The chairperson of the Nama Genocide Technical Committee, Ida Hoffman, last week stressed that the newly appointed special envoy to lead deliberations with the German government on the (1904-1908) genocide would only add value to the issue if the views of the Nama and Ovaherero descendants are considered. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, announced
last Wednesday that long serving ambassador, Dr Zed Ngavirue, would engage with his German counterpart
on the atrocities committed mainly against the Ovaherero and Nama.
“If the envoy has been appointed to add value to our requests then we will see he is the right person. But if he is
a stumbling block between us the activists, victims and descendants of the Nama and Ovaherero people, then it will
create additional problems. We want to know if the government has decided to recognize us – the representatives and activists of the Nama and Ovaherero descendants – as stakeholders at the round table with the German government,” said Hoffman.
She said that the descendants of the Nama and Ovaherero want to be at the round table with the German government in order to make clear their demands. The demands include repatriation of all the Namibian
skulls and documents from Germany. “We want the skulls that are in houses as ornaments and the Bible of Hendrick
Witbooi. We must be part and parcel of the discussions. Is he going to give life to the round table that we the activists have asked for so long?” said Hoffman in an interview with New Era yesterday.
She added that the Nama Genocide Technical Committee was not alerted of the government’s decision to engage
an envoy. “We are the drivers of this and we are left behind. All the decisions were about us, and without us and that is unhealthy,” said Hoffman. Furthermore, she said the descendants of the Nama and Ovaherero did not benefit from bilateral agreements between the two governments. “Go to the south and see,” said Hoffman, who pointed out that there is not much development happening in the south.
“The Namibia-German bilateral relationship is born out of a painful colonial past. The atrocities committed in our
country by Germany from 1904 to 1908 have left a deep scar on our national psyche,” said Nandi- Ndaitwah.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said at a media briefing last Wednesday that consultations to get the communities’ input would commence soon, explaining that the consultations were halted due to “misunderstandings with communities”.
“We are proud that Dr Ngavirue was chosen to lead that deliberations. It is a great task that needs a person of Dr Ngavirue’s ability. Knowing that he is a recognized veteran of the Namibian liberation struggle, we trust that he has the full credentials to engage the German authorities,” said Unaani Kawami, the national organizing secretary for Swanu, in a statement issued on Thursday last week.
Kawami further said: “We should not forget to approach this matter with an inclusive spirit that will enable an inclusive committee, consisting of representatives of affected communities, political parties and other interested social groups. After all a genocide is more a political matter than anything else.”