Commemorative service on the repatriating of mortal remains to Namibia

‘When I die here, let my bones be returned to home’

This morning (29 August) a commemorative service is taking place in Berlin to mark the return to Namibia of the mortal remains of Herero and Nama dating from the colonial period. The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) are holding the service in the Französische Friedrichstadtkirche.

Petra Bosse-Huber, bishop for ecumenical relations and ministries abroad of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), is holding a joint sermon with Ernst//Gamxamub, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia and leader of the delegation of the Council of Churches in Namibia.

Bishop Ernst//Gamxamub recalls the history of Namibia and Germany, which was ‘born of a very bad experience and reality’. He urges: ‘Let us therefore learn from our past to write anew our future, characterised by the following values: human dignity, respect, equality, good cohabitation, empowering one another to exercise peace and justice.’

Ernst//Gamxamub graphically describes an unforgettable experience in a UNHCR camp in Botswana that he visited a few years ago. He heard Namibian refugees singing a moving lamentation, which they did every evening: ‘When I die here, let my bones be returned home.’

Bishop Bosse-Huber says: ‘This day moves me greatly. We intend to do something today which should have been done many decades ago: namely, to give back mortal human remains of people who became the victims of the first genocide of the 20th century, to their rightful descendants.’

Bosse-Huber recalls that the EKD made a confession of guilt in April 2017 and asked for forgiveness from the descendants of the victims of what most historians regards as the first genocide of the 20th century in former German Southwest Africa:

‘Together with the descendants of the victims, we intend to keep their memory alive, to publicly advocate for the acknowledgement of the genocide and to work towards overcoming the wrongs committed by the German colonial rule, as well as their enduring effects.’

Immediately after the service, the mortal remains are to be handed over to representatives of the Namibian government at an official act of the German Foreign Office and Namibian embassy. On 31 August they will be received in Windhoek, Namibia at a state ceremony.

The sermons by Bishop Ernst//Gamxamub and Bishop Bosse-Huber for download

Link to Confession of Guilt (April 2017)

Hannover, 28 August 2018

EKD Press Office
Kerstin Kipp