Leading German politician to address colonial guilt on Namibia trip

The president of the German Federal Council, or Bundesrat, Daniel Guenther said he wants to take a stand on the suffering caused by the German colonial power in the south-west African country of Namibia when he visits this week.

“Because of its history, Namibia has a special significance on my trip to Africa,” Guenther, who is also the premier of the far northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, told dpa on Tuesday.

“I will take this opportunity to speak not only about the prospects for our cooperation, but also about the suffering that Germany brought upon the country,” he said.

From Thursday Guenther plans to visit Namibia, where the German Reich was the colonial power from 1884 to 1915, and also Angola.

The Herero ethnic group has demanded an apology from the Berlin government for the crimes committed by the Germans. Colonial soldiers killed tens of thousands of Herero and Nama.

Their descendants are also demanding financial reparations from Germany.

Germany took until 2015 to speak of genocide in view of the extensive destruction of both ethnic groups.

“I chose Africa as a destination because it is a common intention in Germany to pay significantly more attention to this continent,” Guenther said. “In recent years, we have done too little.”

Because of migration due to the lack of access to food and clean water, Africa deserved far more attention, he said, adding, “but we also see important development prospects for these countries.”

Guenther plans to speak with the presidents of both countries, and in Namibia he plans to address parliament, he said.

Key topics include vocational education and higher education.