A delegation of Namibian government representatives and leaders of the indigenous Herero and Nama people who came to Germany to repatriate 20 skulls of their ancestors were once again disappointed in their hopes for dialogue and an official apology.
The skulls were of victims of the mass murder of 80,000 Herero and Nama between 1904 and 1908, which were stolen by the former colonial ‘Kaiserreich’ for racial research some 100 years ago.
What? Didn’t you hear?! We live in a post racial, post colonial world! Surely apologies are not necessary!
Much more at the link (and it is a must read), with the history of genocide behind the indigenous skulls. And since this did not happen in some distant, forgettable past, but a mere 30 years before the raise of the Third Reich, I wonder why we do not see this so called “racial research” and mass murder of African peoples as inextricably tied to the racial cleansing that Nazis started only three decades later. But I guess Europe’s hand (almost all of Europe) in similar atrocities makes it easier not to look too deeply into this fairly recent colonial history.
Namibian tribal leaders have visited Berlin to collect the skulls of 20 compatriots who died under Germany’s colonial rule in the early 1900s.
German scientists took the heads to perform experiments seeking to prove the racial superiority of white Europeans over black Africans.
The skulls were uncovered three years ago in medical archive exhibits.
A ceremony was held in the German capital to return the remains as a gesture of reconciliation.
But chaotic scenes accompanied the speeches, particularly an address by German Deputy Foreign Minister Cornelia Pieper.
A handful of demonstrators shouted “reparations”, “apology” and “genocide”.
Germany has consistently refused to pay reparations to its former colony, arguing that it has given much development aid to Namibia. But Namibians at the ceremony said the aid had not reached them.
Earlier, Ueriuka Festus Tjikuua, a member of the Namibian delegation, told reporters: “We have come first and foremost to receive the mortal human remains of our forefathers and mothers and to return them to the land of their ancestors.”
The skulls belong to 20 people who died after an uprising against their German colonial rulers more than 100 years ago.
They were among hundreds who starved to death after being rounded up in camps.
Some of the dead had their heads removed and of these, about 300 were taken to Germany, arriving between 1909 and 1914.
The skulls gathered dust in German archives until three years ago when a German reporter uncovered them at the Medical History Museum of the Charite hospital in Berlin, and at Freiburg University in the south-west.
German researchers believe the skulls belong to 11 people from the Nama ethnic group and nine from the Herero.
They were four women, 15 men and a boy.
Mr Tjikuua said the mission intended to “extend a hand of friendship” to Germans.
Namibians, he said, wished to encourage a dialogue “with the full participation and involvement of the representatives of the descendants of those that suffered heavily under dreadful and atrocious German colonial rule”.
Charite spokeswoman Claudia Peter said the purported research on the skulls performed by German scientists had been rooted in perverse racial theories that later planted the seeds for the Nazis’ genocidal ideology.
“They thought that they could prove that certain peoples were worth less than they were,” she told AFP news agency.
“What these anthropologists did to these people was wrong and their descendants are still suffering for it.”
So, how many more times do these stories have to break before we talk about genocide in Africa that was a direct result of colonization?