Germany will also apologize from Namibia for the ‘severe suffering’ that occurred during the 1904-1908 massacre.
Germany recognized for the first time that it had committed murder in Namibia during its colonial rule more than a hundred years ago and promised financial support worth more than a billion euros ($ 1.2 bn) to fund infrastructure projects in the African country.
German settlers killed thousands of Herero and Nama people between 1904 and 1908, after the tribes rebelled against Berlin’s rule in the colony, formerly known as German South West Africa.
Survivors were transported to the desert, where many ended up in concentration camps used as slave labor and many died of cold, malnutrition and fatigue.
“We will now officially address these events as they are from today’s perspective: genocide,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement on Friday.
“Given Germany’s historical and moral responsibility, we apologize to Namibia and generations of victims for the atrocities committed,” he said.
As a move to “recognize the severe suffering inflicted on the victims”, Germany will also support Namibia’s “construction and development” through a financial program of 1.1 billion euros ($ 1.34bn ), he added.
The amount to be paid in 30 years, according to sources is almost negotiable and should primarily benefit the descendants of Herero and Nama.
Maas said the agreed payment, which would come after more than five years of negotiations, would not pave the way for any “legal request for compensation”.
Germany ruled Namibia from 1884 until the colony was lost during World War I.
In 1904, tensions boiled when the Herero – deprived of their animals and land – arose, immediately followed by the Nama.
German General Lothar von Trotha, sent to stop the uprising, ordered the extermination of the people.
At least 60,000 Hereros and nearly 10,000 Namas were killed between 1904 and 1908.
The colonial soldiers carried out many killings; exiled men, women, and children in the desert where thousands died of thirst; and erected famous concentration camps, such as the one on Shark Island.
Violence has poisoned relations in Berlin and Windhoek for many years.
The German government recognized “moral responsibility” for the murder but Berlin avoided an official apology to prevent claims of compensation.
In 2015, formal negotiations began in Namibia on the issue and in 2018 the skulls and other remains of slain tribes used in experiments during the colonial period were returned to express claims of racial superiority in Europe.
On Thursday, Namibian spokesman Alfredo Hengari told the Reuters news agency that a joint declaration outlining the agreement was made by special envoys of both countries on May 15, at the end of the ninth stage of negotiation on the issue.
Hengari also said an official apology is expected, adding that “enforcement modalities can only begin after the president has spoken to the affected communities”.
Herero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro told Reuters that the reported settlement was a “sellout”.
The chief, who was unsuccessful in suing Germany for compensation to the United States, said the agreement was insufficient for the two communities, which suffered “irreversible damage” at the hands of German colonial forces. .
“We have a problem with that kind of an agreement, which we think is a complete choice on the part of the Namibian government,” Rukoro said.