Most of my life was spent in the coastal town of Walvis Bay, where the desert and the sea meet. When I was a little girl I loved it when I had to travel; because it meant that we would have to drive. My mother would dress me and let me carry my bag after packing it for me and my dad would get the car ready, although he would have to wait for my mom to pack all our things in the car as well; because she did not trust anyone else to pack the car. And then the fun part would always start; the drive.
The best part of the entire drive would be between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. I loved seeing the ocean from a different view; especially at night because then you would see the ships in the distance with their lights beaming; they looked like stars that had touched the sea. I saw people fishing, children playing and the sea, when you look at it from the window of a moving car; it seems to come alive, the waves seem to reach further and they would crash into each other with such intensity and the sound it would make was magical to me; that it sounded like music, I would say the ocean was dancing. I would always roll down my window and before my mom would yell at me to roll it back up, I would just let my little nose stick out the window and smell the oceans perfume; that’s what six year old me would call it and I would think that nothing in the world compared to that smell.
Then another sound would catch my attention almost like the load roar from a baby lion, then I would turn my head to the right side of the car and there were people in the dunes on these bikes that would leave its tracks in the sand and I thought the marks were like scars but every time we would come back from a trip, the scars were gone. And other times I would see people on flat boards sliding down the dunes, but in the movies those flat boards were used on the ocean for surfing; I later learned that what they were doing on the dunes is called dune surfing. I would find it interesting how the weather changed when leaving the coast. The cold weather would become warm and the sun that was hidden by clouds would be the only thing in the sky. And so the sunny day would begin.
I would try to stay awake and just stare at the mountains and the road side hoping to see an animal or something wondrous, I always thought that there was something magical in the grass, between the mountains, in the ocean and in the sand of the dunes. And so my young eyes would always be searching for new discoveries. And when you’re a child there will always be something new to discover especially in Namibia; like colours I loved it the first time I went to a cultural festival and for someone whose eyes were full of curiosity and whose mind yearned for more, it was like a goldmine.
I saw colours I knew but they became new. The colours of the dresses and the way they looked, the way they twirled in the breeze, it was magical. And for the first time I discovered Namibia was bigger than I thought; different cultures, different people and different places to call your house. And the different foods, the different taste of sweet, sour and spicy is like nothing you will have anywhere else in the world, its flavours that tell a story of history. But the part of the day that will never escape my memory is when the national anthem was sung, I barely knew the words but I knew its meaning.
All I saw were the different cultural groups with their hands on their hearts and the pride in their eyes singing at the top of their lungs and you could feel it, you could feel the unity, and there were no cultural groups that separated us anymore; there were only Namibians.
I always thought since Walvis Bay had an ocean that there had to be hidden treasure or an island somewhere far a shore that no one could find and that someone was stranded on it, and so whenever we went to the beach I would stand as close to the shore in hopes that I would find a message in a bottle; maybe I would find a message with the location of the missing soul trapped on the island or a treasure map, but I never found my message in a bottle, I never found my lost treasure. But I realise now the reason I never found it was because I already had it; it was the place where ocean and desert meet, it was the cultures that brought colours to life, it was the food that told a story, it was the music that brought us together and it was the different places to call your house but the only place to call your home.
Today I am not a little girl anymore but a young woman and I am still intrigued by the different cultures and languages and the landscape that always seems to reinvent itself and present more wondrous creatures for my eyes to see. I am inspired by my people and my land to never forget that there will always be a new discovery in Namibia to find. And that there will always be a new face to see, new food to taste and another sunset to feel. There is true beauty in every part of Namibia. Namibia my home is my greatest treasure, and there is no other place I would rather call home.
by Candy Mbai