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Ovaherero Genocide Foundation

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

The 1904-07: OvaHerero-Nama Genocide

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 The genocide was a campaign of racial extermination and collective punishment that the German state under Kaiser Wilhelm II, through German colonial troopers of German South-West Africa, undertook against the Ovaherero and Nama people in periods leading up to the native Ovaherero and Nama peoples’ uprising between 1904 and 1907 but largely during that period of open hostilities.

After years of exploitation, racial subjugation and increasing dispossession off their cattle and land by German settlers, on 12 January 1904 the Ovaherero, led by thier Paramount Chief Samuel Maharero, rose-up against German colonial rule in South West Africa. Ovaherero recorded numerous victories over German troopers at Okandjira and Oviuombo battles which amongst other things led to the recall of the then German Colonial Administrator and Troops Commander Theodor Leutwein and scaled-up troops reinforcement, in August, new German Colonial Commander, Lothar von Trotha defeated the Ovaherero in the Battle of Waterberg and drove them into the desert of Omaheke where most died of German chemical warfare of poisoning water wells and thirst.

On October 2nd 1904 at the village of Ozombu-zovindimba in Otjinene, Omaheke region, von Trotha issued his infamous Extermination order to OvaHerero, armed or unarmed, children or women, to all vacate the “German territory of South West Africa or be killed” and thus signaling intent to destroy OvaHerero nation in part or in whole as per the dictates of the UN definition of genocide as a crime against humanity.

The few who survived fled to neighboring Angola, Botswana, and South Africa. The insignificant share that took refuge in the Erongo Mountains and elsewhere, amongst whom was Hosea Kutako who would lead his people through a new phase of nationalism and mobilization towards the Namibian statehood, were rounded up by Germans and herded into concentration camps.

In October 1904, the Nama people also rebelled against the Germans and, through a similar Extermination order issued on April 1905, suffered the same fate.

It is estimated that up to 80 000 of the 100 000 Ovaherero people in 1904 died.

The genocide was characterized by widespread deaths from starvation and thirst because those who fled the violence were prevented from leaving the Namib Desert. In 1985, the United Nations’ Whitaker Report classified the aftermath as an attempt to exterminate the Ovaherero and Nama people of South-West Africa, and therefore one of the earliest attempts at genocide in the 20th century.

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