OvaHerero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro over the weekend extensively briefed President Ian Khama of Botswana on the German genocide against the OvaHerero and Nama tribes in Namibia.
Rukoro spoke to Khama at Pilikwe, Mahalapye East in the Central Region of Botswana where he attended the commemoration of the late Kgosi (Chief) Tshekedi Khama, who was a regent of the Bamangwato from 1926 to 1946.
Rukoro informed Khama, in the latter’s capacity as the chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), that the Ovaherero and Nama people of Namibia are engaged in a demand for compensation from the German government for the genocide committed against their forebears during German imperial rule.
The Herero and Nama genocide was a campaign of racial extermination and collective punishment that the government of German South-West Africa (modern day Namibia) undertook against the Herero and Nama tribes.
It is considered to have been the first genocide of the 20th century and took place between 1904 and 1907.
“It is high time that both SADC and the African Union (AU) take an active interest in the Namibian genocide and reparation issue given the inflexibility of the executive branch of the German State, which refuses to even acknowledge that what happened to our ancestors constitutes an act of genocide,” said Rukoro.
He called upon African leaders to place the Namibian genocide on the SADC and AU agendas with a view to passing resolutions that declare Germany as having committed a crime against humanity.
“The Ovaherero and Namas, who are today citizens of this country, are the direct descendants of those victims whom Chief Tshekedi Khama and other traditional leaders welcomed in their homes,” added Rukoro.
He said the reparation they are seeking is to hold Germany accountable for the genocide committed between1904-1908.
Furthermore, Rukoro implored the Botswana governemnt to legislate the recognition of the Otjiherero and Nama languages as languages of the country and thus deserving of curricular consideration.
“Language is the first natural identification of any human being, and it is through the language that we all learn about our cultures,” he said.
He said this will, no doubt, make it easier for the line ministries of both countries to budget for and to develop language programmes in schools in Botswana for the benefit of its citizens.
He said many Hereros and Namas of Botswana, especially in the Tsabong areas, have lost their language and culture and are looking up to Namibia to help them revive the two languages and their cultures.
He said the availability of competent teachers in these languages can be sourced from Namibia, where the two languages are already being taught up to the level of matric.
At the event Chief Rukoro also donated two prized Brahman heifers and a prized Brahman bull to President Khama.
Rukoro was invited as a guest of honour by Khama.