President’s Genocide Comments Validate Descendants’ Concerns

Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

As a descendant of the survivors of genocide committed by imperial Germany against my forebears, I could not help but be amazed, if not perplexed, by recent comments by president Hage Geingob.

As reported in the media, they were to the effect that the deeds of the apartheid regime in Namibia were “worse” than the genocide of our forebears, .

Indeed, I find it hard to believe the president might have pronounced himself as such, giving him instead the benefit of the doubt – that he might have been misquoted, and/or if he may have said it unconsciously.  

It does not make sense that the would-be ‘captain supreme’ of our demand for reparations would lapse into such absent-mindedness: Making a U-turn and speaking against the very same cause he claims to have been championing on our behalf.

It is a contradiction in terms, eroding the little confidence and trust we may have left as descendants.

This is as if we have not been aware of his seemingly near indifferent  doublespeak on the matter many a time, including ‘no-care’ answering of questions on the issue on many occasions following his State of the Nation address in parliament earlier this year.


As much as there is not much to comment on regarding the said article in a local daily, in the sense that it is not substantiated other than just the use of the emotive word “worse”, it is a matter any deserving descendant cannot let pass. If only to implore the president to back his utterances.

There have been many debates in the National Assembly on the genocide with varying motions put forward on the matter.

For example, Nudo MP Joseph Kauandenge pressed for establishing a genocide memorial museum.

Such motions date back to 2006 with a groundbreaking motion by the late Ovaherero paramount chief Kuaima Riruako, which effectively put the genocide on the Namibian political agenda, and thereafter even on the German political agenda.

One cannot help but also recall the debate on a joint declaration last year, which, to say the least, ended in limbo.

Eventually, the issue irretrievably made the world political agenda, reaching even the United Nations, among others.

Witness the UN special rapporteurs who this February wrote to both the Namibian and German governments seeking clarity on how they have been handling the issue of genocide, an apology and reparations.


Following contributions and motions on the genocide by various MPs in the National Assembly, an uneasiness, if not aversion to these motions by some members was apparent.

Not excepting even among descendant representatives from descendant communities, notably from Swapo.

In this regard one cannot but think the president’s utterances may be a blessing in a disguise completing the puzzle.

This puzzle being Swapo’s ambivalence and ambiguity.

I am reminded of the time I ran into a Swapo veteran and liberation icon when we briefly touched on the issue with him asking me what was happening.

I was surprised he posed that question, being who he is.

I deflected, saying Swapo must be abreast of the matter as negotiations on the genocide and reparations between Namibia and Germany were taking place under the government’s watch.

Whether Swapo has a position and/or policy with regard to genocide and reparations drew a blank.

If there is none, one cannot but wonder what has been informing and driving the government on this matter?

The reported pronouncements by president Geingob, for what they are worth, could not have been coincidental.

From Paris, France, the president proceeded to New York, where he met the chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz.

Among others, president Geingob and his German counterpart discussed the very issue of the genocide.


How can the president genuinely speak on behalf of the descendants on a matter he does not champion?

In the aftermath of his utterances, surely the president needs to purposefully redeem himself and his government in the eyes of descendants of the genocide.

The writing has all but been on the wall since former president Hifikepunye Pohamba entrusted him with implementing the 2006 resolution on the issue.

Thus the word usurping cannot be unfamiliar or strange to him.

Those descendants who have had reservations seem to be vindicated at last.

  • Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro is a descendant of the Ovaherero/Ovambanderu genocide victims

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