Reparations towards what end? Yours Truly Ideologically cannot shake off an innate fixation and intuition with this pertinent question.
Amidst the debate within the reparations movement currently, whither to now with and in the reparations cause? A question that lately has been and is in the uppermost minds of most affected communities, and on their lips, be they Ovambanderu, Ovaherero and Nama.
Prompted by the recent avowed Joint Declaration and Agreement between the Namibian government, and its counterpart of the Federal Republic of Germany on Genocide, Apology and Reparations (GAR). A Joint Declaration and Agreement, which apparent from the reactions of a wide spectrum of people and organisations, from the affected communities and otherwise, been rejected widely as grossly wanting and thus a non-starter.
Hence the ensuing ongoing debate within the affected communities as to the way forward since the “bilateral negotiations” between the two governments seem to have run aground. Equally, with the Ovaherero and Nama class action, to which the US Supreme Court with its verdict have put the final nail in the coffin.
The exchange of opinions on the matter has been vacillating between going back to the drawing board, with the affected communities and their representative organisations, this time around expected being bold in having their voice heard. Rather than continue to silently, obediently, indolently and subdued piggybacking on their Namibian government. A government perceived to have been all along opportunistic and halfhearted, if not self-serving in its endeavours. Paramount among such endeavours being the bolstering and boosting of her bilateral relations with Berlin, especially its fiscus in this hardened economic times worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The rejection of the Joint Declaration and Agreement has had the acquiescence of international human rights organisations, notably the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights. On the other hand there have been subdued calls internally to continue engaging Germany, lest she closes what in the eyes of these invisible hesitant advocates, at this juncture seems the only door open.
With the other avenues, albeit some local observers, offering little if any hope at all of rendering the genocide plea of the affected communities a listening ear. With the affected communities either never dare dreaming, hoping and counting on finding any powerful international sympathisers to bring any pressure to bear on the German government.
The exchange of opinions can continue until, as they say in Africa, the cattle come home. But for Yours Truly Ideologically, it is only a matter of time before Germany can come to its full senses, and meaningfully owns up to its colonial past in Namibia. Thus the current debate in the prediction of Yours Truly Ideologically, is purely an academic exercise as much as the sentiments of the affected communities may be understandably legitimate. Because in the true dictum of dialectic materialism, historical contradictions are bound to deliver the Namibian affected communities from Capitalist Germany’s intransigence.
But before then, and sooner than later, it is crucial for the reparations movement to seriously start reflecting, if it has not already done so, on its own internal historical contradictions to pave the way forward for the ultimate push towards REPARATIONS NOW.
Contradictions which include the how of and to what ends it wishes and envisages reparations for. If it is to avoid many of the pitfalls former proponents of liberation in many former colonise nations, who despite years of self rule and governance, more than 60 years for some, have little to show for today. Whether in the least in terms of starting building the necessary social and economic building blocks for the requisite edifices for the reconstruction of their societies and communities with the reparations windfalls.
The crude lessons in Arica today is that after years of autonomy and sovereignty, the continent of plenty and abundance is still reeling in abject squalor and poverty. A legacy of course, of more than 200 years or so of colonisation and colonialism, and Capitalist exploitation and underdevelopment.
But equally, a fact that many African people often for own selfish convenience, lose sight of, blinded by and giving to the euphoria of freedom and sovereignty. A situation conveniently further exploited by Capitalists and their lackeys, the aspirant Capitalists. Rendering Capitalism in the former colonies, autonomy and sovereignty notwithstanding, business as usual.
Not that there has been little or nothing that the new political overseers, or caretakers of Capitalism could do or have done. Yes, only in as far as there has actually been little ideological disposition to do something.
That is why Africa still find herself in the economic backwardness and doldrums, a factor and legacy of hundreds and hundreds years of Capitalist exploitation and economic stagnation, if not designed retrogression. This is a scenario that those clamouring for reparations can ill afford to ignore and learn something from. A scenario that every well-meaning reparationist must take to heart to make amends now rather than later when reparations is realised when there would be little time, let alone conscience and consciousness for communal humanitarianism, save in the name of personal greed and self aggrandisement. With little accountability and commitment to measureable targets for the reparations windfalls.