Who/What did we Celebrate in Africa in 2020 ?

Even though 2020 was quite a “different” year for a lot of people, there were still a lot of things to celebrate in Africa. Let’s do a review of some of the things we celebrated this year in 2020! There are many more, of course, but I selected 10. Enjoy!

Flag of Namibia
  1. As you remember, Germany committed the First Genocide of the 20th Century in Namibia. It took them over a century to even acknowledge it. Over the past few years, they have been returning skulls of the Herero they killed, and memorabilia from Herero freedom fighters [Germany Returns Skulls of Namibians Genocide Victims, Germany Returns Artifacts Stolen From a Namibian Freedom Fighter, Have Germans finally acknowledged the Namibian Genocide?]. This year, Namibia rejected a German offer of compensation of 10 million Euros for the genocide. I applaud the strength of the Namibian government for refusing this offer which is a spat from the German:  Such an insult! Germany have almost eradicated an entire race, and to this day, Namibia is struggling because of this. And they give 10 million Euros10 millions Euros for torturing, killing, raping, destroying, displacing for years? [Namibia Rightfully Rejects 10 million Euros Compensation for Genocide]
  2. King Leopold II
    At the end of June, the King of Belgium “expressed his deepest regrets;”  it took over 100 years for a Belgian King to finally “express his deepest regrets” for Belgium’s colonial past in Congo. As we recall, King Leopold II of Belgium perpetrated a genocide in Congo.  Leopold II took Congo, a country at least 10 times the size of Belgium, as his private property and killed millions of Congolese. It is said that he must have executed and maimed over 15 million people! Not sure what this king wants… deepest regrets is not equal to apology or recognition… so although this is a first in over 100 years, it will not cut it! [Belgian King Expresses ‘Deepest Regrets’ for Colonial Past in Congo, Lumumba’s Children Ask Belgian King for their Father’s Remains]
  3. Metche Waterfalls in Cameroon was the site of French genocide there
    France returned skulls of Algerian fighters in August, as a first step towards recognition of their wrongdoings (genocide) in Algeria. What is it with these people and skulls is beyond me! As a flashback, Algeria obtained its independence from France after 7 years of a bloody war with France. During that time, France perpetrated a genocide in Algeria… For the first time, a French president, Emmanuel Macron, acknowledged that the colonization of Algeria was a “crime against humanity.” We are now awaiting for recognition of France’s crimes against humanity in Cameroon, and Madagascar, and countless others [French President Acknowledges French Genocide in Cameroon, Fossi Jacob: A Cameroonian Hero and France’s Genocide in Cameroon].
  4. In Tanzania, Saniniu Laizer, a small-scale miner, became an overnight millionaire in June when he found and sold two rough Tanzanite stones valued at $3.4 millions, and then sold another gem in August for $2 millions. This was the biggest ever found in Tanzania, not sure for the world. These are major records!
  5. Flag of South Africa
    Black South Africans who fought in World War II were finally recognized! This is great… but at the same time sad… why did it take 80 years for their recognition? We all know that African soldiers were key to the liberation of France during World War II, and yet when it came time for the parade on the Bastille, their uniforms were given to their white counterparts for the parade… after all, it should not be read in the annals of history that Africans liberated France! [Thiaroye: A French Massacre in Senegal, ‘Thiaroye Massacre’ by Ousmane Sembene]
  6. There is strong excitement to the countdown to the African trade. The trading phase under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by 54 of the 55 countries in Africa, and initially set to begin in July 2020, but now will start on January 1, 2021 [Nigeria signs African Free Trade Area Agreement]. This is a big news for the African continent as it will now allow for free trade across the continent, increasing trade among countries which should have always traded between themselves. This is what was envisioned by Kwame Nkrumah, all the independence fathers, and more recently by Muammar Kadhafi (Africans and the Trap of Democracy) at the AU.
  7. Angelique Kidjo (Source: World Music Central)
    The world-renowned singer singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo from Benin kicked off the year 2020 with a monumental performance at the 62nd Grammy Awards in January. She snatched her 4th Grammy award for Best World Album, and rocked the Los Angeles Staples Center. As always (I have had the honor of attending one of her concerts), she brought the true spirit of Africa to the stage as she told all that African music is the bedrock of all music.
  8. Amid the strong racial justice movements that rocked the world this year, the country of Benin has decided to renovate the fort of Ouidah, in Ouidah which was a key city in the slave trade for many centuries; this is a bid to promote tourism in the country, and to honour the suffering and celebrate the overcoming Africans who were captured and inhumanely shipped abroad from the main port of this coastal town [Benin restores the Fort of Ouidah]. Similarly, Somalia has also made a move to culturally reinforce its lands as it signed in February an education and heritage support deal with UNESCO aimed at strengthening efforts to preserve the country’s culture, education, and history.
  9. Djaili Amadou Amal (Source: Wikipedia)
    This year, there was a good news for African writers. Cameroon’s Djaïli Amadou Amal won this year’s prestigious French Literary Award Goncourt des Lycéens for her novel ‘Les Impatientes‘ — inspired by her personal experiences in a South Sahel patriarchal society; later that week in December she won the Choix Goncourt de l’Orient. Two African authors were shortlisted for the Booker Prize of fiction: Ethiopian Maaza Mengiste, and Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga. Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie whose novel ‘Half of a Yellow Sun‘ — set during her the Biafra civil war, was voted the best book to have won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in its 25-year history.
  10. Master KG and Nomcebo Kizode in Jerusalema (Africanews.com)
    Jerusalema”, the South African song by DJ Master KG featuring Nomcebo Kizode has taken over the world and has gone viral on social media…  Jerusalema has become a global phenomenon, even inspiring its own dance challenge. What is even more amazing, is the hit took over the world, and is a Gospel song which talks about God always being close, saving us, and never letting go of us.. The Gospel hit has undoubtedly marked Africa as the soundtrack of the year [South Africa National Heritage Day, The story behind Master KG’s ‘Jerusalema,’ one of the most …].

