A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘namibia

[AH] Six #alternatehistory maps from Reddit: Irish, Canada, Alaska, Russia, Prairies, South Africa

  • This r/mapporn map shows the scale of the collapse of Irish as a spoken language across most of Ireland. Was this avoidable?
  • This r/imaginarymaps map shows a Canada where the 1837 rebellions were successful, with an autonomous Upper Canada and a Lower Canada with a Patriote state. Doable?
  • This r/imaginarymaps map depicts a common alternate history trope, that of an independent but culturally Russian Alaska. What would it take for this to happen?
  • This r/imaginarymaps map depicts a world where Eurasia, from Germany to Korea, was dominated by a successfully industrializing Russian Empire. Was this common fear of the belle époque actually achievable?
  • This r/mapporn map shows the different proposals for different territorial configurations of the Canadian Prairies. (I like the ones with north-south divisions.)
  • Was a single South Africa covering most of British Southern Africa with relatively liberal racial policies, as Jan Smuts wanted, actually achievable? r/imaginarymaps hosts the map.

[NEWS] Five notes about migration: Albania, Venezuela, Latvia, Namibia and East Germany, Yunnan

  • This report from the Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso noting the sheer scale of emigration in parts of rural Albania, proceeding to the point of depopulating entire territories, tells a remarkable story.
  • This opinion suggesting that, due to the breakdown of the economy of Venezuela, we will soon see a refugee crisis rivaling Syria’s seems frighteningly plausible.
  • Politico Europe notes that, in the case of Latvia, where emigration has helped bring the country’s population down below two million, there are serious concerns.
  • OZY tells the unexpected story of hundreds of young Namibian children who, during apartheid, were raised in safety in Communist East Germany.
  • Many Chinese are fleeing the pollution of Beijing and other major cities for new lives in the cleaner environments in the southern province of Yunnan. The Guardian reports.

[LINK] “The secret pool of surviving Bushmen at Chrissiesmeer”

Kevin Davie’s 2011 article in the Mail & Guardian describing the survival of a Bushman group in eastern South Africa is fascinating.

We have many languages in South Africa, but what about /Xegwi? The word looks so alien, you’d be forgiven for not knowing that /Xegwi was a language in use in South Africa as recently as 100 years ago.

/Xegwi is an ancient language, one of the country’s originals. If you Google it, you’ll quickly find that it is extinct, as dead as the people who once spoke it. But maybe not.

I came across this story on a bicycle trip through Mpumalanga with two friends. The laminated pamphlet on the front desk of our lodge in Chrissiesmeer, near Ermelo, offered activities such as visiting a derelict town, checking the apparent impression of a giant foot in a rock face or viewing Bushman paintings. The guides for the rock-art tour were two Bushmen.

Chrissiesmeer is something of a South African secret. There are more than 270 lakes in a 20km by 20km area. One, Lake Chrissie, is one of the largest fresh-water lakes in South Africa. The water attracts an abundance of bird, frog and animal life.

The fact that the rock-art guides are themselves Bushmen is extraordinary as they are widely believed to be extinct in most of South Africa.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 29, 2015 at 10:21 pm

[LINK] “Germany set to recognize genocide in colonial Namibia”

Al Jazeera reports on the noteworthy impending recognition by Germany of the campaign waged againdt the Herero of then-German Southwest Africa as genocide.

German authorities are set to officially recognize as “genocide” the colonial-era crackdown in Namibia by German troops more than a century ago in which over 65,000 ethnic Hereros were killed.

Talks with Namibia on a joint declaration about the events of the early 20th century are ongoing, and it isn’t clear when they will be concluded, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said Friday.

The basis for the German government’s approach is a parliamentary motion signed three years ago by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, stating that “the war of destruction in Namibia from 1904 to 1908 was a war crime and genocide,” Schaefer said. Steinmeier was an opposition leader at the time, and the motion didn’t pass.

German Gen. Lothar von Trotha — who was sent to what was then South West Africa to put down an uprising by the Hereros against their German rulers in 1904 — instructed his troops to wipe out the entire tribe in what is widely seen as the 20th century’s first genocide, historians say.

On Oct. 2, 1904, Trotha issued a proclamation: “Within the German boundaries, every Herero, whether found armed or unarmed, with or without cattle will be shot. I shall not accept more women and children. … I shall order shots to be fired at them.”

Rounded up in prison camps, captured Hereros and as well as members of the Nama tribe died from malnutrition and severe weather. Dozens were beheaded after their deaths and their skulls sent to German researchers in Berlin for “scientific” experiments.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 15, 2015 at 6:57 pm

[LINK] “Lüderitz v !Nami≠nüs: dispute over town’s name divides Namibia”

The Guardian‘s Africa correspondent David Smith writes about the controversy associated with giving the Namibian port of Lüderitz a Khoisan name.

