Namibian skulls found in US museum

14 September 2017 | Justice

Four skulls of Nama and Ovaherero origin have been found in the Museum of Natural History of New York.

According to Ovaherero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro, this has been brought to his attention by lawyer Kenneth McCallion.

McCallion is representing the Nama and Ovaherero descendants in a class action lawsuit against the German government for the 1904-08 genocide. In a statement issued yesterday, Rukoro said the remains formed part of the private collection of Professor Felix von Luschan of the Okahandja Battalion. “The latter was notorious for the extermination of many Ovaherero people and the selling of these skulls to medical students and institutions in Germany. He is the same racist anthropologist who provided these remains to the New York City Museum of Natural history,” said Rukoro.

According to Rukoro, arrangements have been made for the Ovaherero and Nama delegation to view these remains in October when they attend court proceedings.

“I should say already at this stage that we are proposing to keep these remains in the United States of America in close proximity of the Statute of Liberty and the United Nations headquarters,” he said. He added that mystery surrounded the whereabouts of the skulls that were repatriated from Germany in 2011.

“It leaves us to decide that our ancestors' skulls remain free for the world to see and learn about the tragic history and consequently support us in our demands for reparations,” he said.

German scientists took the heads to perform experiments seeking to prove the racial superiority of white Europeans.

The skulls were discovered three years ago in medical archive exhibits.

“It is my hope that the New York City Museum of Natural History will have paved the way for other institutions in the United States of America to reveal similar items in their possession to expose the extent to which imperial Germany has committed crimes against the humanity on the African continent in the 21st century,” Rukoro added.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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