Tuesday 1 July 2008 - Tuesday 1 July 2008
Ku Cwani! Hello from Sesheke, Namibia!
I absolutely love Namibia. Its going to be hard to get me to come home
We arrived in Katima Mulilo, which is the closest town to the Zambian border post, and about 2 hours from Crystal's village. Its sort of the economic center of this part of the Caprivi area, where many Caprivian villagers come to shop, sell goods, check internet, use the bank, etc. Its a very modern looking town, with very "western- looking" grocery stores, clothes shops, banks, etc. We shopped for groceries and then headed to the market to buy souvenirs at a community-run craft shop and take in lunch.
There are many food stands surrounding the markets where you can sit in outdoor tables under a covered area and be served a very good and very cheap meal. We had buhobe (maize-meal), tapi (tiger fish) and muloho (boiled spinach). The buhobe is a very thick and dense mashed corn meal that looks like mashed potatoes (but thicker). You eat by mashing the buhobe in a ball with your hands and then using it to scoop up the fish and vegetables. Although it is very different by my standards, it was absolutely excellent. Definitely the best thing we've eaten so far. It cost around $17 Namibian dollars total, or around 25 cents per person... hard to beat!
After taking care of business in Katima we headed to the "hike-point" to catch our ride to Sesheke which is the small village where Crystal lives. She had arranged for us in advance a ride with a combi driver to Sesheke, who calls himself "Number 1". We waited for him for about 1-2 hours, during which I managed to sit on an ant farm, expose my backpack to an ant infestation, and amuse the locals as I was scrambling to remove them from my clothes and skin... At least I was able to entertain everyone. Crystal has many friends in Katima as well as Sesheke, so we were constantly being greeted. The people are extremely friendly, and interested in us as there are not many white people who travel in these parts, particularly who use the local combis. When greeting a Caprivian, it is customary to use the Silozi word for good day or good afternoon, clap your hands once or twice, bow slightly and shake hands. To shake hands you first shake normally (i.e. how you or I would), then grasp the thumb, then return to normal. Greetings are very important, and the locals are very surprised and excited when you greet them as they are not used to white people knowing how or making the effort.
Our ride was very amusing. Number 1 is very friendly and joked with us constantly. He and Crystal have become good friends since we has lived here. He is married with 3 children, and he hopes to have 10 so that maybe one or two will be "clever" and bring him much wealth. The combi is about the size of a mini-van. Corrie and I squished in the middle seat with two other, and Steve and Crystal sat up front. About 4 others + children squeezed in the back. The men in the back were very interested in us, and upon finding out we were American wanted to hear all about Barack Obama. Obama is enormously popular here and we haven't met a single person who doesn't know who he is, and who does not go on to tell you how inspiring he is. They all tell us the same thing- that he will bring resolution to the black and white people, that he will bring peace to America, and that he will show the world that a black man can lead a white country just as the white man can. This is been incredibly powerful, and I am even more terrified than ever what it will mean if Obama loses in the fall. Many people here seem to think that maybe he has already won since he beat Clinton, and it is clear they will be devastated if he does end up losing.
We also discuss affirmative action, which is being introduced to Namibia. Again, the people are very polite, friendly, and intelligent. Despite having little access to schooling and information by our standards, they can discuss at length world politics, international policy, sports, American politics, and any other issues. Some clear cultural differences also came up. The man I talked to believed that affirmative action was a very good thing, because the Namibian government needs women, he said women bring peace and contribute important qualities to the government. However, he was concerned that they would soon expect for the men to cook, and that would not be possible.