Okahandja – Ovaherero Chief Vekuii Rukoro has indicated that descendants of the Nama and Ovaherero people massacred in the German-sanctioned genocide of 1904-08 will not be dictated to as to what reparations they require from the German government, but hints that it could include “goods, services and cash”.
Rukoro, who previously used strong words against the Namibian government, recently said he is ready to work with the both the Namibian and German authorities if “they are serious”. The traditional leader said this when he addressed a gathering of close to 600 Nama, Ovaherero and Ovambanderu people at Okahandja at the weekend.
He was joined by a representative of Chief Simon Kooper of the Nama Traditional Leaders Association, Aletha Nguvauva of the Ovambanderu Traditional Authority, Sam Kambazembi of the Kambazembi Royal House, Turimuro Hoveka of the Hoveka Royal House and Raphael Kapia of the Zeraeua Royal House.
Also in attendance were Deputy Minister of Land Reform Albertus Swartbooi, Omatako Constituency Councillor Israel Hukura, Okakarara Constituency Councillor Vetaruhe Kandorozu and Aminius Constituency Councillor Peter Kazongominja, as well as prominent businessman Ben Zaaruka.
Rukoro and other traditional leaders called the briefing to give feedback on their recent trip to Germany and the transnational congress on the 1904 genocide held recently in that country.
At the meeting, Rukoro introduced a five-page resolution document emanating from the congress amidst accounts by the other leaders on what they experienced in Germany.
One resolution affirmed that the affected communities should be comprehensively and directly involved in the process of negotiating for reparations under what they call “restorative justice”.
The congress also resolved that the German government should formally apologise to the affected people in Namibia and those scattered elsewhere in the world.
The German government is expected to commit itself to negotiate the modalities for reparations with the affected groups.
“Germany must return all looted Ovaherero and Nama cultural artefacts in their possession and to put pressure on the German federal states, institutions and private holders to repatriate objects taken by force,” Rukoro explained.
“Germany must share the knowledge generated by previous and current research on Ovaherero and Nama human remains with the descendants of the victims of genocide.”
He noted that Germany should also cease current research that is not serving the purpose of identification, re-humanisation and repatriation and from now on, should conduct such kind of research only with the full knowledge and approval of the descendants.
Another resolution is that Germany should address the German-speaking community living in Namibia, so that they engage with the affected groups in a spirit of reconciliation and dialogue to find ways leading to restorative justice.
The congress further resolved that the Namibian government should affirm the right of the affected communities to pursue the path restorative justice. “The Namibian government should facilitate the direct and broad participation of the representatives of the communities from Namibia and in the diaspora in any negotiation about the genocide,” the document states.
The congress called on all churches ministering to the affected people, in particular the German Lutheran church in Namibia, to recognise their involvement in the genocide of 1904-08. It was also resolved that the Vatican should recognise the systematic extermination of the Nama and Ovaherero people as the first genocide of the 20 century, thus correcting a previous statement by Pope Francis in 2015 to the effect that the Armenian genocide in Turkey was the first of the 20th century.