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Joint Resolution of the October 14/15th Transnational Conference Prussian Colonial Heritage Sacred Objects and Human Remains in Berlin Museums

“We, the undersigned speakers, presenters and participants of the transnational conference “Prussian
Colonial Heritage: Sacred Objects and Human Remains in Berlin Museums” on October 14/15, 2017
in the Centre Français de Berlin recognize that communities all over the world have lost a
considerable part of their cultural heritage, including even “sensitive materials” – comprising “sacred
objects” and “human remains” – by force and fraud in the wake of colonial conquests.”

ConferenceResolutionDeutschEnglish.pdf

Reclaiming the Remains: ONGI Working to Repatriate 11 Namibian Remains

Early this year (2017), the ONGI signed a cooperation agreement with the Berliner Gesellschaft für Archäologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschichte (BGAEU) to conduct provenance research on Namibian human remains so that they can be repatriated.   BGAEU is a scientific society in Berlin, Germany that has in its possession human remains from different parts of the world including 11 from Namibia.  ONGI was invited to discuss our cooperation with BGAEU at the Prusssina Colonial Heritage: Sacred Objects and Human Remains in Berlin Museums, October 14 – 14, in Berlin Germany.  

Video Presentation:

 

 

Omuara Aletta Nguvauva Travels to NYC Seeking Restorative Justice

Aletta Nguvauva, Paramount Chief of the OvaMbanderu Traditional Council visited New York city to attend a court case hearing on Thursday October 12, to view Namibian human remains recently discovered at the American Museum of Natural History, and consult with Ovaherero/Ovambanderu descendants in the USA. What follows are her thoughts on the case and the struggle for restorative justice for the genocides.

What is the purpose of your visit to the USA? What do you hope to accomplish?

I came to New York to attend to a legal proceeding concerning the Genocide case that was filed here.  We hoped that all aspects of the proceeding would be sorted out this time so that Germany can finally have her day in court to answer to the demands for reparations for the genocide committed in Namibia against the Nama, Ovaherero and Ovambanderu.  Unfortunately, Germany has thus far refused to respond and once again did not show up in court.  While that is unfortunate, it is not surprising.  But I am happy that the judge agreed to our request to postpone the case until January 25, 2018.

What does this case mean to you and the people you represent?

This case means quite a lot to the Namas, Ovaherero and Ovambanderu people as it entails another attempt by the victim communities to get Germany to own up to its historical responsibilities.  The case also demonstrates the determination of the victim communities to take any possible step necessary to get Germany to the point of respectfully dealing with them.

What other means are you using to try and secure restorative justice for your people?

The communities of victims have an elaborate awareness campaign going to bring the message of this genocide, most notably to Germany itself.  There are also concerted attempts to inform fellow Namibians about the genocide so as to build a national understanding on the matter.

What does restorative justice mean for you?  What is it that you are asking or expecting from the German government?

Our ancestors lost their livestock and land through manipulations, systematic plunder and finally confiscation.  They were ultimately ordered to leave the country through the notorious Extermination Order of 2 October 1904.  Their livestock and land was thus left behind as they fled for their lives.

Those who somehow survived the genocide found that it was a capital offence to own any livestock and these was thus forfeited to the new German ‘State’.  Gracing rights were introduced and the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu were denied these to finally rob them of all the livestock.

Restorative justice to us means the compensation of the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Namas for their land and livestock that was taken from them without any compensation.  We are for example, expecting Germany to make funds available for the development of the communal areas inhabited by the victim communities as well as for the acquisition of commercial farming land for the resettlement of members of the victim communities.

ONGI recently helped to uncover Namibian remains here in New York City at the American Museum of Natural History.  How do you feel about that? What was it like seeing those remains?

We learnt about this development a few weeks ago with mixed emotions. My mind snapped back to the year 2011 when I first saw human remains in Germany as part of a huge delegation of Namas, Ovaherero and Ovambanderu traditional leaders who went to accompany the repatriation of the human remains from Germany under the then Minister Sports and culture, Kazenambo Kazenambo.  It is never easy seeing the human remains of your ancestors, including skulls and entire skeletons, who were stolen from their motherland, sold and transported across the globe. I am deeply saddened by this discovery, and equally determined to work hard to make sure justice is served, and that the horrors perpetuated in the service of twisted notions of white supremacy are exposed so they are not repeated.

