• April 6th, 2020

Nandi-Ndaitwah defends genocide history exhibition… affected communities say they were not ‘consulted’

Minister of international relations Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah has explained the planned launch of the genocide history mobile exhibition, saying it was a response to concerns that many Namibians are ignorant to the atrocities committed by the Germans, especially to the Ovaherero and Nama people at the beginning of the 20th century.

Nandi-Ndaitwah is expected to launch the mobile exhibition and a handbook on the Ovaherero and Nama genocide history.

However, the launch came under heavy criticism by the Nama Traditional Leaders Association and the Ovaherero Traditional Authority’s Common Position on Genocide and Heritage Matters Committee who have called on the government to cancel the launch, claiming that they were not consulted.

Condemning the launch, Ovaherero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro said government’s failure to consult with the relevant traditional authorities on the composition of what is to be exhibited is inexplicable, disrespectful, and ultimately dooms both projects on these procedural grounds alone.

“The government’s failure to consult is prejudicial to the traditional authorities in our ongoing legal dispute with the Germany. We are unaware of the authors, contributors, source material, or content of the government’s handbook, and how the content might relate to facts and issues that are actually being disputed in the court case in New York,” Rukoro said at the media briefing.

But Nandi-Ndaitwah, responding to Rukoro’s statement, said it is unfortunate that traditional authorities were condemning the launch of an exhibition that they are yet to see.

She explained that the Museums Association of Namibia sought to produce a professional exhibition and to obtain agreement that the content reflected the perspective of all those affected by the genocide.
“We believe it is important that all Namibians are aware of the available information about the genocide and that a mobile exhibition is a good way to communicate,” she said. 

“The creation of the exhibition was a response to concerns that many Namibians are ignorant of the events that took place during the genocide and that there are some who even deny that it took place.”
She said the exhibition was initially conceptualised and developed by a small team of academics as far back as 2013, with the aim of summarising the existing visual and archival evidence about the genocide. 
“We received support from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, NIED, and UNESCO, organisations which have a lot of experience with education and genocide education,” she said. 

Nandi-Ndaitwah says it was for that reason that they added the sub-title `Learning from the Past’. 
“We feel that, as Namibians, we need to learn about the past but, also, learn from the past. The exhibition is intended for a Namibian audience so that all Namibians can see the evidence about the genocide in a digestible form,” she explained, adding that the exhibition will also encourage young Namibians to combat prejudice and discrimination.

She said the final version of the exhibition was sent to the Nama Traditional Leaders Association and to the Riruako Centre for Genocide and Memory Studies in October 2018. “It was also shared with the Ovaherero/Ovambanderu and Nama Council for Dialogue on the 1904 Genocide (ONCD 1904) and members of the Government’s Technical Committee on the Genocide Apology and Reparations,” she stressed. 

“All these groups reflect the views of members of the affected communities. Whilst a number of minor changes were suggested, all agreed that the content of the exhibition was accurate and reflected their view

on the genocide.”
– ktjitemisa@nepc.com.na 

Kuzeeko Tjitemisa
2020-02-24 07:18:34 | 1 months ago

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