“If Namibia receives money from Germany, it should go directly to the traditional associations of the affected communities, not to the government,” said Joyce Muzengua of the Landless People’s Movement, a political party with links to the Herero and Nama communities.
Historians have long regarded what took place in the then colony of German South-West Africa between 1904 and 1908 as the first genocide of the 20th century and a precursor to the Holocaust.
Tens of thousands of Herero and Nama men, women and children were driven into the Namibian desert to die of starvation and dehydration.
Others were sent to concentration camps where they died of disease and abuse. Many victims were beheaded, and their skulls sent to Germany for scientific experiments.
“I believe that the nation as such should be annihilated, or, if this is not possible by tactical measures, expelled from the country,” General Lothar von Trotha, the commander of German forces, wrote in 1904 of the Herero.
Historians still debate the exact death toll, but it is believed the include at least 65,000 out of a population of 80,000 Hereros, and 10,000 out of a population of 20,000 Nama. Some accounts put the total number of dead as high as 100,000.