Namibia was a German colony for 30 years. The scars of colonialism remain even a century later. When the Herero tribe revolted against their colonial masters in 1904, the German General Lothar von Trotha decided to wipe them off the map.
When the European colonial powers negotiated the borders at the Berlin Conference on Africa in 1884, Germany also got its “place in the sun.” But German settlers in Namibia soon came into conflict with the locals over land. The German “masters” may have brought the Bible with them, but the way they treated the indigenous Herero and Nama was anything but Christian, and their fraudulence, violence and abuse made Herero chief Samuel Maharero realize that war could not be worse than what they were suffering. On 12 January 1904, tribesmen attacked colonial government offices, railway stations and shops and killed white settlers, although they spared their wives and children. The German Reich retaliated with extreme violence. After an indecisive victory at the battle of Waterberg in August 1904, they decided to end the uprising for once and for all. The German forces drove the rebels and their families into the Omaheke desert, where they had already poisoned or sealed off the only wells. 85,000 people died of thirst and hunger in what was the first officially planned genocide in history. After the uprising, the Germans ruled with an iron fist, confiscating the tribal lands and herding the survivors into concentration camps, where many died from abuse, neglect and the effects of forced labor. Even now, Namibia bears the scars of the genocide and Germany is still struggling to come up with an effective response to the events of a century ago.
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