A montage of stories

21 February 2020 | Art and Entertainment

Unburied – Unmarked: The untold Namibian Story of the Genocide of 1904 – 1908 is the title of a new book published late last year.

Now, if you were expecting some serious academic treatise, you'd be in for a surprise. Many books and articles have been written on the genocide of the 21st century. Personally, I have also written several articles on this topic.

The book is written by a Washington DC-based Namibian activist, academic and researcher on issues on genocide not only here in Namibia, but across the globe.

To write this book, the author, Jephta Nguherimo, travelled to a number of European countries including Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The author was recently in Namibia for the funeral of his grandfather but unfortunately did not get the time to officially launch the book.

The entry, which would, in my view, be the overriding theme is the front cover. The cover sports a yellowish/reddish colour with a dead/dry tree with some of the branches that have fallen off.

Those colours symbolise the Kalahari (Omaheke) desert/sandveld. And the dead tree with the fallen branches represent all those who succumbed to the harsh and unforgiving desert as they were trying to get to the unknown, fleeing the German onslaught.

One German officer bragged: “The arid Kalahari Desert was to complete what the German army had begun, the extermination of the Herero nation.”

The book starts off with an insightful prologue which is a must-read in itself. To be fair, I do not how to categorise this book because there is a collection of short stories, excerpts from statements by German officers and some beautiful photos juxtaposed with some disturbing ones throughout.

There is this one that features our founding president Sam Nujoma and the late German chancellor Helmuth Kohl toasting back in 1995. And there is poem titled 'The Ultimate Toast with the Chancellor'.

The rest of the book is a collection of moving and, at times, very emotional poems. I haven't cried in a while but some of them made me weep like a school boy.

I was somewhat amazed as to how one person can capture the genocide story so admirably in the space of 30 poems.

The Unlikely Friends is a fictional account of a friendship of circumstances between a German camp guard and a Herero woman prisoner. The poems come alive, thus, no Namibian or German should be without this special collection of genocide poems.

I am not sure whether our schools still teach poems like in our days because I still remembers poems like Die Ossewa and Amakeia. If they still do, I urge the ministry of basic education to take a look at this book, which is available at the Namibia Book Market.


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