Day 8, Windhoek

Originally posted 1/9/18


Today, we started our day with an adventure in Katutura (Kat-too-too-rah). All of us were divided into groups of three and paired with Namibian University students. Our guide, Andreas, took us to Bethel Parish Church, a Evangelical Lutheran Church in Katutura.

Katutura as a city was formed in the same way South Africa's Soweto was. In the days of the Apartheid, black people were not allowed to live in the main city (Windhoek, Johannesburg), and so they were forced to move to these new regions for work and were put into government housing. Many of the houses have since been renovated and the cities have their own attitudes and cultures, but poverty in the area is widespread.

We had a good conversation with two of Bethel parish's administrators about what the parish is doing for Katutura and also about what political and economic institutions in Windhoek have been contributing to the high poverty and unemployment rates. It is always an amazing experience to discuss local politics with the people who live them.

After that, we walked to a nearby grocery store to get a snack and look at the prices of staple foods and necessities for a group activity later in the week. The streets of Katutura are busy and people are everywhere, so it was easy to get swept up in the hustle and bustle. All three of us in my group were white, so we attracted a bit of attention. Cab drivers here honk to attract fares, and I think every cab we passed honked at us.

From the grocery store we walked to an outdoor market. There were vendors selling dried beans, spices, some dried insects, soft drinks, vegetables, plenty of meat (Recently butchered, this meat was carved and cooked to order! I was told that it was delicious), and fatcakes. A fatcake is a fried bread roll, similar in texture and consistency to a donut, a bit more dense and chewy, without a sweet glaze. Fatcakes might be among my favorite new foods from this trip. The one I had was delicious with a bit of barbecue seasoning on it.

After lunch and a bit of downtime, we got to hear about the other small groups' adventures. Many of them went to communities centers and child care facilities, and everyone had a great time.

This afternoon, our speaker was Dr. Joseph Bishop, a Namibian professor of African Economy. Instead of coming with a pre-planned lecture, he introduced himself and asked what questions we had for him. He was incredibly eloquent, witty, and wise in explaining to us about the Namibian political climate, economic successes and downfalls, and the cultural and social reasons that Namibia is the way it is. I could honestly have listened to him talk all day.

A few facts about Namibia:

1) The capital of Namibia is Windhoek, and it is the biggest and most populous city in the country.

2) The population of Namibia is around 2.4 million people.

3) Though many other languages are spoken here, the official language is English.

It is well-known among my classmates that I've been craving a grilled cheese sandwich. Tonight, I learned that someone had passed this onto the ladies who prepare our meals, and I was presented with grilled cheese as my vegetarian entree! Seriously, I was so, so happy.

I think so far, this has been one of the best days we've had on the trip so far. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed their Katutura adventures, our speaker, and everyone absolutely adores the beautiful weather.

Tomorrow we'll be hearing two more speakers, and go on a field trip. Stay tuned!