Germany cements apology with monetary funds

Published Jun 2, 2005


Windhoek - The German government has agreed to pay Namibia €20-million (about R160-million) towards efforts for reconciliation with its former colony.

Media reports said Germany had indicated it was prepared to support a long-term reconciliation programme to address the injustices of German colonial rule in Namibia about 100 years ago.

Heidemarie Wiecczorek-Zeul, Germany's minister of economic co-operation and development, was quoted as saying that Germany was willing to bankroll an "initiative for reconciliation" to the tune of €20-million over a period of 10 years.

Her public apology to the Herero people in August last year at the centenary of the 1904 Ohamakari battle made international headlines. The Herero people had been victims of a genocidal campaign by German colonial troops.

"The process of reconciliation now needs more action to make reconciliation more tangible," Wiecczorek-Zeul said.

Talks with Namibian stakeholders and the Namibian government were now under way to create an initiative for reconciliation, she said.

An intended reconciliation committee was to include not only representatives of the Herero people, but also of the Namas and Damaras, other victims of the military campaigns in 1904-07.

Representatives of the Namibian and German governments were to be responsible for the initiative.

The funds that Germany is prepared to allocate will be used for development projects in areas mainly inhabited by Herero, Nama and Damara people. The German-Namibian reconciliation committee - including representatives of Namibian civil society and churches - will decide on criteria for the allocation of funds.

Representatives of Namibia's Herero people, who lost most of their strength, property and livelihood during the 1904-07 war, earlier called for a large cash payout to compensate for the war crimes committed 100 years ago.

Many others, however, said they would be satisfied with an official recognition of the genocide crimes committed, including an apology. - Mercury Foreign Service

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