Genocide: Let’s Not Play Ostrich Politics

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek The debate on the genocide committed against Namibians during 1904-1908 hit top gear on Wednesday afternoon as more parliamentarians both from the ruling party and the opposition called on the German Government to take responsibility on all accounts. The Deputy Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Kazenambo Kazenambo, in his contribution said the hide-and-seek approach, or playing ignorance, or being non-committal, would not take the stakeholders anywhere. “The issue of reparations for the human rights violations committed by the German colonial troops in the then German South West Africa will not die away, therefore it is counter-productive to try to avoid the issue.” The deputy minister warned that the more the German Government, Namibian Government and all the affected communities try and avoid the issue, the more they harden views and contribute to the creation of negative perspectives, which will undermine the policy of national reconciliation. He urged the stakeholders to get serious now while the situation is very fresh and controllable. “Let us not wait to arrive at a situation whereby those who feel marginalized and sidelined explode into uncontrollable human explosives which may harm German economic interest in this country in the future.” Kazenambo, who at times sounded emotional, added that it is time for everyone to be honest and gauge the mood in order to feel the temperature of the people to try to amicably solve the problem once and for all. “Playing ostrich politics will be of no benefit to anybody in the end.” The Swapo Party parliamentarian also appealed to the German Government to get serious on seeking a solution to the issue of the Ovaherero genocide and other acts of war atrocities committed against other Namibians such as the Nama, Damaras, during the military campaign carried out by German colonial troops against indigenous Namibians between 1904-1907. “Germany must start to be specific on the issue of reparations and genocide, so that we can put this issue to rest, in order for us move on with other new pressing issues.” Joining the debate, the Minister of Environment and Tourism William Konjore spoke at length about how the Nama people also suffered during the war. He noted that after the defeat of the Ovaherero people, the Nama people also rebelled but General Lotha von Trotha and his troops quickly routed them. “On the 22nd April 1905, Von Trotha sent a message to the Nama people which read: ‘The Nama people should surrender. “The Nama who chooses not to surrender and lets himself be seen in the German area will be shot, until all are exterminated.'” The minister said although Chief Kuaima Riruako only mentioned the Ovaherero as the victims of the genocide, legally he may be correct according to the extermination order, but it must be clearly understood that the other ethnic groups were not saved from atrocities. “It is a proven fact that the German troops’ guns did not differentiate between who is who, and that is evident when you wage a war with your enemy, you shoot at any target that comes your way.” Konjore called on the Namibian nation to be guided by the call of President Hifikepunye Pohamba, which he made at the 100 years’ commemoration of the Ovaherero genocide at Ohamakari – to accept the apology that was tendered by the German Government and to look to the future relations between Namibia and Germany with hope. He however noted that this must not stop the communities from seeking redress for the past injustices committed against them, provided this is done inclusively of all communities affected with the sure knowledge and support of the Namibian Government. The debate, which has dominated the Namibian parliament agenda since it as tabled by Riruako, continued until late Wednesday afternoon.