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Horst Kleinschmid Recommends Reading Germany’s Genocide of the Herero to Aid Reconciliation

Germany's Genocide of the HereroIn an article for Pambazuka News, Namibian-born Horst Kleinschmid urges Namibians to face the past atrocities committed in their country.

He recommends Jeremy Sarkin’s book Germany’s Genocide of the Herero, among others, to those who have not yet familiarised themselves with the painful history of German colonisation.

Kleinschmid looks at examples of apologies made by colonial powers in similar circumstances and stresses the importance of reconciliation and redress if these old wounds are to be healed:

I want to write about a history that hurts, whom it hurts and why it hurts. It is about pain, inflicted by a deep wound. And I want to reflect on reconciliation, equality and peace. I write as a born Namibian, of want-to-be white stock, not just any white stock, but of part-German stock. There is much unfinished business to resolve in Namibia (and South Africa) if nationhood in either country is to be achieved. However inadequately I succeed in expressing it, this is my burden and the burden of this essay.

Namibia attained independence (from South Africa) nearly 22 years ago. Today it has a democratic constitution, holds elections, has a functioning judiciary and has a small civil society. But Namibia, like South Africa, is a young democracy and unsurprisingly both countries face many challenges. To eventually move toward a more mature and full democracy, civil society needs to constantly guard that the gains made are not reversed.

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