Namibia was a German colony from 1884 to 1919, then administered by apartheid South Africa until 1990. It is still home to a small German population.

In 2013, the Caprivi Strip – a 280-mile (450km) area known for its tropical rivers and wildlife and named after count Leo von Caprivi – was rechristened the Zambezi region, after the river that forms the northern border with Angola.

At the time, the president, Hifikepunye Pohamba, also announced that Lüderitz would be called !Nami≠nüs, which means “embrace” in a Nama language and incorporates click-like sounds, often represented in written form by punctuation symbols.

According to the newspaper the Namibian, !Nami≠nüs was the original name given to Lüderitz by the !Aman community, a Nama subtribe that was the first to settle at the coastal town. German tobacco merchant Adolf Lüderitz is said to have bought the town from a Nama chief and named it after himself.

In 2004, Germany apologised for a genocide that killed 65,000 Herero people through starvation and slave labour in concentration camps that, according to some historians, later influenced the Nazis in the second world war. The Nama, a smaller ethnic group, lost half their population in what one book has described as the kaiser’s Holocaust.

But some in the town are resistant to the change and are calling for a referendum. Speaking on behalf of the business and tourism sector, Ulf Grünewald said an overwhelming majority of residents who attended consultation meetings were against it, according to the Namibian.

Businesspeople fear it will badly affect their business, Grünewald added. “They are selling their businesses under the trade name Lüderitz.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 26, 2015 at 11:19 pm

[LINK] “Namibia Expands Uranium Mines as Diamonds Lose Shine”

BusinessWeek‘s Carli Lourens reports that Namibia is hoping to diversify its economy by becoming a major uranium exporter.

Namibia’s economy contracted 0.8 percent last year, after expanding 4.3 percent a year earlier, as mining output halved. Diamond production plunged to 929,006 carats from 2.22 million carats a year earlier, according to the central bank. Demand for the gems plunged as the worst recession since World War II deterred buyers of luxury items like necklaces and earrings.

“The uranium sector is on the verge of surpassing the diamond industry as Namibia’s biggest,” Luise Nakatana, a mining analyst at Investment House Namibia, a Windhoek-based brokerage, said in an interview on May 18. “If all the proposed projects come on stream, the uranium sector will play a significant role in the country’s economic growth.”

Namibian output may quadruple by 2015 as new mines are opened by companies including Extract Resources Ltd., more than doubling uranium’s contribution to the economy, according to IHN. The industry accounted for 5.6 percent of Namibia’s gross domestic product last year.

[. . .]

Uranium companies are planning to spend more than $3 billion starting operations in Namibia, he said. In 2008, the country became the world’s fourth-biggest producer, up from sixth. The Moscow-based State Atomic Energy Corp., known as Rosatom Corp., said last week that Russia is prepared to invest about $1 billion developing uranium deposits in Namibia.

The nation has “significant” reserves and isn’t plagued by political instability like some rival producers, Marino G. Pieterse, a uranium analyst and editor of Uraniumletter International, said by phone from Amsterdam.

It does have a water supply problem, which is a “major concern” for companies planning to start production in Namibia, said Heike Smith, head of research at Windhoek-based IJG Securities Ltd. The country is mostly desert or semi-desert.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 27, 2010 at 11:26 pm

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[BRIEF NOTE] Another long-after-the-fact apology

Back in 2006, I made an extended post at Jonathan Edelstein’s sadly-defunct blog the Head Heeb about another problematic apology, this one relating to the genocide inflicted against the Herero people in what was then German Southwest Africa by Imperial Germany. Here it is below.

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“Germany and the Herero: What now?

“Back on the 29th of August, The Globe and Mail of Toronto featured an article by Stephanie Nolen (“‘Forgive us our trespasses'”) that examined the contentious question of how–or even if–the Herero of Namibia should be compensated for their sufferings in the Herero Genocide of 1904-1907.

First, some background. If the massacre of Armenians in the First World War by the Ottoman Empire counts as Europe’s first genocide, then what the German Empire did to the cattleherding the Herero people of what is now central Namibia counts equally as southern Africa’s first genocide. After tensions over land use in what was then German South-West Africa exploded into a revolt in 1904, Germany responded by dispatching a colonial expeditionry force led by one General Lothar von Trotha who announced for all his intention to and kill the remainder. He went on to do just that, killing thousands of Herero combatants outright in battle as at Waterberg, forcing entire family groups to flee across the Namibian desert in a search for safety in British Bechuanaland and that left tens of thousands dead of starvation and/or dehydration, and consigning the remainder to barren concentration camps from which many Herero were taken to be used as disposable labour units. In the end, perhaps as much as 80% of the Herero population died.

