Germany for the first time has recognised that it committed genocide against the Herero and Nama people in present-day Namibia during its colonial rule over a century ago, and promised financial support of over a billion euros to the Southern African nation.
About the Genocide and its recognition by Germany
- Time Period: Between 1904 and 1908, German colonial settlers killed tens of thousands of men, women and children from the Herero and Nama tribes.
- German Reparation: They rebelled against colonial rule in what was then called German South West Africa.
- Germany has previously acknowledged the atrocities, they refused to pay direct reparations for many years.
- Now it announced a fund of €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) to help aid community projects in Namibia.
Historical background of Herero and Nama Genocide
- Land Occupation: Between 1884 and 1890, Germany formally colonised parts of present-day Namibia.
- By 1903, around 3,000 German settlers had occupied the central high ground of the region.
- Tension over resources: Tensions quickly rose as local tribes saw the German settlers as a threat to their land and resources.
- The Herero, also known as Ovaherero, are a Bantu ethnic group inhabiting parts of Southern Africa.
- They speak Otjiherero, a Bantu language.
- Herero primarily reside in Namibia, there are also significant populations in Botswana and Angola.
- Nama are an African ethnic group of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.
- They traditionally speak the Nama language.
- The Nama People are the largest group of the Khoikhoi people.
- Conflict: Violence first broke out between Herero fighters and German settlers in a small town called Okahandja.
- Lieutenant General Lothar von Trotha opted for a far more aggressive military approach.
- The Herero fighters, fled to the Waterberg plateau at the edge of the Kalahari desert. His strategy was to ruthlessly “annihilate” the Hereros when they least expected it.
- During the Battle of Waterberg, around 80,000 Herero, including women and children, were chased across the desert by German troops. A mere 15,000 survived.
- Southern Nama communities had led an insurrection against German colonialism. But much like the Herero, they too were brutally suppressed. Around 10,000 of them were killed.
- Over the next three years, thousands of Nama and Herero men, women and children were exiled to the Kalahari desert where many died of thirst.
- Several others were sent to bleak concentration camps, and used for forced labour.
- The Germans continued to rule the region till 1915, following which it fell under South Africa’s control for 75 years.
- Namibia finally gained independence in 1990.
What is the significance of the acknowledgement?
- It would be a cause for embarrassment for the country and perhaps giving other countries the impetus to also acknowledge the genocide.
- The move is expected to stop countries to go for any such move in future.
- This is expected to recognize the genocide by other nations such as India who had not recognized it yet.