Windhoek-The Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) is said to be considering a trip to Germany in an effort to repatriate human remains of people taken from here by colonial authorities more than a 100 years ago that have been identified in Germany.
This follows a statement by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture to the Ovaherero Genocide Foundation on the May 5 saying: “The government will not fund any individual who would like to go to Germany for this.”
Confirming receipt of such news, spokesperson of OTA Bob Kandetu told New Era that the OTA is considering an expedition to Germany to collect the remains of ancestors that were taken abroad.
“We have decided that in principle we should find a way to go to Germany and receive these remains, they are our [ancestors’] remains,” said Kandetu.
According to the statement from the Education Ministry, the Namibian Embassy in the Federal Republic of Germany has informed the ministry that 16 human parts of Namibian origin were identified and were ready for repatriation to Namibia.
However, the ministry’s permanent secretary Sanet Steenkamp emphasised that the Namibian government would not cover the expenses of individuals, who would like to go to Germany for the repatriation of such remains.
“Again, please note this will not be at any government cost, please secure your own funding for any activities to be paid for,” Steenkamp said.
The mooted repatriation exercise would be the third to take place and the first without government sponsorship.
The first took place in October 2011 and had an entourage of about 65 people, including chiefs of the Nama and Ovaherero people, at a cost of about N$1.7 million. The second was undertaken in March 2014 at the cost of around N$1 million when the Namibian delegation received 21 skulls and two skeletons.
According to the education permanent secretary, the remains will be received between June 2 and 9.
Kandetu told New Era: “The OTA is still working on the logistical arrangements for the reception of these remains.”
It is believed the human remains in question were collected during colonial times by the German administration, members of the German colonial troops or their physicians and scientists for experiment and study in the early 1900s by leading German scholars, such as the infamous Dr Eugen Fischer, who sought to “scientifically prove” the racial superiority of white Europeans over black Africans, among others.