After the German government declined invitations to come and show cause in the case in which they are cited by Namibia’s victim communities, a further hearing was set for 25th January 2018 in the Federal Court in New York.
Lest we forget, Nama and Ovaherero are products of that contradiction that came to exist as a result of the conflict between the forces of German imperialism and those of resistance, latter the African people.
Furthermore, the Nama and Ovaherero are descendants of the victims of Germany’s extermination orders of 1904 for Ovaherero and 1905 for Namas. These orders were directed exclusively at these two nations and as such constituted acts of Genocide, by virtue of international statutes.
The victim communities have over the years vainly implored the German Regime to step to center stage so that discussions can start. Namibia’s Parliament had in September 2006, adopted a resolution that charged Germany with genocide, confirmed the plight of the Nama and Ovaherero for reparations and directed that the Namibian government must become an interested party.
The envisaged role of the government of Namibia was further expressed by then Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister Utoni Nujoma, when he said in Parliament that he saw the role of the Namibian government as mediator between the German government and the Namibian communities affected by the genocide. Yet the two governments have kept leaders of victim communities outside the negotiations.
The context above places an unparalleled responsibility on Germany towards the victim communities larger than that regime cares to admit. Germany intentionally destroyed the Nama and Ovaherero nations of the time. These intentions and actions were captured in some of the statements made by the officers and Generals charged with German activities in South West Africa.
I lift a few excerpts from these exchanges:
On 9th April 1904 Theodor Leutwein, Commander in Chief of the German Armed Forces in South West Africa, wrote a letter to Hendrik Witbooi, leader of the Nama people. Leutwein said: “Developments have brought about that His Majesty the German Emperor is now paramount sovereign of Namaqualand, and there is nothing to be done about it. All other Captains of the country have resigned themselves to it, you are the only one who has refused and must fight us to destruction… His Majesty the German Emperor has sent me with specific orders to carry on the war to your destruction, unless you surrender. I do not know you and have no personal enmity against you at all, but shall of course carry out my orders and fight you to the death…”
Hendrik Witbooi replied: “I have never met the Emperor and therefore cannot have offended him by word or by deed. God has given us different realms on Earth, and through that I know and believe that it is neither a sin nor crime for me to want to remain an independent chief of my country and people. If you want to kill me for this without any fault of mine, there is no harm done, nor is it a disgrace: I shall die honestly for that which is my own”.
Witbooi’s words became prophetic. He later died of a German bullet that struck him off horseback, while inspecting the terrain of Vaalgraas. His Comrades buried him at a location yet to be disclosed. And Witbooi died honestly for that which is his own.
This exchange between Leutwein and Witbooi played against the backdrop of the destruction of Hoornkranz, the traditional settlement of the Witbooi Namas that had been attacked and destroyed from the map by German artillery under the command of Curt Von Franqois.
During this early dawn commotion, Witbooi helplessly watched his people dying. As he was whisked away by the Witbooi fighters to escape death or capture, he caught site of his own twelve year old paralyzed son being executed in thieve-dog style by a German soldier when the little boy coiled around as he could not stand up to run for cover from the impending danger.
In 1900 the German Settlers in South West Africa sent a report to the German Parliament in which they proudly presented their impressions of the natives of South West Africa. The report read in part: “From time immemorial our natives have been used to laziness, brutality and stupidity. The dirtier they are, the more they feel at ease. Any white men who have lived among natives find it almost impossible to regard them as human beings at all in any European sense. They need centuries of training as human beings; with endless patience, strictness and justice”.
These are the people whom Germans have found in this land, wealthy of cattle and ‘lebensraum’. The Germans confiscated their land, their cattle and all their wealth with gunfire and in the end they declared a war of extermination on them and alternatively they pushed these helpless Africans into the desert to die.
The day after he issued the Extermination Order at Ozombuzovindimba near present day Otjinene in the Omaheke Region, General Lotha von Trotha said the following: “Since I neither can nor will come to terms with these people without express orders from His Majesty the Emperor and King, it is essential that all sections of the (Herero) Nation be subjected to rather stern treatment… My intimate knowledge of so many Central African tribes, Bantu and others, has made it abundantly clear to me that the Negroes will yield only to brute force, whereas negotiations are quite pointless… They (Hereros) will either meet their doom in the sandveld or try to cross into Bechuanaland”.
The last of these citations is a note, an observation after the conclusion of the cutting edge Ohamakari battle, when Ovaherero were driven into the Omaheke to die. The official German history of the battle of Ohamakari hailed Lotha von Trotha’s scotched earth policy as a resounding strategy.
The report thus reads in part: “The hasty exit of the Herero to the southeast would seal his fate; the environment of his own country was to bring about his own extermination in a way that no German weapon, even in a most bloody or deadly battle, ever could… their death rattle and curious cry of insanity echoed in the exalted silence of eternity. The Herero indictment has come to an end and they had ceased to exist as an independent people”.
Evidently the last line is accurate. The Herero has indeed ceased as an independent people and this has exacerbated their misery as planned by the German regime and diligently executed by successive German Generals, culminating in Lotha Von Trotha’s scotched earth strategy. Germany’s extermination orders of Ovaherero and Nama were not incidental. They were deliberately conceived, carefully planned and diligently executed to achieve anticipated results.
Against this backdrop of historical developments, descendants of Namibia’s victim communities, who continue to be riddled by the genocide injustice, invoked international legal instruments at their disposal. The victim communities charge Germany with genocide. They demand a public apology from Germany and demand that Germany enter into negotiations for reparations with the victim communities.