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Namibia: Reparations Now


It is considered the worst atrocity in German colonial empire history, and it happened 100 years ago in German South-West Africa (now Namibia). The Herero people rebelled against the Germans, and when they were defeated, the Germans drove them into the desert where most of them died of thirst. The Namaqua people also suffered the same fate. Now more Namibian members of parliament are calling on the German government to take responsibility and pay reparations. Kazenambo Kazenambo is Namibia’s deputy minister of regional and local government, housing and rural development.

He explains to VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty why the demand for reparations is taking on a new urgency.

“There is an international position at the United Nations level about crimes of genocide committed by any community however that the community may be, whether it may be a small community or a big community irrespective color and gender and so on. And there are clear evidence that Germany’s colonial troops in Namibia committed actions of genocide in Namibia and because of that there is a need for reparations,” he said.

Kazenambo disagrees with those who have suggested that 100 years is a long time to ask for reparations.

“I respect to say injustice does not know time period; injustice remains injustice. Crime has got no limitation. The people who committed crimes against the Jews during the Second World War under Adolf Hitler, today they are still being brought to justice. The trauma of the injustice committed against the victims of genocide in Namibia they are still permeating, they are still playing themselves today in post-independent Namibia. So injustice does have time limitation. Anybody who have committed injustice must account irrespective of time,” Kazenambo said.

Kazenambo, who is a member of the ruling South-West African People’s Organization (SWAPO), says his party has introduced a policy of reconciliation. But he says that should not stop call for reparations.

“The policy of reconciliation does not suggest that those who have committed any atrocities in the past against the Namibian people should not account or should not apologize for atrocities committed. We can forgive, but we should not forget. We should not forget. We should not forget the atrocities committed against the people because we are still daily reminded of the legacy of these atrocities.”

Kazenambo has been quoted as saying that Namibia should not wait to “arrive at a situation whereby those who feel marginalized and sidelined explode into uncontrollable human explosives, which may harm German economic interest in Namibia.” But he says he was not making a threat against German interests in Namibia.

“I am not ungrateful the aid which Germany is giving to this country. That one is highly appreciated. But I am saying that let us realize the frustration; let us see the temperament, the mood, the feelings of those who are not in a privileged position either in general or near. This is what I’m appealing. I’m not making a threat against anybody. I’m saying that let us wake up for a cause, and let us respond,” Kazenambo said.

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