Please give the poor affected communities a break. One cannot help but plead with those who have been spearheading the campaign for restorative justice against Imperial Germany’s colonial excesses, which culminated in what is known as the first genocide of the 20th century.
Three interviews with leaders of the genocide and reparations movement from different persuasions on NBC’s One-on-One programme, despite taking place some time ago, have remained till now fresh in my mind.
Those who may have watched the programme must equally have been left wondering how long, as in the words of Bob Marley, they kill our prophets,
while we stand aside and look.
In NBC interviews, the prophets were not killed although the illuminating questioning by the interviewer might have been a butchering.
If anything, the “prophets” themselves seemed to be doing the killing of one another.
Because the apparent valiant brilliancy, at least in the eyes of some, by the respective bona fide descendants of the victims of genocide, and thus bona fide victims themselves in their own right, ironically was nothing but showmanship at cross-purposes, each jostling about the legitimacy and/or righteousness of his/her course.
The victims’ souls, one after the other, offered themselves willing and ready victims and sacrificial lambs of presenter Patrick Sam’s tormenting, victimising and traumatising probing. Brilliant attempts by all. But this did not, by any iota, elucidate any salient points in the genocide and reparations debate, nor elevate the matter to a higher pedestal other than the usual mediocrity.
The very bona fide victims, who should ordinarily be a united force, found themselves instead pitted against one another, exchanging some meaningless deflective and misfiring broadsides at one another, telling of the schisms these days, the undertones if not overtones to the noble cause of reparations. For the proverbial third dog or third force to run away with the bone, unwittingly satisfying the self-righteous egos of the third forces, thereby elevating their justification to continue to abrogate leadership of this noble cause to themselves, notwithstanding the inalienability of the right (s) of the victim
The third forces are unmistakable. The German government first; and secondly our own Namibian government. German government first, it goes without saying, being a successor to the government of Kaiser Wilhelm II under whose auspices, and command, the genocide against the Namibian people was committed. Today, it is the German government, by its own admission, as per its own diplomatic parlance of historic responsibility, a reference to the 1904-1908 genocide of the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama, that is squarely answerable to first and foremost the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama, and secondly to the Namibian government as the first custodian of these Namibia citizens.
The Namibian government is the other third force. This is as long as its mandate on the issue of genocide and reparations does not carry, even in the least, the approval of a single victim, not to mention the continuing marginalisation of a bona fide section of the victims in the Diaspora of especially Botswana and South Africa.
The televised interviews never focused on the real issues, with the interviewees falling for the bait, and continuing with their internecine bickering. As much as any of the interviewees then may have had a just cause, neither emerged and/or occurred on the programme to be right or just. Because among the three of them, congruent and reflective of the two or three genocide committees, as long as the seeming genocide/reparations continuum polarism remains, neither can be right or wrong, and/or in the best interest of the affected communities.
Only then can the victim communities put a high premium, one day, on the genuine efforts of their leaders as genuine leaders and not masquerades of the third forces. As victims in their own right with nothing but the agenda of the victim communities at heart. Hence, none of the victim interviewee souls on One-on-One could have been right or wrong, and to the point, and none will ever be, until they become one voice for their communities. Genocide leaders cannot forever continue to dangle empty righteousness and sole authenticity over the issue, which can only be in the best interest of the third forces. Thus some serious soul-searching is a sine qua non for real progress! One is reminded as a way forward in this regard of the pronouncements in April of the Second Transnational Herero and Nama Congress in Hamburg, Germany. Particularly the need for engaging and involving each and every member of the affected communities. Irrespective of his size, hue, colour or creed. This stance poses a real and practical challenge to the affected communities to start thinking about a representative model of all and sundry. A true civic body of all victims of genocide.