Why Germany's Namibia Genocide Apology Isn't EnoughBreaking News
tags: colonialism, genocide, Namibia, German history, Herero War
Germany's long-awaited apology for last century's mass killing in Namibia has opened fresh questions about how Europe confronts its colonial past in Africa, argues Namibian analyst Emsie Erastus.
Last week, at the completion of negotiations with Namibia, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made the announcement that the slaughter his country carried out in its former colony was a genocide.
There was also the promise of development aid worth more than €1.1bn (£940m; $1.34bn).
German colonisers killed tens of thousands of Ovaherero and Nama people in Namibia between 1904 and 1908. This amounted to some 80% of the Herero and over 40% of the Nama. Their land and livestock were also confiscated.
This was punishment for taking part in an uprising.
The media announcement on Friday was stage craft at its best: a carefully compiled statement seemingly to avoid any legal culpability. It came as the largest faction within the Ovaherero community continue to pursue attempts to sue the German state for the genocide.
The message was intended for a sceptical German audience that, according to multiple studies, has little remembrance of the killings or of the country's past as a powerful colonial force with dominion over modern-day Togo, Namibia, Burundi, and Tanzania.
In terms of fully acknowledging its colonial past in Namibia, Germany has always been reluctant to do so. This is despite providing development support to successive administrations since Namibia's independence in 1990.
A half-hearted apology delivered by a German development minister in 2004, on the 100th anniversary of the start of the genocide, was roundly criticised.