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Paying for Germany’s Dark Past with Namibia

A deal that could set a precedent for former colonies all around the world is being thrashed out between Germany and Namibia, to heal the wounds of what’s now widely regarded as a genocide by colonial forces. But how do you make up for destroying an entire society? In Namibia, descendants of both victims and colonisers are arguing fiercely about the talks. Since 2015, when Germany formally acknowledged that the atrocities constituted genocide, it has been negotiating a restorative justice deal with Namibia that will set a global precedent. Never before has a former colonial power sat down with a former colony in this way to work out a comprehensive agreement about the legacy of the past. That’s a demand you hear over and over again. The hope is that the German government will fund a land reform programme to enable farms to be bought from German Namibian farmers, and distributed to Herero and Nama. German Namibians are believed to be the biggest group among the white farmers who own about 70% of the country’s farmland, and some of their holdings are vast – one covers 400 sq miles.