This dry flat country on the southwestern side of Africa has been influenced by many cultures and tribes. Most significantly, German colonisation and a South African-Angolan war. Tribes have moved and traded and fought and now, after the dust have settled, the richness of the history remains.
The South and central parts of the country speak German and Afrikaans with some scatterings of Nama and black tribal languages.
The northern part of Namibia is more ‘African’ and English is widely spoken. Nonetheless you will often find people comfortably switch from one tongue to another depending on visitors’ preferences.
Namibia is a carnivore’s paradise. Namibians love their meat in whatever form – raw, cured, grilled or smoked. And if you prefer vegetables, they will serve you a chicken. Much of the German culinary traditions are seen in the wide selection of pork dishes and baked products such as beautiful cakes and freshly baked brötchens at breakfast. Lamb and game meat are often roasted over the fire or prepared in a potjie as a hearty stew with vegetables. Along the coast, you will find seafood (including oysters and crayfish) and along the northern borders you will taste more local starches and river fish such as tilapia.
Namibians prided themselves on their excellent beers. These are exported and enjoyed locally, often on tap. Cheap and thirst quenching it tastes better than the local water and is very refreshing in the extreme Namibian summers. Try Hansa or Windhoek.
Namibia is a big sky land. It has huge open horizons with immense room for thoughts, memories and dreams. In this dry, sparsely populated country my mind can fly up to the blue skies and come down again, empty and clean. This land has flat open plains where the sheep of my youth graze on scruffy little bushes, it has orange sand dunes where the sneakers of my youth filled with sand, it has an icy ocean where I fished with my father, it has people who are salty and kind.
It is the biting cold on a game drive in the morning when sounds are frozen and animals blow steam clouds into the dry grass. It is remembering the sunburn and sand after a scramble up a dune and the chasing of your breath as you come tumbling/sliding/running down. It is the salty spice of a piece of biltong washed down with a golden beer. It is the memory of the dusty silence of an elephant passing your car, the whooshing of its wrinkly thighs as it strides past on padded feet. Namibia is about the mist curtain rolling in from the sea in Swakopmund, filling your nostrils with the salty thick smell of ocean. It is about the dusty pink sunsets in Etosha, the far-away moan of a lone male lion and the early-morning call of a fish-eagle on the banks of the Okavango River. Namibia is about the crack of wood in the campfire, scatterings of stars in an ink-black night sky and dark-blue dawns.
Namibia is sensual country, a place where all your senses will be awakened and where you will leave, changed.