OCD-1904 Position on the present German Government’s historic responsibility over Namibia

Presented to Mr. Walter Lindner, Director General for African Affairs, of the German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the occasion of his audience with the supreme chief (Ombara Onene) Kaihepovazandu Alphons Maharero, for the attention of the German Federal Government 

1. Introduction

The OCD-1904 welcomes the Federal Government’s gesture to rescue the dialogue and peaceful co-existence with the victims of the German colonial war of extermination.  The new development of dispatching an official of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs bears a clear testimony that the principle of constructive dialogue adopted by OCD-1904 at Opuuo, Kunene Region, on the 02 May 2005, is the viable option to find an amicable solution which will strengthen peace and co-operation between our two peoples. 

2. Reconciliation between the Descendants of the Victims and Germans

There are those who may be tempted to embrace an illusionary view that many years have passed since this dark period of senseless yet massive destruction, displacement, suffering and killing, and that the situation may have resolved itself over the years. Or that Namibia is now an independent and sovereign state and is enjoying a good working relationship with its German counterpart. However, for the greater majority if not all the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu people, remains of the view that unconditional admission of responsibility, official apology and restorative justice are the pillars of genuine reconciliation and peace between our two people.  The OCD-904 is in this regard a culmination of the All Ovaherero/Ovambanderu Conference convened at Opuwo in May 2005 to deliberate on the unresolved issues of co-operation with the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany around the 1884 -1908 Genocide.

Similarly, we have taken note of the Bundestag resolution of June 16, 2004, as having signified a first step in the long overdue process for the reconciliation of our two people, however to our disappointment it fell far short of meeting our expectations. Especially by failing to acknowledge these past despicable acts, as acts of Genocide; as well as its failure to render an unconditional Apology based on the admission of moral guilt. 

Furthermore we also acknowledge, the apology by Hon. Heidi Marie Wieczorek Zeul, the former Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development in the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, offered on the August 11, 2004, on the Occasion of the pilgrimage to Okakarara for the Centennial Commemoration of the decisive battle of Ohamakari between German soldiers and the resistance movement of our ancestors.   Again, although our state of sorrow was partly lifted by this bold step of courage and statesmanship, we however learned that upon her return to Germany, Ms. Wieczorek Zeul was rebuked in Parliament for having taken such a reconciliatory gesture “on behalf of the Government of Germany”.

Therefore, at this point there has not been a formal apology from the German Government. Such shortcomings may seem small but they have had a significant impact in retarding the commencement and progress of a genuine process of reconciliation, which we eagerly want to see.

To reflect on the OCD–1904’s position regarding the grand idea of the German Government’s “special reconciliation initiative”. We remain of the opinion that any process of true reconciliation cannot be pursued through unilateralism, but would require an unconditional process based on a structured Dialogue between those on both sides of the conflict divide.

3. Dialogue with Germany

The OCD-1904 since its inception has continued to advocate for direct dialogue between the German Government on the one hand and those communities that directly bore the brunt of its predecessor Government, through the mediation of the Namibian Government. On various occasion the OCD-1904 has communicated this message to successive German emissaries in the form of Ambassadors stationed in Namibia, visiting German political office – bearers and officials.  Letter presented to your processor as well as to the then President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Herr Herzog calling for dialogue on restorative justice by the Six Royal Houses (Kambazembi, Maharero, Mureti, Nguvauva, Vita, and Zeraeua) in 1994.  Similar sentiments were echoed by Oveherero leaders when they petitioned the United Nations in the early sixties.

4. Bilateral co-operations vis-à-vis Restorative Justice

We recognize and appreciate the existing bilateral development co-operation between the Governments of the Republic of Namibia and the Federal Republic of Germany. However, we are equally alarmed by and regret the fact that the development assistance to Namibian Government has been mixed or confused with the restorative justice demanded by the descendants of the victims of the German colonial war of extermination. In this regard, the OCD-1904 would like to state that development assistance to Namibia as a matter of bilateral agreements between the two governments, must not have umbilical link to the restorative justice we are demanding. This means that the German Government must direct the restorative justice (corrective development) directly to the affected communities through their government and not in a form of development assistance to Namibian Government.

5. The skeletal remains of our ancestors

Despite the controversial handing–over of skeletal remains by the representative of the Charité-Univeritätsmedizin Berlin to the representative of the Heritage Council of Namibia on 30 September 2011, the OCD-1904 remains committed to its objective of having all the rest of Namibians remains and cultural artifacts repatriated back home.  Central to the healing of our wounds is a process of full disclosure in terms of the thrust the pseudo –scientific inquiries and the findings thereof. 

We therefore, expect that any process of repatriation and storage of Namibian remains and cultural artifacts will be conducted with full consultation and participation of the OCD-1904 leadership and technocrats. It is customary that the remains of our forefathers should be accompanied by elders and received by elders, let alone the size of their participation.

6. Conclusion

We appeal to the German Government to accept our clarion call towards engaging both the Namibian and German governments in a Structured Dialogue for Restorative Justice, with the full participation and involvement of the representatives of the descendants of those that suffered heavily under dreadful and atrocious German colonial rule.





Supreme Chief (Ombara Onene) Alphons Kaihepovazandu MahareroCHAIRPERSON: OCD-1904

Windhoek, NAMIBIA
02 February 2012

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