Skulls Of My People doccie is a crucial Namibian story

2017-06-04 09:49

Johannesburg - A vital documentary film, Skulls Of My People, forms part of the line-up for this year’s Encounters South African International Documentary Festival.

The film, directed by South African Vincent Moloi, is also available to watch online for free on the Al Jazeera website.

The 1904 to 1908 genocide in Namibia carried out by the German empire and which exterminated more than 100 000 Herero, Nama and San people is a historical event that has never been acknowledged to the extent that it should be.

After the Germans confiscated most of their land, thus depriving them of a means to raise their cattle, two Herero and Nama men led their people in an uprising against German colonial rule.

The backlash to that uprising was swift and merciless, with German troops shooting the people, hanging them from trees and forcing them into the desert, where they starved to death.

At least 80% of Herero and 50% of Nama people were wiped out this way.

The survivors were then put in concentration camps, where they were tortured, raped and ultimately killed.

Watch the trailer here:

It was the first genocide of the 20th century, predating the Holocaust.

The skulls of the deceased were then taken to Germany for racial scientific profiling, where racist researchers used them to “prove” that Europeans were superior to Africans.

While the German government agreed to give back 20 skulls in 2011, Namibians believe there are still hundreds that must still be returned.

They are also demanding to have the research reports on the skulls released.

The German government has since apologised for the genocide, but has been obstinate about talks for reparations.

Moloi speaks to the descendents of Herero victims, including Utiua Esther Muinjangue and the Paramount Chief Advocate Rukoro, and uses archival footage to show the continuing struggle for justice.

“We are not only descendants of the act of genocide, we are direct victims of that act that has plunged us into generational poverty,” Rukoro said in an interview with 702 this year.

Al Jazeera’s Witness series has been streaming compelling documentaries for free online, adding new content every week.


*You can also catch it at 12:30 today at the Bertha Movie House in Khayelitsha in Cape Town, where Moloi will be present for a question and answer session.

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