WINDHOEK – A group of traditional chiefs in Namibia said Thursday they have accepted an offer of compensation by Germany and a recognition that the colonial-era massacre of tens of thousands of their people in the early 20th century was genocide.
Germany pledged last week to give 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) over a 30-year period for projects to help communities of people descended from those killed between 1904 and 1908, when Germany ruled the southern African country. Germany asked the victims for forgiveness, in a statement by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
The chiefs accepted the offer but said it could still be improved through further negotiations.
“We resolved to accept this offer because what is paramount to us is not the amount of money we are getting from the German government but the restoration of our dignity," said Gerson Katjirua, head of the Ovaherero/OvaMbanderu and Nama Council, which consists of 21 tribal chiefs. ”This process was and will never be about making money from the German government."
Other traditional chiefs have rejected the offer, and say they want around 487 billion euros ($590 billion) paid over 40 years, and pension funds for affected communities.
Historians say German Gen. Lothar von Trotha, who was sent to what was then German South West Africa to put down an uprising by the Herero people, instructed his troops to wipe out the entire tribe. They say that the majority of the Herero, about 65,000, were killed, as were at least 10,000 Nama people.