Namibia Rightfully Rejects 10 million Euros Compensation for Genocide

Survivors of the Herero genocide (Wikimedia)

The guts of these people sometimes! How can Germany after killing, and exterminating the Herero and San people of Namibia, thus perpetrating the First Genocide of the 20th Century, dare offer 10 million Euros for compensation to the Namibian government? Such an insult! Germany must really think that Namibians, Africans, are nobodies, below sub-humans… because it is quite unbelievable! They have almost eradicated an entire race, and to this day, Namibia is struggling because of this. And they give 10 million Euros? 10 millions Euros for torturing, killing, raping, destroying, displacing for years? Do you think they could have dared to make such an offer if the Namibians were Jews? This money is not even what they give as compensations to victims (and sometimes only one) during lawsuits against big companies. I clap for the Namibian government, and hope that they stand their ground; the rest of Africa is watching them! Excerpts below are from an article on the Guardian.

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Flag of Namibia

Namibia has rejected a German offer of compensation for the mass murder of tens of thousands of indigenous people more than a century ago.

German occupiers in Namibia almost destroyed the Herero and Nama peoples between 1904 and 1908 as they consolidated their rule in the new colony in south-west Africa. Some historians have described the bloodshed as the first genocide of the 20th century.

The two countries have been discussing an agreement on an official apology from Germany and an increase in development aid, but the talks appear now to be running out of momentum.

Namibia’s president, Hage Geingob, said on Tuesday that the most recent offer “for reparations made by the German government … is not acceptable” and needed to be “revised”.

Chained (by German forces) Herero men

No details were provided on Berlin’s proposal, but unconfirmed media reports have referred to a sum of €10m.

…. Other countries in Africa are watching the negotiations between Namibia and Germany closely as they consider launching their own efforts to gain compensation for the violence and theft of decades of European rule.

Germany Returns Skulls of Namibians Genocide Victims

Herero
Survivors of the Herero and Namaqua genocide

I know this dates from last August, 2018, but I had to share. Note that out of the hundreds of skulls taken by Germany, only a bit over 25 were returned; if the German racial study has been discredited, why not return all of them? The excerpt below is from the BBC; for the full article, go to the BBC. As a reminder, the first genocide of the 20th century occurred in Namibia, on African soil. It was perpetrated by Germans on the Herero and Nama people of Namibia. It was extremely brutal and almost wiped out all Herero people. It was a campaign of racial extermination and collective punishment that the German Empire undertook in German South-West Africa (modern-day Namibia) against the Herero and Nama people. It took place between 1904 and 1907 during the Herero Wars. Today it is known as the Namibian genocide or the Herero and Namaqua genocide.

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Namibia_Skulls
Namibian skulls (Reuters)

Germany has handed back the human remains of indigenous people killed during a genocide in colonial Namibia (German South-West Africa) more than 100 years ago.

… The bones had been sent to Germany for now-discredited research to prove the racial superiority of white Europeans. 

Tens of thousands of Herero and Nama people were murdered in response to an anti-colonial uprising.

Their descendants are still waiting for an apology from the German government.

The genocide began in 1904 after a Herero and Nama rebellion in response to the German expropriation of their land and cattle.

The head of the military administration in what was then known as German South West Africa, Lothar von Trotha, issued an extermination order in October 1904.

Herero_chained
Chained Herero men

The Herero and Nama were forced into the desert and any who were found trying to return to their land were either killed or put into concentration camps.

There is no agreed figure of how many died but some estimates have put it as high as 100,000.

