For my mother, Hildegard, it was an exciting return home to the city that featured largely in the lives of her parents and the anticipated reunion with her cousins. I too welcomed the chance to meet my extended family whom had generously offered to take me in for the three nights. It was a sweet moment as cousins embraced after most of fifty years apart.
Like many African cities and towns, security features highly in the domestic environments with electric fences and gates offering some protection from the outrageous high level of burglary. It just seems the unavoidable reality when you have such a large percentage of the population living at subsistence level in amongst comfortable middle class life. Rents are high and wages low, even for the fortunate middle classes, which means the high incidence of burglary and unaffordability of insurance makes for an uneasy situation requiring the security measures. The locals just adjust to it and it becomes part of daily routine, all the locking and unlocking of gates and alarms.Interestingly it was a kiwi invention the electric fence, and I recall an RNZ program on how the company who pioneered the development were experiencing phenomenal growth in the security industry. Here in Southern Africa you see it first hand along with razor wire!
It is an arid dry semi desert environment. Rain falls in only a small part of the year and so for much of the time the mornings are fresh and the days hot and dry. Water is in constant short supply and you can feel it in the air. The dryness and the sand which permeates everywhere. With the closeness of the desert , apparently you can hear on occasion the wild jackals howling and still baboons will make foraging raids into the outlying suburbs as we experienced on leaving the city a few days later.
I have loved the chance to meet new family. Ruth, the sister of my Oma,Anni, made Namibia her home after having fled war torn Germany following WW2. She had married a local German man and so her subsequent family and offspring have mostly remained in Namibia. It is another cultural minority who still proudly maintain their language and traditions in amongst all the changes that have occurred around them. It was the first time since being in Namibia where I heard German being spoken as a mother tongue as further south it was mostly all Afrikaans, with some indigenous Nama and Damara amongst the locals. From now on I would gladly hear a lot of German spoken, which is a language I have grown up with, but unfortunately never spoken fluently.
So it was with plenty of advice and forewarning that I ventured into the downtown streets of Windhoek.