Germany exterminated 81% of the population during the Namibian genocide. More than 100 years ago, public apologies are not enough.
In 1884, several European leaders they sat at a negotiating table. The purpose of the meeting was to divide the largest mutiny that the colonialist campaigns had ever had: Africa. From then on, it was agreed which territories would correspond to which country, dismissing the nations and societies that already existed on the continent. This event became known as the Berlin Conference.
Once the relevant agreements were signed, each country had at its disposal a piece of territory to exploit at its best. Hence, the ideology of white supremacy was established as a strategy of war. A few years later, in 1904, Germany perpetuated one of the most violent massacres in the history of African countries. So was the Namibian genocide.
Namibian Genocide: Destruction of an Independent Society
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Along the coast, a concentration camp rose like a shell against the waves. Behind the fortress, the Namib Desert loomed as another insurmountable natural barrier. “My great-grandmother told me that some members of our family were brought here and forced to work, and they died, ”says Laidlaw Peringanda, a Namibian social activist.
For 4 years, Namibia was part of the German occupation of South West Africa. The insurgents were taken to concentration camps to work. The most rebellious were forced to starve among the desert dunes. The few survivors were taken to the firing squad, after long days of forced labor as slaves.
In total, of the 80,000 inhabitants of the Nama people that existed, around 65,000 were exterminated, according to official figures. Sexual violence against local women became a common practice for Germans. The premise was simple: Any Namibian, armed or unarmed, would be executed.
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A controversial compensation for a genocide
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It took 100 years before Germany asked for a public apology to the inhabitants for the genocide of Namibia. Not only were the atrocities committed within the country recognized, but significant monetary compensation was offered in the form of an offer of peace. The figure rises above the $ 1 billion.
The debt will be repaid over 30 years, with support for the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure, strengthening of the health sector, and training that benefits contemporary Namibians. Regarding these efforts, various leaders of the country have resisted: there is no price for the forced death of millions of civilians, who had little to do with European colonialist dynamics imprinted on the continent.
After the violent occupation ended, the land was divided into farms that German colonizers would exploit for years. The children of the rapes would not be recognized by the European country, and would remain living in overcrowded “informal settlements”, on the outskirts of big cities.
The descendants of German settlers still living in Namibia deny the genocide as “moral blackmail.” They accuse contemporary historians of not qualify the historical facts with the counterweights of the hostile response of the Namibians. Skepticism on Peringanda’s part, therefore, should not be underestimated. At the same time, Tanzania and other previously occupied territories have expressed the country’s need to repair the damage caused, more than a century after the end of the violence.
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