The art of saying absolutely nothing

The Rantings of a mad man

Thomas Knemeyer
Die Welt
6 December 2002 E-Mail this page to a friend

In an interview that could have been a scene from the film the Madness of King George, Namibian President Sam Nujoma spoke to the German newspaper Die Welt

TK: Let me start with something that many people expect by now, Mr President. And that is, with you being in very good health -- in fact if I look back to independence I see exactly the same person, it seems you never age -- if the people want you to run for a fourth term, would you accept the mandate?
You travelled all the world to come and ask senseless issues?

SN: It seems that you in the Western world have contradictions in your minds. There are two ways or manners of democracy, as we know. In Western Europe, in Britain, you have a prime minister who can be elected repeatedly by the people of Britain. So it is in Germany -- [Helmut] Kohl has been in office almost for the last 15 years, before the SPD [Social Democratic Party] and the Greens came into office. And in the United States they have two terms for each president.

Why is that news? Really, is that news? You travelled all the world to come and ask senseless issues?

The Namibian people have the right, just like all other people in the world, to decide who's going to be their next president. To me it's not news. Except that you, who are confused, try to create confusion in Africa.

TK: No, I meant it straightforward. I just wanted to know from you, if ... obviously the people have a right to elect you. But would you accept?

SN: You leave that to the Namibian people. Not for you to come and decide.

"Then you go to Lesotho. In Namibia we make our own decisions. As we see fit, our own interest"

TK: Okay. Another question, because we are in the neighbourhood here, is the Epupa Project [a controversial dam initiative]. When do you expect that to go ahead?

SN: That is also not your business. That is the prerogative right for the Namibian people to decide, and their government, when it is put into operation. That project, or the other projects. It's not your business.

TK: Well, I'm just interested, I'm not critical.

SN: Interested for what?

TK: It's like the Lesotho Highlands Project, like all of these big projects ...

SN: ... Then you go to Lesotho. In Namibia we make our own decisions. As we see fit, our own interest.

TK: All I asked you was whether it will go ahead or whether you ...

SN: It's not your business.

TK: Okay. A question that is on a lot of people's minds, however, is the land question. I would like to know from you today exactly the position of your government; how you will proceed in this matter, because I really get conflicting information ...

why should you want to come and poke your nose into our affairs?
I want this to be understood by everybody. Any corner of the Republic of Namibia, from the borders of Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa and the Atlantic ocean -- that is the property for the people of Namibia.

It was invaded by German colonials from 1884 until 1915, they cut up our country, they never bought the land. The Boers did the same, when the Boers and the British defeated the Germans and Germany lost its positions in Africa and elsewhere. So that is the prerogative of the people of Namibia to decide who it belongs to.

It's our land. We fought for it. You Germans when you were defeated, your country was divided into two, East Germany and West Germany. So why should you want to come and poke your nose into our affairs? We Namibians know precisely what we want and how to implement our plans in this country.

TK: Right. I was told that there are 192 absentee-landlord farms that will now be up for grabs ...

We will not allow foreigners to own land who are not here ... because we have no right to go and occupy land in Germany or elsewhere
SN: ... Yes, we will not allow foreigners to own land who are not here. If they are Namibians, definitely, that is very clear. That is the decision of my government and the people of Namibia to expropriate land with fair compensation. Whether you like it or not.

TK: But let's take the case of somebody who was here and did not get the farm from colonial times, or like you say, who just took it or got it through generations, someone who bought a farm 10 or 15 years ago. For what reason would you ...

SN: We only want Namibian citizens. If you are a citizen, irrespective of colour or race, yes, you are entitled to the land. But if you are a foreigner, you are not entitled. Because we have no right to go and occupy land in Germany or elsewhere.

TK: No, not occupation. But if you wanted to buy yourself a piece of land in Bavaria, you have every right to ...

SN: To buy, we don't allow others or to sell to them.

And this arrogance of you whites must come to an end

TK: So foreigners will in future not be allowed to buy land in Namibia -- even for a high price?

SN: No, they cannot. It's the same in other countries, including in your country in Germany. No foreigners can go and buy land there.

TK: People who want to sell their farms and go home, or do something else with their lives, will they offer their farm to the government first?

SN: We have a minister of land resettlement and rehabilitation. That minister will make a decision on behalf of the government whether this particular individual person wanted to make a business or invest. Yes. But to say you are somewhere else and you occupy land here -- why? Right now more than 200 000 Namibians are in need of land to be resettled.

And this arrogance of you whites must come to an end. There are two cases where indigenous Namibians who stayed on those farms, worked there for more than 50 years, just been evicted, thrown on the national highways and [told] "go to your government". And yet they are here being protected by my government.

