We can represent ourselves – Botswana genocide committee

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Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

Windhoek-Botswana Genocide Committee spokesperson Jezenga Kuhanga says the Ovaherero/Ovambanderu and Namas in Botswana are capable of representing themselves in seeking reparations for what Germany has acknowledged was genocide.

Between 1904 and 1908 large numbers of Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama people fled from what was then German South West Africa to Botswana to escape the genocidal wrath of German colonial troops, who were acting on an extermination order from General Lothar von Trotha.

“We are the citizens of a sovereign independent state with peculiar socio-economic and demographic dynamics. We better understand our conditions and are the only ones that can best articulate them,” Kuhanga said in a telephonic interview with New Era last week.

Kuhanga made it very clear the group would be willing to cooperate with genocide committees in Namibia, but would not be subordinate to anyone. “We seek to work with others on equal footings as citizens of equal states,” he said.

He added that – like in Namibia – there are also two different genocide committees in Botswana with different goals and objectives.

Kuhanga said talks between his committee and the Botswana government are at an advanced stage and they had several meetings with that country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation director, Charles Masole, with Namibian High Commissioner to Botswana Mbapeua Muvangua, as well as the German ambassador in Botswana.

Further, he said the group had already put forward three names to the authorities for approval. Once approved their organisation would become a legal entity.

Briefing the media after meeting with President Hage Geingob recently, Ovaherero Chief Vekuii Rukoro described the meeting on the genocide issue as positive. He said they made certain proposals to Geingob on how to iron out differences in perspectives on the genocide negotiations.

He said the majority of proposals they put forward constituted a sound basis for bridging any potential disagreement between them and the government.

The negotiations between Germany and Namibia include discussions about an official apology for the genocide.

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