Germany will also ask Namibia for forgiveness for the “great suffering” caused during the massacre from 1904 to 1908.
Germany admitted for the first time that it committed genocide in Namibia during its colonial rule more than a century ago, and promised to provide financial support worth more than 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) to fund infrastructure projects in this African country.
Between 1904 and 1908, after the tribes rebelled against the colony under Berlin rule (then called German Southwest Africa), German settlers killed thousands of Herero and Nama people.
The survivors were driven into the desert, many were eventually locked up in concentration camps as slaves, and many died of cold, malnutrition and exhaustion.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement on Friday: “We will now officially call these events from today’s perspective: genocide.”
“In view of Germany’s history and moral responsibility, we will ask Namibia and the descendants of the victims to forgive the atrocities committed,” he said.
He added that, as a gesture of “recognizing the tremendous suffering suffered by the victims,” Germany will also support the “reconstruction and development” of Namibia through a 1.1 billion euro (1.34 billion U.S. dollars) financial plan.
According to sources close to the negotiations, the amount will be paid within 30 years and must primarily benefit the descendants of Herero and Naama.
Maas said that after more than five years of negotiations, the agreed payment did not open the way for any “legal compensation claim.”
Germany ruled Namibia from 1884 until it lost its colony during the First World War.
In 1904, the Herero people who were deprived of livestock and land rose up, followed by the Nama people, and tensions escalated.
The German general Lothar von Trotha was ordered to suppress the rebellion and ordered the elimination of the people.
Between 1904 and 1908, at least 60,000 Hereros and about 10,000 Namas were killed.
Colonial soldiers carried out mass executions; exiled men, women, and children to the desert, where thousands of people died of thirst; and established notorious concentration camps, such as those on Shark Island.
Over the years, atrocities have poisoned the relationship between Berlin and Windhoek.
The German government had previously admitted that it had a “moral responsibility” for these killings, but Berlin avoided a formal apology to prevent compensation claims.
In 2015, it began formal negotiations with Namibia on this issue, and in 2018 returned the skulls and other remains of the slaughtered tribal people, which were used in colonial-era experiments to advocate European racial superiority.
On Thursday, Alfredo Hengari, spokesperson for the President of Namibia, told Reuters that the envoys of the two countries issued a joint statement outlining the agreement at the end of the ninth round of negotiations on the issue on May 15.
Hengari also stated that Germany is expected to formally apologize, adding that “the implementation of the method can only begin after the president has spoken to the affected communities”.
Herero Paramount CEO Vekuii Rukoro told Reuters that the reported settlement was a “sell.”
The chief, who sued Germany in the United States for unsuccessful compensation, said that the agreement was not enough for the two communities that suffered “irreversible harm” in the hands of the German colonial powers.
“We have problems with this kind of agreement, and we think it constitutes a complete betrayal by the Namibian government,” Lukoro said.