Rude, crude and undesirable

08 February 2013

NOT surprisingly the highly offensive remarks German Ambassador Onno Hückmann made in the presence of Prime Minister Hage Geingob this week have caused widespread outrage. He might as well have spit in Geingob’s face!


We have taken the principles of tolerance, dialogue and reconciliation to an extreme in this country.

The time has come to draw a line in the sand and make it categorically clear to people that we will no longer allow them to openly disrespect and insult us, or undermine our dignity – whether German or otherwise.

Hückmann’s arrogant and insensitive statements are indicative of the contempt many Germans still have for the human dignity of Namibians – and black people in general.

They continue to treat us as inferiors, and therefore feel they can speak to us as they please.

Worst of all, most of the time we take these insults lying down and just accept them with a deferential and subservient smile.

Some have commended Geingob for the firm manner in which he reacted to the provocation, but he should have gone even further and kicked Hückmann out of his office on his backside.

Slightly over a year ago President Hifikepunye Pohamba abruptly had to dismiss Hückmann’s predecessor Egon Kochanke from his office for similar boorish behaviour.

The fact that Germany keeps sending us such arrogant, crude and tactless ambassadors is clearly their way of telling us what they think of us.

Who the hell is Hückmann to tell Namibians what they can, and cannot, talk about?

Imagine how German chancellor Angela Merkel would react if the Namibian ambassador walked into her office and started telling her the German people must stop talking about this or that.

Hückmann reportedly told Geingob that the German government cannot not force private citizens and institutions to return the human remains of genocide victims they have put on macabre display in the country.

This is complete rubbish!

Is he, in fact, saying that if Germans citizens put the skulls and other remains of Jewish holocaust victims on display in their living rooms the German government would have no power to act.

Their own citizens would react with a storm of protest and it would provoke an international uproar.

Germany has stringent laws against holocaust denial and the display of Nazi symbols.

Therefore, if you read between the lines, there is a disturbing subtext to Hückmann’s claim.

What he is saying is that Namibian genocide victims are somehow sub-human and not worthy of the legal protection, consideration and respect that white people enjoy.

In many ways our Government only has itself to blame for this situation.

Our Government has consistently failed to take a firm and clear stand on the issue of reparations for the descendants of the victims of the 1904-1908 Genocide.

It has blatantly abdicated its responsibility to its own citizens and sided with a hostile foreign power against its own people.

It’s our own Government that has given the Germans the licence to show cruel indifference to the deep emotional pain many Namibians still feel more than 100 years after the genocide.

In 2006, the National Assembly passed a motion calling on Germany to acknowledge the crimes against humanity it committed in this country.

Since then, however, Government has swept the issue under the carpet and allowed it to die a quiet death.

It would be a huge mistake for our Government, or the Germans, to think that this issue will ever go away unless Germany meets its moral obligations.

The reparations demands will still be there whether in 50, 100 or 200 years from now.

No one should underestimate the lingering effects that the devastating psychological trauma of almost having your entire people wiped out has had on the descendants of the genocide victims.

Some still wake up with nightmares and weep when they think of the horrendous atrocities committed against their ancestors.

It affects them in their daily lives, and they feel a sense of hopelessness about the failure of our Government to adequately address this issue.

We are One Namibia, One Nation and genocide and the question of restorative justice should concern us all equally.

By now we should have evolved beyond petty jealousies and the belief that anything that benefits some communities is somehow to the detriment of others.

All Namibians should embrace and welcome restorative justice in the form of reparations.

Compensation to the descendants of genocide victims will help us to pay for schools, university scholarships, rural infrastructure and improve the well-being of the affected communities.

It will relieve the Namibian government of some of its financial burden, and in that way indirectly benefit all Namibians.

The country should commend Professor Peter Katjavivi for the prominent role he has played in furthering the cause of justice for the descendants of genocide victims.

We however, question the value of the dubiously named Namibia-Germany Parliamentary Friendship Group.

What friendship can you have with people who treat you with contempt, disrespect you and are generally abusive toward you?

The ‘flourishing’ ties between Namibia and Germany Hückmann speaks of are a figment of his own imagination.

In reality, the relationship is wilting, dying and becoming more bitter with every day that passes.



The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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