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INSULTING: Veteran lawyer Andreas Vaatz. PHOTO: Namibia Media Holdings
INSULTING: Veteran lawyer Andreas Vaatz. PHOTO: Namibia Media Holdings

A slap in the face of German community – Vaatz

Elizabeth Joseph
Veteran lawyer Andreas Vaatz has described the removal of the statue of German Schutztruppe officer Curt von François as a ‘slap in the face’ of the local German-speaking community.

The lawyer said the statue’s removal yesterday from in front of the City of Windhoek headquarters erases history.

Vaatz, a prominent voice in the German-speaking community in Namibia, believes that the statue was not only ‘beautifully done’, but also gave a glimpse of the attire worn by German war generals at the time.

"The statue was a monument, a piece of art. It will not come alive again and do anything,” he said.

“He did a lot of good and he founded Windhoek, and I don't know why the municipality is adamant to remove all statues from the past.”

In 2018, Vaatz wrote an objection letter to the proposed renaming of Bismarck Street to Simeon Lineekela Shixungileni, saying the proposed name is too long, difficult to pronounce and hard to remember.

At the time, he clashed with activist Job Amupanda, who is now a City of Windhoek councillor and was a leading proponent of the statue’s removal. Amupanda wildly celebrated yesterday, going as far as climbing onto the podium where the statue stood for 57 years.

What of history?

Meanwhile, the Forum of German-Speaking Namibians, in a statement yesterday, said it understood that monuments can be regarded as provocative and hurtful for some Namibians.

"We believe that all historic events must be seen in the political and cultural context of their time. The tracks these events leave behind - in the form of infrastructure, literature or monuments - are witnesses of their time," it said.

The group added that statues are not necessarily a celebration of colonial oppression, but bear the testimony thereof.

The forum wants another monument to be put in Von François’ place to tell another side of the story.

They believe Namibian artists can play a vital role in creating similar monuments that would put the past into context.

"In this way, the educational aspect of any given colonial monument or building is then highlighted, not an emotional one. We cannot change the past, but we can strive to work for a better tomorrow.”

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Namibian Sun 2022-12-04

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