Skulls safe in air-conditioned room

21 September 2017 | History

The acting director of the Heritage and Culture Council, Esther Moombola-Goagoses, has rubbished allegations that some of the human skulls and skeletons repatriated from Germany in 2014 were being neglected.

It had been alleged that the skeletons were “tucked away” and “collecting dust” in government offices.

Namibian Sun has established that the skulls are safely kept in a climate-controlled and secure storage facility at the National Museum.

“I cannot even entertain these kinds of comments. It is not true at all. None of them have made the effort to come and see where the skulls were put. There is a room for them [skulls] at the National Museum and everyone is free to see them,” said Moombola-Goagoses.

She said the skulls were not on display to the public, as was expected by the affected communities, but were in safekeeping according to international standards.

“This is not a medical museum. We need permission from the relatives of victims with these remains to put the skulls up for display. Now if you do not know who the relatives are, how will you get permission?” she asked. Moombola-Goagoses was responding to claims by a member of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA), Utjiua Muinjangue, who argued that the government was disrespecting their ancestors' remains.

According to Muinjangue, there was an agreement between the affected communities and government that the skulls would be placed in a special exhibition on the first floor of the Independence Memorial Museum.

“It is not what is reflected there, there is one corner only. I was there with Al Jazeera who wanted to know where the skulls are and there is no answer,” Muinjangue said.

According to her, attempts to secure an appointment with the directorate had been futile.

“We want to know, it is the skulls of our people – we want to know in what condition they are, whether they are in boxes somewhere. Are they still treated the same way they were treated when they were in Germany? Where is the dignity?” she complained.

“For some people they might be [just] skulls [but] for some of us it brings pain. The same pain people feel when they talk about Ongulumbashe and Cassinga,” she said.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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