Windhoek and its Incongruities

Now I can say that I’ve visited one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Country number 22 on my travel list was Namibia: the 34th largest country, which only boasts a population of 2.32 million.

The former German colony was mandated to South Africa in 1919, after Germany was defeated in the Second World War, and gained independence on March 21, 1990. German television programmes from bygone days are aired as Saturday morning entertainment and Afrikaans is spoken on the streets. To this day, only around seven percent of Namibians speak English, which is the ‘official’ language, and ‘Namlish’ closely resembles South African English.

The south-west African nation is the highest ranking country on the continent in terms of press freedom — according to the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index — coming in at number 19 of 179 listed countries. Yet, the street names in the capital city of this multi-party democracy are something of an incongruity: Nelson Mandela drive intersects with Robert Mugabe Avenue and Christus Kirche is nestled atop Fidel Castro Street.

Next time, for there will be another, I plan to go west and sip on a Windhoek Lager at the Skeleton Coast, which is dotted with the skeletons of vessels. Perhaps I will find more incongruities there too.


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