This is a reply to the letter of 4 April 2018 addressed to me, Eberhard Hofmann, by Professor Henning Melber and Karl Lichtenberg in New Era newspaper.
On 29 March I replied in an open letter to Dr Ngarikutuke Tjiriange who had addressed Namibians of German descent in an extensive open letter a week before in the Windhoek Observer.
Professor Henning Melber felt obliged to come in from the side and join the exchange, now in New Era, on 4 April which I welcome, even if we differ substantially on the issues of the colonial war 1904 – 1908, genocide, reparations and apology.
On a point of clarification. The letter to Dr Tjiriange was written in my personal capacity as a Namibian of German descent.
Melber wants his readers to believe I supposedly claimed to offer opinions on behalf of the collective of Namibian German speakers. That simply is a void.
The discourse and exchange on the colonial war, reparations and genocide has not progressed beyond the point of “they” and “them” and “those.” A number of participants are intent on warming up bygone hostilities of 1904 and all that.
That is a first point of difference between camps. I have learnt from history, and there is much more to learn, what we, particularly in our society, can and should do better.
History is a lesson for the future. Others see history as a source for contemporary political agitation. Even the contemporaries of the previous generations before us had already progressed beyond antiquated agitation.
Unfortunately, I have to revert to the mode of “those” and “them” too, characteristic of the present divide. Melber throws around the hackneyed concepts of “denialist” and “amnesia” in the face of my attempt to open up the historical perspective in a wider and more comprehensive context than opposed to the myopic perception of the adherents of the genocide dogma.
To put it differently, the myopic approach, also termed as post-truth, i.e. beyond veracity, enters the realm of delusion. Just note for instance the ridiculous numbers game of fervent genocide dogmatists.
In this limited space may it suffice to cite one example. The loss of lives among the Ovaherero was initially estimated according to, among others, contemporary missionary sources at 35 000. The subsequent “growth” of this figure to 60 000, 80 000, 100 000 and at last – presently still unsurpassed – 120 000 (by Nangolo Mbumba) is done by copying among each other or by one-upmanship, each increase altogether without any sourcing. Many media and overseas church barons happily join the numbers roulette, lacking serious regard for history and veneration of the dead, the victims who paid the highest price.
The colonial war with its dire consequences is here reduced to silly dilly-dallying!
This is where the post-truth school leads us. And this is where the discourse is totally out of joint. More can follow, if space is available.