Exploring Herero Genocide Survivor Narratives

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Contemporary post-colonial writers are increasingly, through their fiction, delineating suppressed and occluded histories which do not form a part of the dominant “Grand Narratives” of a nation. Such writing has been facilitated due to the collapse of the rigid binaries of the colonial past, both literal and ideological derived from Post colonialism and Post modernism which allow for the plurality of divergent voices. Thus, multiple competing discourses and histories provide for the excavation of hidden narratives. The German Herero war (1904-08), also called the “Herero Genocide” or the “first holocaust”, forms a part of the troubled history of Namibia leading to collective amnesia and silence on the part of the Germans on the one hand and extensive debate, discussion and demands of reparation by the Namibians on the other. There are several stories of the German-Herero war which are in the communal memory of the Herero people, but are neither recorded nor preserved for posterity. It is imperative that the narratives are collected and preserved, because the elders of the community, who are the repositories of knowledge, are dying. Our research has solicited personal narratives to provide for empirical evidence about the cause, trajectory and effects of genocide on the Herero communities in order to critically explore cultural sites where genocide is most crudely felt from an interdisciplinary perspective with a view to adding to the body of literature of this period, for purposes of preservation and analysis. Research in Genocide studies in Namibia remains Euro-centric and fragmentary. We hope to problematize Trauma theory as we examine transgenerational trauma in these narratives.


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Herero genocide, post colonialism, post modernism, first holocaust, oral traditional history, Namibia


Tjiramanga, A. (2019, July). Exploring Herero genocide survivor narratives. Paper presented at the 2019 – IAGS International Conference, 14 – 19 July 2019, Phnom Phen, Cambodia.