 

What are your thoughts on what should happen to the remains? Should they stay here as some have suggested or should they be returned home?

What is important to me is the process that we (Namibians) as a collective, should follow to come to a decision on final resting place of these remains.  Look, it is my understanding that there are remains from our Sam and Damara compatriots.  Culturally, these remains might have a completely different meaning or significance to them, compared to the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu.  That is why I think a broad national dialogue is needed to determine the appropriate manner and timing of their return to Namibia.

It is our stated position that everything looted by colonialists from Namibia including cultural artifacts should be returned home.  Human remains are even more sacred and must, after a thorough consultation among all stakeholders, and appropriate research about identity and origins, be returned home.

People of African Descent & Germany

According to a UN Working Group of Experts, Germany should “…. recall its role in the history of colonization, enslavement, exploitation and genocide of Africans, and should make reparations to address the continued impact of those acts.”   Furthermore, the report recommends the inclusion of Ovaherero and Nama people in the ongoing negotiations between the governments of Germany and Namibia.
German government response is here: Germanys-response-to-working-group.pdf

Delegation View Genocide Remains at AMNH

A delegation of victims and descendants of the Ovaherero and Nama genocides, and two friends and supporters of the cause of the Namibian people for restitution, visited the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) on Friday, September 15, to view the remains of eight Namibians in the custody of the museum in the City of New York, which were recently brought to their attention by Genocide and Restitution solidarity groups in the Federal Republic of Germany, especially Post Kolonial Berlin.

Press Release.pdf

Genocide Remains Discovered at American Museum of Natura History

The human remains of 8 Namibians have been discovered recently at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (AMNH) – NYC. Two of the remains have been identified as OvaHerero, two have been identified as Hai//om San, one is Nama and one is Damara. The ethnic and cultural identities of the other two remains are unknown and require further research.     Members of Ovaherero Speaking Community in the USA (OSCU) and ONGI are visiting the museum today.

 

Final Press Release (1)

Transatlantic Dynamics in Ongoing Postcolonial Negotiations

The AICGS Society, Culture, and Politics Program is hosting the following seminar:           
Transatlantic Dynamics in Ongoing Postcolonial Negotiations

The Recognition of the Genocide of the Herero and Nama in Germany and in the United StatesRegister

The genocide of the Herero and Nama, committed between 1904 and 1908 under German colonial rule in today’s Namibia, is considered the first genocide of the 20th century. Over the past decades and especially since the commemoration of the 100 years of the genocide in 2004, when the German government refused to recognize the crimes committed as such, struggles for the recognition and a reparation of the genocide led by descendants of the survivors have intensified. This presentation will present the results of a two-month research project on the impact of Herero and Nama activists in the United States on the ongoing negotiations between the German and the Namibian governments concerning the recognition and the reparation of the genocide. Based on biographical interviews conducted with Herero and Nama activists living in the United States, it will reflect on how the migration path of the interviewees has evolved over time and has affected their strategies, how the U.S. context has impacted their actions and how their transnational experiences and activities open up possibilities for transnational or postnational memories.

AICGS
1755 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
12:00pm – 1:30pm

Dr. Elise Pape is a DAAD/AICGS Research Fellow in July and August 2017. She completed her binational German-French dissertation in the field of sociology of migration at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and at the University of Strasbourg, France, in 2012. She has been an Assistant Professor at the University of Strasbourg (2012-2014) and a postdoc at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris since 2014. Her research interests concern current postcolonial debates in Germany and France, intergenerational transmission in migration processes, social policies, and the use of biographical interviews in social research.

Please contact Ms. Elizabeth Caruth with any questions at ecaruth@aicgs.org. A light luncheon will be served.

Over 1,000 human remains from Tanzania, Ruanda, Burundi to be returned

According to a press release by the human rights advocacy group, Berlin Postkolonial, the state-funded Foundation of Prussian Cultural Heritage (SPK) has agreed to start provenance research and preparation to repatriate more than 1,000 human remains stolen from Tanzania, Ruanda and Burundi, 1885-1918.   Thousands of human remains plundered from former German colonies remain captive in archives and personal collections in Germany.

Press Statement by Berlin-Postkolonial