TOULOUSE - When I arrived in Windhoek, I really did not know what to expect. I had never been to Africa before and without knowing anyone in Namibia, I wanted to see something different.
And, I must admit that my three weeks in Namibia were greater than I had bargained for. My Namibian experience did not start on a positive note because when we landed at Hosea Kutako airport on August 3, I witnessed an accident, at the airport. While a lady was going about her circulation duties at the airport, a minibus hit her.
She was taken in charge by an ambulance, and I don’t know how she is doing now, but based on that incident, my first impression of Namibia was not positive.
But luckily, the rest of my stay was nothing like that. And pretty quickly, I adapted to life in Windhoek. By living in a house with roommates, by going to work every day, by meeting new people, I started to embrace life in Windhoek and it really felt as if I would stay there for a long time.
Working for New Era made me see different sides of the country. I attended press conferences where government ministers spoke and I equally had the chance to do community stories in Katutura.
I spent five days at the environment center at the Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust (NaDEET) in the south (Maltahöhe) and one night patrolling the streets of Windhoek with Sean Naude, the ‘Sheriff of Namibia’.
I also had a chance to attend an event with San girls and a meeting with the founder of Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (OJO). And for that, I am very grateful for my colleagues for having given me the opportunity to do all of these things.
And apart from my internship, I had the chance to visit Sossusvlei and Okahandja for the Red Flag Day of the OvaHerero.
On another note, one of my Namibian friends told me the country was “chilled and relaxed” at the same time.
And I think he’s right. There is no rush in Namibia, not even in the capital. In only three weeks, I was already meeting people that I know on the streets. It can’t be compared to cities like Paris, where everyone is anonymous, and every street is crowded and noisy.
It is always interesting to see the differences of mindset between two countries. As in Europe, and France most of all, the secular state makes people uncomfortable with religion, but for Namibians, it is a part of them. As I would ask someone what he or she does for a living, for Namibians, it is not unusual to ask in which church a person is affiliated.
And all the prayers, before going to sleep, before eating, after waking up in the morning, is also something that I’m really not used to.
The relationship with the land also struck me during the trip. In France, the agricultural field is on the edge, the farmers can barely earn a salary at the end of the month, their children don’t want to take back their activities because it is too difficult, and if they want to sell their land, finding someone ready to buy them is very rare.
Here, because of history, and because of the cultural importance of the land, it is one of the most valuable properties to own.
It is also very impressive to see how almost everyone can speak English, while it’s the native language of no one in the country. It is something that will never happen in France! And as my adventure did not start well, it did not end well. I came back to France without my phone which was stolen the night before I left.
I also did not get my luggage on time as the airline responsible claimed it had no knowledge of its whereabouts, fortunately, I eventually got it a few days later.
But I will only remember the best and forget about everything else. A trip isn’t a trip without some complications, and even if I lost a lot of the pictures that I have taken during these three weeks with my phone, the souvenirs will stay rooted in my head. Until I come back again.
* Lucie Mouillaud is a French journalist from Toulouse who recently completed her three-week journalism internship at New Era.