Namibian activist chief dies

Windhoek - A Namibian tribal leader who led the fight for reparations against the atrocities committed by colonial Germany has died, a family spokesman said Tuesday.

Chief Kuaima Riruako, 79, of the Herero tribe died Monday in hospital after a lengthy illness.

Riruako had lobbied the Namibian government to demand compensation for tens of thousands of ethnic people who were victims of a massacre by German colonial rulers, during an uprising between 1904 and 1908.

In 2004 the German government apologised for the killings but has resisted paying financial compensation, arguing that it had already given much development aid to the southern African country.

Berlin ruled Namibia, previously known as German South-West Africa from 1884 to 1915.

Riruako's family described his death a setback for the fight for reparations.

“We are confident and determined that the issue of reparations will be pursued until justice is served,” said family spokesman Hoze Riruako.

The chief, who led his tribe since 1978, once demanded that private companies that benefited from the colonial atrocities pay for their deeds.

Kuaima Riruako also had an interest in other colonial atrocities against indigenous people.

In 2011, Riruako was one of the leaders who went to Germany to collect the skulls of ethnic Hereros and Namas that were taken over a century ago.

Namibia's defence minister Nahas Angula said the chief “made a laudable contribution to the country”.

He was also the leader of National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo), a political party he co-founded in 1964.

He is survived by two wives and 16 children.

Details for his funeral had not yet been finalised.