2024 May 28 – The Namibian (Commentary): Our Forlorn Genocide Remembrance Day: 28 May 1908

Namibian commentary government refusal declare 28 May Genocide Remembrance Day Namibia

“Our Forlorn Genocide Remembrance Day: 28 May 1908

By James Tjivikua

28 May 2024

“Memory is what shapes us. Memory is what teaches us. We must understand that’s where our redemption is,” Holocaust survivor Estelle Laughlin aptly noted.

The Ovaherero and Nama genocide from 1904 to1908 was a campaign of ethnic extermination and collective punishment waged against indigenous people in then German South West Africa by Germany’s Schutztruppe.


On 26 April 2016, a motion proposed by Swanu’s Usutuaije Maamberua in the National Assembly that 28 May be declared Genocide Remembrance Day was well received.

It was on this day in 1908 that all German concentration camps were ordered to close.

A commemoration day is to remember and show respect for precious lives lost, to show solidarity with descendants of the victims, and to unite the nation in order to ensure that a genocide never happens again in Namibia, Africa or elsewhere.

Since independence, and eight years after a motion was unanimously endorsed in parliament, a Genocide Remembrance Day has not yet seen the light of day.

There were whispers in the grapevine, this month, hinting that the president might declare 28 May as Genocide Remembrance Day.
But alas, in the absence of a formal proclamation, it appears it is not be be.


We need to remember the genocide of 1904 to 1908 to recognise the dignity of our fallen heroes, and the suffering of their often forgotten or marginalised descendants.

In remembrance of our heroes, we salute them all on this the 120th anniversary of the genocide.

* JB Tjivikua is a descendant of victims of the 1904-1908 genocide.



Editor’s note: The proclamation of 28 May as Genocide Remembrance Day (a public holiday from 2025) was announced on the same day.

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