The statue of Curt von Francois, seen as a symbol of colonial oppression, was removed after pressure from local activists.

A colonial-era statue of a German official was removed from the Namibian capital Windhoek on Wednesday following pressure from local activists, as onlookers cheered and booed.

The 2.4-meter bronze statue of Curt von Francois, which was unveiled in 1965, was seen as a symbol of colonial oppression in the southern African nation.

“This moment is a memory of dignity, our city has been whitewashed,” Hildegard Titus, an activist with the A Curt Farewell movement who pushed for the removal of the statue, told the AFP news agency.

“There is an emotional link to the disassembly of the statue, but it also has to do with historical accuracy.”

It is the latest statue to be toppled as activists around the world campaign to remove depictions of colonial-era officials who have been accused of practicing slavery and committing other atrocities.

The removal of the von Francois statue comes two years after the statue of Cecil Rhodes, a British colonialist, was beheaded by activists from the University of Cape Town in neighboring South Africa during protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. in United States.

Germany colonized Namibia from 1884 to 1915. It apologized in 2021 for its role in the massacre of the Herero and Nama tribes in Namibia more than a century ago, officially describing it as genocide for the first time.

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Between 1904 and 1908, German settlers killed tens of thousands of Herero and Nama Indians in massacres that historians have called the first genocide of the 20th century.

The statue, which stood on a tall pedestal outside the municipal buildings, depicted a mustachioed von Francois in military uniform, wearing a large hat and wielding a sword.

The council said the statue, which A Curt Farewell described as “a reminder of genocide”, will now be kept at the Windhoek City Museum.

There it will be displayed with an explanation of the historical context, said Aaron Nambadi, curator of the museum.

“We as historians and curators participated in this project to correct the false narrative that von Francois was the founder of the city,” Nambadi told AFP.

Germany pledged more than 1 billion euros in financial support to the descendants of the victims, who many Namibians say were not sufficiently involved in the compensation negotiations.

Last month, Namibia requested to renegotiate the terms of the agreement.