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‘Not Acceptable’: Namibia Rejects Germany’s $11.7M Offer to Atone for Colonial-Era Genocide of Tens of Thousands of African People

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Namibian President Hage Geingob has rejected Germany’s offer to compensate the southern African nation for colonial-era mass killings. Geingob said in a statement on Tuesday that Berlin’s offer of $11.7 million was “not acceptable.”

During the colonial era between 1904 and 1908 the German Empire killed as many as 80,000 Herero and Nama people in response to an anti-colonial resistance, per the US Holocaust Museum. Other estimates put the number of African people killed at over 100,000.

“The current offer for reparations made by the German government remains an outstanding issue and is not acceptable to the Namibian government,” Geingob said. The Namibian government plans to negotiate a “revised offer.”

Geingob also took issue with Berlin’s use of the phrase “healing of wounds” in place of the term reparations.

Namibian President Hage Geingob. (Photo: Namibian Presidency Facebook)
Although Namibia and Germany have been negotiating the arrangement of an official apology and aid compensation from the European country since 2015, Germany refuses to directly pay reparations to Namibia. Germany says the money it has given to Namibia in the form of development aid has displaced the need for official reparations. The two countries have engaged in eight rounds of negotiations since 2015.

Descendants of those who survived the genocide say they are entitled to receive $4 billion in compensation from Germany.

Victims of repression during the Southwest African Genocide. (Photo: UC Santa Barbara)
Germany ruled modern-day Namibia, a colony called German Southwest Africa at the time, from 1884 to 1915. Following an anti-colonial uprising, German forces murdered at least 65,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama people by means of sexual violence, starvation, forced labor, malnutrition, and medical experiments.

The Germans carried out what’s been called the “first genocide of the 20th century,” in order to gain access to the natives’ land. Some 80 percent of the Herero people and half of the Nama people were wiped out. To this day, much of the most valuable land in Namibia is owned by the descendants of German colonists.