Monday, 20 February 2012

Visit to a Namibian Village

Sunday, 19th February 2012

After the usual enjoyable breakfast on the 'Zambezi Queen' we took to the small boats. This time, our journey took us to a village on the Namibian shore. A few men were near the shore, possibly working on fishing tackle or the canoes which were in evidence, but there was no great sign of industry. A sandy path lead to higher ground where the village itself was situated.

A variety of building styles were in evidence, all fairly primitive. The most common technique appeared to be a wooden framework (of completely unprepared and twisted branches) covered with a liberal application of mud. Some buildings were round with a conical, thatched roof but the majority were rectangular with a corrugated iron roof. Openings in the walls served as windows and doors.

A village lady chats to two men whilst doing washing. On the left, Vincent (from 'Zambezi Queen') makes a call.

There were a number of people around, mainly women and children. They acknowledged us as our guides invited us to go inside the huts. I always feel embarrassed at poking around inside peoples' homes but in much of the world, people don't seem to have our well-developed sense of privacy. Acrid smoke was emerging from one hut. Inside, a large cooking pot was set on a metal trivet above an open wood fire and the smoke was filling the hut before lazily drifting out through the doorway.

At one hut, I spotted two small solar arrays lying on the roof, connected to a car battery. Inside the hut there was what a took to be an inverter next to a table loaded with a dusty music centre and a number of small speaker units. This hut also served as the village shop - the customer area was separated by two primitive counters from the stock which was distributed on a partially-collapsed set of shelves or hung from string running across the hut at roof level. An important section comprised cartons of Castle Lager, Carling Black Label, Coca Cola and Sprite. I was reminded of the well-stocked liquor store I'd seen in Langa Township, Capetown.

The Village Shop.

Modernisation was represented by two modern, metal toilet buildings. I spotted a couple of bicycles and, at what I assumed was the Head Man's house, a television aerial on a wooden pole and a satellite dish. Some of the land had a healthy-looking maize crop.

A series of moulded plastic chairs had been laid out for us in an open space next to an ancient tree in the centre of the village so it appeared that we were about to have a concert. There was also an array of souvenirs for purchase, mainly raffia work with some carved wood, together with a cash box for donations to the village community fund. But the high pressure-selling which is present in so many of the world's tourist destinations was completely absent.

A group of wonen and a few men had gathered and we were treated to a number of songs, all sung with great enthusiasm and considerable talent. Eventually three drums appeared to set the beat but, before that, stamping provided an effective alternative. Some of the women danced, including a couple with young children bound to them with a cotton sling. The dances were pretty lively, so it can't have been very comfortable for the babies (particularly the one attempting to breast feed while this was going on!).

Ladies from the Village sing for their visitors.

It was now time for us to return to our boats and travel back to the comfort of the 'Zambezi Queen' - quite a change from the lifestyle we'd witnessed at the village where we'd been made to feel welcome.

More pictures of the Village here.