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Muffling the Fimbifimbi

Namibian GDR Exile Children in Narratives and Discourses Past and Present

In: Matatu
Author:
Bruno Arich-Gerz University of Wuppertal Germany

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Abstract

After a South African air raid attack against the liberation-struggling independence movement of their parents, more than four hundred young Namibian refugees—preschoolers, primary school pupils and teenagers—arrived in the German Democratic Republic in 1979. This chapter evaluates representations of the deportation of the children and their experiences in the GDR by looking at (auto)biographical depictions. With regard to the question of whether their spectacular life stories have (co-)shaped the prevailing post-independence national narrative of Namibia or not, their own perspective yields both an unambiguous and, given the conditions under which they had been sent on their odyssey in the first place, surprising result. While the former exile children have ultimately been denied the privilege of being part of the country’s elite, they do not seem to resent their near invisibility in these self-images of the nation, and seem to have come to terms with their situation (and identity) as Africans with a German past.

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