Windhoek-Germany’s capital city Berlin is to rename streets in the African Quarter in the north-west of the German city after Anna Kakurukaze Mungunda and celebrated leader of the ǃAman (Bethanie Orlam), Cornelius Fredericks.
The African Quarter in the multi-ethnic, working-class neighbourhood boasts streets and squares named after the founder of German South West Africa, Adolf Lüderitz and Gustav Nachtigal, its imperial commissioner, as well as the founder of German East Africa in today’s Tanzania, Carl Peters.
Mungunda is one of nine national heroes of Namibia conferred at the inauguration of Heroes’ Acre. She is honoured in the form of a granite tombstone carrying her name while her portrait is plastered on the slab.
Fredericks was a rival Kaptein of the Bethanie Orlam, contesting the chieftaincy of Paul Fredericks. He died February 16, 1907, and was decapitated with his head shipped to Germany for research purposes on racial superiority.
Agence France-Presse (AFP), an international news agency, last Thursday ran a headline titled: “Berlin to change street names linked with brutal colonization of Namibia.”
In the article, the news agency reported that Berlin is poised to strip the names of streets linked to atrocities committed during its occupation of Namibia, previously known as German South West Africa (SWA).
They will be replaced by names of liberation fighters, part of a delayed recognition of Germany’s brutal colonial history.
“After more than a decade of debate, the three main parties in the Berlin Mitte district assembly voted late last week to recommend new names for streets in the so-called African Quarter in the north-west of the German capital,” the news agency quoted the city spokesperson Melita Ersek as saying.
“The final decision by the district councillor could take another month or so — the date is likely to be announced at another hearing next Thursday,” Ersek told AFP. “But it is quite common that the parties’ recommendation is adopted.”
According to the news agency, the motion to drop the names associated with bloody suppression of Namibia during Germany’s 1884-1919 occupation marks a long-delayed victory for local activists.
“The African Quarter still glorifies colonialism and its crimes,” council members from the Greens, Social Democrats and Linke parties said in their joint motion.
“This conflicts with our understanding of democracy and does lasting harm to the image of the city of Berlin.”
Following a redesign based on traffic flows, the sites are now expected to be called Maji Maji Boulevard, Anna Mungunda Boulevard, Cornelius Fredericks Street and Bell Square.
The German occupiers of Namibia killed tens of thousands of indigenous Herero and Nama people in the 1904-1908 massacres, which historians have called the first genocide of the 20th century.
Germany has acknowledged that atrocities occurred at the hands of its colonial authorities, but it has repeatedly refused to pay direct reparations, citing millions of euros in development aid to the Namibian government.
Although the renaming looked set for approval, the daily Tagesspiegel reported that it could still run into resistance from residents and business owners complaining about the cost of address changes. – Additional reporting by Nampa/AFP