A delegation of Namibian lawmakers are currently in Berlin pushing the German government to reconcile with a genocide it committed against the Nama and Herero people (also known as Ovaherero) people of Namibia over a 100 years ago.
The lawmakers hope to reach a resolution with the German government based on the 1989 parliament resolution which stated it would accept historical and political responsibility for Namibia.
In January 1904, a group Herero people staged an uprising against German colonial rule in which more than a hundred German civilians were killed. The following year, the smaller Nama tribe joined this rebellion. German forces responded in brutal fashion.
During the war tens of thousands were exiled to the Kalahari desert; German troops poisoned public wells and cut food supplies to civilians. German forces also utilised concentration camps which forced Herero civilians to work to death in squalid conditions. Approximately half of the total Nama population was wiped out by diseases within these camps. By 1908, only 16,000 remained, the Guardian reports.
The Guardian also notes that an approximate 3,000 Herero skulls were sent to Berlin for German eugenicists to show that the Herero were racially inferior.
The genocidal act had on-going consequences for the Namibian people. Descendants of German settlers continue to own the land seized. Herero rights activists assert the Herero population never regained a fraction of their former prosperity.
Veraa Katuuo, a US-based activist, states that “if Germany pays reparation then the Ovaherero can buy back the land that was illegally confiscated from us through the force of arms”.
In 2013 Britain issued a statement of regret and gave £2,600 each to about 5,000 Kenyans imprisoned and tortured during the Mau Mau rebellion in the 1950s.
Namibia hopes to be able to reconcile this issue and to forge closer ties with Germany on issues of mutual interest.