Two Namibian communities that suffered genocide at the hands of colonial-era Germany say they were left out of a landmark billion-dollar reparations deal with Berlin.
The leaders of the Nama and Ovaherero peoples want the two nations to review the agreement, which will channel further development assistance to Namibia.
Germany’s very public apology comes as the country faces increasing pressure at home to deal with its colonial past, with some activists saying more needs to be done to shed light on the country’s chapter of African domination.
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Foreign Minister Heiko Maas recently apologized on behalf of Germany for the crimes committed by its troops and administration.
“We officially call these events in Namibia what they were: genocide. We therefore recognize our historical responsibility. And in light of Germany’s historical and moral responsibility, we will apologize to Namibia and the descendants of the victims. “, he added. he said.
The very public apology follows similar steps taken in recent years by European powers to deal with crimes committed in the past.
While Germany’s apology has been welcomed, some human rights groups say more should be done to engage with the descendants of those killed.
“You cannot leave out the descendants of the victims of the genocide. We are not surprised by the results now, nor by the atmosphere in Namibia, which is heated I would say,” said Christian Kopp, a representative of the group. Berlin Postkolonial plea. .
“People are protesting against what the government negotiated with Germany. Not only the results, but also the fact that they did it without the representatives of the majority of the Nama and Ovaherero peoples,” he said. added.
The apology is seen as a historic moment for Germany as it tries to grapple with its colonial past. Germany ruled over large swathes of southwestern Africa from 1884 to 1915.
Juergen Zimmerer, historian at the University of Hamburg, said this period is not widely taught in the curriculum of most German schools, but recent events have led to an increase in the number of people learning colonial history. .
“It suddenly became a media problem. A public concern. There was tremendous pressure on politicians. I think most Germans just assumed that Germany would not keep the stolen items, that the ‘Germany was good at acknowledging past sins and would not deny the genocide, “he said.
“But they suddenly learned that there was a huge gap between political rhetoric and political practice.”