Nama, Ovaherero provoked by Geingob

25 April 2019 | Cultural

The Nama and Ovaherero people have taken offence at a remark made by President Hage Geingob during his State of the Nation address (SONA) last week.

The president had said Germany would not pay reparations to “line the pockets” of individuals.

Contrary to the two communities' statement yesterday, Geingob spoke about genocide and emphasised that should Germany tender an apology, Namibia would have to decide whether it was indeed a sincere apology.

During the SONA Geingob said: “I don't think Germany will give any money, cash. So many people are thinking that it will be cash and 'we will put in my pocket' but it is not the case. They are talking about projects.”

The two communities insist that Geingob deliberately mocked the Nama and Ovaherero case against Germany and accused him of casting aspersions on the integrity of this case by asking who was paying for the appeal.

At a joint media briefing yesterday, Ovaherero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro and Goab Johannes Isaack of the Nama Traditional Leaders Association said they took Geingob's sentiments to be an endorsement of Germany's “no genocide and no reparations” position towards the victims of the 1904-08 Nama and Ovaherero genocide.

“[This] will haunt him to his grave. He said this before, albeit clandestinely, when he fumed in 2017 'what ancestral land are you talking about'. Like an enlisted agent, he literally and faithfully camp gained in favour of the so-called development projects model (sic),” they said.

The group further accused Geingob and his predecessors of deliberately marginalising their communities.

They claimed that had it not been for their resourcefulness, their people would have been sweeping streets to make a living.

“Our ancestral land is dished out to CEOs, ministers and top servants who are not known to have lost land on a wholesale scale. Our ancestral land is sold to Russians and other foreign nationals,” the two traditional leaders said.

They also accused Geingob of lying to the nation that the genocide resolution passed in parliament in 2004 was the result of his discussions with the late Herero paramount chief Kuaima Riruako.

“In fact Geingob never supported the cause of the victim communities to spearhead demands from Germany's admission of guilt for genocide and commitment to reparations. At the time the president was a backbencher in parliament and whatever he mumbled never added up to a paragraph,” they said.

The two also accused Geingob of denying the genocide by using words such as “atrocities” and consistently referring to “so-called genocide” when he addressed the matter.

“The president cannot deny genocide and profess to negotiate on our behalf, or pretend to support our cause. The president comes forward as a scholar yet he struggles with basic understanding of genocide and challenges us to 'bring your scholars' as if we purportedly lack scholarship from amongst our number,” they said.

Presidential press secretary Alfredo Hengari responded that President Geingob cared about unity and an inclusive approach to leadership.

“By throwing wild accusations, the statement ignores maliciously the historic role and continuous efforts of President Geingob in our nation-building projects. It takes a number of serious issues lightly. In light of that we shall consider as to whether we will issue a response or not.”

JEMIMA BEUKES

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