It is not difficult to be inspired by the breathtaking beauty of our country. Namibia, derived from the oldest desert in the world, the Namib, is a land of contrast and mystery. When you visit the southern harbor town, Luderitz, you quickly find that no other town has more charm and character than this one with its German-colonial architecture. Old buildings from another era still stand proud and tall, facing the Atlantic waters. But it’s the ten kilometers inland, where the intriguing memento from the past, Kolmanskop is, that inspiration stirs like a flame.
Once the main spot of the diamond industry in Namibia and now deteriorated into a ghost, mystifying town, some of us who love the magic of nostalgia will go there just to reminisce on its previous glory. Before the elements in all its brutality crumbled the structures and left it in a state of even more beauty … I see beautiful art come to live where dunes of sand silently invade the empty rooms of homes where people used to live and love.
I hear lyrics of songs inspired by the bizarre of the barren … the emptiness. And I’m inspired …Black eagles and mountain zebras are more often silent spectators to brave men and women hiking on the western rim of the Fish River Canyon. But it’s when a bereaved mother and daughter who can’t see any sense of living without their loved one decided to ‘go to a very happy place’ in the remote valleys … that I’m inspired. Inspired by their love! Winged by mountains is Windhoek.
Our clean and gorgeous capital has so much to offer. In the heart of the city are great shopping centers and at night there is always something going on from live music to theatre and cabarets. But it’s also at nightfall that Windhoek becomes home to street children and homeless people whose only shelter is in its concrete bridges and nearby deserted dwellings.
And I’m inspired by the hope of the seemingly hopeless! Moving west, approximately 85 kilometers from Walvis Bay, lies Gobabeb, an internationally-known research station where scientists, students, filmmakers, artists and tourists converged to dream and work on that one project that will make them famous. Swakopmund, my hometown, is these days Namibia’s top seaside resort. This town has a cool (sometimes cold) climate and has got a variety of restaurants, beautiful tended public gardens with a wide choice of hotels and pensions.
The distinct German architecture has been preserved in the centre of town while more modern buildings are popping up like the brand new shopping mall, Platz Am Meer. While I’m inspired by its grandeur, I’m even more when I found myself in the dimly-lit informal settlement called the DRC.
Here, where people live in shacks with minimum access to water and electricity. I’m inspired when all the boys in the hood gather on a bright Sunday morning to play soccer – like they lack nothing. I’m inspired when youngsters play in the street and open their hearts to a stranger without hesitation. I see a young girl study at night by candle light because she has a dream to one day shake the dust of this almost forgotten place off her feet.
To leave to chase her aspirations! Let’s drive to the mountain of mystery … the Brandberg. South of the Ugab River about 40 kilometres north-west of Uis, lays this massive chunk of weather-resistant granite. Here is also the renowned heritage of rock paintings, including the famous White Lady which is surrounded by paintings of animals.
Let’s rest for a while at one of our country’s most idyllic and peaceful spots, the Epupa Falls where you can sit quietly for many hours and be entertained by the twitter of birds and the silence of the waters. When visiting Damaraland, the Burnt Mountain and the volcanic rock called the Organ Pipes is a must-see especially late afternoons when the setting sun brings out the color of the rock, giving it a rich golden glow.
Then further away en route to Khorixas, is the Petrified Forest, which was also declared a National Heritage Site. Moving north, lying at the foot of the majestic Waterberg Plateau is Waterberg Guest Farm which is habitat for a great variety of animals and birds. Game drives and nature hikes are some of the enjoyments on this wonderland of fauna and flora. The Great White Place of Dry water – Etosha is our next destination. The most definite feature of the park is the Etosha Pan, an immense, shallow depression of almost 5 000 square kilometers of dry, white cracked mud. Home to the rare and endangered black rhino, cheetah and black-faced impala. Giraffe, elephant, blue wildebeest, zebra, hyena, leopard and lion are some of the mammals.
The best places to see this game is at the waterholes which are about thirty in total. Before we collapse in breathtaking exhaustion, let’s visit the tropical paradise of Caprivi which is home to 400 bird species. This fact makes it a sought-after destination for birders and photographers. Game also amounts here. Tourists can enjoy game viewing by boat, 4×4 vehicle or on foot. White-river rafting on the Zambezi is an exquisite adventure and peaceful river cruises at sunset the best way to end your day. To be inspired by our beautiful country is easy.
To be inspired by the people is even easier. There is no country I know with more forgiving, peaceful minds than our very own people. And while this is a drop in the bucket of this majestic country of 825 000 square kilometers with just over 2.2 million people, you are invited. While Namibia is one of the driest countries south of the Sahara, temperatures reach above 35C in the summer (October – April) and in winter (May – September) the days are warm but nights are very cold, often below 0C, we have the warmest hearts!
by Clarice Gille-Theys