It is thought that 75% of the Herero population and half of the Nama population died.

… There are thought to be hundreds of Namibian skulls in Germany and on Wednesday more than 25 remains were handed back.

Skulls from Germany’s other African colonies, including modern day Cameroon, Tanzania, Rwanda and Togo, were also used in the discredited studies.

In 2016, Germany said it was prepared to apologize in principle but it is still negotiating with the Namibian government over the form of the apology and how to deal with the legacy of the genocide. [Funny how, when it was time to kill, they never negotiated]

Namibia_Hendrik Witbooi
Hendrik Witbooi, Namaqua Chief and freedom fighter

… Germany has argued that it has given Namibia millions of dollars in development aid to support all people in the country. [They forget to tell you that they are still benefiting from the mines and resources of Namibia]

… But descendants of the victims are angry that there has been no apology and no agreement of reparations. They are also unhappy that they are not part of the negotiations. …

Germany Returns Artifacts Stolen From a Namibian Freedom Fighter

Namibia_Hendrik Witbooi
Chief Hendrik Witbooi

At last, Germany is returning artifacts back to Namibia which it had stolen some 126 years ago from a Namibian freedom fighter, Hendrik Witbooi. This is a good step forward, as they also returned the human remains of people they had killed via committing a genocide, last August. As a flashback, the First Genocide of the 20th Century was committed by Germany on the Nama and Herero people of Namibia. During that time, it is estimated that Germany wiped out at least 75% of the Herero and 50% of the Nama population (the Namibian genocide or the Herero and Namaqua genocide). The skulls and bones of the people they decimated had been sent to Germany to study the racial superiority of Europeans. To that effect, tens of thousands of Nama and Herero people were murdered. There are thought to be hundreds of Namibian skulls in Germany and last August about 25 remains were handed back. Their descendants are still waiting today for an apology from the German government, as well as reparations. Skulls from Germany’s other African colonies, including modern day Cameroon, Tanzania, Rwanda and Togo, were also used in these now discredited studies.

Below is the article from Artnet News.

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Presentation of cultural objects of robbery
A bible and a whip from the estate of Hendrik Witbooi. (Getty images)

The German city of Stuttgart will return artifacts looted from the country’s colony in what is now Namibia on March 1 during a ceremony with Namibian president Hage Geingob.

German state minister for science Theresia Bauer will travel to Namibia to hand over a whip and bible from the collection of Stuttgart’s Linden Museum that once belonged to Namibian national hero Hendrik Witbooi, a leader in the fight for independence against the German colonizers during the Nama-Herero uprising.

“The restitution of these objects is for us the beginning of a reappraisal of German-Namibian colonial history,” Bauer said in a statement published on the Linden Museum website.

The ceremony is taking place in Witbooi’s hometown of Gibeon, where a museum is being built and will eventually house the items. In the meantime they will be safeguarded by the state. 

Herero_chained
Chained Herero men

German soldiers stole the artifacts during an attack on Witbooi’s stronghold of Hornkranz in 1893. Colonial troops in former German southwestern Africa launched a brutal crackdown on Witbooi’s people after the leader refused to sign a protection treaty to cede territory to the colonizers. In response, German troops ransacked the village, took livestock, burnt huts, and looted possessions.

Both the whip and bible were donated to the Linden Museum in 1902, according to the German art magazine Monopol.

The German imperial empire colonized parts of Namibia from 1884 to 1915. Germany officially [recognized] the Nama-Herero genocide in 2004, in which an estimated 65,000 members of the Nama and Herero tribes were murdered in response to the uprising.

Herero
Survivors of the Herero genocide

In November 2018, the Minister President of Baden-Württemberg said that the German state “is aware of its historical responsibility and is ready to take action. Sending an important message and signaling an important step in the process of reconciliation.”

Today Witbooi is revered as a national hero in Namibia and one of the most important chiefs of the Nama tribes. He is honored by numerous monuments across the country and his portrait is printed on numerous paper bills.

Have Germans finally acknowledged the Namibian Genocide?

Namibia
Flag of Namibia

Here is an excerpt of an article by Kwame Opoku from Pambazuka about Germany’s recognition (?) of the Namibian genocide. For the full article, go to Pambazuka.

