A man takes a photo during the handover of 20 skulls to Nambians in Berlin, Germany. File picture: EPA

New York - The head of a Namibian tribe said on Tuesday he has been excluded from a Berlin ceremony to return skulls of those murdered in Namibia by Germany over a century ago.

Herero chief Vekuii Rukoro is involved in an attempt to bring a class-action lawsuit against the German government for genocide during Germany's colonial rule in what is now Namibia.

Rukoro said the German government is paying for a 25-member delegation from Namibia to come to Berlin for the ceremony at the end of August.

"My name has been excluded because I took the German government to court," Rukoro, who has been the "Paramount Chief" of the Herero since 2014, told dpa in New York. The German government has not officially responded.

Some of the skulls of Herero and Nama people who were murdered during colonial rule had been sent to German museums and will be handed over to the visiting delegation.

The German protestant church will oversee the ceremony, according to Bremen's Uebersee-Museum (overseas museum), which possesses two of the skulls.

But their return must be carried out in accordance with relevant religious rituals, Rukoro said, which must be performed by high priests and "not by any Tom, Dick and Harry."

The church and Germany's foreign office did not confirm details of the event to dpa.

Germany's rule of Namibia as the colony German South West Africa lasted more than 30 years and ended in 1915 in the midst of World War I.

It is unclear whether the New York court will take the case to trial. The German government has said the case is inadmissible.