German envoy Polenz expected Monday
Germany’s Special Envoy for the Negotiations on Genocide Reparations, Ruprecht Polenz, is expected to arrive in Windhoek on Monday, his Namibian counterpart Dr Zed Ngavirue confirmed on Tuesday.
This will be the Polenz’ third visit to the country and sixth engagement with Namibia on the issue, following five other preparatory and preliminary meetings between the two envoys to prepare the framework for substantive negotiations.
Talks between the two governments come after sections of the OvaHerero and Nama communities demanded reparations for the genocide committed by German colonialist forces in the then known as German South West Africa.
This time around Polenz is expected to visit, among others, Otjunda in the Omaheke Region where the late OvaMbanderu Chief Kahimemua Haikungairi Nguvauva was executed by German colonial troops on June 11, 1896 as punishment for participating in an uprising against settlers in the Gobabis area.
Polenz is also expected to visit Herero graves near Anton Lubowski Avenue in Swakopmund. During his previous visits Polenz, accompanied by Ngavirue and German Ambassador Christian Matthias Schlaga, visited the Okakarara and Hamakari areas in the Otjozondjupa Region.
He also visited Shark Island, a notorious former concentration camp situated near the southwestern harbour town of Lüderitz in the //Karas Region, where many OvaHerero and Nama men, women and children died at the hands of German imperial troops between 1904 and 1908 after an extermination order was issued against them.
From Shark Island, Polenz and his team travelled to Bethanie, also in the //Karas Region, and Gibeon in the Hardap Region, where they held meetings with representatives of the descendants of the affected Nama communities.
His latest visit to Namibia follows a similar trip to Germany by Ngavirue recently to discuss the framework of the negotiation process.
Germany ruled South West Africa from 1884 to 1915. Incensed by settlers stealing their land and cattle and taking their women, the OvaHerero launched a revolt in January 1904, killing 123 German civilians over several days. Nama fighters soon joined the uprising.
The colonial rulers responded ruthlessly. In response, General Lothar von Trotha issued his infamous extermination order against the OvaHerero and Nama.
Many captured Nama and OvaHerero died from malnutrition and exposure to the elements. Others were beheaded and their skulls sent to research institutes in Berlin.
Up to 80 000 OvaHerero lived in Namibia when the uprising began, but only 15 000 were reportedly left after the sustained killing campaign, historical research has shown.
Germany has since handed back dozens of the skulls of its Nama and Ovaherero victims, but Berlin has repeatedly refused to pay reparations, saying the hundreds of millions of euro in development aid it has granted to Namibia since independence in 1990 was “for the benefit of all Namibians.”