Enjoying “traditional” Namibian celebrations…

I arrived in Windhoek on a date that was by no means random and I moved in an obscure airport hotel because of its location, which was also not random. I was two blocks away and it was half a day before one of the biggest parties in Namibia…

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OKTOBERFEST!

Years ago, I traveled to Macau expecting an intriguing mix of Portuguese and Chinese cultures. I found a Chinese city with Portuguese street names. But in Namibia, despite Germany having lost the colony a century ago, German is very alive and present.  I was told about 5% of Namibians have German as a first language, which means it is the first language of about 40% of white people there (Afrikaans being the most common).

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The party started Friday, with the owner of a major local brewery opening the first barrel of that year’s brew and thus opening Oktoberfest (or something like that, my German is not that great). It’s quite a large party, with three tents as large as the one in the first picture, plus outdoor areas. The band is straight from Munich and plays at the Oktoberfest there every year. I’m not sure if there is a deep meaning to the party, but from what I could tell, it’s all about:

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Looking and acting more German than the Germans.

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Eating sausages and sauerkraut.

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Drinking a lot of beer, for most people (this one was for me!).

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And drinking too much beer, for some! I must admit I had a certain quantity myself (people who know me will be shocked). I was happy I did not loose or destroy my camera, but I must say I am very disappointed with the poor quality of my pictures! In my defence, I will say that I was far from being the drunkest person there. This is what happened when I gave my camera to someone so he could take a picture of me and a new friend.

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Pulitzer Prize material for sure!

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This local guy , who’s name I forgot, was great fun and introduced me to all sorts of people whose names I also forgot. Including several guys in Lederhosen, whom I thought I had taken pictures of, but evidently, I didn’t.

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I like Namibia because African women are very friendly.

[OK, so maybe this was staged by my drunk friend in the previous picture and I don’t even know who these girls are, but that’s why reality is so overrated]

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Around 1:30 am, I had enough and I walked the short distance to the hotel. There, I met my lodge neighbors, three retired South African Army majors, who at almost 2 am, were starting to cook this gigantic piece of meat on their home-made braii (South African BBQ). The next morning, at around 10, I got up and they had just finished cooking breakfast on the braii, which they were washing down with rum and coke! Hard core, really, really hard core.

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The next day, the “sport” competitions were held. Guys cut trees in pairs with a big saw and women lifted as many beer mugs as they could. Apart from brute strength, the art is in setting them up properly.

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Trying for 15… and failing. Note these are not pints, but much bigger. Possibly a full litre.

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Success with 16! You might note that there aren’t too many people around. This is because I took pictures during the preliminary rounds. Eventually, an older lady lifted 17 or 18, but by then there was a big crowd around them, and I couldn’t get a descent shot, mainly because the journalists and pro photographers were in my way.

I decided not to push my luck with the camera and returned it to the hotel. I went back for a few pints and sausages, but I was a little beat by the daytime sun and the previous day’s events, so I made it “home” a little earlier. All and all, an incredible party. If I had been magically transported there on Friday night and asked which country I thought I was in, I’m not sure Namibia would have been in the first 50 guesses!

#Namibia

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  1. Pingback: Hiking the Great Wall and shopping in China. | Colin's Notes

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