Germany’s Colonial Legacy in Africa

Last year Annalena Baerbock founder herself at the center of a controversy after using the N-word while retelling a story about a child in her neighborhood who refused to complete a worksheet containing the racial slur. Baerbock praised the pupil for his anti-racist stance. Baerbock later apologized for using the N-word. The situation was yet another reminder of Germany’s history of racial discrimination towards African people. Germany was one of the nations in Europe which colonized Africa.

German colonialism in Africa was brutal. In Namibia, the German colonialists committed an act of genocide. The total number of Africans killed is not known, but the estimates are as high as 100,000 being killed by the German colonialists. Last year Namibian chiefs rejected Germany’s offer for aid, claiming that the offer was “insulting” because they felt that the amount offered was not enough to adequately address the genocide. It is shocking that it would even take Germany so long to offer a formal apology. The genocide began in 1904. Germany apologized in 2021. This can be contrasted with survivors of the Holocaust who have been receiving reparations from Germany since the 1950s. Germany colonialism is brutal in other African colonies as well. In German East Africa, Germans used physical force to compel Africans to work. Chief Mkwawa of the Hehe people led a rebellion against the German colonialists in East Africa. The Maji Maji rebellion was another rebellion against German colonialism in East Africa.

Annalena Baerbock currently serves as the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Germany. Though she has apologized for her usage of the n-word, the fact that she currently holds a position in which she oversees Germany’s foreign affairs highlights the ongoing problem of. Germany is a nation which continues to wrestle with its Nazi past, particularly given the rise of neo-Nazism in Germany. The brutality of German colonial rule predates Nazism and it would appear that Germany has not begun to truly address its colonial past. Apologies are not enough.

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Dwayne Wong (Omowale)

Dwayne Wong (Omowale) is a Guyanese born Pan-Africanist, author, and law student.