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German Ambassador addresses genocide reparations

German Ambassador addresses genocide reparations

Zorena Jantze

THE newly appointed Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Namibia, Herbert Beck, has stated that time and care should be taken in terms of reparations on the 1904 Nama and Herero genocide.


Beck, who was addressing the media yesterday, was queried about his thoughts on the genocide reparations between the two countries.


Presented with statistics from the Namibia Statistics Agency in 2018 that outlined that 70% of commercial farmland is still owned by white farmers, who make up a minority group of the Namibian population, Beck stated that his impression is that the Namibian government is handling the issue well.


Caption: DEPLOMATIC: Newly appointed Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Namibia Herbert Beck addressing the media. Video: Eba Kandovazu


“I’ve just been here a couple of weeks and I wouldn’t pretend to know the land question in detail. It’s a challenging topic, however, my impression is that the government of Namibia is taking care of the land issue as there have been two land conferences. I’m convinced that it’s a Namibian question which should be resolved by Namibians, I don’t think you need advice from any former colonial power,” Beck stated. 


He further stressed that Germany does not consider its development cooperation as an exchange of reparations and the overcoming of the painful part of its history, but rather an independent process. 


The ambassador further stated that both sides are working on meeting as soon as possible. 


“I was part of the German-Czech negotiations on reparations 20 years ago. The reparation process is very unpredictable; it needs elements that need to come to together, which determines the length of discussions,” Beck stated.


He further stated that he has listened to representatives from Namibian communities affected by the genocide and both sides have voiced opinions that reparation talks should take time because it is necessary to regulate and find solutions to the issue at hand. 


At the end of March 2020, the Ancestral Land Commission is set to conclude its work with the final report on the ancestral land issue. The Commission is tasked to investigate ancestral land claims and produce a report that will assist the government and affected parties to effectively implement the resolutions of the 2nd National Land Conference.


The Ovaherero and Nama people’s struggle for their lost land began with the Ovaherero uprising in 1904, in which about 100 white settlers were killed, and the Nama uprising in 1905.


The extermination order of lieutenant general Lothar von Trotha was the starting point for what is today considered the first genocide of the 20th century. An estimated 80 000 Ovaherero and 20 000 Nama died in the desert or in concentration camps by 1908.

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