Namibia, the Land of the Brave. The only land where the desert meets the ocean, home to the oldest desert on the face of the earth and mother to the living fossil in the form of the Welwitchia Mirabilis.
Boasting of such awe inciting wonders, one may find great shock in discovering that once, I found scant inspiration and pride in my motherland until recently when I found myself over 10 000 kilometers away from home. Of course, the experience of travelling is rarely a bad one, but in a tertiary institution overseas, particularly in China, where I’ve come across so many people from all over the world, from Ghana and Uganda to Bangladesh and even Papua New Guinea, my passion for home became greater than ever.
I could not help but to contrast Namibia to the countries I have come across, particularly China where I now reside. I have realized that Namibia may not be a utopia but there is no other place I would rather call home and it is from three observations in particular which inspire me most about Namibia.
The first observation that made me feel inspired to be Namibian was the treatment I received being away from home. Although not entirely hostile, it was far from hospitable. In my entire life, I have never needed any reminding that I was black, and not only black but African until the first time I rode on a bus where I was easily identifiable with all eyes on the bus, except those of the driver, fixed on me. Some passengers even preferred to stand rather than sit next to me.
In the markets, for some reason or another, I found great difficulty in discerning the emotions of the multitude of eyes glued to me. The children were either awestruck or afraid (which I found very amusing) while my age peers were not intimidated but preferred to maintain a distance between us. Some adults did not know how to react to my presence so they reacted aggressively or were so scared that they were docile, although there was the considerable few who were always curious enough to ask where I was from. None of them had ever heard of Namibia, but that does not matter anymore because they have now. From this observation, I came to appreciate Namibia’s diversity a lot more.
Namibia is a racially diverse country and this gives us the ability to be tolerable towards individuals from different racial backgrounds and accommodate them into the Namibian house, which other countries fail miserably in attempting to do.
Another observation I made from comparing Namibia to my present surrounding was the day to day scenery which most people take for granted. Just after twilight, the Namibian horizon is painted with a beautiful orange-like crimson tinge which touches the east and west.
This hue on the horizon was sometimes a good sign, and sometimes a bad one. It could provide comfort in signaling that a long and horrible day had gone and was never going to come back, or it was a reminder on a good day that nothing good lasts forever and how ephemeral life is. I was on alert for a similar orange-like crimson tinge on the horizon a short while after my arrival in China, but all I saw were mundane, lonely clouds on a blue horizon with nothing much to show.
Another feature of the scenery which most people often take for granted is the night sky. The Namibian night sky is filled with countless constellations of gleaming, shiny stars which can illuminate the evening when the moon was full. Now and then a comet, (or rather a shooting star) would dart across the sky and in a moment, no matter how old one is, could close their eyes and wish for whatever they desired. A priceless moment when you could be a child and no one would ever know. The Namibian night sky is so beautiful and unique that NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) came all the way from the United States just to document its beauty. Since being here in China, however, I have only ever glimpsed at two stars, one of which was depressingly dim.
The food is another point of interest. While I was used to my mother’s cooking and spicy Kapana from the ever vibrant Single Quarters served on the side with delicious warm porridge, the food I saw while here seemed all too alien for my liking. With foods such as squid, tortoise and frogs being delicacies to some, I found it to be quite a Herculean task to even tolerate the smell of some foods being prepared. In time, slowly but surely, I have grown to be more tolerant of the different foods (some of which I just may try).
I could discuss a plethora of features which incites my passion and pride to be Namibian such as the local music, the Windhoek Show Grounds, the Ongwediva Trade Fair or the natural wonders , but I thought it best to discuss the things which most people are not privy to, and things I could not take with me except within my memory and heart. No matter how far I maybe, my Namibian identity is ingrained within my being and although Namibia is a flawed country and is far from being a utopia, again, there is nowhere else I would rather be.
By Severus Amaambo