Land of Brave Hearts, Vast Deserts and Educating Wildlife.
There are certainly many people that were born, raised and are living in Namibia, yet they never had the chance to see the natural beauty that lies just a few kilometers away from the spoils of human activity. That does not mean they have not enough desire to discover and learn about their country, maybe they just do not know enough to be interested.
Allow me to share with you the story about how travelling and discovering the far, fair and rarely to untouched natural environments of Namibia has changed my life. Born and raised in the capital city of Namibia (Windhoek), I had no interest whatsoever in the natural environments in the lands of Namibia.
Of course I knew about the beautiful desert of the Namib and the grand canyon of the Fish River, maybe a little bit about the Etosha and all the African animals it homes, but frankly, I still was not interested enough to get out of the comfort of civilization, and to embark on what was by then a senseless journey to see landscapes and animals in the wilderness. But all of that changed when I got a professional job in the tourism industry. My first task as a tour consultant would be to embark on a discovery journey to learn and be able to transmit information to other travelers about the beauties of Namibia.
The first region I visited was as beautiful as the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, the Namib Desert! A long out-stretching piece of earth that is made out of nothing but creatively positioned sand dunes that form patterns that no human mind could ever dare to even try imitating. The plains of the Deadvlei from the top of the Big Daddy dune are far more intense than anything I had ever experienced. I remember thinking to myself “but how is it that this is my first time to be here?”, as I sat on the 325 meters long dune and listened to the sound of little grains of the brightly reddish colored sand being blown into patterns of waves by the forces of nature’s winds. The beauty of it all lied in the fact that no one was at its control, it was wholly natural. I swear I had never felt so liberated in my whole life! It was a feeling of infinite freedom, away from all the problems and challenges that barefaced in the life of a world of loud noises and blockages and limits created by human activity and interactions.
As the journey continued, passing by the coasts of the Atlantic and through the hearts of the lands of the Damara people (Damaraland), I had finally arrived to the reputed national park of the Etosha, home to many African animal species.
On an early morning game drive was when I had my heart stolen to the sight of a newly born baby springbok struggling to get its legs to withhold its weight, as it kept falling to the ground, the mother springbok appeared from behind a shrub and tried to help it up again. I am certain that I am not the only one that feels the spark of power that touches one when they see the purity and the vulnerability of a newborn, be it a human or even one from the animal kingdom.
I imagined all the struggles this baby springbok would have to endure before it could finally stand stable on its own and learn to survive the harshness that life would bring across its path in the cruel animal kingdom.
“The Epupa falls in the lands of the Himba”
After a couple of days with the animals in the park, the journey continued even further north up to the river that forms the border between Namibia and Angola, the Kunene River. Again, the Epupa falls were another reminder to me of the power and freedom that lies within the elements of nature.
However this time I was more fascinated by the people living in and around this region, the Himbas. For a person that is miss or un-informed about their way of living, you wouldn’t be so fascinated after all, but my interest was not about any political or socio-economic issues, I was fascinated to see how much happiness and appreciation they had towards the gift of life.
I am aware that until to this point of my piece of writing, I haven’t clearly highlighted my inspirations about Namibia. Well, I have shared my travel story to make it easier to understand the important points that inspired me about Namibia and the discoveries that I had made on my trip.
In the Namib Desert I learnt that the most important thing in one’s life is their liberty, but I also learnt that as free as you might be, you owe yourself and life at large your humility. For just as free and liberated as I felt standing on the top of the big daddy dune, I also knew how small I was, and how little I mattered to the desert.
The Etosha is a university for life lessons, if you are willing to listen to what nature has to say of course. The animals are a showcase of life in an environment where only the fit survive. That is practically comparable to human life. It also teaches us as humans, the importance of taking care of our kind. Just as that mother springbok was doing for its offspring.
The gratitude towards life and the smiles on the faces of the Himba people is a lesson that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was the most valuable lesson that I had learnt, and as little as the Himbas are deemed to have, they inspired and continue to inspire me.
Life lessons are learnt in the most unexpected ways, we learn!
by James Vilho