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Joy as Herero skulls arrive in Namibia

The Local · 4 Oct 2011, 13:45

Published: 04 Oct 2011 13:45 GMT+02:00

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About 4,000 people stood on the tarmac at the capital Windhoek's international airport, where the plane carrying the skulls home landed at sunrise to ululating women and men shouting battle cries amid banners reading "welcome to our ancestors, our heroes.”

At the far end of the runway, two caskets covered with the Namibian flag were taken out of the plane by officers of the Namibia Defence Force, flanked by an honour guard and accompanied by a trumpet salute.

As the caskets were loaded into a military vehicle, a small group of Herero men drew closer, calling to their ancestors and welcoming them home.

"Our people cry tears as our grandmothers and grandfathers are back on their home soil," said Herero chief Kuiama Riruako.

Riruako was part of the 60-member Namibian delegation that flew to Germany at the end of September to receive the skulls at the Charite University hospital in Berlin.

Kupaha Uazukuani, a deputy fire chief at Windhoek’s emergency services administration told The Local the atmosphere was electric and emotional at the ceremony.

“It is very painful, but we are also very happy right now,” Uazukuani said.

Namibian Prime Minister Nahas Angula and several cabinet ministers welcomed the return of the skulls.

"These mortal remains are testimony to horrors of colonialism and Germany's cruelty against our people," Angula said. "The Namibian nation accepts these mortal remains as a symbolic closure of a tragic chapter."

The skulls are among an estimated 300 taken to Germany after a slaughter of indigenous Namibians during an anti-colonial uprising in what was then called South West Africa, which Berlin ruled from 1884 to 1915.

Incensed by German settlers stealing their land, cattle and women, the Herero people launched a revolt in January 1904 with warriors butchering 123 German civilians over several days. The Nama tribe joined the uprising in 1905.

The colonial rulers responded ruthlessly and General Lothar von Trotha signed a notorious extermination order against the Hereros.

Story continues below…

Rounded up in prison camps, captured Namas and Hereros died from malnutrition and severe weather. Dozens were beheaded after their death and their skulls sent to German researchers in Berlin for "scientific" experiments.

Up to 80,000 Hereros lived in Namibia when the uprising began. Afterwards,

only 15,000 were left.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:03 October 4, 2011 by gorongoza
I wonder if this is in the History syllabus in Germany schools. I presume its rated as a mere story mentioned only in passing - at a corner of a newspaper - not worth teaching the kids about the cruelity of their forefathers.
15:17 October 4, 2011 by mshameemahmed
Very Emotional ....... Namibia schools must have this content in thr schools history syllabus..,
15:39 October 4, 2011 by TheCrownPrince
I would like to say that - unlike other former colonial powers - the german government officially has apologized for the slaughter of the hereros, and members of the von Trotha family have been in Namibia for the same purpose. As a little footnote: a representative of the Herero in Berlin officially demanded that the Holocaust Memorial should also be dedicated to the Hereros and complained that this is not the case. I guess next the Italians want to be mentioned there, too, because in the years 410 and 455 the germanic tribes plundered Rome and killed a lot of people.
11:29 October 7, 2011 by brunonamibia2011
its a sad story its a sad history to make matters worse. about 4000 farms in namibia are still owned by white germans. while the black people still suffer. many of these farms are not being used for production but lie iddle while their owners are in Germany. you will find that one person owns about five farms. the good thing about we Namibians is that we are very humble people and we love peace. im just thinking if it were other african countries how the situation would have been. i thus urge people to start realising Namibia is a peacefull democratic country that has gone through alot and continues to thrive against all odds. currently Namibia has discovered 16bilion barrels of oil and is set to start production by 2015. this will make it one of the biggest oil producers in africa. aftr libya and Algeria. on top of that Namibia is blessed with Diamonds,Gold,Beef,fish, wild animals and perfect wether. may the lord bless Namibia
11:38 October 15, 2011 by bushwalla
Indeed- what a sad state of affairs- white people owning ANYTHING in Africa.

Perhaps the Namibian whites should quickly rustle up some black Africans and give their land to them.

And then... well, and then, do what?

I've seen Africans in other parts of Africa and I do appreciate that they too loved peace. They loved it so much that they hacked members of other tribes to death.
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