his condemnation.”
Both chairperson of the OvaHerero Genocide Committee, Festus Muundjua, and committee member Utjiua Muinjangue could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Muinjangue said she was “busy in a meeting”, while Muundjua’s mobile went unanswered.
By Elvis Muraranganda: Namibian Sun