Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Black Lives Matter In Africa, Too

Mari Serebrov, the author of 'Mama Namibia,' is an award-winning journalist with a passion for history, a meticulous researcher and the literary laureate of the Herero Tribal Authority

Vava Tampa is spot on in his recent CNN commentary in which he questions why black lives matter only if they’re American, says Mari Serebrov, who has extensively researched the first genocide of the 20th century, which took place in German South-West Africa.

The founder of Save the Congo, Tampa points out in his op-ed that the rest of the world is turning a blind eye to the thousands of black people being killed in the Congo and other African countries.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a recent phenomenon. In the height of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the UN Security Council withdrew all but 270 of its 2,500 peacekeepers from the country. At the same time, Tampa says, the UN beefed up its forces in Bosnia, where the victims were white, sending in an additional 6,500 troops to join the 24,000 already on the ground there.

“I would add another example to Vava’s list of times the Western world has ignored genocides in Africa,” says Serebrov, the author of Mama Namibia, a historical novel based on the true story of a 12-year-old Herero girl who survived the 1904 genocide in German South-West Africa, now modern-day Namibia.

“Between 1904-1908, Germany was responsible for a genocide that wiped out 85 percent of the Herero and half the Nama,” Serebrov says. “And while Germany passed a resolution a few months ago recognizing the 1915 Armenian Massacre in the Ottoman Empire as a genocide, the government has yet to officially admit that German actions in South-West Africa – including a desert death march, forced labor, rape, mass murder, land theft, concentration camps and medical experiments – were genocide.”

The guilt is not Germany’s alone. Twenty-four other countries and the Vatican have recognized the Armenian genocide. But few have even acknowledged the killing of the Herero and Nama, let alone recognized it as genocide – even though the UN’s Whitaker Report classified it in 1985 as one of the earliest genocides of the century.

Pope Francis, who has offered his support for the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S., is among those who continue to overlook the Herero/Nama genocide. In observing the centennial of the Armenian Massacre last year, the pope erroneously called it the first genocide of the 20th century.

“When no major media immediately pointed out his error, I joined other experts on the Herero genocide and many Africans in taking to social media to raise awareness of what was truly the first genocide,” says Serebrov. “I figured the pope didn’t know about the 1904 genocide, so I sent the facts about it to Vatican Radio.”

But just a few months ago, the pope again called the Armenian genocide the "first of the deplorable series of catastrophes of the past century, made possible by twisted racial, ideological or religious aims that darkened the minds of the tormentors even to the point of planning the annihilation of entire peoples," according to a Vatican news release.

“To paraphrase the pope, one has to wonder what twisted racial or ideological aims make us continue to ignore the extermination of the Herero and Nama in German South-West Africa,” Serebrov says.

“The color of the victims’ skin shouldn’t determine whether the world recognizes a genocide,” she adds. “The blood spilt is always red.”

Serebrov also points out that with each genocide that’s ignored, forgotten or denied, the world grants permission for the next. “Humanity can’t afford to let this cycle continue,” she says.

About Mama Namibia:

Based on the true story of the daughter of a traditional healer, 'Mama Namibia' details the journey of a young girl, Jahohora, as she searches for her family while hiding from the German soldiers. Wasting away in the desert, Jahohora is about to give up her desperate struggle for life when she finds hope in a simple act of kindness from a Jewish doctor serving in the German army.

'Mama Namibia' has received rave reviews. One reader said, "Thank you for writing this book - touching, amazing, wonderful, sad, inspiring . . . a must read and one of the best books I've ever read." Another stated, "This book is a must read for anyone who is interested in history, troubled by its propensity to repeat itself and stunned that this story has never been told to a large audience before. It leaves the reader wondering how many more genocides have been quietly buried in the past."

Serebrov is a meticulous researcher and passionate author. She was named the literary laureate of the Herero Tribal Authority in 2013. She has authored a number of other books, including 'The Life and Times of W.H. Arnold of Arkansas' and a children’s book, 'Jahohora and First Day.' ‘Mama Namibia’ is the first and only work of fiction to be included on Genocide Watch’s list of resources.

In regards to 'Mama Namibia' and the Herero genocide, Serebrov has been interviewed by Al Jazeera, The Namibian, New Era, the Windhoek Observer and other African publications. She appeared on "Good Morning, Namibia" and was interviewed on several national radio programs in Namibia.

She also was recently interviewed for an article on the genocide for 'Down To Earth', a biweekly science and environment journal published by the Centre for Science and Environment, an environmental think tank and advocacy group based out of New Delhi, India.

Serebrov is available for media interviews and can be reached using the information below or by email at All of her works, including 'Mama Namibia,' are available at Amazon and other book retailers. More information is available at her website at

About Mari Serebrov:
An award-winning journalist with a passion for history, Mari Serebrov has authored a variety of books, including 'The Life and Times of W.H. Arnold of Arkansas,' the historical novel 'Mama Namibia' and a children’s book, 'Jahohora and First Day.' She also contributed to ‘The Grandmother’s Bible’ and has co-authored a number of church resource and inspirational books with her mother, the late Adell Harvey.

Because of her work in calling attention to the first genocide of the 20th century in what was then German South-West Africa, Serebrov was named the literary laureate of the Herero Tribal Authority in 2013. She and her husband, Job, an attorney and judge for a Native American tribe, have two children and five grandchildren.


Mari Serebrov