Little I knew about this new country I was visiting… Namibia, especially about all its history of apartheid, the relation ship with South Africa, Germany, Cuba, North Korea… etc. So this was really impressive for me. When we have been looking for information, we couldn’t find lots of tourist info either, everybody on tourist shows and online was recommending us to go to Botswana, South Africa, or somewhere else… weird! we were wondering why…
When we got there, and I knew a little bit more about its history, everything was more obvious. They have been only independent from South Africa for 28 years, so they have a really recent history of fighting and wars. The trip was turning even more interesting. Our first stop was a refreshment, after being 36 hours travelling, we needed something to eat, relax and drink.
We met with a local taxi driver, who is now trying to reconvert his business into a tour guide, and actually he’s doing it really well. He’s doing actually tours off the beaten track, meaning, he’s a local, he will take you to his home, meet his friends, and show you how some people live in Windhoek, which is very far from what usually tourists see. He pick us up, and first took us to the Independence Memorial Museum. I had no idea about all the history of Namibia, and that they got independence only 28 years ago. That was super close in time, and make people bring out feelings, as they lived that situation. Only 28 years ago, black people were not paid for work, they were only given food and housing in exchange. That’s a huge change on the mentality and the way of living, in just a short period of time.
As Erik told us, before 1990, black and white people could not live on the same place. There was a “parallel” city for black people, which in Windhoek is called Katutura, in Otjiherero, “Where people don’t want to live”. It’s completely a different world there, with no electricity, no water (you can only get water in two spots in the whole area), no sanitary services, sewers, etc. Houses are made of plywood, corrugated metals or sheets of plastic, with no thermal protection, only one living space which serves as room, living room, kitchen, … and where a family of an average of 8 lives.
Those are not the only problems there, all natives from Windhoek were moved there, so different tribes occupy the area: 7 to be exact, with the majority of Ovambo and Damara. They don’t talk to each other, they don’t even understand each other, and until a few years ago, they were fighting like hell.
Kids have to walk 10 km to go to school, people have to go to “toilets” in the middle of the mountain, where women can’t go alone, they eat dried meat leftovers from the meat factories all the year round, with pap (a mix of flour and water).
That was the true Windhoek, where only around 50.000 people live in the “white area” and 300.000 in the “black area”, according to informal settlements. That was a shock!
It is definitely a country now in full economic growth, trying to overcome the difficulties of the past. The tourism is helping to this, bringing money, and movement to this unknown amazing country, where you can find an infinite number of landscapes and views within it, and with the most lovely people ever.
The life of people out of the city is completely different, they try to grow their own food, and I say try because most of the country is just a desert, so green stuff can only grow during the rainy season, it is not surprising that most of their diet is based on meat.