I’m Namibian. I was born pre-independence in Cape Town and my parents moved to South West Africa in search of a better life barely 3 years after I was born. I am the second of 3 daughters (but that is a story for another day) and the youngest of us was born in Katutura hospital. I don’t know anything other than Namibia. I went to school at the Holy Cross Convent and at Concordia College, when it was still [semi] private.
I lived in Katutura and when I was old enough I enjoyed my youth in the matinees of Pamodzi and [later] club Thriller in Owambo lacation. I grew up with and have personal relationships with many of the well known people we all now look up to and revere and even roast in public.
When I go to South Africa for holidays or even to stay for periods of time, I am treated as an outsider – a struggle kid if you will. I don’t speak the languages well, I don’t have the same mindset or thinking, I don’t have the same experiences, so I am a foreigner.
A foreigner with an accent no less. I speak languages comfortably that are considered oppressors languahes. My entire thinking and interaction with ‘my people’ is eschewed because although I was born into that culture, I was raised in another.
Namibians are of the most accepting and accomodating people I’ve met. As a child this is something that I took for granted. My classmates were prominent people’s kids and this didn’t mean a damn thing to me. Also my parents never made a big deal about it.
They came to my house in the ‘tura’ and I went to their houses in the ‘burbs without ever noticing the difference except that maybe they had a guard at their gate which meant I had an extra person to greet and be cordial to.
It was only when I was well into adulthood that I realised who exactly the parents of many of the people I know are and by then it was way too late for it to have any impact on how it affected my view of the world.
And all this is why it irks me to no end when even to this day some people who are my peers will refer to me as “bongoro”. Like, did we not go to the same schools? Did our parents not incur the same costs? Did we not roam these here streets of Windhoek and indeed Namibia together? Did we not get into mischief and then become adults together?
What then makes you diffrent from me? What makes you better than me? Than the next person who may have come to our beautiful Namibia in search of life? Who are we to deter them from having a life? Who are we to sit in judgement of anyone because they’re not born in our native land?
When I am sitting here drinking this fresh-from-the-farm omaere while my marathon chicken is in the oven, am I not as Namibian as you?
I’d love for one of these people to tell me where exactly they think I fit in? If they couild place the puzzle piece of me into their perfect puzzle of the world, where would I fit?
To be frank you’d be answering a question I’ve asked of myself for years now, so maybe that would be a good starting point.
What I can tell you for a fact is that, wherever you’d deem to place me, you’d probably be making a grievous error.
Just let me live I say. Anything I do will always be coloured with my Namibianess, no matter where I find myself. Because Namibia is my home and my pride.
Let’s stop with the labels.