Namibia's Year 2023 In Highlights

29 Dec 2023

Travel destination Namibia still on the upswing, winter rains of the century, festivals of three ethnic groups, 100-year commemoration in Okahandja and green light for green hydrogen. As 2023 draws to a close, Namibian.org looks back at a few outstanding events in the areas of travel, nature, culture, history and economy.

Travel

Travel in Namibia has almost returned to 2019 levels. In some areas, the numbers are even higher than before Corona. Flight connections are contributing to this. Discover Airlines has presented its re-branding in Namibia and well-known airlines are planning flights to the land of endless horizons, while the Namibian airline FlyNamibia is expanding its flight network and can be booked worldwide.

Unbelievable, but true: it was only in May that the WHO officially declared the global health emergency due to the coronavirus to be over. In Namibia, on the other hand, this had already happened in August 2022, after infections were barely noticeable.

In September, the travel industry responded to cases of crime. The Gondwana Collection Namibia group went one step further with its "Tourism Heroes" awareness campaign.

Environmental offenders among holidaymakers caused outrage with lanes in Sossusvlei. Other environmental offenders were caught by rapid WhatsApp communication from the travel industry and showed remorse.

Nature & conservation

The biggest event of the year, at least from a nature perspective, was certainly the exceptionally good winter rains that caused the desert in south-west Namibia to blossom.

Blossoms Klein-Aus Vista Desert Horse Inn Aus Namib desert Namibia
Sea of blossoms on the edge of the Namib Desert in south-west Namibia near Klein-Aus Vista. 
Photo (August 2023): Piet Swiegers, Desert Horse Inn

2023 is probably also the year of decision in the decades-long debate about the cause of the mysterious fairy circles in the grasslands on the eastern edge of the Namib. No, it is not self-organising grasses, as once again claimed in a contradictory lecture and refuted in a scientific paper, but termites that create the bare circles, as impressively demonstrated in an excursion within the Gondwana Namib Park.

There were some successes to report in nature conservation, including the attachment of transmitters to animals of various central species and satellite transmitters for elephants in north-west Namibia.

Good news also for the giraffe, which is increasing in numbers in north-west Namibia and has been successfully reintroduced in another area in the south of the country.

However, alarm bells are still ringing in some areas. These include the serious threat to the pangolin, the digging up and smuggling of rare plants for collectors and the dwindling forests.

Culture & Lifestyle

San in cultural attire, Namibia
The first ever San Cultural Festival took place in Gobabis. 
Photo: Namibia Presidency

November was characterised by Namibia's cultural diversity - with a traditional festival of the Dama(ra) in Okombahe and a festival of the San (Bushmen) in Gobabis. The Omagongo Festival of the Aawambo in Outapi took place in June - and Namibian.org even went the extramile(s) to attend.

There was a musical highlight in Windhoek in May: classical music from Europe met kwaito from southern African townships. A few weeks earlier, culinary connoisseurs from Germany indulged in the culinary creations of Namibian chefs.

History

Ovaherero procession, Namibia
Procession of traditionally dressed women and young troop players of the OvaHerero on their way to the grave of Paramount Chief Samuel Maharero in Okahandja during the centenary commemoration. 
Photo: Willihelm Johannes, Gondwana Collection Namibia 

The annual Herero Day at the end of August in Okahandja is often mentioned in travel guides as a tip for those interested in the culture and history of the OvaHerero. The occasion is the burial of the mortal remains of Chief Samuel Maharero on 26 August 1923. The 100-year commemoration took place on a larger scale than usual.

A visit to the Independence Museum is on the programme of most city tours through Windhoek. In March, a permanent exhibition dedicated to the music of Namibian bands during the apartheid era was opened to the public.

Economy

The economic highlights of 2023 certainly include Namibia's successful participation in the climate summit in Dubai, the economic agreement with the European Union and the progress made in the green hydrogen production projects - the brick-laying ceremony for the refuelling station near Walvis Bay and the securing of the government's shares in the 10 billion US dollar Hyphen project south of Lüderitz.

The sharp fall of the South African Rand, to which the Namibia Dollar is pegged 1:1, against the Euro and US Dollar has made imports, including fuel, very expensive. Nevertheless, Namibia is looking to the future with confidence and is not only investing billions in the expansion of its roads (B1 between Mariental and Keetmanshoop, B2 between Karibib and Usakos), but is also resuming plans for a rail link with Botswana.

A little treat to round things off. In May, the organisation 'Reporters without borders' published its latest world press freedom ranking. Namibia was not only ranked first in Africa, but also four places ahead of the United Kingdom in the global comparison at 22nd place.

And with that, Namibian.org wishes all its fans a Happy New Year 2024!

Sven-Eric Stender

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