By Charles Tjatindi
A group of 11 distant relatives of the then German war commander in Namibia, General Lothar Von Trotha, arrived in Namibia yesterday.
The delegation of 11 touched down at Hosea Kutako International Airport yesterday morning to a mixed reception from the Ovaherero community. They are in Namibia at the invitation of the Maharero Royal house, and are expected to attend commemorations in Omaruru, being held as part of the annual white flag day.
Upon their arrival, the head of delegation Wols Thilo said although they were from a different lineage of the same family tree, they still share the same surname with the German general, and therefore thought it necessary to travel to Namibia in the spirit of reconciliation and with openness to talk about the past and the future.
“We are extremely honoured to be invited to continue the process of reconciliation that was started three years ago. We have come here to continue learning about the situation of the Ovaherero people, to meet new people and to speak together. As long as we keep talking, we are on the right track towards a good future,” he said.
He noted that they regret events in history that saw the ovaherero and other tribes being oppressed, and that his group supports the apology given by the German Minister for Economic Cooperation, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul.
“We deeply regret what happened to your people and also to the Nama and Damara – the cruel and unjustified death of thousands of men, women and children. We support the public apology given by the German government and we will support the dialogue between Germany, Namibia and the Ovaherero people in our own modest way.”
Despite such pro-mises, however, the Ovaherero community has revealed mixed emotions since news came through that the group would be travelling to Namibia. Most vocal of them has been the paramount Chief of the Ovaherero, Kuaima Riruako who made it clear that he does not welcome the visit here. Earlier media reports quoted Riruako as having said the Von Trotha family should “…bring along their own security, and having sworn that they [Von Trothas] …should not leave Namibia alive”.
In an interview with New Era, the Ovaherero chief reaffirmed his position on the coming of the Von Trothas to Namibia, saying their coming here could create a lot of problems.
“I will not welcome these people here. Where have they been all along? Why are they only coming now – to do what?” Riruako asked.
Some community members speculated that Riruako was only bitter about the group’s arrival because he would have preferred to be the one inviting them. These speculations were, however, shot down by the Ovaherero chief, who noted that he holds no grudges against those that invited the group.
“They are coming here on the invitation of other people – that is it. But on my side, I cannot pretend to welcome them. I cannot be smiling with them knowing the events in history that transpired between the German and us,” he said.
The Ovaherero chief has since withdrawn from the programme at the Omaruru white flag day commemoration, where he was invited as a guest. Riruako has always attended the annual commemoration, which is held to pay homage to many heroes of that area who perished in combat, amongst them Chief Michael Tjiseseta.
He confirmed to New Era that his reason for staying away from the commemorations was that he did not see it necessary for him to meet the invited Von Trotha group, who are expected to address those that will be in attendance. Riruako said he would in turn be travelling to the Ozombu Zovindimba, near Otjinene in the Omaheke Region, where similar commemorations will be held. It was at Ozombu Zovindimba that General Von Trotha issued his infamous extermination order that resulted in the killing of close to 65???_?_’???_?’???_???