Herero resistance fighters in chaines – 1904/5 (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Germany has formally recognised the atrocities committed in Namibia against the Herero and Nama ethnic groups as genocide.

The former colonial power will support Namibia and the descendants of the victims with €1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) for reconstruction and development and ask for forgiveness for the “crimes of German colonial rule”. 

“Our goal was and is to find a common path to genuine reconciliation in memory of the victims. This includes naming the events of the German colonial period in what is now Namibia, and in particular the atrocities in the period from 1904 to 1908, without sparing or glossing over them. We will now also officially call these events what they were from today’s perspective: a genocide,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement on Friday.

The Namibian government saw the formal acceptance of the atrocities as genocide as a key step in the process of reconciliation and reparation, Namibian presidential press secretary Alfredo Hengari said.

“These are very positive developments in light of a very long process that has been accelerated over the past five years. People will never forget this genocide; they live with it. And this is an important process in terms of healing those wounds,” Hengari told CNN on Friday.

However victims groups have rejected the deal. Vekuii Rukoro, the Paramount Chief of Herero people, former attorney general and member of parliament told CNN that they were not part of the discussion with the German government.

“Is this the kind of reparation that we are supposed to be excited about? This is just a public relations. This is a sellout job by the Namibian government. The government has betrayed the cause of my people,” he said.

Rukoro said that Herero and Nama victim groups expect monetary reparations. He said reparations didn’t need to go to individual people, but should be in the form of a collective payment to the descendants of those killed and pushed off their land during the genocide.

He added that the German president is not welcome in the southern African country.

The president of Germany isn’t welcome here as far as victim communities are concerned. He is persona non grata,” he said.

German troops killed up to 80,000 of Herero and Nama people in what is now Namibia between 1904 and 1908 in response to an anti-colonial uprising. 

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