Jackson* had tears in his eyes. He stood on the beach, a respectable distance away from the sea, so that its vastness wouldn’t overwhelm him even more than its first sight just had. Jackson, who stood at the Swakopmund shore, was born in the Kavango, 24 years old and had never seen the ocean before.
I stood behind him, a respectable distance away, because I did not want to intrude on the vastness of his experience. I watched him watching the ocean and through his senses I took it all in: a pure, sweet moment, inspired by his perspective.
I saw little lights glittering on the smooth teal surface, playing with flecks of foam. I noticed the gentle, invisible power of the South Atlantic calling her waves back into her centre. I smelled the fresh, tangy salt vapours in the crisp air. I felt the sand crunching between my toes and I felt the power of Mother Nature through the whispers of pebbles scuttling along after the retreating waves.
But mostly, I felt honoured, that I could be part of this experience again. Through Jackson. Jackson, who had never seen the ocean before and who had given me one of the most precious gifts I had ever received: he inspired me to see the sea again for the first time. He turned a moment into magic.
That is what Namibia is about to me. It is where inspiration lives. We live in a country that holds a colourful bouquet of mysteries – so many possibilities to see, feel and inhale brand new, fresh experiences. Or if we’re lucky, the honour to experience them again through others – moments turned into magic.
We read fantasy novels of strange worlds and magical creatures or watch movies of super heroes or beauty queens. And yet, if we explore and venture deeper, then we will find just as many stories, characters and kingdoms – if not more – in Namibia.
We live in a desert that kisses the ocean, which holds hands with yellow savannas and melts into lush jungles and deltas. We are custodians of magical beasts: grey, gentle giants who cry when they are sad. Spotted cats who possess the power of super-speed. Little, furry creatures who work together to slay serpents.
We share our land with magical places. Majestic mountains that hide messages in the form of drawings, thousands of years old. A ‘magic’ rock that weighs 60 tonnes, which crashed into the Earth more than 800 000 years ago – the biggest meteorite on our planet. Sossusvlei – the surreal ‘hill of sand’, formed by the melodies of the wind that overlooks a forest of fossilised trees.
Our people, our vast cultures who are so individual and unique and yet so different, who call Namibia theirs and have, through a rough and dark past, managed to find peace with each other. We have people who do not own their own word for ‘thank you’ in their language. Another tribe sees it as a sign of respect when one uses two hands to give them an item. Another, that changes the last letter of the surname according to gender. And yet another that has created its own language by borrowing vocabulary and grammar from its sister languages of Namibia.
We have magic in our country. Or, perhaps our country is magical.
We read suspense filled books and watch thrilling movies. Often excitement creates sparks in our hearts when we feel inspired by a good story or stunning scenery – safely nestled in the television box in our living rooms. But if we look – if we allow ourselves to take the opportunity to explore our own world – our nature, magical beasts or bright, eclectic cultures, perhaps we will notice that most of the magic has always been there. We just forgot to look.
Maybe it will be that moment you spot a wild dog for the first time in its natural habitat in the North. Or maybe the pride you feel when you master the four clicks of the Damara language. Perhaps it might be that moment that turns into magic when you experience something through the eyes of another. Either way, if you are looking for magic – for a touch of inspiration – you don’t need to flip a switch, open a book or jump on a plane.
All it takes is a step outside.
By Maike Soutschka