It’s been over a century since the genocide that occurred in Namibia and recent reports show that Germany has accepted some part of the responsibility in the occurrence. Waterberg in Namibia plays home to the graves of several German soldiers buried in a military cemetery with their names engraved on the tombstones. The Namibian genocide occurred over the period between 1884 and 1915 even though it was at its peak between 1904 – 1908.
Most people who visit the cemetery easily miss the small plaque which showers praise on the African soldiers who were killed fighting for their heritage. Though nameless, the warriors, over ten thousand died defending their land in what Germany has recently labeled the first genocide of the 20th century.
Germany and Namibia have been in talks recently with an aim to put an end to what could be termed as the darkest period of Europe’s presence in Africa. Namibia was referred to during colonial rule as South-West Africa. Their colonial masters, Germany, had some of their officers trying to extinguish two rebel groups in a bid at achieving racial purity. The groups were known as Nama and Herero.
The German representative at the talks, Ruprecht Polenz, described the incident as pure genocide. The negotiations are looking at a way the Germans can commensurately compensate Namibia and offer proper apology for the sad event. Though the genocide occurred earlier than the Holocaust and the Nazi ideology, little of it is known to the world, especially the present day Germany.
In fact in Namibia there are more monuments to celebrate the German soldiers that died than those honoring the victims who laid down their lives. A young man aged 26, Magic Urika, who lives not too far from the cemetery says he believes the cemetery should be removed and replaced with something to honor the Namibian warriors.
Germany has been making efforts to atone for the damage done during the Second World War but it took more than a century for them to consider acknowledging the effects of the genocide in Namibia. About a hundred thousand Herero, which was approximately 80% of their population at the time, were killed. Some were shot, others hung from trees, and those who escaped to the desert ended up dying from starvation and thirst.
After the centenary commemoration of the genocide in Namibia, the Germans have taken steps to right their wrongs though they seem extremely slow and to most critics, it has been done grudgingly.