Genocide victims urged to unite

‘Reparation negotiations a continuity of colonial power’
Dagdelen criticised the N$18 billion offered by the German government, describing it as inadequate.
Elizabeth Joseph
Aggrieved communities affected by the Nama and Ovaherero genocide have been urged to put up a united front when engaging in reparation negotiations.

German politician and member of Die Linke political party Sevim Dagdelen encouraged the communities to strategise and not settle for just anything during a public lecture at the University of Namibia (Unam) last Wednesday.

"I have been working very hard to get the German government to acknowledge the genocide against the Herero and Nama communities.

“The reparation negotiation is an example of the continuity of colonial power. By refusing to properly recognise the Herero and Nama genocide and ruling out reparations, the German government is exploiting a position of power that it has concerning Namibia," she said.

Dagdelen further criticised the amount of N$18 billion over 30 years offered by the German government, and described it as inadequate.

‘Everything is possible’

Earlier this year, Namibia demanded N$1.1 trillion for lives lost, the dispossession of land and displacement.

"Only the affected communities can say what would be enough for them. In politics, everything is possible, so the door for renegotiation should be left open," Dagdelen added.

She emphasised that the German government should not be the reason Namibia is divided.

Efforts and allies

Although the country feels disconnected and unacknowledged, Dagdelen ensured Namibians that they have allies in Germany who will fight for the renegotiation of reparations.

Former Unam chancellor Hoze Riruako said when the Jews fought for genocide reparations, the world rallied behind them, adding “so what about Namibia?”

"It seems like our walk is a rather lonely one. Perhaps because we are people of colour. The Herero in the diaspora are the ones you need to focus on.

“Germany is so against being flexible with the negotiations, so I think they should state their beliefs and laws and the financial commitments," he said.

During 1904/1905, at least 60 000 Hereros and about 10 000 Namas were killed.

Teach them

At the lecture, political science students questioned why history isn’t taught in German schools when the remains of murdered people are displayed in German museums.

"It isn't in the school books nor mentioned anywhere in the curriculum. We tried to shed light on the genocide and its repercussions. Furthermore, get a level playing field between Germany and Namibia," Dagdelen replied.

The politician however evaded questions on the nature of her visit to Namibia, saying she is not at liberty to discuss “household affairs”.