WINDHOEK, 01 SEP – Descendants of the 1904-08 genocide victims must not be sidelined in the ongoing reparation talks between the Namibian and German governments while being represented by the administration’s “proxies”, Ovaherero Traditional Authority Chief, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro said.
Rukoro made the comments during the occasion of the third repatriation of human remains from Germany at the Parliament Gardens in Windhoek on Friday.
The Ovaherero chief said the Germans were explicit when they waged unjust war of “extermination” against the Hereros and Namas.
“They did not wage a war against a government, but against us – as two targeted communities,” Rukoro said.
He condemned the current setup of reparation talks, in which the Namibian negotiating team is spearheaded by the special envoy, Dr Zed Ngavirue.
“The government cannot today try to do things for us through proxies called ‘special envoys’ but should do things with us, and this is because we do not think that there is anyone else or better than us to represent us,” Rukoro said.
According to the former government attorney general, leadership has always been at the centre of the genocide issue.
“We as leaders have never abdicated or delegated that responsibility to our technical committees,” he said.
Rukoro was adamant that the Namibian Government has been inviting the wrong people to represent the affected groups in the genocide talks.
Referred to by many historians as the first genocide of the 20th century, soldiers of German Kaiser Wilhelm slaughtered some 65 000 Herero and 10 000 Nama tribespeople in a 1904-1908 campaign in retaliation for a revolt against land seizures by German colonists.
Rukoro then took aim at the German government and its representatives on the day.
“Why is it so difficult for your government to say in all sincerity that your country has committed genocide against the Herero and Nama people of colonial ‘German South West Africa; that you are sorry and that you are therefore apologising to their children as a form of atonement?” he asked.
He concluded: “Everybody knows what your government did. The whole world knows it. The material evidence of that crime against the humanity of the Hereros and Namas are there in full view of everybody sitting here or watching this event.”