Namibia's genocide memorial statue in Windhoek. Photo: Others

Namibians have urged Germany's president to speed up talks on reparations for a colonial-era genocide committed by Germans in Namibia.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, to pay tribute to his counterpart Hage Geingob, who died February 4 and is to be laid to rest on Sunday.

But he was reminded during a memorial service on Saturday that Germany has yet to agree on reparations for the massacre of the Herero and Nama peoples from 1904 to 1908.

In May 2021, Germany acknowledged that the killings by its troops amounted to a genocide and has offered to fund development projects to a cost of 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) over 30 years. No settlement has been made yet.

'Horrific history'

For many Namibians, including some senior officials, the offer isn't enough and does not amount to formal reparations. Negotiations are ongoing.

Germany has also faced criticism from Namibia over its support for Israel, despite the enormous civilian death toll from its ongoing attacks on Gaza.

One of Geingob's last acts in office before his death earlier this month at age 82 was to lament what he called "Germany's inability to draw lessons from its horrific history."

At the memorial, McHenry Venaani, the leader of Namibia's official political opposition, the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), directly addressed Steinmeier.

'Honourable deal'

"Our people are expecting to see the Namibian German case of genocide be settled," he said,

"When you go back, what is on the negotiating table creates a respectable deal on behalf of our people. Creates an honourable deal so that we close this chapter."

Germany's head of state Steinmeier said his country was committed to improved ties with Namibia.

Protests outside in Berlin, Germany, in 2018 over the colonial-era genocide in Namibia. Photo: Reuters

"The path of reconciliation that we have embarked upon almost ten years ago has not been an easy one but together we have gone very far and we want to go further," he said.

No apology yet

Steinmeier said Geingob told him late last year that he wanted to be able to sign a joint German-Namibian declaration to draw a line under the genocide.

"And you know, reconciliation is not about closing the past, it is about taking responsibility for our past and it is a commitment to a better future," Steinmeier said during his tribute to the late president.

"I hope I will be able to return to this country very soon and under different circumstances because I am convinced that it is high time to tender an apology to the Namibian people."

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TRT Afrika and agencies