The leader of the official opposition, McHenry Venaani, said that the Herero and Nama genocide was a turning point that prepared Namibia to fight for freedom against colonial oppression.
Venaani said in a media statement on Wednesday that the 1904–1908 genocide led to the deaths of 80 per cent of the Ovaherero and 50 per cent of the Nama people.
“While each episode of systemic oppression and violence is incomparable and tragic in its own right, the Herero and Nama genocide was a watershed moment that laid the groundwork for many of the struggles and conflicts that would follow in Namibia,” he said.
The leader of the Popular Democratic Movement said this in reaction to a comment attributed to President Hage Geingob, who claimed that apartheid was worse than genocide.
Geingob made the attribution during a public lecture at the Paris Institute of Political Studies in the French capital last week.
By international standards, Venaani said that genocide is considered the apex of human rights abuses, distinguished by the specific intent to obliterate the existence of an entire community.
“These losses were not just numbers. They were the obliteration of entire communities, the erasure of culture, and the destruction of social fabric, which is the worst form of oppression known to mankind. For the president to minimise this tragic chapter by comparing its gravity to another period of severe human rights abuses is an egregious exercise of flawed judgment,” he said.
The opposition leader went on to say that it is “highly inappropriate” for the president to make divisive remarks that not only open old wounds, but also risk stigmatising the communities that still bear the scars of these historical atrocities.
“Statements such as these sow discord at a time when unity is crucial for addressing the various challenges we face, including economic instability, a high unemployment rate, and environmental degradation. Such utterances are incompatible with the values of resilience and value creation that we hold dear. They certainly do not align with the global or local efforts to foster a more equitable and sustainable society.”
Source: The Namibia Press Agency