Namibia and Germany: Negotiating the Past, by Reinhart Kößler

Namibia and Germany: Negotiating the Past, by Reinhart Kößler. Verlag Westfälisches Dampfboot. Münster, Germany 2015. ISBN 9783896918574 / ISBN 978-3-89691-857-4

Namibia and Germany: Negotiating the Past, by Reinhart Kößler. Verlag Westfälisches Dampfboot. Münster, Germany 2015. ISBN 9783896918574 / ISBN 978-3-89691-857-4

The following excerpt ist taken from Reinhart Kößler's book Namibia and Germany: Negotiating the Past and from the chapter Preface and Acknowledgements.

Reinhart Kößler  

To the visitor who arrives with an interest in people, rather that in vacationing, landscapes and animals, Namibia is a fascinating country. While investigating practices and backgrounds of Nama traditional communities in southern Namibia during the 1990s, I inevitably became aware of annual commemorations observed by people there, as well as the similar practices of Ovaherero communities in the centre of the country. Within the context of my earlier 1990s research project, I made my first forays towards a better understanding of Heroes Day (Witbooifees) in Gibeon, which I observed in 1995. I had the privilege of extended discussions on the subject with the late Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi, who was extremely forthcoming with help in all my relevant endeavours, in which he took a very keen interest. The idea of a special research project to reach a better and also comparative understanding of these events and commemorative practices was conceived readily. However, putting this project into practice turned out to be far more difficult and long-term. Meanwhile, the arrival of 2004, the centennial year of the onset of genocide in what was then German South West Africa, alerted me that I was into something much more serious and difficult than merely observing, assembling and analysing people's memorial practices. Given the pervasive reference of the commemorations to the genocide perpetrated by the Schutztruppe from 1904 onwards, I was compelled to do some hard thinking (and more) on account of the obvious question people eventually did pose in various ways: 'And what are you (personally) doing on your side of this equation?' In this way, I was led to widen my perspective considerably. My project became concerned with the postcolonial and transnational constellation between Namibia and Germany, with the issue of genocide, appropriate apology and reparations at its centre. During 2004, I became involved in some commemorative activities in the very special ways my life situation circumscribed. These included staging a photo exhibition on the genocide in cooperation with the Director of the Kyoto Museum of World Peace, Ikuro Anzai, whom I had the good fortune to meet during my stay at Ritsumeikan University, Japan, in late 2003 and early 2004. The whole venture would not have been possible without the generous help of my friend Toshiko Himeoka, then at Ritsumeikan College of International Relations. By staging this exhibition, based on the admirable collection of pictures supplied by Joachim Zeller, it was possible to mark the beginning of the Herero-German War and convey something of this history to an audience otherwise quite unaware of issues pertaining to southern Africa. For me personally, this also became a launching pad for further activities. Later in the year, I was able to stage a German version of this exhibition jointly with my activist friend, Dagmar Wolf, in the socio-cultural centre 'Bahnhof Langendreer' in Bochum, where I lived at the time. At the same time, I started to map out the conceptual issues of the project, and I acknowledge in particular valuable advice by Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka. In Namibia, I observed the central commemoration at Ohamakari on August 14th, 2004, and met a number of people who were to figure in the project that was still evolving and finally resulted in the present book. I would like to mention especially the late Luther Zaire, Rudolf Hongoze, and Usiel Kandji. Besides this, interest in Germany in the country's colonial past increased to some degree around 2004 and resulted in requests for conference appearances and publications that prompted me to delve more deeply into the subject.  [...]

This is an excerpt from the book 'Namibia and Germany: Negotiating the Past, by Reinhart Kößler.

Title: Namibia and Germany
Subtitle: Negotiating the Past
Author: Reinhart Kößler
Publisher: Verlag Westfälisches Dampfboot
Münster, Germany 2015
ISBN 9783896918574 / ISBN 978-3-89691-857-4
Softcover, 17 x 24 cm, 392 pages, several photos, text in English

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