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For the first time in 125 years, the Swakopmund Museum is displaying an exhibition on the 1904-08 Herero and Nama Genocide.

Previously, the museum only showcased the colonial background of German successes in the country, with no mention of the black communities living in Swakopmund.

The Swakopmund Museum is a privately run,non-profit organisation. 

According to the curator, it does not have enough funds or manpower to design and research an exhibition like the one depicting the Herero Nama Genocide. 

However, when people donate stories and material, as in the case of the Herero Nama Genocide, it is incorporated into the museum.

The museum conducted additional research and discovered that there were five concentration camps in Swakopmund between 1904 and 1908.

Four camps belonged to the private sector, accommodating their workers, while one camp was owned by the military. 

The exhibition indicates how the German military had deliberate plans to exterminate the Hereros and Namas.

"The aim was to annihilate the Herero-speaking people because they dared to make an uprising against the German colonial forces, while the Herero people didn't want to make a genocide of the Germans; they wanted to kill the German men, but all the German women, children, and missionaries were spared, and this is an order by Samuel Maharero, and these differences we wanted to show to actually give a background of what happened here and what atrocities have been done under the name of the German military."

The leader of one of the Ovaherero traditional groups, Dr. Hoze Riruako, commended the museum for displaying the history of the genocide, which is passed on from one generation to another through oral history. 

"The Hereros were reduced to a mere 16 thousand from about 100 thousand people, so we took a heavy toll, and we have lost our land, especially our ancestral land. But unless we as a people come together, talk to each other, and engage each other genuinely and honestly, our people still need land. Your people have most of the land; how can we meet halfway to resolve this problem? We want to make sure that we come together as Namibians, not as foreigners. As Namibians, take the bull by the horn, look each other in the eye, and say yes, we are sons and daughters of this soil. How can we meet half way?"

Dr. Riruako says the initiative is the first step in getting the former oppressors and oppressed to collaborate and heal the wounds of the past.

 

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NBC Digital News

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Renathe Rengura