Germany’s move to pay reparations for atrocities committed against the Herero and Nama people during the colonial era has opened up a Pandora’s box that could see other African countries seek to be paid as much as $777 trillion by western colonizers.
The $1.3 billion compensation offered by Germany to Namibia has in essence provided a yardstick for measuring the value of other such atrocities committed for centuries against African people during slavery and colonialism.
“Calculating the value of a life is complex, but as slavery has taught us, it’s been done before,” Lynsey Chutel wrote in a piece published by Quartz Africa.
“It’s only when the descendants of those slaves return to ask for compensation for their lost ancestors does counting become difficult.”
Approximately 12.5 million people were enslaved and taken from Africa, according to a widely accepted figure from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database. Other estimates argue that they figure could be as many as 20 million.
The “forgotten genocide” of Namibia was just one of the known occasions where tens of thousands of Africans were killed by their then colonial administration. Up to 80,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the Southern Africa country between 1904 and 1908.
While the government of Namibia has accepted Germany’s offer as a form of reparations and reconciliation, victims groups have rejected the deal because they say they were not involved in the negotiations.
In the U.S., descendants of the African slaves taken starting 400 years ago have been championing and urging the government to consider monetary compensation for the native Black community for years of economic and humanitarian injustices.
Reparations talks have been a hot topic in the U.S. with President Joe Biden acknowledging that he is in favor of a study on reparations.
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