chapter  6
18 Pages

Postcolonial asymmetry

Coping with the consequences of genocide between Namibia and Germany
WithReinhart Kößler

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Postcolonial asymmetry, as posited in the relationship between Namibia and its former colonizing power, Germany, is set out with specific reference to the ways the colonial genocide perpetrated in Namibia in 1904–1908 has been approached. The very uneven and diverse ways of commemorating and (not) remembering the genocide in both countries are sketched out in this chapter. In spite of long-standing colonial amnesia in Germany, civil societal relationships have evolved over the last few years amongst groups who strive to grapple with the dire past. However, the negotiations between both governments that began in 2015 appear as one further instance of the asymmetry that is particularly evident in the German government’s failure so far to accede to a serious apology. Features of the process, in particular relating to the attitude of German diplomats towards affected communities, underline how the postcolonial heritage still dominates the relationships between both countries. This situation is also reflected in the equally controversial issues of equal representation at the negotiating table, as demanded by sections of the affected communities, and in the stark opposition between the practically universal Namibian demand for reparation and consistent refusal of such an idea by German officialdom.