Institute - Activism & Arts - Namibia: Week of Justice

Namibia: A Week of Justice

Event series in Windhoek and Swakopmund

Institute - Activism & Arts - Namibia: Week of Justice

Namibia: A Week of Justice

Event series in Windhoek and Swakopmund

The events held as part of "Namibia: A Week of Justice" – including the symposium "Colonial Injustice – Addressing Past Wrongs" from 25-26 March 2019 in Windhoek and the conference "International Law in Postcolonial Contexts" from 27-29 March in Swakopmund – were the first of their kind in Namibia.

The public event in Windhoek was organized by ECCHR and the Akademie der Künste (AdK) in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Namibia. The conference, workshops and public event in Swakopmund were part of a joint project by ECCHR and AdK together with the Ovaherero Genocide Foundation (OGF), the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA) and the Nama Genocide Technical Committee (NGTC).

Project

The event series in Namibia attracted strong interest from a broad variety of civil society actors: lawyers, artists, constitutional historians and civil society experts came together for discussions at panels and other sessions throughout the week. The central topics were the German genocide against the Ovaherero and Nama peoples (1904-08) and ways forward for addressing these past wrongs in a dignified manner.

In his keynote speech, Prof Makau Mutua (University at Buffalo, USA) asked if the Germans could ever truly accept the Ovaherero and Nama peoples as equals. This critical approach was a constant theme throughout the week's events. Prof John Nakuta (University of Namibia) talked about the concept of formalistic equality that reproduces inequality when people live in unequal conditions. Andre du Pisani (University of Namibia) spoke of the genocide as killing by design – constituting an unjustifiable moral crime.

Context

The "Week of Justice" emphasized the importance of having a forum for dialogue between German and Namibian civil society on addressing past wrongs.

After the event series in Namibia, ECCHR's General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck said: "The German government has done nothing for 115 years. But there is still the possibility of achieving some mutual understanding. This would require addressing (post-)colonial injustice not only on an inter-state level but also by German and Namibia society. The Germans cannot be selective when it comes to who they talk to – they must listen and talk to all of those involved in order achieve a truly constructive and forward-thinking discourse."