Namibia and Germany : A fight for colonial skeletons

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Namibia’s Prime Minister Nahas Angula said Monday that Namibia would not issue an official request to the German government to bring back colonial era skulls which are being kept at Medical History Museum in Berlin.

Angula said that Germany had the moral responsibility to bring back the skulls so that the government could properly bury the fallen heroes.

Former Namibian Ambassador to Germany Peter Katjavivi ignited the debate of the skulls when he told German public broadcaster ARD that Germany should bring back the skulls, which were taken during the colonisation of Namibia by Germany.

The skulls were taken to Germany after the 1904 massacre of more than 80,000 Hereros for ‘scientific research’, which were aimed at proving racial superiority of whites over blacks.

ARD reported two weeks ago that 47 skulls were still stored at the Medical History Museum at the Charite teaching hospital in Berlin and a dozen more at Freiburg University in South-west Germany.

Reacting to Katjavivi’s comments, an unnamed German foreign affairs spokesperson reportedly said that Namibia would have to make an ‘official request’ to get the skulls.

But Angula said that Germany did not get permission to take the skulls.

“When they took the skulls, who gave them permission. Whom did they ask,” Angula told the state-owned daily, New Era, adding that Germany should bring back the skulls with no conditions and ensure that these Namibians were given a proper burial.

Angula also said that the German government should ensure that the skull of Nama chief Cornelius Fredericks was returned.

Chief Fredericks, whose death is still being commemorated up until today, died in 1904 in the hands of German colonial forces.

He led the soldiers who fought against the colonial occupation troops in Bethanie district, near the coastal town of Luderitz, about 900 kilometres south of Windhoek.

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