Namibian president urges Germany to apologize for 1904-1908 genocide

Namibian delegation attend a ceremony in Berlin, Germany, Aug. 29, 2018, to hand back human remains from Germany to Namibia following the 1904-1908 genocide against the Herero and Nama. (Reuters)

Namibian president Hage Geingob on Thursday said his country expects Germany to issue an apology acceptable to the Namibian people for the role it played in the genocide between 1904 to 1908 when the African country was under German colonial rule.

Bible and whip belonging to Kaptein Witbooi. Courtesy: Linden Museum/DW

Speaking on the return of the Bible and whip of Namibian resistance fighter Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi, Geingob said the genocide about a century ago by the German army left a wound that festers to this day.

“The genocide … has left a deep scar on the Namibian people. The effects of the torture, collective punishment and ultimate racial extermination of Namibians by German imperialist soldiers are felt to this day,” said the Namibian president.

Geingob said that in order to give closure to numerous victims and their families, there is a need for the German government to admit to playing a part in the wrongdoings in that historic period.

“If we are to move forward, then it is important for the German government to admit the wrongs committed against the people of Namibia. In so doing, we expect that the most appropriate admission of this genocide will be the issuing by Germany of an apology which will be acceptable to the Namibian people,” he said.

Kaptein Witbooi.
Courtesy: The Namibian

He further honored Witbooi, who has been remembered for fighting fiercely against the German troops during the genocidal war in 1904 to 1908. Witbooi had his Bible and whip confiscated by German soldiers in a raid on his village. The artefacts were taken to Germany in the 1900s and had been held in the Linden Museum in Stuttgart, the capital of the state of Baden-Wurtemberg.

The artifacts were officially handed over by representatives of the Linden Museum to the Namibian government in Windhoek on Tuesday.

“The repatriation of the bible and whip of Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi, is an occasion for Namibia to pay honor to one of its foremost heroes,” said the Namibian president.

“I call on all Namibians to honor the memory of Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi by holding hands and uniting under the banner of unity — under the roof of our Namibian house,” he said.

German colonial soldiers are believed to have killed over 100,000 Namibians in the genocide between 1904 and 1908 in retaliation for a revolt against land seizures by German colonists.