Reparations in Spotlight Again

Proponents for reparations to communities aggrieved by German atrocities in Namibia feel German politicians have been making empty promises not backed by action to Ovaherero and Nama communities.

Descendants of Ovaherero and Nama victims of the brutal German war atrocities have been demanding for reparations from Germany.

Genocide committee members were reacting to new German director general for Sub-Saharan Africa and the Sahel, Ambassador Georg Schmidt, who said on Friday it was crucial for Germany to directly engage the Ovaherero and Nama communities over the genocide committed against their descendants.

Schmidt was in the country on a four-day visit to interact with government officials, concerned communities, political parties and civil society.

Ueriuka Tjikuua, secretary general of the OvahereroOvambanderu Council for the Dialogue on the 1904 Genocide (OCD 1904), said that the suggestion for the German government to meet face to face with the communities was a move in the positive direction, especially for a government that is all too sensitive on issues regarding reparation, as it fears worldwide condemnation.

“We want to make sure the dispute is resolved amicably, but it is not surprising that politicians can make such statements, what matters is action,” said Tjikuua.

He said he would have been more optimistic had the statement come directly as an official stance from the German Parliament, because other German politicians had also made similar statements in the past and “we are still fighting for reparations. We want to hear from the German Bundestag that they have taken this position about descendants of victims to see that the ball is in rolling motion and we are moving towards a solution.”

The OCD-1904 spokesperson further bemoaned the way the Namibia-German Special Initiative was rolled out, saying it was not implemented correctly as beneficiaries were not consulted.

“Do we really need goats to address the plight (of the affected communities)?” he asked, saying that getting goats did not fall on the priority list, as there were more pressing issues, such as land question, resurgence of a culture that was destroyed and repatriation of Namibians, who were displaced because of the German war. He feels an investigation should have been done about the socio-economic impact the war had on the livelihood of current generations.

Chairperson of the Nama Genocide Committee, Ida Hoffmann, says she liked the fact Schmidt handled the reparation issue with dignity and respect, but she echoed Tjikuua’s sentiments, saying that there must be immediate action. She said some seven years ago, the Namas and Ovaherero wrote a letter they sent through the Namibian government to Germany, but there was proper response.

“Statements are not enough. We feel that this (reparation) case is holy and noble,” she added, saying that when the late Paramount Chief of the Ovaherero, Kuaima Riruako brought the case to Parliament in 2006, it was not only to repatriate skulls, but to also fight for reparations.

Source : New Era