In all these communications the Germans knew that they were dealing with one targeted group, the Herero and this is further shown by the 1905 order against the Nama. If they (Germans) did not distinguish between the various tribes or groupings, they would not have had the need to issue a second order, directed specifically against the Nama community.
This is clear testimony that the Germans knew that there were Herero, Nama and Damara, because if they did not distinguish between them, they would have continued with their indiscriminate killing of all the tribes as the colleagues would want us to believe.
On the pronouncement by the little known “Cross Cultural Trust” and the “social cohesion” thought to be enjoyed in Namibia and perceived to be imbued for 26 years since independence, the following response will suffice.
Based on the 1904 and 1905 extermination orders the Nama and Herero have all the rights to pursue reparation against the German government and in actual fact they have been doing this for the past 30 years until the Germans’ recent change of stance on this issue.
The quest for reparation for the 1904-1908 massacre should not be mistaken with the general effects of colonialism which swept through the entire country or least a substantive number of the tribes. The 1904 to 1908 massacre targeted the Herero and the Nama people, period.
However, these two communities do not say other communities should not sit at the round table nor such communities should not bring about their miseries.
All what these communities are saying is that genocide should not be confused and mixed with the quest for other atrocities suffered by other communities like the San and Damara.
What the Nama and Herero are saying is simply that such communities must fight their cases through the right platforms and not confuse them with the genocide the two communities are advocating for.
To suggest that members of the Herero community believe that they and they alone are entitled to reparation is being economical with the truth and misleading. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide is clear on this matter.
The truth is further that it is not for the Herero to give hitch-hikes to everyone who would want to allege that genocide was committed against them, but for such communities to prove their cases against whoever committed same against them and pursue reparation against whoever.
It is also clear that the Herero and Nama communities will not sit while their impending genocide is diluted by the proponents of the so-called inclusivity and the disinclination of government to have victim communities to direct participation in negotiation.
On the point that the Herero and the Nama were the primary target, and therefore should be at the forefront of determining their type of redress, is well agreed to, but then to suggest that a genocide/reparation should be inclusive is unsustainable.
A group or a tribe cannot just one day wake up and wish to have suffered a certain mishap on the basis that another tribe has all these years been crying for having been massacred and success is inevitable.
The same Namibians that are being called upon today to think beyond petty tribal outlook and cast their eyes on the” bigger picture” must also realise that the said unique opportunity did not just present itself on a silver platter.
This unique opportunity was brought about by hard working visionary leadership of the two communities who were at some point perceived by the doubting Thomasses to be mad to face up to the mighty Germany and demand apology and reparation.
This hard work, visionary leadership and foresightedness exercised by the leadership of the Nama and Herero, have brought this matter of genocide and reparation to where it is today through unrelenting belief that theirs was a genuine case of genocide which warranted reparation.
In fact, if there is an absent or reluctant role player it must have been the Namibian government because despite passing a resolution to support this matter in 2006, it has been hideous in conducting business with its German counterpart.
The role of government in this matter cannot just be wished about, but must be guided by all instruments in place including its own resolution of 2006 and international treaties, particularly the United Nations General Assembly’s 2005 Basic Principles and Guideline on victims of Violation of Human Rights, Resolution 60/147 of 16 December 2005.
These principles require respect of victims, including restitution, compensation and rehabilitation and state parties to establish a trust fund for the benefit of victims of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court, and of families of such victims.
With all these substantive procedures laid down by the UN Assembly Resolution 60/147 of 16 December 2005, the current approach by government to exclude victim communities will not hold, but stand to be denounced.
- Uruanaani Scara Matundu holds an LLB degree from the University of Pretoria and is a genocide scholar.