Namibia advised to establish truth commission on genocide

26 Mar 2019 17:30pm
WINDHOEK, 26 MAR (NAMPA) – Several experts from diverse backgrounds on Tuesday converged under one roof under the auspices European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights to dissect the genocide meted by German colonial troops against Namibians from historical, legal and philosophical viewpoints.
From the panellist of six experts was Kenyan Professor Makau Mutua, who called for a Namibian truth commission to be established for the Herero/Nama genocide of 1904-1908.
Mutua expressed dismay at how Namibians were particularly divided in their quest to attain restorative justice and reparations from Germany.
The truth commission, according to the academic, will bring together the concerned stakeholders, the affected communities as well as governments of Germany and Namibia in the hope of resolving conflict left over from the genocide in question.
When asked about the idea of the commission, special envoy in the bilateral talks between the Namibian government and its German counterparts, Dr Zed Ngavirue was not particularly convinced that the establishment of such a commission is practical under the current circumstances.
“I know that a truth commission did something good in South Africa. But here you must understand that we are dealing with situation where the principle parties are not in the same place. The truth commission had to deal with blacks and whites in the South African situation. Here we are dealing with Namibians and a metropolitan overseas. So where do you locate the commission?” Ngavirue questioned.
He added that the other distinction is that in the South African scenario, participants in the commission were the victims and perpetrators of crimes against humanity.
The Namibian case in contrast, does not involve the direct victims of genocide that are involved but rather their descendants.
University of Namibia Professor Andre Du Pisani made his contribution to the discussion from a philosophical perspective, arguing at length that Germany has moral responsibility to accede to the genocide it is said to have committed.
“It was a moral crime because it was premised on the notion first of the superiority of some and the inferiority of others. It was a moral crime because it was premised on a construct that civilization was the preserve of those who are not from Africa and who are not black,” he said.
Another reason that made the genocide a crime of morality was the mere fact that it was killing by design, in reference to General Lothar von Trotha’s extermination order to exterminate the Herero tribe in what was then German South West Africa, now Namibia.