Genocide committee vows to fight for reparations

TSAU: The OvaHerero/OvaMbanderu Council for Dialogue on the 1904 Genocide (OCD-1904) says there will be no reconciliatory co-existence between the descendants of the genocide victims and Germans without a “comprehensive process of restorative justice”.

The OCD-1904 Secretary-General, Ueriuka Festus Tjikuua said the council will not rest until an unconditional admission of responsibility, official apology and ‘just compensation’ is made by the German government.

Tjikuua, who also serves a senior traditional councillor in the Kambazembi Royal House, made the remarks on Saturday during commemorative activities at Tsau in Botswana.

Tsau is a tiny village located some 145 kilometres west of Maun in Botswana’s Ngamiland district.

According to him, the Bundestag (German Parliament) made reasonable progress when it passed a resolution on the OvaHerero Genocide on 16 June 2004, but it, however, fell short of meeting expectations when it failed to render an unconditional apology.

“We were disappointed in that resolution, because it failed to acknowledge the atrocities and despicable acts committed against the OvaHerero by the Germans as acts of genocide.

It is also a concern to us that Germany has failed to issue an unconditional apology, based on the admission of moral guilt,” he stressed.

Tjikuua also dismissed the Namibia-German Special Initiative as a possible act of remorse on the side of Germany, noting that the idea behind the initiative was unilateral and hegemonic.

The programme is meant for developmental projects in communities that have ‘historic ties’ with the German government such as the Nama, Damara, OvaHerero and San.

It funds small-scale social and economic infrastructure projects which benefit the poor.

“The so-called idea of the German government’s Special Initiative is just not enough. We are of the opinion that any process of true reconciliation cannot be pursued through unilateralism or a hegemonic approach, but would require an unconditional process, based on well-structured and constructive dialogue between both sides of the conflict divide,” he added.

The OCD-1904 has vowed to press on with their demands for reparations as they consider that to be the only true reflection and admission of guilt by the German government.

The council has been pushing for direct dialogue – which does not involve the government – with Germany as it argues that the OvaHerero and OvaMbanderu communities bore the brunt of the genocide directly.

Germany, on the other hand, prefers dialogue through the Namibian Government.

The OCD-1904 is chaired by OvaMbanderu acting Chief Gerson Katjirua, and composed of OvaHerero, OvaMbanderu and Nama communities under the leadership of Chief Joel Stephanus of Vaalgras.