Windhoek The time is now for modern day generations, whether Namibian or German, and whether in Namibia or Germany, to seize the opportunity to discard the guilt and pain of the past between the two countries. This was said by the Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Dr Zephania Kameeta, on Wednesday when he launched the book ‘Namibia and Germany: Negotiating The Past,’ at the Independence Museum. The book was written by Professor Reinhardt Kössler, a German academician who has frequented, and worked in, Namibia, researching Namibian-German colonial history, including the legacy and impact thereof on current diplomatic and other bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as on their peoples. Cognisant of the fact the launch took place at the Independence Museum, Kameeta reminisced on the historicity thereof, such as being the seat of the Rider Monument, but notably as the location of one of the concentration camps in German colonial Namibia. He said every living Ovaherero and Nama Namibian today had their ancestors incarcerated in the concentration camps. Their ancestors were kept as reserve labourers in the concentration camps, but later to slave on building colonial Germany’s power and exploitative economic structures. His own grandmother, he said, lived on to relive to them the sad colonial history. Thus many Namibians were witnessing the launch of the book not as mere observers but something that has impacted on them. Kameeta said the book is not just about the war between 1904-8, but more importantly about the ongoing legacy of pain and conflict. “Kössler examines and traces the development of attitudes towards what happened in the past, the attitudes of political parties and governments in Germany and Namibia, and of three particular communities, the German-speaking community, the Nama speaking people, and the Otjiherero speaking people.” The book comes during the season of remembrances with lately the commemoration of the Battle of Ohamakri on August 11, as well as the 110th anniversary of the death of Captain Hendrik Witbooi, who was killed by German colonial forces. Although there have been debates as to the number of people who succumbed in the wars of the indigenous people with the German colonial forces, Kameeta said historians, including German historians, testify to the order by General Lothar von Trotha, which his troops implemented, as genocide. “When we are hurt, we need the person who hurt us to acknowledge what he or she has done, in order for us to be able to forgive and to heal and move forward,” said Kameeta regarding the apparent lack of official acknowledgement of genocide by the German government. He added that this lack of “proper acknowledgement from Germany, and from some of our German-speaking compatriots, has been a source of ongoing anguish to the Nama and [Ovaherero] communities. It has been felt like an insult to our ancestors.” He said recent genetic research appears to show that trauma can be inherited in one’s genetic make-up. Trauma, he added, thus cannot just be remembered through stories passed on by parents and grandparents, but leaves a genetic impact on the descendants of those who have been traumatised. Kössler’s book thus offers a solution to this traumatic relationship between Namibia and Germany. “He has confronted his country’s painful past in an honest and truthful way. He gives respect and a voice to the descendants of the victims of the genocide, and understands the reasons why we insist on an apology,” said Kameeta. The book is published by the University of Namibia Press.
New Era Reporter
2015-08-21 11:13:09 4 years ago