Namibia’s Past – We Hear You

It is an expression that we use very often in Namibia: “I hear you”.
It means: “I take note of what you say without necessarily agreeing with it.”

Ovaherero say “Mekuzuu”, Nama and Dama “ǁNâu tsi ta ge go”, German-speaking Namibians “Ich höre dich”, Aawambo “Ondiikuvite” (OshiNdonga) and Afrikaans-speaking Namibians “Ek hoor jou”.

If you know a version of this expression in another vernacular language of Namibia, please send it to us via email.

“We hear you” is about dialogue, and it has five meanings here:

  1. Questioning one’s own view of the past
  2. Dealing with the past together
  3. Listening to each other
  4. Aiming to understand each other
  5. Learning from the shared past for a shared future

For a fruitful dialogue you need reliable information. This is what we want to provide on our platform ‘Dialogue on Namibia’s Past’.

It is also crucial that what has been said so far is remembered or can be looked up. Otherwise, you could go round in circles. That is why we also see the documentation of the dialogue as an essential task.

“If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going.” This famous quote of US American memoirist and poet Maya Angelou explains why Namibia’s past affects all of us here in Namibia. We strive to make this platform ‘Dialogue on Namibia’s Past’ as inclusive as possible and thus contribute to the process of reconciliation.

Resident or friend of Namibia, researcher or media practitioner, affected or interested user – this platform is open to all of you. We also invite you to contribute, in the spirit of “I hear you”.

Information – Criteria & Guidelines

This platform ‘Dialogue on Namibia’s Past’ is committed to five basic principles of ethical journalism:

  1. Accuracy: Verify information and cite sources wherever possible. Prefer sources such as professional media, academics and experts, who can be expected to verify their information.
  2. Accountability: If information is found to be incorrect, be prepared to correct it promptly and to identify the correction.
  3. Independence: Avoid or minimise influence of third parties and their interests, be it political, cultural, economic or otherwise.
  4. Impartiality: Give more than one side to a story, add context and strive to achieve a balanced overall content.
  5. Humanity: Always respect individuals and groups, avoid offending and do not allow hate speech.

All information on this platform ‘Dialogue on Namibia’s Past’ has been researched and checked with the greatest possible care. External links were checked at the time of publication. Please inform us if you regard information as not accurate and/or if external links no longer lead to the specified sources.

The views and opinions expressed on this platform (Dialogue on Namibia’s Past) are those of the authors (media and other sources, as indicated) and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of this platform’s editorial board. For further information and legal implications please read our disclaimer.

This platform is a work in progress. You are welcome to suggest additions. If possible, please state the sources of your information – preferably by providing links.

We will need some time to review your input. If it does not meet our criteria or guidelines (see above), it will not be published.

Who is driving this platform?

The editorial board of this website ( consists of the following persons:

NID - Naita Hishoono

Naita Hishoono

Executive Director

Founded in 1991, the Namibian Institute for Democracy (NID) aims to educate the community about political structures and processes and engage them in these processes. Our mission is to reassess our history as an opportunity to learn from the past and create a more equitable society in the future.

As for myself, growing up in exile in Germany, I have been deeply involved in the history and politics of Namibia. Experiencing political changes in both Germany and Namibia during the late 1990s has shaped and motivated me. I am personally committed to contributing to reconciliation and coming to terms with the past. My involvement in this website is another step towards this endeavour. I was involved in the conceptualisation of this platform and am also part of the editorial team, checking the content before publication and also contributing content ourselves.

Having been raised in Africa and Europe for political reason, I was exposed to political life from an early age. I grew up learning about Namibian, African, German and European history and how decisions made in Berlin in 1884 to 1885 expressed European interest in Africa and subsequently lead to colonialism. It took more then 100 years for Namibians to gain their independence. I experienced the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Independence process of Namibia, which were intertwined on a global political level.

Today I work in political education through my work at the NID. For the past 18 years my work involves civic education to the public, Namibian schools, democratic institutions and civil society organisations. I also collaborate with the Namibian and German parliaments, political foundations, development partners and a lot more. Being fluent in German, English, Afrikaans, and Oshiwambo, I regularly lecture in Germany and Namibia on various political topics.

FES - Freya Grünhagen

Freya Grünhagen

Country Director

FES - Sylvia Mundjindi

Sylvia Mundjindi

Project Manager

For us at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), values are the core of everything we do and stand for. Together with our partners, we strive to promote democracy, social justice, peace, and solidarity by creating platforms for debate, offering political advisory work, and organizing international dialogue in more than 100 other offices worldwide.

In Namibia, the legacies of colonialism, genocide, apartheid and liberation war still have a decisive impact not only on its political and socio-economic development, but also on the descendants of both victims and perpetrators. While many express keen interest in engaging in dialogue and seek a better understanding of each other, they quickly realize there is a yawning abyss regarding access to relevant and reliable information about Namibia’s past.

Yet, for any peaceful dialogue to be solidly grounded, easily accessible information is critical. Against this background, we feel honoured to partner with NID on this website project. We sincerely hope it will contribute to developing a culture of peaceful and constructive dialogue between Namibians from all walks of life.

Represented by the FES Namibia country director, Freya Grünhagen, and the project manager Sylvia Mundjindi, FES was involved in the conception of this platform and also forms part of the editorial team. Together, we check the content before publication and also contribute content ourselves.

Sven-Eric Stender

Sven-Eric Stender


The self-critical examination of dark chapters of the past is an arduous, painful and never-ending process. I felt that in myself. At the end of the 1970s, in my hometown of Hamburg, when the series ‘Vor 40 Jahren’ (newsreels from the Third Reich) and the four-part series ‘Holocaust’ were on television.

I also feel that since 1998 in Namibia, my adopted country. During the annual ‘Herero Days’ in Okahandja. During the centenary commemoration of the colonial war and genocide in Warmbad in 2003 and in Okahandja and Okakarara in 2004. And during my work on eight information boards that I created from 2014 onwards on behalf of a lodge at the Waterberg – for a ‘History Path’ that leads to one of the battlefields of the Battle of the Waterberg in 1904 and to the site of a collection camp of the Rhenish Mission for OvaHerero in 1906, providing information about events and developments from the pre-colonial period to the German-Namibian negotiations that began in 2015.

While researching for reports and the history educational trail, I realised how difficult and time-consuming it is to find reliable information on the many aspects of the topic and to put them together to create as balanced a picture as possible. No wonder that so many different ‘pictures’ emerge in discussions – which makes it difficult or even impossible to come to a common understanding. Hence the idea and basic concept for this platform, which was taken up and co-conceptualised by Naita Hishoono (NID) and Freya Grünhagen (FES). I am responsible for content maintenance of the website as well as communication.