Inclusivity and honesty in all Talks with Germany: “Germany knows who the children of the victims of her murderous policies a century back are and indeed currently where they live, she must therefore soonest cease with her gimmicks of wasting resources on engaging distant and unaffected parties in her so-called genocide negotiations AND in earnest directly engage Ovaherero and Nama leadership to find permanent closure to the horrific chapter of her disastrous colonial expedition South-West Africa which can only be effected through genuine and faithful accession to a legal agreement on reparation settlement, commensurate with her crimes and negotiated only with legitimate Ovaherero and Nama representatives. It is only a fallacy that a settlement for genocide crimes meted out against ethnic groupings in pre-modern southern African states times, can be arrived at without their bonafide voices and settled only with the state of Namibia. Whilst the state of Namibia, as home to the largest share of descendants of victim’s communities remains a key stakeholder in the discussion with the German state, it cannot wholly appropriate the campaign onto itself and preferred splinter Ovaherero and Nama groupings who in the main are extremely under-representative of the broader affected communities and are fully-absorbed into the government structure and as such enjoys no latitude and or leeway to independently speak for the aspirations of our communities. Equally, the “globalization” of descendants of that war principally implies that Ovaherero and Nama people are today global communities transcending territorial boundaries and thus no single state can rationally claim monopoly and full representation over them. Accordingly therefore, only their own leadership can fully and aptly articulate their interests now resident across multiple nation-states and thus any discussion about them is only adequately crafted to the extend it incorporates genuine representative voices from them !!!” Nandiuasora Mazeingo, OGF Chairperson, April, 2021

Genocide & War

Difference between Genocide and War

Genocide and war go hand in hand although the two are not synonymous. War can occur without genocide, although it’s rare that genocide will occur without war. Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term genocide, viewed genocide as a type of warfare.

Mark Levene, a historian, defines three types of warfare and views genocide differently from Lemkin.

Type 1

State war against other sovereign states

Type 2

State war against other sovereign states or nations who are perceived to be ‘illegitimate’

Type 3

State war within the boundaries or other territories controlled by the sovereign state against national or other groups perceived to be illegitimate

Levene says the three types of warfare have distinct characteristics, but it’s not typical that war leads to genocide.

The characteristics of warfare are similar to characteristics of genocide, and genocide does represent warfare at it’s most extreme manifestation, but still genocide is different. One of the differences he draws between the two is the intent. In examples of war the intent is not oppression or extermination, but to win the war. 

Analysis of Genocide and War

​Technically both Lemkin and Levene were correct in their analysis of the relationship between genocide and war given the time period and their reflection of the past.

​Way after the first 20th century genocidal campaign agaisnt Ovaherero and Namas of early Namibia/ then South West Africa which went unnoticed in much of the western world, Lemkin introduced the word genocide in 1944 in reference to the present time mass killing of Jews in World War II and the past time mass killing of Armenians during World War I. He used those two specific instances of violence that occurred within general wars to come up with his definition of genocide, giving the view that genocide was a type of warfare.

Levene’s analysis in 2005 was years after genocide was legally defined in the UN Genocide Convention, which is much more specific than Lemkin’s original definition. There were also many more instances of genocide since Lemkin’s introduction of the word as well as historically. Levene’s research touched lightly on the psychological aspect of the genocidal mentality that allows mass killings to take place, but does not put enough emphasis on the mind of the perpetrator. 

​Both Lemkin and Levene use good starting points for their analysis, but more should be included. We have to break it down and look at the underlying issues. On a basic level, genocide is an extreme form of discrimination in which one group of people deliberately intends to destroy another group of people. On a basic level, war is armed conflict between states or nations. We also need to consider whether intent truly matters if we end up with the same results.

​Although the Ovaherero and Namas genocide of early Namibia/ then German, South West Africa happened during an native’s colonial uprising between 1904 and 1907; Armenian genocide happened during WWI and the Holocaust happened during WWII, the reasons for the mass killing of Ovaherero and Namas of early Namibia/then South West Africa, Armenians under the Ottoman Empire of present-day Turkey and Jews of Germany were discriminatory.

The Germans loathed the rebellious Ovaherero and Namas of German South West Africa but chiefly saw them as expendable to gaining full access and control of the riches of what they perceived to be the jewel of their colonial possessions and Crown, The Turks resented the Armenians and the Nazis believed they were superior to the Jews, which led to armed conflict. Majority of the instances of genocide in the past century or so have led to war. Genocide is a man-made issue that starts in the mind of the perpetrator based on psychological motives that influence behavior.

Levene says the three types of warfare have distinct characteristics, but it’s not typical that war leads to genocide.

The characteristics of warfare are similar to characteristics of genocide, and genocide does represent warfare at it’s most extreme manifestation, but still genocide is different. One of the differences he draws between the two is the intent. In examples of war the intent is not oppression or extermination, but to win the war. 

Reference:

Levene, Mark. Genocide in the Age of the Nation State, Volume 1: The Meaning of Genocide.  I.B. Taurus & Co. Ltd, 2005.