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Germany acknowledges genocide, to pay $1.34bn compensation to Namibia

After many years of denial, acknowledgement and negotiations, Germany has officially agreed that it committed genocide during its colonial occupation of Namibia from 1884 – 1915.

As part of the deal, the country has offered to dole out aid worth $1.34bn to the government and people of Namibia.

It would be recalled that during the period between 1904-1908, German soldiers reportedly killed tens of thousands of the Herero and Nama people after they rebel against the occupiers for taking their land.

The genocide began in 1904 after a Herero and Nama rebellion over German seizures of their land and cattle. The head of the military administration there, Lothar von Trotha, called for the extermination of the population in response.

Survivors from the Herero and Nama population were forced into the desert and later placed in concentration camps where they were exploited for labour.

Many died of disease, exhaustion and starvation with some subject to sexual exploitation and medical experimentation. It is thought up to 80% of the indigenous populations died during the genocide – with a death toll in the tens of thousands, said a BBC World report.

However, following the agreement to recognise the killings, Germany also announced financial aid worth more than $1.34bn as compensation, saying that it would ask for forgiveness from its former colony.

The recognition finally came after over six years of negotiation between the governments of both countries, the New York Times reports.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said his country was asking Namibia and victims’ descendants for forgiveness. This is after previous administrations had refused to take responsibility for the mass killings.

“We will now officially refer to these events as what they are from today’s perspective: genocide.

“As a gesture of recognition of the immeasurable suffering inflicted on the victims, we want to support Namibia and the victims’ descendants with a substantial programme of 1.1 billion euros for reconstruction and development,” he said.

The money will apparently be paid out over 30 years through spending on infrastructure, healthcare and training programmes benefiting the impacted communities.

But activists say the aid is not enough to address the suffering inflicted.

A spokesman for the Namibian government told AFP news agency that Germany’s recognition was “a first step in the right direction”.

The atrocities committed have been described by historians as “the forgotten genocide” of the early 20th Century, in what was then known as German South West Africa.

Germany’s acknowledgement is already yielding positive results as France has also made a statement of its own recognising the damage caused by its past involvement with Africa.

President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday in Rwanda that his country had “a duty to conform history and to recognize its part of the suffering it inflicted on the Rwandan people.

The Government of Nigeria, considered the big brother in Africa because of its population, is yet to comment about this development as at press time, RovingNaija reports.

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