Germany apologised for its role in the slaughter of Herero and Nama tribespeople in Namibia more than a century ago and officially described the massacre as genocide for the first time, as it agreed to fund projects worth over a billion euros.
Namibia’s President Hage Geingob welcomed the ‘historic’ move, but Herero paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro dismissed a deal agreed by the two governments as “an insult” because it did not include payment of reparations.
Instead, Germany will fund 1.3 billion US dollar of reconstruction and development projects in Namibia, which German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said would directly benefit the genocide-affected communities, authorities said on Friday.
“That’s a black cat in the bag instead of reparations for a crime against humanity,” Rukoro told Reuters. “No self-respecting African will accept such an insult in this day and age from a so-called civilized European nation.”
German soldiers killed some 65,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama people in a 1904-1908 campaign after a revolt against land seizures by colonists in what historians and the United Nations have long called the first genocide of the 20th century.
While Germany has previously acknowledged “moral responsibility” for the killings, it had avoided making an official apology for the massacres to avoid compensation claims.
In a statement announcing an agreement with Namibia following more than five years of negotiations, Maas said the events of the colonial period should be named “without sparing or glossing over them.”
“We will now also officially call these events what they were from today’s perspective: a genocide,” he added.
“In light of Germany’s historical and moral responsibility, we will ask Namibia and the descendants of the victims for forgiveness.”
Namibian media reported on Thursday that the funds promised by Germany would support infrastructure, healthcare and training programs over 30 years.
Namibia’s president Geingob welcomed the move as a “step in the right direction,” his spokesman told Reuters.