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Nama leaders divided on genocide pact

2021-10-04  Steven Klukowski

Nama leaders divided on genocide pact
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KEETMANSHOOP ˗ Leaders from various Nama traditional authorities are divided on the genocide reparations pact currently under discussion in the National Assembly.

Johannes Frederick, traditional leader of the !Aman Traditional Authority, said although compensation in the form of funding for projects for losing their ancestors during the genocide will never bring their loved ones back, it should, however, not be totally rejected. 

New Era gauged views on the much-debated genocide issue with the traditional leaders of descendants of one of the communities central to the first genocide of the 20th century. 

“At least these projects can, although not considered adequate compensation offered for atrocities committed against our people, benefit our communities during these difficult times for now,” he  added.

The leader said he believes there is still room for further negotiations between the governments of Namibia and Germany, hence their decision to make use of this opportunity to improve their socio-economic circumstances. 

“We still need clarity on details as to how these projects will be implemented in terms of the transfer of funds, persons overseeing it, and the role of traditional authorities,” Frederick emphasised. 

They will thus submit proposals for projects to government, while a board of trustees will be appointed to be in charge of affairs, together with some financial and technical experts.

“It is our sincere wish that these negotiations can be finalised as a matter of priority, and that all affected parties will benefit equally,” said Frederick. Gaob Johannes Isaak from the IHai IKhaua Traditional Authority was adamant that the Nama and Ovaherero communities, instead of government, should negotiate directly with Germany over compensation for the genocide meted out by that country. “Why can we not deal directly with Germany to negotiate over compensation in order to reconcile and forgive, closing the chapter?” he asked.  The traditional leader said the proposed funding for projects is not enough and cannot be compared to the suffering their ancestors endured, as it is not even worth comparing the two issues. “The sorrow and pain still lies deep in our hearts, and what is now being offered will never make up for it,” he stressed.  

Isaak continued that they are not even sure when these projects will be implemented, and whether it will fit the specific needs of the respective communities. The chief, therefore, called on the two communities and Namibia at large not to resort to violence or retaliation, and to stay calm and focused whilst the issue is still on the table.

Vaalgras Traditional Authority's senior traditional councillor Martin Biwa said they are working closely with the government in dealing with the negotiations’ outcome. 

“The only issue is that the compensation offered in monetary value is not enough but still better than nothing at this stage,” he added. 

Biwa said they will now give their input and proposals for these projects to be implemented in their community once negotiations have been finalised.” It is furthermore our wish that the process can be done as soon as possible,” he noted.

Also providing their side, Benedictus Snewe, senior traditional councillor for the Bondelswarts Traditional Authority said they are in agreement with government dealing with the genocide negotiations. 

“We have nothing, and will gladly accept what can be offered to our community once the process is finalised in order to build on the future of our children,” he added. 

The genocide agreement between Namibia and Germany, which includes the European nation setting aside about N$18 billion to aid local projects over 30 years, is now being debated in parliament. Tens of thousands of Namibians, mainly the Nama and Ovaherero, were killed in what is called the first genocide of the 20th century. In 2015, the two countries started negotiating an agreement that would combine an official apology from Germany. 

– sklukowski@nepc.com.na 


2021-10-04  Steven Klukowski

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