Don't insult me further! Don't talk about my land
When we adopted the policy of national reconciliation, when we defeated you Boers and you Germans during the war, we did not adopt that policy, as though we were cowards. We wanted peace and we also know how to protect peace and how to maintain it. If you violate it, definitely you will feel the heavy weight of our laws.

TK: From this I now take it, that you say: in the longer run ...

SN: Don't insult me further! Don't talk about my land. We fought and liberated this country through bloodshed and loss of life.

TK: No, sir, I would never insult you. I really didn't come to insult you. I'm just here ...

SN: [Agitated, points finger ] Stop that insult now!

TK: ... to get clarity.

Now you stop insulting me, by referring, talking to me about Zimbabwe. Go to Zimbabwe. You know where Zimbabwe is.
SN: Stop that insult of talking about land in this country! You have no right whatsoever!

TK: I'm just here to ask questions.

SN: After all, you, we defeated you, when you fought against us. We know you supported [BJ] Vorster, [PW] Botha, all these fascists.

TK: There is a precedent that happened in the past two years in Zimbabwe. Can you tell me ...

SN: Now you stop insulting me, by referring, talking to me about Zimbabwe. Go to Zimbabwe. You know where Zimbabwe is.

TK: I have been to Zimbabwe. My question to you would be ...

SN: [Sharply] Don't ask any question about Zimbabwe to me. Go to Zimbabwe. You know where Zimbabwe is.

TK: I was asking about the economic situation in Zimbabwe and why you think it is not so good right now.

Don't talk about Mbeki to me. Ask questions related to Namibia to me. Why do you come to ask me here about Mbeki?
SN: Don't talk Zimbabwe to me. You know where Zimbabwe is. You go there and ask the Zimbabwean leaders.

TK: Okay. Then we move on. This year the African Union [AU] has replaced the Organisation of African Unity [OAU]. What possibilities do you see where the AU could do things differently, also with regard to the New Partnership for Africa's Development [Nepad] and the recently discussed peer review ...

SN: All right. The OAU's tasks and responsibilities by the founding fathers of the OAU, on the 25th of May 1963, was to liberate the African continent from minority white colonial occupation. That was the task. And it has been concluded on the 4th of May 1994, when South Africa became a genuine non-racial society. That day the total liberation of Africa was achieved.

So now, the tasks and responsibilities for the African Union is to struggle for economic independence. Nepad is the implementing arm of the African Union, it's not an independent organisation.

TK: There was a discussion recently whether the peer review mechanism should be employed the way President Thabo Mbeki had originally said or ...

SN: Don't talk about Mbeki to me. Ask questions related to Namibia to me. You are stationed in South Africa. Well, go ask Mbeki there. Why do you come to ask me here about Mbeki?
You just ask me things that are related to Namibia. You know where they are. Why don't you go and ask them?

TK: Because Namibia is part of it.

SN: No, Namibia is not part of South Africa.

TK: No, part of the AU, part of Nepad, that's what I am saying.

SN: Yes, but why then you expect me to come in? Because the AU belongs to all former members of the OAU. It doesn't belong to Namibia or Nepad or any of the other countries. So whatever we do, we do it collectively, in the interests of the member states of the AU.

TK: But your opinion of the peer review mechanism? Some people are critical about it, they don't like it.

SN: Go and ask them.

TK: I'm asking you. Do you think it's a good thing or not a good thing?

SN: You just ask me things that are related to Namibia. You know where they are. Why don't you go and ask them?

TK: You were just now very critical about the history, as is your right. But how would you define the relationship between Namibia and Germany today? Is it good?

SN: We have a good relationship with Germany. We promote that relationship, because we consider Germans as our distant cousins because of our long relationship.

Yeah, you go and ask him (the Herero Chief). You know where he is.
Now with the new Namibia and the new Germany we are no longer dealing about what happened in the past. We leave the sad history behind and forge ahead with cooperation, in terms of resources.

We have a lot of resources here, ranging from diamonds, uranium, gold, copper, marine resources and others. Germany with their technology and we with our resources, we agree to meet and discuss and enter into joint ventures for mutual benefits, for the Namibians as well as for the Germans.

TK: The Herero chief has started a court case for reparations from Germany, which the Berlin government rejects ...

SN: Yeah, you go and ask him. You know where he is.

TK: What is your point of view as government?

SN: You go and ask him. I was in Germany just in June. We had a very good meeting with the Chancellor [Gerhard Schroder] as well as with other government officials, and businessmen and women from Namibia and Germany met to discuss future cooperation. So, you know where the Herero chief is.

TK: I know what he wants, he has brought a case ...

