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Namibia's Herero Tribe Re-enact Historic Uprising Against German Troops

Some brandishing sticks to represent rifles, others on horseback, hundreds of members of Namibia's Herero tribe re-enacted a bloody battle to commemorate an uprising against colonial German forces a century ago.

The Herero uprising eventually led to an "extermination order", issued by German colonial officers later in 1904 which resulted in the killing of thousands of the tribe's members.

A year later, in 1905, when the operation ground to a halt, about 16,000 of an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 Herero were left -- 14,000 of them in concentration camps.

Today, Hereros represent about seven percent of Namibia's 1.8 million-strong population, having never fully recovered from the executions at the turn of the century.
(AFP Photo)
(AFP Photo)
Saturday April 10, 2:29 AM

Namibia's Herero tribe re-enact historic uprising against German troops

Some brandishing sticks to represent rifles, others on horseback, hundreds of members of Namibia's Herero tribe re-enacted a bloody battle to commemorate an uprising against colonial German forces a century ago.

But the underlying theme of celebrations near the small Namibian town of Ovitoto, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Windhoek, was one of reconciliation between the Namibian tribe and its former colonial ruler.

Dressed in black Victorian garments and wearing their distinct and colourful head-dresses, Herero women ululated, giving a chilling performance of the battle cries that spurned on their men during the re-enactment of the Battle of Okandjira which happened on April 9, 1904.

About 25 "German" soldiers dressed in blue uniforms represented some 800 colonial "Schutztruppe" (protection troops) who squared up against 10,000 Herero warriors during an uprising in the former German colony.

Opposing the riders were some 50 Herero horsemen who advanced while the troops lay in ambush in nearby scrubland.

Some 80 Herero fighters and 25 Germans under the command of major Theodor Leutwein, then governor of former German South West Africa, died in the clash.

With the thundering "Hu, hu!" the traditional Herero battle cry, the riders chased past as a nearby sound system rendered battle sounds and rifles bursts.

The "wounded" Germans were then taken from the battle scene to a clearing at the foot of the Okandjira Mountain.

The Battle of Okandjira lasted from dusk to dawn, ending in retreat for Herero fighters, women and children.

The Herero uprising eventually led to an "extermination order", issued by German colonial officers later in 1904 which resulted in the killing of thousands of the tribe's members.

A year later, in 1905, when the operation ground to a halt, about 16,000 of an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 Herero were left -- 14,000 of them in concentration camps.

Today, Hereros represent about seven percent of Namibia's 1.8 million-strong population, having never fully recovered from the executions at the turn of the century.

But speeches centered not around war on Friday, but around the reconciliation of two peoples.

"We would like the Germans to build us a monument at this spot to honour our ancestors," said Mostert Tjihuiko, the chairman of the Ovaherero 1904 Genocide Committee. "We can forgive, but we will never forget."

German ambassador to Namibia Wolfgang Massing spoke of a "new chapter in our common history" between Germany and the Herero people after the "difficult past for both sides."

He said: "Germany is prepared to help you to remember your history and (help you) if you want to erect a monument."

Afterwards Massing and Herero Chief Riruako laid wreaths at the graves of Herero warriors and colonial German officers.

"This we do together in the spirit of reconciliation exactly one hundred years after the fierce battle," said Chief Riruako while clasping the hand of the German ambassador.

A member of the Herero tribe in neighbouring Botswana Stephen Kazeire Raurau told AFP he believed Herero members should be taught about their history.

"Today I stand here on the soil where my ancestors lost their blood and their lives a century ago. Our Herero people in South Africa must be taught about their culture and where they come from. They lost that. All commemorative gatherings this year should bear that in mind."

The tribe planned to have its next commemorative gathering at Tsau in Botswana in July.

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lifestyle choice 09.Apr.2004 15:05

dude

I think in that same year plus/minus the us killed 250,000
phillipinoes.

It was the western powers that condemed the japanese in china
a few years latter for being cruel conquers. note the post below of native american exterminations