IN OCTOBER 1904, Lother von Trotha (pictured above), the general officer commanding the genocidist German military forces engaged in the genocide of the Herero, Nama and Derg Damara peoples of southwest Africa (contemporary Namibia) issued the following proclamation which he unambiguously captioned an “Extermination Order”: “The Herero people will have to leave the country. Otherwise I shall force them to do so by means of guns … [E]very Herero, whether found armed or unarmed, with or without cattle, will be shot. I shall not accept any more women and children. I shall drive them back to their people – otherwise I shall order shots to be fired at them. These are my orders to the Herero people” (Quoted in Horst Drechsler, “Let Us Die Fighting”: The Struggle of the Herero and Nama against German Imperialism, 1884-1915, London: Zed, 1980: 156-157)
(3) 1904-1907: In this German state-organised genocide of Berg Damara people, supervised by Lother von Trotha, the Germans do not have the original population figure for the Berg Damara at the onset of the genocide, but, according to their own estimates, the genocidists may have wiped out 30 per cent of the total Berg Damara population by 1907
Such was the sheer impudence of Harold Wilson as he oversaw the slaughter of the Igbo from his 10 Downing Street London official residence, particularly in the catastrophic months of 1968-1969, that he went on record to inform Clyde Ferguson, the United States state department special coordinator for relief to Biafra, that he, Harold Wilson, “would accept a half million dead Biafrans if that was what it took” Nigeria to destroy the Igbo resistance to the genocide (Roger Morris, Uncertain Greatness: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy, London & New York: Quartet Books, 1977: 122). Few would fail to note the grotesquely expressed diminution of African life made by a supposedly leading politician of the world of the 1960s – barely 20 years after the deplorable perpetration of the Jewish genocide in Europe. Besides, Britain was a key participant in the drafting of the crucial 1948 UN convention on the crime of genocide, 18 years before it launched the Igbo genocide, and one of its early signatories. Britain and its pan-African allies eventually murdered 3.1 million Igbo, 25 per cent of this nation’s population, during phases I-III of the genocide, 29 May-12 January 1970, and an additional count of tens of thousands of Igbo murdered in phase-IV of the genocide, 13 January 1970-present day.
AS THE final tally of the murder of the Igbo people demonstrates, Harold Wilson probably had the perverted satisfaction of having his Nigerian subalterns perform far in excess of the prime minister’s grim target, a subject coldly stated in Wilson’s own memoirs where he notes that the Nigerian military, equipped zealously by Britain, expended more small arms ammunition in its campaign to achieve its annhilative mission in the Igbo genocide than the amount used by the British armed forces “during the whole” of the 1939-1945 war or “World War II” (Harold Wilson, Labour Government, 1964-1970: A Personal Record, London: Wiedenfeld & Nicolson, 1971: 630, added emphasis). On this feature, Colonel Robert Scott, military advisor in the British diplomatic mission in Nigeria during the Igbo genocide acknowledges, equally gravely, that as genocidist Nigeria military forces unleashed their attacks on Igbo cities, towns and villages, they were the “best defoliant agent known” (Daily Telegraph, London, 11 January 1970).
SOMEONE or a people who survives genocide is simultaneously a survivor and victor, hence that stunning incantation of the triumph of life itself on the morrow of overcoming the slaughter, the dehumanisation, the immiseration: “Happy Survival”!
The Derg Damara, Herero, Igbo and Nama are survivors and victors and precisely because of these outcomes, these peoples will play a critical role in charting the very nature of the future relationship of Africa and Belgium, Africa and Germany, Africa and Britain, and Africa and the rest of the European World. The perpetrators of these genocides, Belgium, Britain and Germany, must acknowledge and atone, fully, for executing these crimes against humanity. Belgium, Germany and Britain must each pay comprehensive reparations at once to the host of constituent African peoples in the Congo River basin, Derg Damara, Herero, Nama and Igbo peoples, respectively, for committing this stretch of genocides between 1878 and 2018.
THESE crimes will never be forgotten by the survivors and the rest of the world. This is the proclamation that surely endures and not General von Trotha’s “Extermination Order”.
Twitter@HerbertEkweEkwe(Andrew Hill Sextet, “Dedication” [personnel: Hill, piano; Kenny Dorham, trumpet; Eric Dolphy, bass clarinet; Joe Henderson, tenor saxophone; Richard Davis, bass; Tony Williams, drums; recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US, 21 March 1964])