SWAKOPMUND – Swakopmund businessman, Norbert Sadlowski, who has displayed a replica of the Reiterdenkmal at his Alstadt restaurant, is accused of being insensitive towards the suffering of Namibians at the hands of the Germans during the colonial times.
The restaurant owner, however, said he erected the replica with the aim of showing visitors to his restaurant the journey that Namibia walked to attain freedom, including unflattering events.
He is willing to remove the statue if asked by authorities to do so, he vowed.
The Reiterdenkmal, also known as the ‘Südwester Reiter’ (Rider of South West), was erected in 1912 in Windhoek to honour soldiers and civilians that died on the German side in the Herero and Namaqua War of 1904-1907.
In 2013, then President Hifikepunye Pohamba declared the horse rider in Windhoek an obstacle to the healing of the nation from past colonial oppression by the Germans and ordered its removal.
The government has also described the statue as a recurring wound to those that were oppressed during the colonial era.
The Windhoek statue was eventually taken down, with government saying at the time that it had lost its historical significance and importance after Namibia gained independence in 1990. Pockets of criticism, especially from some members of the German-speaking Namibian community, emerged at the time.
The Windhoek rider was then whisked away from public view, getting housed in the courtyard of the Alte Feste Museum.
Some Namibians felt the statue’s existence continued to display German superiority, as well as its one-sided reporting on the deaths in the first decade of the 20th century.
Laidlaw Peringanda, chairperson of Namibian Genocide Association (NGA), wants the replica removed from the Swakopmund restaurant, as it is a constant reminder of German supremacy.
“We have been pushing for years now also for the removal of the German soldier monument in front of the State House in Swakopmund, as these monuments are making a mockery of the deaths of Namibians at the hands of the Germans during the colonial regime. It really glorifies German supremacy,” he explained.
Peringanda added that they approached both the Namibian Police Force and the Municipality of Swakopmund to seek clarity on the procedures followed to allow the placing of the monument.
“Surely, there is a reason why it was removed in 2013. Why should we grant anyone else the right to display it again? Hence, I fail to understand why permission was granted for the display of the monument in Swakopmund,” Peringanda said.
Sadlowski, when contacted for comment yesterday, told New Era that he is certainly not insensitive towards Namibia’s colonial history.
He explained that the restaurant itself is in a historical building and that he is planning to display all Namibian history, starting from the old South West Africa as a means of preservation and to educate those coming to his restaurant.
“It is not about Germans but about Namibia, where we are coming from until now. I want to display all history and diverse cultures of Namibia at my restaurant. I recently had a Nama delegation visiting my restaurant and also requested memorabilia from them. My restaurant has nothing to do with politics or mocking Namibians, as I am one too, but to display our history, Sadlowski said.
He added that he is willing to remove the statue if he is requested by the right authorities to do so, as he certainly does not want to stir trouble.