• November 20th, 2018
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Germany: Atrocities and the development assistance approach

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Germany is apparently ready to offer an apology at the highest level for its genocide crimes, Namibia’s envoy in the matter, Dr Zed Ngavirue, told a local daily. At the same time, the government of the Federal Republic of Germany has not accepted the genocide committed against Namibian people as genocide. There have been widespread reactions to this position of the German government as if this is a new position. One is only reminded of the same German position 18 years ago at the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa. The German government was represented by its foreign minister then, Joseph Fischer, who indicated his country and government’s readiness to come to terms with the “heritage of colonialism”. But visiting Windhoek in 2003, he was more categorical. “We are not hostages to history” and “therefore, there will be no apology with relevance to compensation”.  Exactly what has just been, strangely and ironically relayed by Dr Zed, as opposed to his German counterpart, Ruprecht Polenz. But this position as old as it is, has special essence and meaning, particularly for the fact that having been engaged in negotiations, and making those interested and affected by the genocide believe the negotiations, close to three years now or more, are nearing conclusion, nothing fundamental has been agreed on. The two fundamentals here are genocide and reparations, if only for the affected communities. A position diametrically opposed to that of the German government itself was known as such for more than 18 years (Fischer), if not more. For the German government the fundamentals are “atrocities” and “reconciliation fund”. Ala Dr Zed, Germany is presumably to offer an apology at the highest level. Granted such apology from said highest Germany’s level, mindful of the myriads of apologies, which have been rehearsed by German officials, only to be scoffed at and ridiculed by German officialdom. But, regarding the affected communities, one cannot but wonder what this “highest level” may entail and constitute and if ever it may mean anything?  Given that to date Germany has been refusing to directly engage the direct victims – the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama –  despite various efforts by the affected communities to engage Germany directly. Going back as far as 1995 (Helmut Kohl) and 1998 (Herman Herzog), and subsequently, but all efforts, which have been rebuffed ignominiously by German authorities. Never ever has Berlin even pretended to engage the victims on a single occasion. Only now to declare readiness to offer an apology. Apology to whom? The people who were nearly annihilated are today in Namibia living proof of the victims. Not only this but the issues of genocide and reparations have gained the stature and momentum they have gained today because of no one else but the victims themselves, singularly, with the help and support of international solidarity. Our Namibian government is a distant, unmoved, disinterested and unobtrusive observer all the time, and reluctant prime mover lately. The German government is an irritated diplomat that any time could declare another genocide on these tribal irritant savages. The first direct victims of genocide may not be living today but their descendants are. And as such victims to whom any apology must and should be offered. To this day they are still bearing the brunt of genocide, are the direct victims, and no measure of spin-doctoring or rationalisation can wish this fact away. What the German government is once again doing today, is trying to wish the existence of the victims of its genocidal acts away. Looking at them with the same disdain and racial hatred that drove its Imperial predecessor to declare their annihilation.  It defies logic why such an apology needs to be directed to either a second or third party if the aggrieved party is there in living body and soul? Likewise, it is beyond comprehension what apology the German government is ready to offer whoever it is contemplating and is ready to offer to, while denying the undeniable, that it nearly annihilated the Namibian people, specifically known as the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama. It goes without saying that the fundamental thing here is the genocide that Imperial Germany committed against the said people. So fundamental that anyone worth calling herself or himself a direct victim of the said 1904-1908 genocidal acts of Imperial Germany, cannot and should not dare compromise on. Genocide is the genesis, premise, basis and the fundament of any engagement with the German government as far as the victims of genocide are concerned. And it is high time the governments purporting to have been engaged on the issue, get this clear, especially now as the ancestors may have destined and divined, it is becoming crystal clear by the second, that the ongoing negotiations on genocide and reparations have not been based on the fundamentals. 
New Era Reporter
2018-02-23 09:57:28 8 months ago

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