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Nama Traditional Leader Stands in Solidarity With Palestine Amid Historical Parallels

CC BY-SA 4.0 / Pemba.mpimaji. / Nama genocide memorial in Namibia's capital, WindhoekNama genocide memorial in Namibia's capital, Windhoek
Nama genocide memorial in Namibia's capital, Windhoek - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 14.02.2024
Martinus Fredericks, a traditional leader (Gaob) of the !Aman (Nama) people in the diaspora, made a bold statement last week when he participated in a rally outside the German Consulate in Cape Town to show support for Palestine.
Nama Gaob Martinus Fredericks' decision to join the demonstration rally in support of the Palestinian people of Gaza that was held in front of the German Consulate in Cape Town, South Africa, was fueled by Germany's alignment with Israel in the ongoing crisis in Gaza, a stance that struck a chord with historical grievances. The Nama are a people who historically lived in what is now Namibia and suffered genocide at the hands of colonial Germany.
The rally came amid the ongoing crisis in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli troops have killed more than 28,300 Palestinians, mostly children and women, and displaced more than two million others since last October, according to the local authorities.
In an interview with Sputnik Africa, Gaob Fredericks underscored the significance of Germany's involvement in supporting Israel, a move that resonated deeply with the Nama people, who had endured brutal historical injustices at the hands of colonial Germany. Referring to Germany's refusal to accept genocide charges against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the tribal leader emphasized the importance of holding nations accountable for past atrocities.

"My participation was sparked by the fact that Germany chose to become involved in the Israeli matter, supporting Israel," Gaob Fredericks told Sputnik Africa. "We couldn't sit by and allow Germany to support Israel."

Drawing parallels between the current events in Palestine and the atrocities suffered by the peoples of Namibia, Gaob Fredericks highlighted the devastating impact on innocent civilians, especially women and children.
Recounting the harrowing experiences of his own family, including the brutal murder of his ancestor by German forces, Gaob Fredericks emphasized the deep scars left by colonial violence, making it a poignant and personal cause for him to stand in solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

"My own lived experience was that in my own family, our leader Gaob Cornelius Fredericks was beheaded by the Germans. His head was boiled in warm water. His wife, the daughter of Gaob Hendrik Witbooi, had to scrape clean all the flesh off his skull so that the skull could be exported to Germany for medical experiments. So, for us, it's a real thing," Gaob Fredericks recalled.

Reflecting on the first genocide of the 20th century that occurred in Namibia under German colonial rule, Gaob Fredericks criticized Germany's delayed recognition of the atrocities and the lack of adequate reparations for the affected communities.
He highlighted the failure of German authorities to engage meaningfully with the Namibian government and representatives of the affected people to address historical injustices and provide tangible redress. The leader also noted that there has been "no compensation for anybody" since Berlin admitted in 2021 that the actions of Germans against the Nama and Hererro people of Namibia "can be viewed as genocide in today's term."

"We want a formal apology from Germany, that they should acknowledge it was genocide, not just a genocide in today's terms, but genocide at the time," Gaob Fredericks concluded. "The whole economy of Germany was built on the genocide and the resources taken from Namibia into Germany."