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Reclaiming, legitimising, revolutionising and relaunching reparations campaign

2018-11-23  Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

Reclaiming, legitimising, revolutionising and relaunching reparations campaign
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It is close to three months since the return of the third consignment of human remains from Germany in August.
Remains factored in the genocide of Namibian people following their wars of resistance against colonial Germany. Thus the post-independence unfinished business of the government of an independent Republic of Namibia, of course driven by the aspirations of the affected and genocide victims communities for redemption and acting on their behalf. Unlike the first consignment in 2011, which was greeted with greater expectations, if not hope, and the subsequent one in 2014, which was shrouded in secrecy, the latest return seemed, to a certain degree, subdued, nevertheless with tinges of hope. One or two inserts by role players, some venomous but others less venomous yet purposeful, is apt here being the reason for some hope on the return of the skulls. 

“As a politician, as a member of the German government, and as a member and on behalf of a young generation of German politicians, I am convinced that the time has come for us to learn. The time for change has come,” German minister of state, Michelle Münterfering who accompanied the mortal remains from Germany, sounded consequent. That was before Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba’s finally appealing to the “remaining affected Namibian communities who have not yet joined the dialogue under the leadership of the government’s Special Envoy, Dr. Zedekia Ngavirue to do so, for us to seek closure on this matter as a united Namibian nation in a united Namibian house.”  

One could not agree more with the VP that indeed the matter needed closure. Needless that indeed the affected communities from within or without very much clamour for such a closure.  Münterfering equally could not have been so much right that the time has come, and so much that only the young generation can bring this closure. Only doubt was if the generation to bring about the necessary closure to this matter, this generation of both politicians and traditional leaders, is the current generation?  Nor could the said time  ala Münterfering be this time that has been seeing endless game to which this matter seem to have been condemned and reduced to. 

But Thee months or so after, one cannot but wonder if the latest return served any purpose, and what purpose? Because some remarks by some role players instill and fueling more expectations and hope notwithstanding, the ensuing quiet since makes one wonder if the return of the skulls have not been relegated to no more than an appeasement, of especially the victim communities, given especially that they are the ones who have been insisting not only on the return, but for their representatives going in person to Germany to escort them back home. Besides for the requisite rituals, which at the end of it all have been seeming no more than of psychological value, as far as the psyches of the victims communities are concerned, nothing substantive seems to have been happening despite the impressive speeches at the official government ceremony to receive and welcome back the skulls. 

Three months after could this columnist have been wrong about the return of the skulls being no more than just empty showmanship with little consequence to the actual substantive issue of seriously addressing the genocide and reparations, and finding closure sooner than later. Something which is being proven by the sickening and ominous quiet which seem to have descended engulfed real consequential action on the matter since August 31, the day of welcoming reception by the government at Parliament Gardens.  With the return of the skulls, reportedly the Namibian and German special envoys on genocide and reparations would engage in another round of what now seems to have become exchange of diplomatic niceties. But haven knows what may have ensued from that round, if ever it took place. 

Since the matter of genocide and reparations seem to have been left and surrendered to an endless, never-to –be-resuscitated paralysis, it becomes matter of concern if ever it would be reincarnated. Not when those who have been driving it this far seems to have run out of all ideas, if not the necessary will power and energy. Not excepting the affected communities themselves who also appear to be running out of steam. The last time one heard of the matter is when a member of parliament, Usutuaije Maamberua, contemplated a conference on the Namibian soil akin to the land conference, on genocide and reparations. Whatever may have happened to this contemplation? Or was it just a simple uncommitted teaser?  

But such should not be just a simple teaser. One has been hearing about one or the other conference on the Ovaherero, and Nama genocide in one or the other global metropole but there has never been any on the Namibian soil. Needless to say, this is what the issue now needs for any chance and hope of revival, to give it the necessary direction and impetus. But foremost to reclaim it and legitimately redeposit in the initiative of its rightful claimants for the necessary revolutionised relaunching together with the government, having been specifically so mandated by the victims communities this time around.

2018-11-23  Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

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