By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro
The Ovaherero claim for reparation is not directed at German churches or private German citizens, let alone Namibians of German descent. On the contrary, the claim is directed at the Federal Government of Germany, says the Paramount Chief of the Ovaherero, Kuaima Riruako.
The Chief spoke on Sunday here during the 103rd commemoration of the announcement and implementation of an Extermination Order against the Ovaherero by General Lothar von Trotha, then commander of German Imperial forces in Namibia.
However, this does not mean that the Chief and his people do not appreciate solidarity from these instances. It is indeed welcome but must be consonant with the claim of the Ovaherero. The Ovaherero want nothing short of the German government officially recognising that what happened to them during 1904-7 was genocide, for an official apology from both the German Parliament and government and last but not least to repair the negative legacy of acts against the Namibian people.
Riruako also expressed disappointment with what he described as the stubbornness of the German Federal Government, 103 years after the acts of its predecessor colonial regime, to heed the demand of his people for dialogue, ultimately with a view to reparation.
He also accused this government of divisive, evasive and delaying tactics and of hoodwinking a section of his community into thinking that their salvation lay with German churches and private citizens.
“Thus, no German individual, non-governmental organisation, church or any private whatever owes us any apology.
“Equally, we do not need to reconcile with anyone with German relation because to us, reconciliation with anything German has never been an issue.”
Riruako appealed to all Ovaherero, who genuinely believe in the blood of their ancestors shed for the freedom of Namibia, to guard against untruths meant to weaken the “just demand for reparation”. He said his people could only do justice to the reparation cause by remaining true to the cause of their ancestors and to rally behind the reparation movement.
“We are gathered here today for no other obvious reason than to honour the memory of our ancestors by rededicating ourselves to the reparation cause.”
Repeating what he said at Lephalale in the Limpopo Province recently, he said the reparation struggle does not belong to any single individual.
“In fact, it is not even for me to invite other Ovaherero leaders. It is their cause and that of their ancestors and they have as much a right to steer this fight.”
He, thus, called for unity of purpose and unity in action in the reparation campaign at least for the sake of the blood of the ancestors crying out to their descendants.
Riruako said the claim for reparation is not a matter of the Ovaherero only but a national matter. Namibian lawmakers have already spoken on the matter with one voice with the adoption in the National Assembly last year of a motion on genocide and reparation.
In this regard, the Chief said he was reaching out to leaders of other affected communities, so that together they could speak with one voice.
He has already met the leader of the !Aman, Chief David Frederick, in this regard.