So long Namibia

Jan 28, 2020

Exactly 8 years ago today, I carried my suitcase into a Windhoek bound bus. I was naive, had plans, had dreams, and had very strong opinions about life in general. A lot of that changed drastically during my 7-year sojourn in Namibia. It was overall a positive and enriching experience. I made many friends and built a new family and career.

Today, I am back home, it's temporary because I know I have to leave again soon. I know my destination and why I am going, but I have no idea what to expect. Starting afresh is never easy, but we do it at least once in our lives. With the anxiety comes the nostalgia and at this moment, I am thinking about my final days in Namibia roughly 2 months ago. I guess it makes sense to write something everlasting, a tribute, an ode to Namibia.

My decision to leave was not too hurried, but it wasn't comfortable either. I had roughly 3 weeks to pack up and say my goodbyes, much like how I came here in the 1st place. No one tells you how mentally and physically taxing it is to pack away and partly dispose of 7 years of your life, it all comes as a shock.

Packing items from my shelf brought a flood of memories about my time here... The giraffe figurine from my time at the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the Himba woman's sculpture from my 1st trip to Opuwo ...

One item from the shelf brought some unexpected bittersweet feelings. An empty Red Bull can written: "Your dreams are valid, your sleepless nights shall pay off". I wrote those words during one of the countless sleepless nights I faced as I was juggling a Masters thesis and a semi-full time job...

Energy drinks can be intoxicating.. I know this.

Moving on to the kitchen, I realised the fridge was also a memento holder of sorts. On it were magnets from my countless trips and stopovers in some really cool places. A large paper target with 4 'tightly placed' bullet holes was also stuck to the fridge. This paper target was from probably my lowest point during my time here. I didn't know it then, but I was going through a depressive episode, I was fresh out of a job, my niece had passed away 2 months before, and everything was just hard to bear... But Donovan, (being the great friend, companion and brother he has been these past few years), invited me to a hunting trip... I fired those shots probably at 150meters, and I was spot on... neat right?

Recycled paper was harmed in the making of this 'art'

As I drank the last of my whisky (SMH), I dived deeper, thoughts of the countless rugby matches I attended and the madness that prevailed as a result of the drinks during and after... The numerous long walks... The few times I was actually bold enough to leave the house, go to The Warehouse alone, have a drink and smokes, then stagger back home in the early morning...

I could write a long (and very bland) book about this place... I could share a million pictures and point at a thousand memorable places... I could do all that because this place has been home and has seen me grow in ways I never imagined. I will hold it dear. I will cherish the moments I had and the people I encountered... I will do all this because I am not sure if my departure here is permanent or not ...

Later that night, the last thing I did was "lower" two flags from the living room window (it was more of removing the clothes pegs holding them in place, but lowering flags seems fancier)... A Jolly roger and the other a Zimbabwean flag. Both were quirky emblems from my time in Unit 34, the 'pirates coven' as we called it because it had its own rules and imaginary constitution... This act was symbolic (in my drunken stupor), the very last thing one should do when their fort ceases to exist...

The pirate coven nolonger exists... it never surrendered either

One day, I will fade away—the places I frequented in Namibia will disappear. The people I encountered and befriended will also fade away, but the footsteps will perhaps remain.

Farewell Namibia.

You've been fantastic.

Michael out

August 2015, atop one of the sand dunes overlooking Gobabeb Desert Research station