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Germany To Pay $1.3 Billion To Namibia For Colonial-Era Genocide
Over a century after the atrocities committed against the Herero and Nama ethnic groups of Namibia by Germans, Germany is officially recognizing the crimes as genocide. In addition, the country will pay Namibia and the descendants of the victims $1.3 billion USD over 30 years to support infrastructure, healthcare and training programs that benefit the affected communities.
“Our goal was and is to find a common path to genuine reconciliation in memory of the victims,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement. “This includes naming the events of the German colonial period in what is now Namibia, and in particular the atrocities in the period from 1904 to 1908, without sparing or glossing over them. We will now also officially call these events what they were from today’s perspective: a genocide.”
Between 1904 and 1908, German troops killed up to 80,000 of the Herero and Nama people in the southern African country, then known as German South West Africa, during a rebellion over land seizure by the Germans. As a result, military administration head Lothar von Trotha called for the extermination of the Herero and Nama population.
According to the BBC, the survivors were forced into the desert and eventually put into concentration camps where they were exploited for labor. There are no official numbers, but the death toll is estimated to be as high as 100,000. Of that total, it is believed that 75% of the Herero and half of the Nama population died.
“The crimes of German colonial rule have long burdened relations with Namibia. There can be no closing of the book on the past. However, the recognition of guilt and our request for apology is an important step towards coming to terms with the crimes and shaping the future together,” Maas said.
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is expected to travel to the country to deliver the official apology.
But not everyone is onboard or satisfied with the long-awaited gesture.
Vekuii Rukoro is the Paramount Chief of Herero people, a former attorney general, and member of parliament. He told CNN they were excluded from discussions with the German government and that Steinmeier was not welcome in the country.
“Is this the kind of reparation that we are supposed to be excited about? This is just a public relations. This is a sellout job by the Namibian government. The government has betrayed the cause of my people,” he said.
Herero activist and chairman of the Namibian Genocide Association, Laidlaw Peringanda, told BBC World Service that the offer of development aid was insufficient.
“We’re actually not accepting that offer because our people have lost lands, they have lost their culture and a lot of them have fled to Botswana, South Africa and some of them were taken to Togo and Cameroon.”
In 2018, Germany returned the human remains of indigenous people killed during the Namibian genocide. The bones were sent to Germany in an attempt to prove the racial superiority of white Europeans. The research has since been discredited.