• India
    Colonized Countries Rarely Ask for Redress Over Past Wrongs—The Reasons Can Be Complex
    Few former colonies officially press perpetrator states to redress past injustices, largely due to divergent narrative within victim states about how to view past colonial history.
  • Namibia
    Remembering Dirk Mudge, Pioneer of Multiracial Democracy in Namibia
    Anthony Carroll is founding director of Acorus Capital, a private equity fund investing in Africa, and a vice president of Manchester Trade Limited, an international business advisory firm. He has over forty years of experience working with Africa and is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. As a part of its series "Those We've Lost," the New York Times last week published the obituary of Dirk Mudge, who died of COVID-19 in Windhoek, Namibia on August 26, which was, fittingly, Namibia's Heroes Day. While Mr. Mudge had retired from politics in 1993, he played a crucial role in Namibia's independence and, as a result, in ending apartheid in neighboring South Africa. I first heard the unforgettable name Dirk Mudge in 1977 while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in neighboring Botswana. Mudge's ancestors were Afrikaner farmers who trekked northward from South Africa in the 18th century. Their descendants are still very influential in the beef industries of both Namibia and Botswana. These Afrikaner settlers later came under the colonial rule of Germany during the late 19th century’s "scramble for Africa." That scramble created South West Africa, where German colonial rulers perpetrated the first genocide of the 20th century, mostly against the Herero people. After Germany's defeat in World War I, Namibia was placed under South African administration, a rule that continued in contravention of international law until 1990. (Actually 1994, with the handover of the port of Walvis Bay – the last "vestige" of that ruinous treaty, according to Namibia's first chief justice Hans Berker).   After the 1948 election, South Africa came under the governance of the National Party, which instituted the odious system of apartheid. As its de facto "Fifth Province," South West Africa was subjected to the same legal regime based upon exclusion and enforced by terror. By the 1970s, South Africa was embroiled in a costly and unpopular "border" war with Angola and fighters from the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO). SWAPO has been Namibia's ruling party since independence. By the mid-1980s, it became clear that a military solution to South Africa's continued illegal rule of Namibia was not viable. The U.S. government under the guidance of Assistant Secretary Chester A. Crocker played an important facilitating role in ending the Angolan war as did the UN special representative and Finnish Nobel Laureate Martti Ahtisaari.  However, no amount of external pressure would have worked without an insider to show South Africa the door. Dirk Mudge provided the needed "nudge."  While serving in the country's All White Executive Committee, in 1977 he abandoned the National Party and formed a multiracial party, the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA). Despite the enmity of White Namibians and the historic mistrust of Black Namibians, Mudge played a pivotal role in disengaging South Africa (without the help of its administrator Louis Pienaar and South African intelligence and its "Third Force") and began the negotiations for independence in 1990 and the drafting of a model democratic constitution. His "inside" role was similar to that of the UDF and DP in South Africa and perhaps provided a road map for the winding down of apartheid in South Africa. Conversely, had things gone badly in Namibia, resistance by conservative "verkramp" Afrikaner elements could have led to a different outcome. Upon learning of his death, Secretary Crocker paid tribute to this vital contribution, describing Mr. Mudge as "a serious and committed person who played a key transitional role in the country he cared deeply about." After independence, the formation of a new constitution, and the conclusion of negotiations on the reintegration of Walvis Bay, Mr. Mudge returned to his "cattle post" in 1993 and raised champion Brahmin cattle. Even with the challenges of corruption and weak opposition to the ruling party, many observers still believe that Namibia has been the most successful nation in southern Africa to emerge from a protracted and violent armed struggle. While there are many heroes who contributed to that success, including some who paid with their lives, Dirk Mudge certainly deserves recognition for his commitment to bringing democracy and majority rule to his country.
  • Namibia
    The $400,000 Death of a Namibian Black Rhino
    Nobody who cares about Africa’s wildlife can like a September 9 New York Times headline, “Hunter Seeks to Import Parts of Rare Rhino He Paid $400,000 to Kill.” The story recalls the dentist from Michigan who paid for, shot, and killed Cecil, an elderly lion in Zimbabwe. In this case, a Michigan big game hunter paid a Namibia conservation organization $400,000 for the opportunity to shoot a black rhino. Now, he is applying to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to bring its skull, hide, and horns into the United States. The black rhino is covered by the U.S. Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to import trophies from an animal on the list unless it promotes the survival of the species. Despite the unpleasant optics, that would appear to be the case here. There are only about 5,500 black rhinos left, and half of them are in Namibia, according to the New York Times. Under an international convention, Namibia may allow five male rhinos to be killed per year. The meat is distributed to the local people and the payment helps fund conservation programs. The black rhino hunted was twenty-nine years old and was interfering with breeding by younger males, and therefore was damaging population growth. Accordingly, the Fish and Wildlife has indicated that it will likely approve the entry into the United States of its trophy parts. Nevertheless, animal rights and some conservation groups oppose any trophy hunting, including that of black rhinos. The black rhino population is increasing, but so, too, is poaching, the greatest threat to them. In this particular case, however, the hunt appears to promote the conservation of the black rhino population.
  • Namibia
    Women This Week: #MeToo in Namibia
    Welcome to “Women Around the World: This Week,” a series that highlights noteworthy news related to women and U.S. foreign policy. This week’s post, covering May 9 to May 16, was compiled by Rebecca Hughes and Rebecca Turkington.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
    Germany's 1904 Genocide in Namibia
    In what is often called the twentieth century’s first genocide, the German colonial authorities, from 1904 to 1906, set out systematically to exterminate two ethnic groups, the Herero and the Nama, following an uprising in what was then German South West Africa and what is now Namibia. The Namibian government is currently in talks with the German government to demand that Berlin officially acknowledge that the genocide took place, issue an apology, and pay reparations. While Germany has already acknowledged the genocide occurred, it rejects any legal responsibility. International law did not address genocide at the time, argue the Germans. According to the Wall Street Journal, a German diplomat said, “The German government uses this term (of genocide) in a historical-political sense, not in a legal sense.” Germany also opposes reparations, which legally “implies liability.”  Apologies and reparations for atrocities in the colonial past are complicated. The post-World War II German government has apologized and paid reparations to Jewish survivors of the Holocaust—but not to their descendants. French president Francois Hollande has acknowledged the suffering caused by the Algerian war, but did not formally apologize. Nor did UK Prime Minister Tony Blair fully apologize for British participation in the slave trade. Instead, he expressed “deep sorrow.” The Belgian government apologized for its complicity in the death of President Patrice Lumumba of Congo. In 2015, Japan reached a settlement with South Korea in which the Prime Minister formally apologized for the Japanese army’s use of Korean “comfort women” during World War II. Japan agreed to pay $9.5 million to the women who have survived. However, in the case of Namibia, after a century, there are no survivors, only descendants, so German authorities are unsure about what they might pay and to whom. It is difficult to know how to acknowledge past atrocities, especially those that happened long ago. Yet the wounds continue, right up to the present time, and not just in Africa. The potato famine in Ireland and the highland clearances in Scotland still resonate today.   
  • Namibia
    Hage Geingob on Namibia's Future
    Hage Geingob discusses development goals and strategies for the future of Namibia, and provides his perspective on the nation's influence in the African region.