October 2nd, was the 117th commemoration of the Extermination Order against the Ovaherero issued at Ozombuzovindimba in 1904.
Similarly Monday, October 4th was the tenth commemoration of the expatriation from Germany of the first consignment of the remains of the Ovaherero , Ovambanderu and Nama victims of the 1904-1908 Genocide. Last but not the least, this November also sees the 17th anniversary of the Ozombuzovindimba Declaration. While all these dates somehow are related and intertwined, each, in its own unique way, marks an important and inerasable historical imprint in the sad but heroic historical epoch of the Nama, Ovambanderu and Ovaharero that must not be allowed to be erased.
But as they all are commemorated, it is especially instructive at this juncture, more so in the context of the Joint Declaration currently being debated in the National Assembly, to reflect on the Ozombuzovindimba Declaration. With it the descendants vowed “not to give up” on their demand for the recognition of their Genocide, and atonement by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany. Further vowing to “pursue our justified demand for reparation against successive German governments until they accede to our demand for just compensation,” reads the Declaration partially. “As long as it takes, and if needs be pass the struggle on to future generations of the Ovaherero for decades to come until justice is done”.
They also then determined to petition the international community, especially the United Nations, African Union, human rights organisations and tribunals. They also reserved their right to turn to other legitimate means in seeking redress against Germany, including her interests anywhere in the world. It seems that the Ozombuzovindimba Declaration, which has seemed dormant for years, has after all not been as dormant as it may be perceived to have been.
One of the declared course of action by the Genocide descendants, in terms of the Ozombuzovindimba Declaration, was recourse to the US courts. Hence the class action launched by the Ovaherero and Nama, both in Namibia and in the American Diaspora in the US Court of the District Court of New York, which has been going on since 2015.
Only for the US Supreme Court earlier this year to finally uphold the verdict of the Appeals Court following an earlier verdict of the New York District Court, that it has no jurisdiction to try the German State in terms of the Sovereign Immunities Act.
But this is by no means the end of the matter. Yes, perhaps as far as recourse to US courts may be concerned. But with the seeming intransigence by the Namibian government to now get the National Assembly, in which the governing Swapo Party of Namibia has a majority to steamroll the Joint Declaration, and its ratification at least for now seeming a fait accompli, descendants of Genocide are increasingly inclining towards different means and devices, both short-term and long-term.
Leading the pack in this regard, has been none other than firebrand cultural nationalists, the late Kazenambo Kazenambo, whose last rite in this regard, was to petition the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner to intervene in preventing the Namibian government and her German counterpart, in signing, sealing and delivering the purported deal on Genocide.
Lately the Australia-based President of the Otjisuta Otjetoveni (Reparations is Ours), Jeremia Tjatindi-Tjiveta, has been on record that, given the seeming cul de sac regarding the various efforts this far, including the class action in the US courts, and lately the negotiated one between the Namibian and German government, one of the recourse if not the ultimate is to challenge the German government in its own court in Berlin.
Similarly, challenging both governments through various international tribunals lately is now increasingly seeming to be few of the remaining options and recourses open to the descendants of Genocide. These include sub regional and regional continental tribunals, with a leaning towards international tribunals, given their wide and global jurisdiction, circumscribed by international conventions as opposed to limited jurisdiction of sub regional and continental tribunals.
This is so much the case given the apparent insignificance influence and standing, globally, of the affected communities in Namibia, and their government for that matter, whose own political commitment to their cause of reparations has been at best marked by hesitancy and reluctance. And at worse complete indifference, insensitivity and opportunism if not total acquiescence and subjugation to German Machiavellianism.
Judging by the recent rude re-awakening to the Namibian government’s suspect conniving with its German counterpart, it seems that the Ozombuzovindimba Declaration, after all may not have been firing on all cylinders but is far from having been moribund and forgotten. And this is the time that its letter, spirit do not only enjoy the full purview of the Genocide descendants, but their energies and synergies rather than the Joint Declaration, which is proving to have been not worth the paper it has been deceitfully crafted on.