Sunday, October 11, 2020

Lessons About Colonialism

  German students learn nothing about their country's colonial past. Events such as the genocide in Namibia are taught only at teachers' discretion. Now campaigners are aiming to change this.

Germany carried out a genocide of the Herero and Nama people in the country, which European powers called German South West Africa at the time. From 1884 to 1916, German colonial officials were also in charge in the west of Africa, in areas that are today the Togolese Republic and parts of Ghana. What was known as "Togoland" was considered to be a "model colony" by the German Empire. But here, too, the Germans exploited natural resources, denied the Togolese their rights and punished them with beatings.

Hendrik Witbooi on the $200 banknote of his home country, Namibia. High school students learn that Witbooi fought against the German occupation of what is now Namibia at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century. In Namibia, Witbooi is still honored as a hero for his fight to gain freedom from the German colonialists. But school students in Germany are very unlikely to know anything about Witbooi. 

This is because, at present, official school textbooks and curricula in German schools almost completely neglect the 30-year-long history of German colonialism in Africa and the western Pacific. It is not a part of official teaching materials in German schools. The topic is not taught at all in some German states and only touched on in others.

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