This summer, I received funding from the CPGC to work with an organization called the Museums Association of Namibia. They are an NGO who work to preserve and strengthen Namibian cultural and historical heritage by organizing for, coordinating, and providing resources for museums across all of Namibia. This is a particularly important project in Namibia, a country that only gained its independence in 1990 after over 100 years of German colonization, British control, and South African apartheid. Reminders of Namibia’s constant and ongoing efforts to define itself as a nation are everywhere in Windhoek.
My journey started the last Friday of finals week, with a 10 pm flight. After nearly 36 hours of traveling spanning three continents and four countries, I arrived in Namibia’s capital city, Windhoek, last Sunday afternoon at Hosea Kutako International Airport. For those of you unfamiliar with Namibia, it is a large country situated on Africa’s southwestern coast, just north of South Africa. The Namib Desert and the Kalahari Desert cover much of Namibia, and the country’s climate is quite hot and dry for the most part. Luckily for me, it’s winter in the southern hemisphere, so I won’t have to face the daily 110 degree temperatures which are common in the summer.
The airport is about 40 km outside of the city center, so my guesthouse arranged for a shuttle driver to pick me up. We drove back along a two-lane road through wide-open desert, with towering mountains looming large on both sides.
My backpacking house, Paradise Gardens, is located in a residential neighborhood called Windhoek West, about a 10 minute walk from Windhoek’s city center.
I am staying in a room with three other travelers. They are from Ireland, Germany, and Austria, all of them here long-term. About 15 total travelers live in the house as well. The long-term travelers are mostly European college-aged students doing internships with NGO’s or studying abroad at Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). The owner of the house is a Namibian German woman, and about 6 of the guests are from Germany or speak German – so German is constantly being spoken in the house. The house features a communal kitchen, replete with storage closets, refrigerator space, and freezers, for all guests to cook their meals.
As I explore the city more and delve more deeply into my work with MAN, which will be centered on preparing a traveling museum exhibition on the 1904-1907 Herero-Nama genocide which took place at the hands of German colonists, I will post more pictures, observations, and experiences about Windhoek and my research into Namibia’s colonial past.