The Namibia I Know

19 Feb 2021

Growing up in Namibia, and from a young age getting to explore and learn to appreciate its different landscapes and impressive vastness, it always seemed to me that no other place could ever match the marvel and wonder found here. Amongst the seas of red dunes and the piercingly clear night skies, the abundant wildlife in the north and the harsh contrasts of the south, a love for Namibia unfolded in me, which was bound to grow.

And yet, as many young Namibians, I found myself in a place where I wanted to leave this behind, in search for the excitement beyond. I became intrigued, as I pictured myself in a different setting, with people whose lives looked different to mine and whose stories were ones I hadn’t yet heard. A return to Namibia seemed irrelevant for me, as if my mind had automatically delayed such a move to a much later stage in my life. 

Although, I never regretted this step into the new, I came to realise that all along I had carried in me a certain yearning for home. It occurred to me that no matter where you find yourself in this world, this country will silently capture inch after inch of your heart and never let go. It has you longing for and missing the serene splendour found in the simplest of moments

The warmth felt in your heart when you step out of the plane and onto Namibian soil 

The feeling that courses through every part of your being when you smell the scent of soft rains falling in midday heat.  

The melodic sounds of different languages being spoken on bustling street corners 

The dance of vivid colours as the sun follows its daily path, over untainted landscapes every sunrise and sunset more beautiful than the previous.

Nine years later, I retraced my path back home for an adventure in which this country enchanted me and had me realising new perspectives. I was given the chance to explore and have Namibia reveal its raw beauty to me anew

And so a journey began with a company whose heart and soul is Namibian in its entirety. In my first few months here, we set out together with a film team, to capture content of the north-eastern, riverine parts of the country. While the north has always been one of my favourite areas to visit, it proceeded to be a trip of unexpected moments and lasting impressions. We found the dust settling over a herd of elephants grazing at dusk in Bwabwata National Park. We observed the rich colours of the Zambezi River while the air was filled with the fragrance of water lilies. As the world was at a standstill, we watched in awe as nature caught its breath and the love I had found for this unique part of the world when I was young, flourished once again.

Not long after, I set out on a road trip to explore the rugged south:  Sossusvlei, Aus and Lüderitz. The landscapes that Namibia has become famous for in every itinerary, were empty and completely void of the usual hustle and bustle of visitors. While standing in the white clay pan of Deadvlei, a visual spectacle with bygone camelthorn trees sprouting from the ground, I once again recalled the feeling I had experienced growing up – a feeling of deep affection and reverence for this country of old, its nature and its people. We clinked our glasses on a dune as the sun set over Sossusvlei, with kilometres of burnished dune landscape stretching out before us and forming a dramatic profile against the horizon. We smelt the scents of thousands of little wild flowers blooming after the winter rains in the mountains of Aus in carpets of violet, yellow and blue, and we stood amazed at the forces of nature at the rock arch of Bogenfels. 

With every changing landscape, I delved into a new facet of Namibia with admiration. The wonders of nature and new experiences in often unscathed places welcomed me, all within the borders of my own country. I found myself stopping to close my eyes, carefully listening to sounds or the absence thereof, letting quietude approach and an inexplainable sense of freedom settle over me. And in these moments, the feeling of longing in my heart, disappeared. 

It is these moments that I recall when someone speaks about Namibia. Moments saturated with a quiet gratitude. And while life is demanding and we have become subjected to habits in many ways including our thinking often so focussed on all aspects of wrong in our country; take a moment and choose to look behind this veneer, letting your thoughts return to the Namibia you know…

Article: Daniela Diekmann 

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