WINDHOEK, 15 Mar. – Reparation negotiations should not be confined to money only, but should also consider other aspects such as language and culture that have been lost, said former member of parliament, Kazenambo Kazenambo.
In an interview with Nampa on Tuesday, Kazenambo said there is need for descendants of the 1904 -1908 German genocide victims and survivors to be socially re-engineered and re-constructed.
“Our genocide is a global one which includes economic, cultural and social torture which culminated in us losing our language and culture,” he said.
He suggested that reparations should include programmes such as language courses for those who lost the knowledge of their vernacular languages due to their displacement that occurred as a result of the genocide.
Between 1904 and 1908 large numbers of Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama people fled the then German South West Africa to Botswana to escape the German colonial troops, who were acting on an extermination order from General Lothar von Trotha.
Many now live in villages such as Tsau, Semboyo, Makakung, Kareng, Bothatogo, Toteng, Sehithwa, Bodibeng, Komana and Chanoga, the Ngamiland district at large and centres such as Charleshill and Maun in Botswana.
“As I am speaking to you now, there are Namas and Hereros in Tsabong, Botswana, who can sing hymns in Damara/Nama and Otjiherero, but who can’t speak these languages. Even those in the Transvaal in South Africa,” explained Kazenambo.
These, according to him, are issues that cannot be paid with money, hence the importance for the reparations to be inclusive of programmes that can help these people in this regard.
Kazenambo also suggested that genetic fingerprinting systems, similar to those implemented in the United States of America, be adopted to link the displaced victims of the genocide to their families.
He added that people living in the Vaalgras area in the //Kharas Region also lost their language and culture as a result of the genocide.
The former parliamentarian said the affected communities are the ones that should take the lead in popularising these issues by bringing them to the fore frequently.
The former minister of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture’s assertions come after it was recently reported that about 1 000 Ovaherero and Ovambanderu residing in Botswana had shown interest in returning to Namibia.
Former veterans’ affairs minister, Ngarikutuke Tjiriange, who recently authored a book on the genocide, opines that Germany should be held responsible.
“Germany should pay reparations as they did with the Jews, because what they did to us was against humanity and the law,” he said.
Tjiriange added that the Namibian government is discriminating against the repatriated people from Botswana living in Gam, saying some of them have not been issued with national documents since they arrived back home in 1999.
Leader of the official opposition, McHenry Venaani, echoed Tjiriange’s sentiments, urging the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration to speed up the process of distributing national documents to the people living in the Gam area as this is excluding them from benefits such as social grants.
Additional reporting by NAMPA