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Namibian surprise

Back in grad school I met someone (white) who was from Namibia, which was exotic and novel to me; I didn't have much awareness of it as a country, vs. a province in South Africa or something. This despite the geography section of Academic Decathlon. Anyway, years later I got around to reading Wikipedia on the country.

* Became independent in 1990. - Odd, I grew up watching the MacNeil Lehrer NewsHour over dinner, you'd think they'd have mentioned this. Maybe they did and I don't remember. Maybe they mentioned it in one news summary I was late for and never again.
* ...after a war for independence from South Africa. - Okay, I'd think even more this would have been mentioned. I remember MLNH or 60 Minutes stories on South Africa, Angola (Joe Slovo!), and Lesotho. I suppose not Zambia or Zimbabwe. Still, I have one of those "did I slip into an alternate universe?" feelings.
* It has 2 million people in an area larger than France and Germany combined; loses out to Mongolia for the coveted title of least densely populated country - I suppose if Greenland ever became fully independent it would take that title. Also I have a new candidate to taunt space cadets with, about how if they want to settle a hostile frontier why don't they go to X. Namibia would have a better solar budget than Mongolia or the Yukon... or Mars. Anyway, low population could help explain staying out of the news.
* Country has the least rainfall of sub-Saharan Africa. Not a surprise from satellite views; the only competitors would be Somalia and Botswana.
* It seems to have been peaceful and stable since 1990, with regular elections, though SWAPO like the ANC has yet to lose an election and thus be tested in giving up power. - Also explains not making the news.
* GDP/capita of $8000 PPP. Not bad! But Gini of 60, and whites own most of the arable land, and there's mineral wealth... I suspect it's like South Africa: whites live like Americans, blacks live like subsistence farmers.
* The revolutionary government made English the official language, despite most blacks speaking a Bantu tongue and most whites speaking German or Afrikaans.

* Ooh, German... did I know Germany had had an African colony? I can't remember. Anyway, they had this one from 1884. And what did they do with it?

'From 1904 to 1907, the Herero and the Namaqua took up arms against the Germans and in the subsequent Herero and Namaqua genocide, 10,000 Nama (half their population) and approximately 65,000 Hereros (about 80% of their population) were killed.[12][13] The survivors, when finally released from detention, were subjected to a policy of dispossession, deportation, forced labour, racial segregation and discrimination in a system that in many ways anticipated apartheid. Most Africans were confined to so-called native territories, which later under South African rule post-1949 were turned into "homelands" (Bantustans)'

Killing males outright, driving women and children into the desert to die of thirst, creating death camps, performing "medical experiments". From the genocide page:

'According to Benjamin Madley, the German experience in South West Africa was a crucial precursor to Nazi colonialism and genocide. He argues that personal connections, literature, and public debates served as conduits for communicating colonialist and genocidal ideas and methods from the colony to Germany.[104] Tony Barta, honorary research associate[clarification needed] at La Trobe University Melbourne, argues that the Herero Genocide was an inspiration for Hitler in his war against the Jews.[105]

According to Clarence Lusane, Eugen Fischer's medical experiments can be seen as a testing ground for later medical procedures used during the Nazi Holocaust.[69] Fischer later became chancellor of the University of Berlin, where he taught medicine to Nazi physicians.[78] One of his prominent students was Josef Mengele, the doctor who performed genetic experiments on Jewish children at the Auschwitz concentration camp.[106] Ben Kiernan, the director of the Genocide Studies Programme at Yale University, pointed out that Eugen Fischer was not the only person who took part in both genocides. Franz Ritter von Epp, who was later responsible for the liquidation of all Bavarian Jews and Roma[dubious – discuss] as governor of Bavaria, took part in the Herero genocide as well.[107]'

Germany has apologized for the genocide, but ruled out reparations, though it gives $14 million/year in foreign aid, which comes out to a whopping $7/person-year. Really making an effort there, guys.

* Countries that materially supported Namibia in its struggle against apartheid South Africa: Cuba, Libya. Especially Cuba.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/376276.html#comments


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 26th, 2013 12:10 pm (UTC)
I was about to comment that Namibia was the first country to recycle its sewage into drinking water (without first dumping it into a river or lake to avoid the "ick factor"), but the genocide made me care less about the details.
Sep. 26th, 2013 05:15 pm (UTC)
That's cool to know. I don't think 100 year old German genocide cancels that out.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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