Words Cannot Be Found: German Colonial Rule in Namibia : an Annotated Reprint of the 1918 Blue Book

Words Cannot Be Found: German Colonial Rule in Namibia : an Annotated Reprint of the 1918 Blue Book

Words Cannot Be Found: German Colonial Rule in Namibia : an Annotated Reprint of the 1918 Blue Book

Words Cannot Be Found: German Colonial Rule in Namibia : an Annotated Reprint of the 1918 Blue Book

Synopsis

The 1918 Blue Book Report on the Natives of South-West Africa and Their Treatment by Germany, is based on the voluntary statements taken under oath of no less than 50 African witnesses. This testimony was combined with numerous German colonial documents to produce, not only a stinging indictment of German colonial policy in German South West Africa, but also the first detailed eyewitness accounts of the first genocide of the twentieth century. However, within ten years of being printed, orders were issued for the destruction of all copies of the Blue Book within the British Empire. The editors have investigated how the Blue Book came into being, provided background information to the events and people described, and sought to discover the original German documents upon which so much of the Blue Book material is based. The particular usefulness of the book lies in the fact that it gives voice to African testimony regarding the first genocide of the Twentieth Century.

Excerpt

On Sunday 6 April 2003, after conducting a church service in the informal settlement of Babilon, on the outskirts of Windhoek, I went to see a “house” of a council member of the congregation, which had just burned to the ground. As we were observing the ashes and ruins of what had once been their home, the wife said something striking which is still in my mind: Where does one start now? she asked. I just looked at her without knowing what to say. This is my reaction now, after reading the Blue Book, especially the statements under oath that reveal one long nightmare of suffering, bloodshed, tears, humiliation and death. In one of the statements under oath, Hosea Mungunda states: “…it was one continuous ill-treatment…” Yes, it certainly was! I read this book with tears and anger but also with a strengthened determination that we should make sure that these things do not happen again in Namibia and that we should commit ourselves to justice, peace and reconciliation for our country and beyond. This we do for our own sake and for the sake of generations yet unborn.

The re-publication of the Blue Book of 1918 is an invaluable gift from a period in which we have mostly one-sided or vague accounts of what really happened during that time. This book offers a better and more comprehensive understanding of the liberation struggle and the suffering of the Namibian people. What it clearly shows is that the brave struggle for liberation started in 1904 against a very brutal, imperial, and savage power. It is the continuation of this very same struggle, which erupted at different times during the course of the last century, that resumed in 1959 and culminated in independence in 1990. It is important that when this very important aspect in the history of our country is recounted and taught, that we start from the very beginning.

For the sake of the present and the future it is important to know where we are coming from. The foundation of our independence lies in the tears and blood, the determination, bravery and vision of our forbearers. The railway on which we today comfortably travel in our trains was literally built with and on the blood, suffering and death of our mothers and fathers. People who know this will jealously protect what they have today. Racism, corruption, crime and violence cannot be tolerated with such an invaluable heritage for which we paid so dearly. The vision for justice, peace and a harmonious society is not only ours but also that of the many thousands who were brutally wiped out by the colonial powers. I firmly believe that, in honour of these brave women and men whose blood waters our freedom, we should completely reject racism, tribalism, corruption, crime and any form of violence, and stand up together in . . .

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