It seems as though the day has come when Germany facing its colonial history is finally a possibility. As with all European countries, there’s a need for countries who held colonial power to acknowledge the lasting effects created.
Minister of state at the German Federal Foreign Office Katja Keul stated that “In Germany, we either played down or ignored the colonial period for far too long. As a society, as a government, and also as the Federal Foreign Office. … Let me put this quite bluntly: European colonialism was an unjust system.”
Her visit to Cameroon from October 30 – November 2 led to many conversations. Keul also paid tribute to Rudolf Douala Manga Bell, a Douala king and resistance leader against Germany’s colony in Cameroon. In particular, Keul assured that the German government would “face up to this chapter of our history and to put an end to the shortcomings in coming to grips with it.”
Germany facing its colonial history? The run-down:
What we know:
During her visit, Human Rights Watch shared that Keul also discussed with Cameroon’s Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute the prospects of returning artifacts that were removed from Cameroon during colonial rule.
Keul’s comments and visit come swiftly after Germany’s refusal to negotiate a reparation deal related to the atrocities committed against the Herero and Nama peoples of Namibia between 1885 and 1919. The country refused the chance for reparations in September.
Some argue that in order to truly take steps forward with facing the brutalities of colonial rule, Germany will need to reconsider its approach to reparations. Given the systemic, and structural racism that exists in Germany, the country will also need to actively work through the effects of the colonial past and how this is represented in school systems, curriculums, police violence, employment, and healthcare.