Knetmeyer: I represent my newspaper - Nujoma: Ah, stop that arrogance

SN: Go and ask him.

TK: But you as a government, from what I hear and read, you reject this, the way he has done it.

SN: That is your own interpretation. I was in Germany in June. So we talked with the chancellor. Are you now representing the chancellor or who are you representing?

TK: I represent my newspaper.

SN: Ah, stop that arrogance.

TK: But what is your position on reparations after you spoke to the chancellor? Do you feel Germany should pay?

SN: We never spoke about reparations. We talk about cooperation between Germany and Namibia.

What do you think? We should travel by donkey-wagon? We are not a banana state...

TK: I have two more questions. After 12 years, where do you see your successes and where do you see unfinished business?

SN: Our tradition here is, we don't talk about ourselves, praising ourselves. These other people who are observing us, you are in Namibia now, you see for yourself whether there is progress, or not. Whether the situation is still the same as it was under South African apartheid colonial domination or not. Is there any difference that you can see?

TK: What would you be particularly proud of, when you look around, things you have achieved?

SN: It is you to observe and go and write, if you write. I see here you say that Nujoma has gone ahead and bought a Lear jet. Yes! What do you think? We should travel by donkey-wagon? We have resources here. When the apartheid regime left, they took all the aircraft, including even DC-3s. They took them. We find ourselves with no single aircraft. You expect us not to travel by jet? We are not a banana state as you think we are. We have the resources here. We are not going to borrow money from anybody, we buy with our own resources.

We are entitled to travel by jet just like other people. If you go to Germany you find all over jets, even private people have them, and therefore the Republic of Namibia cannot buy a jet? That is arrogance, arrogance.

TK: I didn't ask you about that ...

SN: Well you stop that.
I asked you what are you most proud about after 12 years. I wanted to write a few pluses down

TK: ... I asked you what are you most proud about after 12 years. I wanted to write a few pluses down.

SN: We are proud to be Namibians. We are proud to work and develop our country without begging anyone.

TK: My last question: in the next two months the Iraq crisis will dominate the world. What is your position? What happens if the United Nations resolution is fulfilled or is not fulfilled?

SN: Namibia is not involved in Iraqi business. It's you whites who are involved. Go and ask the Americans.

TK: Well, it's a UN Resolution. You are part of the UN.

SN: You go and ask those who sponsored the resolution. It was not sponsored by Namibia. It was sponsored by the Americans and the British. Go and ask them, you know where they are.

TK: Is there anything I didn't ask you that you would like to add?

SN: No, I just want to say: stop your arrogance. We thought that when the Cold War ended all countries would work together for the common good of the people. But if you whites continue with arrogance, surely we will hit you! We will have the capacity to deal with you. Don't rubbish our situation, we have the capacity to deal with you.

Don't rubbish our situation, we have the capacity to deal with you.

You killed our people in this country -- do you think we will just forget? And you write nonsense! If you don't stop that, we will deal with you directly!

NBC: [Shortly before the interview ended, a Namibian Broadcasting Corporation journalist who was present addressed a question to Knemeyer.] Thomas, I wanted to ask you one question about what you have written here in your article. You seem to know about a certain German who donated a farm. But I've never heard of him.

SN: [Before Knemeyer could respond, Nujoma interjected.] Yes, certainly, there is. Karl List has donated six farms to the government to resettle landless Namibians. That settlement is already taking place. That is a citizen of Namibia, who felt that since he has more farms and these are his fellow citizens who are landless, so he donated that to the government. That's true.

TK: Thank you very much

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Previous Visitor Comments

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Third Flower My spouse and i are actlaluy now delighted that Albert could carry out his research on account of the suggestions he had by way of your web page. It’s from time to time perplexing to just often be giving freely ways which a lot of people might have be

Ok, I have some good Q’s.What is the history of your hbndasus family. How many generations have lived in Africa?Have you driven a car there yet? Is it weird getting in on the wrong side? ;pDo you feel like the minority being white or is there a fairly good balance? And if you do feel like the minority whats that like?I am sure I will have more later. Thanks for the great blog!

*Sigh* At least Charlize Theeeeron won the Oscar.But yip, that which you reward you get. It’s basic human nartue. That which you punish or tax disappears. Therefor if your criminals has more rights than law abiding citizens OBviously you’re going to have a problem with crime. When you slap supertax on the people who actually PRODUCE something in this country and you reward the bergies with welfare grants and child support OBviously you’re going to have a problem with unemployment.But then we do have a president who’s certain that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS and a health minister who preaches eating garlic to prevent the same afflication. Julle is almal fokken faktap.Anyway Cape Town is still nice and Charlize won’t be able to vote either.

