So that colonialisms of yesterday and today are not repeated tomorrow

Namibia - Germany

On August 14, 2004 in Okakarara, Namibia, at the memorial ceremony of the centennial of the resistance of the Herero genocide by the German colonial troops, the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said that: [...] "A century ago, the oppressors - blinded by colonialist fervour - became agents of violence, discrimination, racism and annihilation in the name of Germany." The atrocities committed in that time would be called today genocide - and today a general Von Trotha would have been pursued and condemned. We Germans accept the historical and moral responsibility and culpability of the Germans of the time. And so, with the words of the prayer of God that we share, I ask you to forgive our sins." [... ]. Despite the admission of the Herero genocide, are therefore lacked some official apologies.

At the end of May 2005 the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul says she agrees to finance an "Initiative for reconciliation" for an amount of 20 million euro in ten years, arguing that "the process of reconciliation now needs more action to make the reconciliation more tangible".

At the end of November 2005 the ministerial delegation accompanying the namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba in visit to Berlin refuses to sign on that occasion the agreement of colonial reparation, asserting the need to consult the other members of the government before the signing.

At the beginning of December 2005 the German Ambassador in Namibia Wolfgang Massing announces that the meeting between the two governments, planned for the following week, is postponed arguing that the Namibian government needs time to consider the new proposals that emerged on the occasion of the recent visit of the Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba in Berlin.

On September 19, 2006 the deputy Kuaima Riruako, supreme leader of Herero people, moves a motion that is unanimously approved by the Namibian Parliament on October 26 2006 by which it acknowledges [...] that "What happened to our people during the years 1904-1908 as a result of the order of extermination of general Von Trotha was a brutal act of genocide ratified by the German Government of the time, that our people has title to require the payment of reparations by the German Government, that the Namibian government should be a party concerned in any discussion with the German Government on the issue of reparations and that some talks should begin between the German and Namibian governments and the representatives of the parties involved, in order to try to friendly resolve the question and so strengthen and consolidate the excellent relations existing between the two countries [... ].

On March 9, 2007, the members of the group Die Linke propose a motion which is rejected by the German Parliament on June 26 2008 with which they asked the German Government to accept its historic responsibility and to acknowledge the right of Herero and the Nama to reparations due for the genocide committed by the German colonial troops. They asked besides that the government entered without preconceptions in an open dialogue on reconciliation and reparation with the communities involved.

On June 23, 2008 the members of the group Bundnis 90 - die Grunen move a motion that is approved by German Parliament on June 26 2008 with which the German Parliament undertakes to dialogue with Namibian Parliament to a greater reconciliation.

On October 21, 2008 the Namibian government has requested the German Government to return the skeletons of Herero and Nama preserved in the German universities charging of the cost of repatriation, in order to give them a proper burial.

On September 30, 2011 at the university clinic of Charity in Berlin the ceremony of returning of the remains of nine Herero and eleven Nama was held in the presence of a large delegation of Namibians and of the German vice minister for foreign affairs Cornelia Pieper who, despite she said that "Germany acknowledges and accepts the heavy moral and historical responsibility toward Namibia", has not expressed any official apology and left the ceremony shortly before the Namibian minister of culture Kazenambo Kazenambo and some representatives of Herero and Nama took the floor. At the end of the ceremony Judith Strohm of AfricAvenir International has done what Herero and Nama wanted the German government to do, by apologising for the genocide on behalf of the civil society.On October 5 2011, in the presence of the Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba and of thousands of people, the remains were welcomed in Namibia with a ceremony in Heroes' Acre near Windhoek.

On February 29, 2012 the parliamentary group Die Linke presents a motion that is rejected by the German Parliament on March 22, 2012. This motion calls for the Parliament to acknowledge the massacre of the Herero, Nama, Damara and San people committed by the German colonial troops between 1904 and 1908 as genocide, to apologize to their descendants and to acknowledge the reparations due for a complete reconciliation. On March 07, 2012 a coalition of NGOS launches the appeal No amnesty on genocide in support of the motion. In addition, on March 20, 2012 the parliamentary groups SPD and Bundnis 90 - Die Grunen present a motion that is rejected by the German Parliament on March 22, 2012. This motion calls for the Parliament to acknowledge the massacre of the Herero, Nama, Damara and San committed by the German colonial troops between 1904 and 1908 as genocide, to apologize to their descendants and to create a fund to support them. On March 29, 2012 the Ovaherero-Ovambanderu Council for Dialog on the genocide of 1904 condems the majority coalition for voting against the motions presented, thanking those who have worked in their favor.

On July 1, 2015 the parliamentary group Die Linke presents the motion Reconciliation with Namibia: recognize the Genocide! that unfortunately is rejected by the German Parliament on March 17, 2016 (Tagesordnungspunkt 12).

On May 25, 2016 the German Parliament delegation visiting Namibia met with representatives of the Herero and Nama people, descendants of the victims of the genocide committed by the German colonial troops between 1904 and 1908 during which approximately seventy-five thousand people were exterminated. During the meeting the representatives of the Herero and Nama people recalled that with regard to the ongoing negotiations on genocide, apologies and compensations can not be "lasting solution negotiated about us without us".

