By: Andrew Kathindi
Representatives of the Nama of and Ovaherero people say they have pinned their hopes on the new German coalition government, in particular the social democrats (the green party) as their salvation in efforts to renegotiate the Ovaherero/Nama genocide reconciliation agreement.
The Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) and the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA) launched a new petition on Wednesday afternoon in which they are appealing the new German coalition government to discard the joint agreement on Genocide between the Namibian and German governments.
They further said they are seeking an audience with the new German foreign affairs minister, Annalena Baerbock, in order for the German government to negotiate with them directly.
“We have not yet presented demands to the new German foreign affairs ministers. At this stage, we requested the minister in December 2021 to seek an appointment so that we can start to engage each other in order to establish a relationship from which we can build discussions,” said Mutjinde Katjiua Paramount Chief designate.
“It’s best to meet the person and discuss a few things. We haven’t put demands, except the standing demands of the inclusion of the Namas and Hereros in any discussions about reparations.”
He further said the Germans should take the opportunity to engage with them as any other option would be a continuation of legal means.
“If political options do not work out, if direct negotiations do not happen, if the continuation of exclusion is in place, our second resort has always been legal means. If that doesn’t work out, then we will be left with no option but to defend ourselves because we know where our interests are.”
Genocide Technical Committee member, Sima Luipert said they wrote a letter to the German minister of foreign affairs in which we are seeking an audience with her last month.
She further said that prior to that, representatives from the traditional organizations had been in talks with members of the green party.
“Our relationship with the green party is not something that has only started now. It’s something that came from a long time. We have been in conversation with members of the green party, with discussions in Namibia and Germany with presentations.”
She said representatives from the two organizations visited Germany in November 2021, and during the visit met with the new member of the Bundestag (German parliament) of the green party, in order to explain their list of demands.
“But most of all, what we would like to see is the inclusion of Nama and Ovaherero people during the negotiations and that the negotiation process be started all over again. What we are hoping to do is to strengthen the relationship between the green party and the Nama and Ovaherero people.”
In the new petition, the group called last year’s “reconciliation agreement” negotiated between the German and Namibian governments a farce that has deeply hurt the affected communities.
“Ms. Baerbock, make up for the mistakes of the conservative negotiator on the German side: stand by your party’s 2020 demands and negotiate with us too – equally, inclusively and without preconditions.”
Gaob Johannes Isaack of the NTLA said the genocide of 1904-1908 led to the loss of sovereignty, land dispossession and displacement, destruction of culture, language tradition and economy for the affected communities.
“Ovaherero and NAMA people are an impoverished people, politically marginalized, scattered across the world.”