This Tuesday, a day before the 118th anniversary of the beginning of the war of resistance against German colonialism, when erstwhile Ovaherero paramount chief, Samuel Maharero not only declared war against the German occupation but practically engaged in armed resistance against such occupation, Namibia was greeted with a screaming headline in the New Era daily to the effect: ‘Genocide deal opponents delusional – Kapofi’.
The pronouncements by Frans Kapofi is indeed not only an antithesis to the good memory of the beginning of valiant heroism of resistance by the genocide ancestors against German colonialism, but a sad revelation, pointer and reminder of the anti-genocide and reparations elements typified and fronted by Kapofism telling from the said article.
As much as the article is not worth the space afforded it by and in the esteemed newspaper, and thus equally not worth the response of the genocide and reparations movement, nevertheless one or two observations by Kapofi are instructive.
One that the descendants of the victims of the German genocide against the Ovaherero and Nama cannot negotiate directly with Germany. This has been the arrogant attitude of Germany, inherited from colonialism, and which since the descendants raised the issue of the Genocide of their ancestors, and reparation, which the Namibian government has been belatedly purporting to be in support of but yet to embrace unreservedly and unconditionally, it sadly
now have been perpetuating. A retrogressive, self-serving and anti-reparation – if not altogether anti-descendants of the victims of genocide attitude.
Kapofi is quoted in the sad article referring to the lack of trust, notably by the “Genocide deal opponents”, in the Namibian government, a reference to the political parties within the National Assembly, who categorically during the debate on the Joint Declaration/Reconciliation Agreement between the Namibian government and its German counterpart rejected it.
Testimony to the arrogance of the Namibian government and its clear disdain to the descendants of the victims of genocide and their interests and wishes pertaining to the vexed question of genocide and reparation, if not total denial and aversion by it to the 1904-1908 Genocide, members of these political parties are now called “opponents”, forgetting that first and foremost, in the context of genocide and reparation, they are descendants of the victims of the 1904-1908 Genocide.
Being historically what they are, it is only mindboggling how they can be no more and no fewer opponents of the so-called deal. If not these descendants of the victims of genocide, it is any wonder, which can and should legitimately and genuinely speaks to the issue.
The Namibian State has abrogated itself as the “sole and authentic” representative and spokesperson of the descendants of the victims of genocide and the affected communities.
One cannot but wonder what is and may be the informed and considered learned understanding of the Namibian government, and Kapofi, on the avowed desire of the affected communities to directly negotiate with Germany regarding the genocide of their forebears? As much as one cannot and would not understand the basis of the authority of Kapofi that the descendants of the victims of the 1904-1908 genocide cannot speak for themselves, worst, not even negotiate with Germany.
Instead, in a true neo-colonial manifestation, the Namibian government and Kapofi are pandering to the whims and wishes of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany. All along, despite claiming to believe in the just cause of genocide and reparation of the Ovaherero and Nama, the Namibian government has been deliberately playing ignorance to this salient aspect of representation, or due to sheer arrogance towards the Ovaherero and Nama, been misdirecting their cause of genocide and reparation.
Given this how can the affected communities not lose trust in the government? The message of the affected communities has been loud and clear. That the 2006 National Assembly resolution regarding genocide and reparation has been betrayed by the Namibian government.
“Genocide comes with legal obligations because you have committed a crime against humanity and therefore you are legally obliged to pay for the crime. Germany until now has not admitted that it committed a crime. We cannot and will not discuss any quantum, as long as there is no admission of guilt for a crime. Germany cannot be the accused and the judge at the same time.”
Chairperson of the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA), Gaob Simon Kooper, was categorical in his speech at the annual /Khowese Festival at Gibeon as recent as last September. Gaob Kooper is not the typical “opponent” a la Kapofi but one of the true and legitimate owners and custodians of the cause of genocide and reparations.
“That is why one cannot but agree with Kapofi but in one respect and aspect only. Yes, the Namibian government was not obligated because it simply does not have any mandate of the affected communities having abused and usurped such a mandate. Further, indeed the Joint Declaration should in the first place not have seen the daylight, and not worth taking to the August House and even not worth the paper it is written on. Not to mention indeed that the whole negotiation process as fault as it was from day one and been, was not worth the effort and resources that hitherto have been expended on it.”
* Kae MaÞunÿu-Tjiparuro
Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama Genocide Windhoek Kaematundu@firstname.lastname@example.org