“We want trillions of wounds to heal.”


Monument to the victims of the Namibian massacre

Historians call the period 1904-08 in present-day Namibia, the first genocide of the 20th century

Between the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the luscious golden dunes of the Namibian coast lies the site of a former German concentration camp.

It was here in the early 20th century that the people of Ova Helero and Nama were exposed to sexual violence, forced labor, and horrific medical experiences. Many died of illness and malaise.

Uahimisa Kapehi says his mind stands heavily on the remains of his ancestors.

He is a descendant of the Herero people, who is also a member of the city council of Swakopmund, where many atrocities have been committed.

Kaapehi explains that what happened many generations ago still has a significant impact on his life.

“Our wealth has been robbed, farms, cows, everything, I wasn’t supposed to suffer from this as I’m talking about,” he says.

“And we-as Obaherero and Nama-should not be suffering.”

Chief Uahimi Sakapehi

Uahimisa Kapehi calls the German settlement a “century joke”

Historians call what happened between 1904 and 1908 the first genocide in what is now Namibia, the 20th century.

It was when the German colonial army expelled and killed thousands of Ovaherero and Nama people after a rebellion against the colonial rulers.

It is estimated that 60,000 Ovaherero, more than 80% of the total population of the ethnic group in the region, and 10,000 Nama, 50% of the population, were killed during this period.

May, For the first time, the German government officially acknowledged colonial atrocities.

It acknowledged the genocide as a genocide and vowed to pay “gestures to recognize the enormous suffering given.” However, Germany did not label the gesture as compensation.

“I want land”

That was € 1.1 billion ($ 1.3 billion; £ 930 million). The total is paid over 30 years and is understood to need to benefit primarily the descendants of Ovaherero and Nama.

Army of German South West Africa (now Namibia) during the 1904 Ova Helero Rebellion

Colonial forces cruelly suppressed the uprising by Ova Helero and Nama

However, descendants, including Mr. Carpey, do not believe that it is a sincere apology for the agreement.

“It was a joke of the century,” he says.

“We want our land. We have no money.

“We want them [the German government] I apologize for coming. Money just tells us what they made a mistake.

“And you don’t need peanuts. You need trillions. You need signs that you can heal your wounds.”

Kaapehi says his ethnic group has lost a century of tradition, culture and livelihood. It is impossible to pay for it.

The deprived land and natural resources have consolidated his family into intergenerational poverty.

Activists believe that it is only fair if the German government buys back ancestral land currently in the hands of the German-speaking community and returns it to the descendants of Obaherero and Nama.

“Pull out the knife”

Nevertheless, the scope of compensation is related beyond Germany and Namibia and could set a precedent for other countries with a colonial past.

Ova Helero Rebellion, POWs of Chains in 1904-5 Archive Images

POWs captured after the Ova Helero rebellion were killed or exposed to horrific atrocities

As a last resort, US scholars Kirsten Murren and Sandy Dality, who support compensation for the slave trade descendants, argue that this tends to mean that the concessions made are likely to be small. Only given.

In their book From Here to Equality, they refer to US human rights activist Malcolm X.

In the case of Germany and Namibia, Mullen and Darity agree that “development assistance” is not always considered to heal knife wounds. This is just the first step.

“Pulling out a knife is not compensation, but it is essential, but it is not compensation. Restoration is wound healing,” says Darity.

“Therefore, if you think of these development funds as a knife-pulling form, it’s not compensation,” says Darity.

Given that Germany actually set a precedent in the 1890s, the debate over compensation in Namibia is ironic.



German historian Horst Drechsler states that prior to the genocide, Germany sought compensation from the Obaherero and Nama communities after a rebellion against colonialists.

This had to be given on cows (about 12,000), which German-American historian Thomas Kramer estimated to be worth $ 1.2 million to $ 8.8 million today.

For Kramer, who specializes in reparations, Pandora’s Box is now open-and he says the wider range of reparations to be paid by other former colonial forces is only a matter of time.

This is partly due to demographic changes in the majority of white countries in the west, where a more diverse population forces governments to face past dissatisfaction.

“People are not [only] Determined by the group to which they belong. You may feel emotional solidarity with people who have been affected by historical injustice. “

“Even if they themselves are part of a fraudulent group.”

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