Jaco functionality
Iíve now added the functionality to rate this page, as I feel it is still an interesting read. Many of the issues Knemeyer addressed is also still as relevant today. Please feel free to do so.



abyabylandry2000_at_yahoo.frrecherche un businessman
salut je recherche un businessman voici mon mail

danielsfudanny_at_hotmail.comRe: Disrespecting
edgar said: "the western world have this thing about africa, if a man stays in power for more a decade he will be branded a dictator..." To accuse one of disrespect, my friend, is an extremely bold statement for someone who does not seem to have his facts in order. Although it is clear that the media represents the western world as being typically conservative and xenophobic, any individual who involves themselves in social debates of global scale should not draw upon these generalizations when accusing others of disrespect. In Canada, there is no maximum term for the Prime Minister, and there have been several Prime Ministers throughout the country's history that have had excessively long terms. Not all westerners are afraid of dictatorships, and the MAJORITY of them do NOT support Nujoma's so-called "white" initiatives, such as the war in Iraq. His racially-fuelled anger is unsettling, and it is to this which people are reacting badly. Clearly the people of Namibia have reason to remember the events of its past, but to continue to use past wrongdoings to justify present-day hate is not going to ever solve any of anybody's problems.

Visitorzcomanche_at_aol.comsad but true
it is sad that hate and bitterness towards people in other nations is so strong.this blinds him from the wisdom to truely serve his people.

k.W. Spence-Lewis Consultant Researcher Mbanji Namibia
President Mbanji as head of state of Namibia represents legally constituted authority. One must defer to this. If one visits the head of state of Germany, England the United States or any western state there is a procedure one must defer to in order to maintain the authority of that state (spoken or unspoken). The matter is not one of like or dislike. If one is not willing to oblige do not enter into circumstances that would contravene the particular authority in question. When one interviews the President of the United States or the German Chancellor the questions are frequently put forward in advance. When the press is present they have a protocol that is intended not to undermine the authority of the office. Political tradition in the west must learn to respect the authority and statemanship of Africa. This must not be done based on the opinions and pleasure of the west or colonial history. Thank you for the opportunity to respond. You are invited to visit:

Hannes Deetlefsdeetlefs@compuserve.comNujoma
It is so terribly sad, this. As we know today, Hitler also had to fail because no one in Germany dared to tell him the truth...

Sadzazz@zz.zzNujoma Mbanji
Whatever the guy is smoking is pretty strong stuff!
The interview simply reveals President Nujoma to be a rude, arrogant, bigoted and deeply racist old man. That is not a crime, but it is unlikely to win friends and allies among citizens of countries where racism and bigotry are largely seen as undesirable traits - particularly in a national leader.

i am a young namibian currently studying at atertiary institution in Windhoek, i find it provocative for someone to brand my preident as a mad man and disrespecting him in such a manner, yes maybe he was not as cooperative as this journalist had hoped for but but honestly it was non of his business. the western world have this thing about africa, if a man stays in power for more a decade he will be branded a dictator, while in the west a true leader and asking the president on issues that has nothing to do with this country is realy stupid

invinoveritasspesbona@webtopmail.comThe Marxist Blood Brothers
We dont read or hear much about Nujoma but this revealing "interview" suggests that he is just as demented or more so than Mugabe, if such were medically possible. No doubt these two "blood-brothers" (intentional pun)have been ENJOYING each other's company very very much at the frequent anti-white "conferences" they promote, thus contracting each others syphilis..? And the youngest of the Marxist brothers, the darkly dapper M(uga)BEKI, is probably not far BEHIND either..! For white Namibians this is Scary Stuff indeed and is more evidence (if any were required) that the USE-BY DATE of (relatively) responsible black "government" is 10-15 years at best - after which things go very sour very quickly. I have long maintained that the unconditional surrender of white south africans to the absurdity of one-moron-one-vote "demockery" (aka black mysoginy and misrule) and (sooner rather than later) bloody retribution - will be viewed by future historians as the biggest and worst case of mass cultural (and physical)SUICIDE in all of history. The only hope for the continued existence of European culture in Southern Africa is for whites to learn the one useful thing that blacks taught them and render the country ungovernable by means of strikes and tax boycotts, etc, etc, and demand their own secessionist state. As whites have abrogated the power to influence the blacks - and they cannot be changed - secession is the only sane option. Sadly most SA whites have been so thoroughly brain-washed with false guilt by the self-loathing white-left-liberal media, they have completely lost their marbles and are deliriously happy to be BAD GAMBLERS LIVING IN THE FOOLS PARADISE OF THE RAINBOW NATION.

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