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Dr Kana Miyamoto visited the Neukölln Museum, Germany

Feb 23, 2024

Dr Kana Miyamoto, our staff member and Specially-appointed researcher, visited the Neukölln Museum, where a special exhibition is held: "Buried Memories: Vom Umgang mit dem Erinnern. Der Genozid an den Ovaherero und Nama" (https://schloss-gutshof-britz.de/museum-neukoelln/ausstellungen/buried-memories).

Namibia experienced German colonial rule from 1884 to 1914, and the genocide committed against the indigenous Ovaherero and Nama people from 1904 to 1908 is known as the 'first genocide of the 20th century'. It is estimated that about 80% of the Herero (65,000 people) and half of the Nama (10,000 people) were killed at that time.

The special exhibition, composed mainly of installation by Namibian artist and curator Isabel Tueumuna Katjavivi, is held from 5 November 2023 to 21 July 2024. The museum staff guided Kana around the museum along with both special and permanent exhibitions, explained the museum's role in the region and the background of the special exhibition, and exchanged views (Photo 1).


Photo 1: Special exhibition at the Neukölln Museum (photo provided by Kana).

Although the German Government gave an official apology in May 2021 for the genocide in Namibia (Africa Today, 29 May 2021), there has since been criticism within Namibia of the bilateral state negotiations that ignored the direct victims of the genocide from opposition parties and representatives of the communities (Africa Today, 10 June 2021). Against this background, representatives of the Ovaherero (traditional authorities) actively discuss the return of land, remains, and artefacts stolen during the German colonial period (see 79th ASC Seminar).

Behind the inter- and intra-national negotiations and debates using the term 'genocide' are political considerations at various levels. The controversial issue of a colonial monument in the administration of the district of Neukölln is also the background for this special exhibition. This museum is taking several initiatives to encourage dialogue during the special exhibition period (see website above). Compared with the convening in Cape Town, South Africa, in which she participated just before this visit, she had the opportunity to think similarly about how the people living today can discuss the issue to move forward. Based on this preliminary research, she will continue considering this topic in her current research project.