Needless to say, the genocide suffered by the Herero in the first decade of the twentieth century continues to dominate the present-day Herero political agenda. Besides leading to the long-term loss of their lands and the conversion of the surviving Namibian Herero a population that derived its subsistence from migrant and cash labour, the Herero position in Namibia has been permanently weakened. At present, the Ovambo of the north not only form a slim majority of the Namibian population, but comprise much of the core of the ruling South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) party.

The Hereros’ place in their own country has been just as surely diminished as has that of the Armenians in Turkey or the Jews in Poland. That is unchangeable. What doesn’t seem unchangeable, however, is the Herero nation’s present poverty. Compensation for this, in theory, is a good idea. In practice, it’s more complicated.

After years of refusing to recognize the genocide, in 2004 Germany’s Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul made a formal apology.

Speaking about the “genocide” committed by imperial German troops 100 years ago, Ms Wieczorek-Zeul referred to the “colonial madness” that had led to racism, violence and discrimination. “All what I have said has been an apology by the German government,” the Minister concluded her speech, followed by loud applause by listeners.

German officials had until now not wanted to admit guilt and responsibility for the 1904 genocide in fear of compensation claims made by parts of the Herero community. By not admitting responsibility, Germany did not have to fear legal steps as the genocide was made before international law criminalized crimes against humanity. With an official apology, Germany also takes on responsibility and compensation claims are therefore becoming more viable. Traditional Herero Chief Kuama Riruako, who first was quoted as saying that he now would drop compensation claims against Germany, on Sunday gave a clear message. “We still have the right to bring the Germans to court.”

Both traditional Herero leaders and German authorities now however hope to settle the matter outside courtrooms. The German government has indicated its will to “give targeted aid” to Namibia’s Herero community, probably in addition to the considerable development aid already channelled from Berlin to Windhoek.

Even after this acknowledgement, it took some time before the German government offered compensation, when, as Nolen writes, in 2005 “Ms. Wieczorek-Zeul finally put money on the table, pledging $28-million over 10 years for a reconciliation initiative. “The process of reconciliation now needs more action to make reconciliation in fact more tangible,” she said.” This proposed compensation has, in turn, become a controversial issue with the Namibian government, which would prefer that any compensation money be given to it rather than to the Herero, in conformity with its policy of non-tribalism and national unity. The Herero naturally object.

A German official, speaking off the record because, he said, any comment is twisted and misinterpreted by different factions in Namibia, said there could be no individual reparations, or even payment to the Herero as a group, but only to the Namibian government.

“We are conscious of our history and we would like to help all Namibians and the policy of national reconciliation, but not one group. That would help to create serious problems in this country. Second, there is the question of whom to pay for what. It was more than 100 years ago. It was communal land. Who would get money? There is no answer.”

But Phil Ya Nangoloh, chairman of the Namibian National Society for Human Rights, said it was ridiculous for the Germans to say the Herero should not be specifically compensated. “Not the whole country suffered from the genocide that was perpetuated from 1904-08. It was primarily against the Hereros and to a lesser extent the Namas and the Damaras,” said Mr. Ya Nangoloh, who is not Herero.<

"There must be reparations, for heaven's sake. Maybe not financially [to individuals] but infrastructure, to contribute to human development, life expectancy, knowledge, income options of these people. Germany should institute development in areas affected by genocide."

Even among the Herero, there are strong and growing divisions as to whether their communal authorities or individual Herero should receive the compensation funds.

None of these issues are likely to be solved soon. Likely none of these issues will ever be solved to the satisfaction of all of the parties involved, simply because of the enormity of what happened to the Herero, the impossibility of doing justice to those people who themselves lived through the atrocities, and the asymmetrical effect of the events (a minor enough episode in German colonial history, a cataclysm for the Herero nation). There’s only the knowledge of what might have been and what perhaps can never be:

Demographic analysis suggests there would be 1.8 million Herero today were it not for the killings, he said, making them the dominant ethnic group in the country rather than the Ovambo, who dominate government. There are, however, only about 120,000 Herero. “We ought to be in control of this country,” the chief said, “and yet we are not.”

A major injection of German cash could give the Herero much more clout, of course. But in Okahandja, people seem to have less calculating goals. “We want to feel like the Germans really know what they did, and they’re sorry,” the young man said. “That’s all.”

Written by Randy McDonald

September 22, 2009 at 7:37 am

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[HH] “Germany and the Herero: What now?”

Thansk to the good graces of Jonathan Edelstein, I’ve a guest post up on The Head Heeb regarding the vexed question of how to properly compensate the Herero nation of Namibia for the genocide that they suffered under German colonial rule in 1904-1907. Quick answer? There likely isn’t any way.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 5, 2006 at 11:03 pm

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