Reparation talks: Tribes demand inclusion

The OvaHerero and OvaMbanderu Council for Dialogue on the 1904 Genocide (OCD-1904) has demanded the inclusion of their representatives in reparation discussions between the Namibian and German governments.

The group said they have acknowledged the appointment of Zed Ngavirue as the special envoy to lead the deliberations with the German government on the 1904-1908 genocide.

Speaking on behalf of the group at a Windhoek media conference on Thursday, Uendjiundja Katjaita applauded the government’s decision to appoint Ngavirue.

“Dr Zed Ngavirue is a direct offspring and a descendant of the genocide victims, who never wavered in what they believed in. Dr Ngavirue is a diplomat with the appropriate negotiation skills, to successfully conclude a sensitive matter of such magnitude, to the satisfaction of the affected communities,” Katjaita said.

She said Ngavirue was also a scholar of the genocide and Namibia’s struggle for self-determination and independence. 

“However, we resolved to negotiate with our government with a view to agree on our appropriate committee structures instituting a standing and direct communication. This also includes the inclusion of chiefs of the affected communities, as well as inadequate representation in the current structures,” Katjaita said.

The group revealed that it had already written a letter to the Office of the Vice President, detailing their demands.

After a meeting last Friday with President Hage Geingob, Vice President Nickey Iyambo informed the group to be patient while their demands are being looked into.  

The group has insisted that such a gesture will go a long way in promoting inclusivity and participation in the reparation’s process.

The OCD-1904 maintains that the German government, through its President Joachim Gauck and the Bundestag, owe the affected communities an apology.

They say that the German government needs to unequivocally recognise the atrocities committed against the OvaHerero, OvaMbanderu and Nama communities, as acts of genocide.

They also demand that Germany must express an unambiguous commitment to ensure that the swift location and return of all their ancestors’ remains is done.

The group reaffirmed to its communities that it will not rest until all their demands are met.

“Allow me to make use of this opportunity to plead with the affected communities of genocide to remain calm and not to be confused with false propaganda of some opportunistic individuals, who are there for self-serving interests.

“Let us give the leaders of the OCD -1904 ample time to engage our government and provide it with the necessary weapons and ammunition for it to be able to negotiate successfully with us,” Katjaita said.

OCD-1904 was established in 2005, following an All Ovambanderu and Ovaherero Summit, which took place in Opuwo.

The group is not the only one fighting for reparations, with another being the OvaHerero-OvaMbanderu and Nama Genocide Committee, led by Chief Vekuii Rukoro.