Colonialism / Remembering the Herero and Nama genocide in Namibia

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Herero and Nama genocide

The collapsed blocks hide their truth
Ocher, painted walls
Little men have claimed their past
The silenced drawings
We remind rhino, claws,
Impalas, lions, hypo, their feet.
Their houses in the slots,
Trace according to the paths
Nomad with wipers erased
The time of a thousand years to pass.

This rich and abundant allegory of the land, was dedicated to the natural wealth of Namibia, a land so rich that the origin of its name derives its essence from Namib, a desert that is found in this country and which means in the Khoikhoib language “a zone where there is nothing” ready for a powerful semantic confusion, so much does the opaline mirror of Namibia reflect a sanguine face, synonymous with a fertile and arable body.

Namibia’s natural wealth is also combined with a myriad of ethnic essences, which make this country of southern Africa, a pearl that shines in a thousand colors and whose scents go beyond the Atlantic, to the shores of the Americas, scents that do not always feel the joy ….

The joy was for the immemorial time the oxidiser who burned in the hearths of Namibia, radiating from its heat the body of vast lands where the culture of the earth had a sacredness that the farmers of life cultivated with passion and passion. Abnegation of liberty, with the sweat emanating from the depths of a substratum to the purity of the essences of dignity.

Birth of an immeasurable pain.

The colonisation of African lands did not spare the land of Hereros, where the Germans who first landed in 1884, turned the ‘Land of the Brave’ into a colony where they enjoyed its great wealth, at once a maritime corridor opening with its vast expanses on the Pacific Ocean, and on a depth engulfed by a subsoil with innumerable ores.

The German colonizer used the Namibian land for abundant extraction to service German industries, especially at a time when Prussia was engaged in heavy military conflicts in Europe, where it was preparing to lead others. But the theft of the riches of Namibia was not enough for the Germans, it did not rehearse their voracious appetite, they proceeded to ferocious exactions against the natives, reducing them to slavery and subjecting them to one of the worst attacks on human dignity, as was the case with all the colonisers of African lands. Notably in North Africa, where the indigenous peoples who believed in the Berber goddess Ifri lived, bore the same imprint of savagery, unfolding according to the same modus operandi: the extermination or reduction of populations to the vilest slavery.

In this poem written by the Cameroonian poet Ngoumou Laurent Francis, tears of Africa, one can read all the pain of a continent bruised to the innermost recesses of his body

O deadly fire
In the war that destroys
To the hatred that holds us
To the misery that is worsening
Where am I going?

The massacre of Herero and Namas, the first genocide of the twentieth century.

The massacre of Herero and Namas perpetrated under General Lothar Von Trotha, from 1904, is considered the first genocide of the twentieth century leading to the death of eighty percent of the natives, more than a hundred thousand deaths according to historians. But the figures are constantly reevaluated by researchers who have not hesitated to classify it as a genocide and a great crime against humanity.

In a letter portraying the German will to exterminate the natives of Namibia, which the German General Von Trotha sent to the Herero people, we can feel the sinister will to commit genocide “The Hereros are not anymore German subjects (…) All Hereros must leave or die. If they do not accept, they will be forced into it. Any Herero seen within (Namibian) borders with or without a weapon will be executed. Women and children will be brought back from here or shot (…) We will not make male prisoners; they will be shot. That is my decision for the Hereros people. Signed: Lieutenant-General Lothar Von Trotha“.

Anouar Benmalek and the Son of Sheol.

The Algerian novelist, Anouar Benmalek, in his novel ‘The Son of Sheol’, has spent a lot of time talking about the Herero genocide, and this, by weaving a historical link with a fictional thread leading to the common motives of the two genocides perpetrated by the same genocidal : the holocaust and the massacre of Hereros.

In his historical retrospective, with protagonists being fictional characters, the novelist tells the testimony and the pain of a German Jew who participated in the Herero genocide and who will find himself, two decades later, victim of the same criminal logic.

A mixed recognition of the Herero genocide.

In August 2004, the centenary anniversary of the massacre, Germany apologized for the “atrocities” that “would be called genocide today”, in the words of the German Minister for Development, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul.

Germany and Namibia began negotiations in 2016, which are expected to lead to a joint declaration on these crimes. In this context, Berlin will provide an official apology, which has been slow to materialize, because the negotiations are not over yet.

Berlin considers that it will not have to pay any compensation to the descendants of the victims, arguing for “generous” aid to development paid to Namibia since its independence from South Africa in 1990. Representatives of Herero and Nama believe that the return of bones is an opportunity for Germany to finally present an official apology.

Unable to be involved in negotiations between the two countries, the two tribes filed a complaint for genocide against Germany in a court in New York, in order to claim compensation. Berlin tried at the end of July to cancel this procedure, a request on which the judge has not yet ruled.

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