Surely, the Gods Must Be Crazy Now

Tjiparuro I am sure I may not have been the only one curious to know whether the German Ambassador to Namibia would be in attendance at the State memorial service and funeral of the Paramount Chief of the Ovaherero, late Dr Kuaima Riruako.

Of course the late Paramount Chief and the German envoy to Namibia have had nothing notable in common. In fact, because of his vociferous and sustained campaign for Germany to atone for past atrocities committed against the Namibian people by Imperial Germany, the late Paramount cannot be said to have been in any sense a bedfellow of many a German ambassador to Namibia, past and present, including the incumbent, Ambassador Otto Huckmann.

Nor can relations between the Paramount Chief and most German envoys to Namibia, perhaps with the exception of one or two, be said to have been anything but non-existent. This was underlined by the utterances of Ambassador Egon Kochanke, predecessor to Ambassador Huckmann and now the Director General for African Affairs in the German Foreign Office, a position previously held by Walter Lindner. Kochanke made these utterances in 2011 on the return of the first batch of skulls of Namibian victims of Imperial Germany’s 1896, 1904-1908 war, which were taken to Germany during that period for racially motivated so-called scientific studies.

Apparently, this was either to prove German superiority over Namibian Africans, or to establish the secrecy of the sheer bravery Namibian Africans demonstrated in their formidable resistance with only traditional weapons. Such utterances were to the effect that Germany does not deal with tribal leaders, a reference to Namibian traditional leaders in the person of the late Paramount Chief Riruako, Chief Dawid Frederick of the !Aman, and others who had been spearheading the campaign for reparation for the genocide, which their ancestors endured at the hands of Imperial Germany.

But with the passing on of late Paramount Chief Riruako, one was hoping that Germany would turn a new leaf, and she would start to gesture such a new leaf on these two occasions, the memorial service and funeral of late Dr Riruako. But it seems these two occasions have passed on without any gesture from the government of the Federal Republic of Germany. On the contrary, what one could discern, especially from Huckmann’s presence on both these occasions is the usual Machiavellianism and mysteriousness coupled with consistent insensitivity, intransigence and arrogance that has been the hallmark of German officialdom as far as the issue of genocide and reparation is concerned. But insensitively, the German Ambassador was on Friday at Parliament Gardens, and on Sunday with wreaths. A German Ambassador of all people laying wreaths on the casket and grave of the late Paramount Chief? Whether he may have done this in a different capacity, on behalf of the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, or privately in his personal capacity as he may have hinted, is immaterial. He could not have been anything else, nor could anyone of us have mistaken him for someone else but Otto Huckmann, the quintessential German envoy in Namibia! On Sunday a few minutes after interment the late Paramount Chief of the Ovaherero was presented with something to make him turn in his new grave. Could this really be said to be the most finessed diplomatic gesture, in the absence of a clear indication from Germany to honestly honour the memory of this great Namibian leader. And for our political principals, could enlisting a German diplomat to lay a wreath on the grave of the Ovaherero Paramount Chief, symbolically and otherwise, been the most politically expedient and sensitive thing to do? The gods surely must be really crazy now.

Could we really believe, or expect the mass of the Ovaherero people, and all others who have been clamouring for reparation, to believe that the German Ambassador could have been doing this purely as a matter of a call to diplomatic duty? That is, without at the same time thinking that this particular wreath was the final nail in the coffin of the greatest living Namibian champion ever for reparation for the genocide?

Some of us, as indeed the entire Ovaherero, and other affected communities, may find little conviction in such a gesture how good-intended it may have been. That is until Germany can come forth with a better, forthright and genuine gesture to honour the memory of the late Dr Riruako. Because the late Dr Riruako is leaving his people, and Namibia at large, a g indelible legacy. It now behoves Germany to honour this legacy if the symbolic wreath-laying by Ambassador Huckmann is to be more than just symbolic.

And given the consistent and persistent attitude of Germany so far this wreath-laying symbolism is meaningless, period!

No amount of posthumous wreath-laying can fool the descendants of the victims of genocide in the genuineness of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany on genocide and reparation.

Source : New Era