The Congress Restorative Justice after Genocide was held in Berlin, capital of Germany, from 14 to 16 October 2016 with the participation of about fifty Ovaherero and Nama delegates. The congress ended with the approval of the Berlin Resolution 2016, declaring critical debate about the genocide a global task and a subject for society as a whole, besides the demands for an official recognition of the genocides, a sincere apology by the German Parliament and Government and negotiations on reparations with the Ovaherero and Nama representatives from Namibia and their diaspora.

On January 5, 2017 the Ovaherero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro and the Chairman of the Nama Traditional Authorities Association David Frederick, after having repeatedly petitioned the German Government to include them in the ongoing discussions without success, have filed a class action lawsuit in the Federal court in New York to get collective reparations and the right to be present at the ongoing negotiations between the German and Namibian Government. The news has had great diffusion, as well as in Germany and Namibia, also at international level (Al Jazeera, BBC, Daily Sabah, Deutsche Welle, Il Post, Jeune Afrique, Le Monde, Reuters, Russia Today, Sky, Sputnik, The Guardian, etc.).

On February 27, 2017 the United Nations' Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent ended a seven day visit in Germany to assess the situation of African Americans and people of African descent inviting, among the recommendations to combat all forms of racism, racial discrimination, Afrophobia, xenophobia and related intolerance, "[...] Germany to recall its own share in the history of colonization, enslavement and genocide and use a reparatory justice approach as a way forward. The Ovaherero and Nama people must be included in the negotiations currently ongoing between the German and Namibian governments [...]".

On March 21, 2017 Namibian media announced that the Namibian Government is considering a legal action against Germany at the International Criminal Court, with the assistance of a group of Namibian and British lawyers and a 30 billion dollars request in reparations for the Herero and Nama genocide. On the same day, anniversary of independence, Namibian President Hage Geingob has affirmed he want to accelerate the pace of land reform by expropriating the lands still owned by whites.

On March 25, 2017 Herero and Nama organized the tenth annual genocide reparations walk in Swakopmund in Namibia with the participation of thousands of people.

On April 24, 2017 the Evangelical Church in Germany has asked the descendants of the victims of the genocide in then South-West Africa for forgiveness. The statement is the result of a long process, begun in 2004 and which involves the identification and creation of commemoration sites, the restitution of the victims remains and the development of a memory culture.

On June 4, 2020 the President of Namibia Hage Geinbob on page 13 of his State of the Nation Address announces that after five years of negotiations [...] Germany has agreed that the events of 1904-1908 can be termed genocide and they are ready to render an apology, at the highest level of German Government. What remains outstanding is the Quantum [...].

On May 16, 2021 the Paramount Chief of the Ovaherero Traditional Authorities (OTA) Vekuii Rukoro and the Representative of the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA) Gaob Johannes Isaack reject the so-called "Reconciliation Agreement" that does not respect the negotiating pillars set by the Namibian Government itself since it does not provide for the payment of reparations and was negotiated without the participation of the legitimate representatives of the majority of the victim communities.

On May 28, 2021 the Federal Foreign Minister of Germany Heiko Maas on the conclusion of the negotiations with Namibia declares that [...] we will now officially call these events what they are from today’s perspective: a genocide [...], as a gesture of recognition of the immeasurable suffering inflicted on the victims, we want to support Namibia and the victims’ descendants with a substantial programme to the tune of 1.1 billion euro for reconstruction and development. [...] Legal claims for compensation cannot be derived from it [...].

On June 4, 2021 the Vice President of Namibia Nangolo Mbumba on the genocide, apology and reparations negotiations, after confirming that the mandate to negotiate derives from the motion unanimously approved by the Namibian Parliament on October 26, 2006, tries to argue that the programs of reconciliation and reconstruction are reparations and that the involved communities have been consulted.

For further information:

Awakened from Colonial amnesia? Germany after 2004

The Legal Claim for German Reparations to the Herero Nation

Germany's black genocide

Freedom roads!

Namibian memorial reignites call for German reparations

March for reparations contemplated

Namibia wipes colonialism off the map

These bones are not enough!

Namibia Genocide and the Second Reich

Namibia celebrates 25 years of independence and democracy

Ovaherero & Nama Resistance Order Against German Arrogance and Neo-Imperialist Tendencies Towards the Namibian Government and its People

Rukoro threatens action over reparations negotiations

Namibia ‘won’t be held hostage’ by Germany in genocide talks

On the Spot: Whither the reparations debate

Opinion: Germany must apologize for Namibia genocide

An Apology Not Enough: Germany, Genocide and the Limits of Reparations for Namibia

The genocide Germany wants to forget

Indigenous Namibians furious over German reparations 'insult'

Berlin Resolution 2016

Rukoro hints at reparation package

Germany moves to atone for 'forgotten genocide' in Namibia

Namibia | Into the Kaiser's Holocaust

Land haunts Germany's effort to atone for Africa genocide

Namibia tribes lodge case against Germany over genocide

Activists ramp up Herero and Nama reparation demands on film

US court postpones genocide hearing

Humanity failed Namibians, and paid dearly for it

”Where Are You Going, White Man?”

Namibia: Skulls of my People

Germany treading carefully regarding colonial crimes

Second genocide hearing postponed in NY

US museum 'storing remains of Namibian genocide victims'

The Troubling Origins of the Skeletons in a New York Museum

II.Transnational Herero & Nama Congress - „Colonial Amnesia: Quo Vadis Hamburg?“

Namibia’s long fight for justice

Khama wants Ovaherero in Botswana to benefit from genocide offer

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