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[…] For a long time, successive German governments have sought to avoid taking responsibility for the genocide of the Herero and Nama of South-West Africa, now Namibia, in 1904-1908. …

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Herero people being enslaved in Namibia by Germans (Source: AFP/Namibia National Archives)

The attempt to deny historical evidence of German genocide was bound to fail in so far as all the elements of German responsibility have been fully documented in German official papers and writings of German scholars. The extermination order of the German General in South West Africa, General von Lothar should have been sufficient evidence of the declared intention to exterminate Herero and Nama: ” I say to the people: anyone who hands over one of the chiefs to one of our stations as prisoner shall receive 1,000 marks and whoever delivers Samuel Maharero will receive 5,000 marks. The Herero people must however leave the land. If the people refuse to do so, I shall force them with the Great Rohr [cannon”>. Any Herero found within the German borders, with or without a gun, with or without cattle, will be shot. I no longer receive women or children. I will drive them back to their people or order them to be shot. These are my words to the Herero people. ‘The great General of the mighty German Kaiser.” Vernichtungsbefehl (Extermination Order) by the German commander, General Lothar von Trotha.

Nambia2[…] After what has been written above, Lammert concludes that: “According to present day international law, the suppression of the Herero uprising was genocide. International law stipulates that if acts are committed with intent “to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such ”the criminal act of genocide has occurred Such is the interpretation of many, also German historians.”

At a Government press conference on 10 July, 2015, the question was raised as to whether, in view of the various pressures on the German government to define the massacres of the Herero and Nama as genocide, there was a chance the government might modify its position. Dr Schafer, Spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, defined the Governments position as follows: “Firstly, the basis of all actions and for our political motivation is the guiding principle that the Federal Government-against the background of the brutal colonial war of Imperial Germany in South West Africa acknowledges Germany’s special historical responsibility towards Namibia and its citizens and especially towards the Herero, Nama, San and Damara. … “We Germans accept our historical-political and moral-ethical responsibility and the guilt incurred by Germans at that time. The atrocities committed at that time would today be termed genocide”.

Herero
Survivors of the herero genocide (Wikimedia)

[…] Frankly, I was surprised and worried by the various statements indicating that the Germans and the Namibians have been having negotiations and discussions aimed at finding “a common position and common language in dealing with the cruel colonial war of 1904-1908”. This is a remarkable statement. Does anybody really believe Germans and Namibians can find a common position and a common language regarding the cruel and inhuman atrocities of the Germans in South –West Africa? Is this really serious or is this intended to persuade the Namibians to get involved in a dangerous rewriting of history that would present the Germany in a less inhuman light? There are probably fewer aspects of recent African history that are as well documented as the German presence and atrocities in Namibia. What is there more for non-historians and politicians to discover and present as a common position and common language of the colonized and the colonizer, of the oppressor and the oppressed?

This can only be an attempt to modify the role of the perpetrator of atrocities and to make the victims partially responsible for the heinous crimes committed against them. The victim becomes involved in the criminal acts against him. Colonized victims cannot evaluate the events of which they were victims in the same way as the oppressive colonizers. …

Herero_chained
Chained Herero men (Wikimedia)

Could it be that the Germans, supported by the French, British, and Belgians and other former colonial powers are frightened about the effect of German recognition of genocide in Namibia? They would all like to avoid having to pay adequate compensation to their African victims and so urge the Germans to avoid setting a precedent; they are probably trying to find a formula, short of admitting genocide in Namibia that allows them to pay some compensation, less than what they would have to pay under the application of normal rules.

[…] Given what the Herero, Nama, San, Damara and all the Namibian peoples have gone through in their encounter with German colonial rule, it is amazing that these issues still remain unsolved. There is no way the Government of Germany can continue to evade assuming openly and fully the consequences of the 1904-1908 exterminations wars.

Germany in Namibia: the First Genocide of the 20th Century

Herero
Survivors of the Herero genocide (Wikimedia)

How many think that the first big genocide of the 20th century happened during world war II, and was the holocaust? If you thought so, then think again. The Holocaust was not Germany’s first genocide. The very first genocide of the 20th century occurred in Namibia, on the African continent. It was perpetrated by Germans on the Herero and Nama people of Namibia. It was extremely brutal and almost wiped out all Herero people. It was a campaign of racial extermination and collective punishment that the German Empire undertook in German South-West Africa (modern-day Namibia) against the Herero and Nama people. It took place between 1904 and 1907 during the Herero Wars. Today it is known as the Namibian genocide or the Herero and Namaqua genocide. For the longest time, the German government denied it until 2004 when they finally acknowledged and recognized for the atrocities they perpetrated to wipe out an entire race. However, they ruled out financial compensation for the victims’ descendants. They still refuse to officially name these actions as “genocide”.

Herero_chained
Chained Herero men

In total, between 24,000 and 100,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama died. The genocide was characterized by widespread death from starvation and dehydration due to the prevention of the retreating Herero from leaving the Namib Desert by German forces. Some sources also state that the German colonial army systematically poisoned desert water wells. Moreover, the Germans also tested the very first use of concentration camps on the Herero and Nama people.

Before the genocide, the tribe numbered 80,000; after it, only 15,000 remained. Enjoy the video below which tells it all.