Hereros, Namas demand direct participation in genocide talks

05 Mar 2016 12:00pm
WINDHOEK, 05 MAR (NAMPA) - The traditional leaders of the OvaHerero, OvaMbanderu and Nama communities are demanding direct participation in negotiations for reparations for the genocide committed against their people during German colonial rule in Namibia.
The traditional chiefs belonging to the three groups, who represent the majority of the victims of the atrocities committed by the German colonial troops against their people between 1904 and 1908, made their demands at a media conference held here on Friday afternoon.
This was done shortly after a group of 25 traditional chiefs of the OvaHerero, OvaMbanderu and Nama communities earlier on Friday morning held a closed-door meeting with Vice-President Nickey Iyambo, where they voiced their discontent over their exclusion from the negotiations for genocide reparations between the Namibian and German Governments.
“We do not accept the Namibian Government's position to represent us at the negotiation table for genocide reparations. We want to speak for ourselves. The Namibian Government deliberately wants to exclude us from being part of the negotiations.
“Government should allow us to sit at the negotiation table with the Germans in order for us to tell our stories. Let us not have a hidden agenda against peaceful Namibians,” said OvaHerero Paramount Chief, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro who spoke on behalf of the other traditional leaders.
According to Rukoro, the OvaHerero, OvaMbanderu and Nama communities represent the overwhelming majority of the communities affected by the atrocities committed by the German colonial troops, and for these reasons “the primary parties to the negotiations for genocide reparations will be the German Government and us, the complainants who are the descendants of the victims of this genocide.”
The Namibian Government should only be part of the negotiations as an interested party, he said.
Rukoro also expressed unhappiness over the Namibian Government's approach of allegedly surrounding itself with “a motley collection of unrepresented traditional leaders, some of whom are reportedly being accorded official recognition overnight in exchange for supporting Government’s stance in negotiations for genocide reparations.”
“This approach by the Namibian Government is not workable or sustainable,” noted the OvaHerero paramount chief.
He added: “Knowing how meticulous Germans are in their calculations, we cannot see how on earth they can even consider entering negotiations knowing that the primary stakeholders and the people with whom they have a conflict are being excluded from participation. It is like trying to implement the United Nations Resolution 435 without the full participation of the Swapo-Party and then telling the world a solution is at hand.”
Between 24 000 and 100 000 OvaHerero and 10 000 Nama people died during the genocide at the hands of the German colonial forces in Namibia. This is considered to be the first genocide of the 20th century.
The genocide was characterised by widespread death from starvation and thirst, and OvaHerero people who fled the violence were forced into the Namib Desert.
It is reported that the German colonial army poisoned all known wells and waterholes in the Namib Desert at the time.
On 19 September 2006, the Namibian Parliament unanimously adopted a motion calling for reparation negotiations with Germany on the genocide.
The late OvaHerero Chief, Kuaima Riruako tabled the motion in the National Assembly.