28/11/ – 04/12/16
My third week starts rather unpleasantly. My body feels weak, I do not have appetite, and at the very least an unpleasant toilet visit makes me think deeply about what I might have eaten last weekend. Finally, I think of the solution: the “Kunene water” must be to blame… As already mentioned I spend a camping weekend with the teaching staff at the “Epupa Falls”. The breathtaking waterfalls on the northern border river of the country are impressive, but the water of the “Kunene Rivers” has not the best quality to put it mildly. When I dived in one of the natural pools of the river with some teachers, my half-full bottle of beer slipped into the water. Slightly drunk, I thought that I should not reject the bottle which was suddenly full again after the incident and was glad to have won a few minutes until the next “beer supply”. After all, a higher power had doubled my drink, I thought. Now I know, however, that it was not a higher power, but simple stupidity. Stupidity, which I now have to pay for with stomach trouble. The loving care of my “host mother” Gisela and a rice meal bring me back on the track. I have been fit again since Tuesday and can concentrate on my project.
Up to and including Tuesday, Henk van Dalen (New Horizon Foundation, link: Second week (2016 – Kaokoland)) is also with my hosts and, as in the previous days, great discussions and ideas to expand the work with local schools are developed.
On Wednesday, I return to my tent on the school grounds in Omuhonga and help the teachers preparing to give out the reports next Friday. Although the students were already released to their deserved holidays at the end of last week, they get their reports after a week. For this ceremony, I whip the brought along mobile phones in shape (Homecoming 2016). To do this, I charge them, provide them with Namibian sim cards and starting credits, delete old contacts and messages and change the language settings.
On Thursday, some teachers and I are invited to an event at the school 20 km away in Otjikojo. This educational institution has found a generous donor in order to be expanded in a similar way as the school in Omuhonga next year. The families of the surrounding “Krals” (small Himba communities) were invited to get a picture of the work of the school and to enjoy a large, communal meal.
As a German representative of an auxiliary project, I am asked to give a short speech by the local school management. At first, I feel rather uncomfortable, but I do the favour for the school management without having enough time to prepare. Ultimately, my speech or at least the translation of a teacher is quite good then. There is certainly strong applause and some pats on the shoulder. I take a breath in relief.
There is a strong crowd at the event, which creates a convivial atmosphere, and I get stuck within a circle of dancing Himbas: a fascinating clapping concert where people sing and members of the crowd jump into the circle one after the other and show stomping dance moves. The positive sentiment is practically tangible and everybody laughs out loud. I’m asked to join, but I’m afraid to dance wrong… at first… After a few more invitations, which I reject, I finally decide that I’m not going to be a bit rude and jump into the middle of the circle. My improvised dance steps, which have been modelled on what has been seen, do not really seem to offend anybody and I am thanked by all sides. Even more backslappings and hugs follow. I almost feel as if I am being accepted into the Himba family. An incredibly beautiful, very lovely experience.
On Friday I see many students again. First in my “Base” in Omuhonga and then in Ovitvambo (link: Second week (2016 – Kaokoland) & School refit in Ovitvombo). Gisela gives a touching speech and asks “Ngehupe” to come to the front at both events. The 16-year-old girl is the first student of the Omuhonga school, which has been attending the “Highschool” for a year and is a model for others by her diligence. And then there is another great news because next year “Ngehupe” will be followed by a second student (=> Kapika) who was accepted at the “Highschool”. At the end, the best students are awarded with my mobile phones. The action is both a reward and an incentive to make more effort next year. A great pleasure for the awarded students!
Tjitari, a teacher who has grown to my heart, is also awarded by me for his impressive knowledge of the German Bundesliga, hehe. And since Tjitari is an avowed BVB fan, my award is nothing less than my Dortmund jersey with the name and number of Neven Subotic!
Since there is nothing going on in Omuhonga on the weekend, I decide to spend the days off in Opuwo (about 140 km away). This place is the closest city that has a good internet connection. With Florencia, a teacher of the Ovitvambo school, I hitchhike to the “metropolis” and start to answer the collected mails and work on my homepage. An announced power cut on Sunday (from 6:00am to 7:00pm) keeps me away from work, but I can spend a wonderful day with Florencia and her cousin Ingrid by the pool of a nearby lodge. Thanks, girls!