Germany offers Namibia R18bn to heal colonial ‘genocide’

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Germany will recognize colonial-era mass killings in Namibia as genocide and offer 1.1 billion euros (about R18 billion) in aid as a gesture of atonement, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

German and Namibian negotiators concluded the agreement on Friday after more than five years of talks. Namibia has accused German colonial rulers of committing genocide against the Herero and Nama between 1904 and 1908.

“We will now describe these events officially as what they were from today’s perspective: genocide,” Maas said in a statement. While the accord doesn’t open the door to reparation claims, the communities affected by the genocide will have a say in the aid program, Maas said.

Germany ruled Namibia, then known as German Southwest Africa, from 1884 until 1915. The League of Nations handed control to South Africa after its army defeated German forces defending the territory during World War I. Namibia gained independence in 1990.

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