Namibian tribe protests against German massacre (fwd)

karl h schwerin (schwerin@UNM.EDU)
Wed, 27 Sep 1995 14:02:14 -0600

Karl Schwerin SnailMail: Dept. of Anthropology
Univ. of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 87131

Much charitable endeavor is motivated by an unconscious
desire to peer into lives that one is glad to be unable
to share. . . . . Edward Sapir

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Date: Fri, 22 Sep 95 16:35:01 0500
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Subject: Namibian tribe protests against German massacre

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From: (Reuters)
Subject: Namibian tribe protests against German massacre
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 95 11:50:34 PDT
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WINDHOEK, Namibia (Reuter) - Descendants of a Namibian tribe
massacred by German colonial troops marched in Windhoek Friday
to demand compensation from visiting Chancellor Helmut Kohl and
threatened to take their case to the United Nations.
Kohl missed the demonstration while visiting the country's
German community, a remant of the era before Word War I when
Namibia was Germany's South West Africa colony.
More than 200 members of the Herero tribe led by Paramount
Chief Kuaima Riruako marched on the German embassy in Windhoek
and handed in a petition intended for Kohl.
``We think we have a legitimate claim for reparations as a
result of the war and genocide committed against the Hereros by
the German army,'' Riruako said.
He told reporters the Herero Traditional Authority was
prepared to take its case to the United Nations to back its
reparations demands should Bonn reject its claim.
Kohl was not in the capital as he was visiting the Atlantic
resort of Swakopmund -- where the main street, Kaiser Wilhelm
Strasse, is still named after Germany's last emperor.
Enthusiastic schoolchildren waving flags lined Kohl's route
as he made his way on the final day of his visit to Nambibia's
German school. The first visit of a German chancellor was a big
event for the 25,000-strong group.
Ethnic Germans account for around a third of Nambibia's
white community.
But German influence on the country remains evident. The
government and parliament meet in colonial-era buildings,
monuments mark the deeds of German conquerors and German remains
an important language in official and business life.
A pupil asked him about strong protests aired when the
German embassy showed the Holocaust film ``Schindler's List'' as
a contribution to a discussion on Germany's Nazi past.
``No one can escape his past,'' Kohl responded. ``We cannot
remain stuck in memories, but we must find a way out of
memories, along with memories, into the future.''
Herero leaders are demanding $2.2 billion damages from the
Bonn government to compensate for what they term the genocide
committed by the colonists.
Germany declared a protectorate of South West Africa in
1884. Kaiser Wilhelm II sent a senior general, Lothar von
Trotha, to crush a Herero revolt in January 1904.
Thousands of Hereros were driven into the desert or killed.
Only about 5,000 survived and fled to present-day Botswana and
South Africa after von Trotha issued an extermination order.
Police prevented Hereros from demonstrating along Kohl's
route into the city from the airport following his arrival from
South Africa Thursday.
Rirualo criticized the Namibian government for failing to
organize a meeting between the Hereros and Kohl, who he said had
refused to meet tribal leaders.
``Instead, it seems that you have chosen the delight of
Swakopmund -- much like any other German tourist. Your total
lack of sensitivity in this regard is symptomatic of the
mentality of people like Gen. von Trotha and his like who
absolutely had no regard for the Herero humanity,'' he added.