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Hundreds of people signed an online petition demanding an apology from the organisers of the popular Kuska Karnival that was held in Swakopmund, a city on the western coast of Namibia, saying the event stirred up racism and was insensitive to the feeelings of black people, after pictures of people dressed as Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members and some painted as black labourers appeared in the German newspaper Allgemeine Zeitung.

I am ashamed of the inconceivable act of transgression that happened in multiple forms when at the Carnival in Swakopmund some dressed in costumes of the Ku-Klux-Klan; the German “Allgemeine Zeitung” pictured these as an attire of “originality”.

Such excess goes far beyond disgusting taste. It is an alarming sign that members of my language group a generation into Independence still not realize the meaning of reconciliation. They continue living in an anachronistic, despicable world we seemingly have not managed to leave behind once and for all.

I am also ashamed of the shocking misjudgment of the German newspaper as regards responsible ethical minimum standards. It serves as a platform for blatant violations of fundamental feelings of fellow Namibians. - Those very people, who deserve respect and recognition after the long and shameful history in this country. A history, to which members of the German speaking community either actively contributed or which they passively supported and accepted as bystanders.

I am ashamed
- that the genuine efforts of others among our language group for reconciliation, mutual respect and recognition of a common humanity are sabotaged in this way.
- that the shitstorm provoked on Facebook, which ultimately forced the newspaper and its media house to apologize and retract the offending picture was not a result of our own group.
- that we have not yet reached a state of maturity and sense of decency, which would prevent such scandalously demeaning behavior and attitudes.
I apologize unconditionally
- for the ignorance and arrogance of those who do not know better. It is no excuse for their racist insensitivity, which is an offending act not only against those of other groups in Namibian society. It is deeply offending and humiliating also to those of us, who try to find ways of reconciliation towards mutual respect and a life in harmony among all living in this country.
- that we have not managed yet to create a sufficient culture of awareness within the ranks of our ethnic community as a pre-requisite for responsible citizenship.
- that we failed to create the necessary insight among all our fellow German-speakers for the need to live up to the slogan “Never again” in the face of the atrocities on record and associated with our history.

* Dr. Henning Melber is Namibian and used to direct the Nordic Africa Institute.