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» 11.11.2005 - Mass graves found in Namibia
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» 17.12.2004 - Namibia's Herero find reconciliation with Germans
» 18.08.2004 - Namibia wants dialogue with Germany on Herero killings

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Society | Human rights

Namibia's Damara want inclusion in 1904 genocide debate

Misanet / The Namibian, 17 January - Leaders of Namibia's Damara people are to brainstorm on how they can participate in the 1904 genocide dialogue taking place between the Namibian and German governments. German colonial troops in the Herero war of 1904 principally massacred a large part of the Herero people, but some members of the Damara community say they were also affected by the genocide.

The Damara leaders are scheduled to meet at the weekend in the town of Okombahe, some 200 kilometres north-west of Namibia's capital, Windhoek. Here, they are to brainstorm on how to make their voices heard in the ongoing debate over the 1904 genocide.

While historians agree that some Damara communities were strongly affected by the events in 1904, current Damara leaders feel they have been largely ignored by Germany because of their silence on the issue. "We tried to participate through national committees but it seems that the Herero people are pulling one way and ignoring the rest of us," !Oe#Gan Chief Immanuel /Gaseb said in an interview with 'The Namibian'.

- We want to call on other tribes who have also been affected like the Namas and Owambos to organise themselves also, Chief /Gaseb added. Chif /Gaseb, Damara leader Chief Justus //Garoeb and others have called a meeting for leaders, historians and informed Germans at Okombahe in the hope of shedding more light on how the Damara people were affected by the war.

Chief /Gaseb said some of the places where the Hereros fought the Germans, such as Hamakari, were known Damara areas. In Damara, Hamakari is called "Ham ra !Khari" and used to be the area for /Gaio Daman.

He said the meeting would mainly be a platform for historians and Germans to inform them about how the Damaras were affected by the 1904 genocide. Thereafter, a national conference would be arranged.

Theo Gurirab, a member of the organising committee, said Damaras were enslaved and sold to Cape Town and other places, yet no one mentioned them in the genocide talk. "We are not out to get compensation. We want the Damara history to be corrected. It has been distorted to a large extent because we have been silent," Mr Gurirab said.

Five /Hochobeb, another organiser, said they had also invited church leaders to help them prepare their case at the dialogue between Namibia and Germany.

Chief /Gaseb, a member of the Council of Traditional Leaders, said the genocide affected parts of former Owambo and eastern Kavango yet none of these people had been included in the delegation that attended the conference in Germany last year. "We want the dialogue to be a national event. It must not be limited to the Herero people only. People in the North and South must also reveal their part in the war. They have a history," said Chief /Gaseb.

A national committee was set up last year to push for dialogue with Germany but the Damaras feel that it has largely been used as a smokescreen as, they claim, the Hereros continue to meet behind their backs to push for their case. Chief /Gaseb said that the national committee had so far failed to offer any solutions.

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