Namibia Through the Eyes of a Tanzanian Student

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By Happiness Bagambi from Tanzania WINDHOEK It was my first time to travel for a long time out of my home country Tanzania to another, namely Namibia. I was surprised that so many things in Namibia are different from ours – from the food, the clothing and others. In my life I have always said that I will eat anything eaten by fellow human beings. I was already used to different modes of transportation except aeroplanes that I have yet to get used to. In this case being a Christian, I always prayed to Lord the King of Heaven to ensure me a safe journey to my destination – and God said Yes. I didn’t understand that there is any other thing that could be different from my country. By the time I boarded the plane in Tanzania, I never thought anything could surprise me in life. Now here I was, travelling to Namibia for an exchange programme. I was very surprised to see such a huge airport at Johannesburg and never saw such a busy place with so many yellow buses transporting passengers from one plane to another when they are connecting flights. Upon my arrival, another different thing was the very cold weather in Johannesburg. I remember that I had wanted to leave my jacket back home in Tanzania. When I reached Johannesburg I experienced a cold chill, something that I have never experienced before. I thought I was going to turn into an ice-block and I wanted to go back home, but I couldn’t. When I reached the airport at Hosea Kutako International I was surprised because that airport is no bigger than the airport back home. Shortly after landing, I was met by two good people who came to pick me up, namely Mr Farayi Muny-uki, who is the manager for editorial services at Nampa and Mr Albert Mieze who is also working at Nampa as an accountant. They took me to my host family who is Mrs Fauster Claasen and her husband. There I met only their children. They (the parents) weren’t there because there was a funeral about 60 km out of town. I slept in till tomorrow, which was Saturday. The next day, which was a Saturday, Mr Munyuki came there to pick me up to his house because my host family was not there. So we went there and his wife prepared food for us. We ate rice mixed with mincemeat; beans with fried eggs, bread and tea. That was the breakfast. Back home, I am used to eating bread with tea for breakfast then at lunch, I take strong lunch like green banana or chips with meat and eggs, Ugali (porridge) which is heavy strong Ugali and juice sometimes. Because it was the weekend we went to Mr Chris Shipan-ga’s house. Shipanga is also one of the managers at Nampa. There I met Simon Martha Mkina, who is also on the exchange programme and is from Tanzania, where he works for Uhuru Newspapers. There we found people drinking some beer – mind you it was morning time, like 10 am, with that cold weather but they were drinking the cold beer. To me also it was a surprise and I thought, “How people can drink in the morning time while it is cold like this?” From there we went to the big brother of Mr Shipanga’s wife. There we were Mr Mieze, Mr Shipanga and his wife, her big brother and his wife, me, and Mr Mkina. Mr Munyuki went somewhere else, he was not with us at that time. There it was like 12 pm and people started to drink and drink. It was a surprise that every person is drinking except me. I asked myself, “How can every person drink, even if is a woman or a man?” From drinking the women started cooking. The food was meat, like soup and porridge (Ugali). The time we started to eat I saw every person taking more meat than food and they started eating. I tried to do like others, I took the spoon to cut the ugali but it refused to cut, maybe by using a spoon (Kijiko cha kulia chakula) it was porridge (Uji), you must eat by using a spoon, you can’t use hands. Simon asked me: “Is it Ugali or Uji?” I said: “This is Uji not Ugali.” We started talking that maybe the food here is Uji with meat, let us eat like them. After eating the people continued to drink. I said, “I don’t know if I will manage to stay in this country, otherwise my life here will go wrong.” I asked myself: “At what time do the people here work?” I found out the people are used to work from Monday to Friday but Saturday and Sunday they are used to drink and enjoy life. We went home in the evening, then next day also Mr Munyuki came to pick me up from Fauster’s house. We went to his house where we ate the food like yesterday’s, and then we drank tea. From there he wanted to show me some areas of his country. I have never seen a country as clean as Namibia. There you never see a dirty place or empty plastic bags thrown somewhere like in my county. I have never seen coloured houses like the nice houses, beautiful. I have never seen a country without city buses – in my home country we call it daladala. In Namibia you never see daladala across, every person has their own car or they have like 13 Namibia Dollar for taxi transport per day. Even if it is a poor man or woman, it is a surprise that they can manage a taxi fare which is equal to T.Sh. 2,626 (Tanzania shillings) a day for transport only. It was a surprise to see the people eating caterpillars (Wadudu wa kwenye miti wanaopatikana sana kipindi cha mvua (Duduwasha). I ran away from Mr Munyuki who ate (caterpillars) that day when I was with him walking in Katutura. I have never seen people eating meat with beer at lunchtime. It was a surprise that any person can eat only meat as lunch or dinner. The name “Katutura” means that the area where the black people must live; in Namibia there is the area where the white people live and where the black people live. In my life I have never drank water like “Club Soda” (mineral water) for thirst in my country. If you’re a Tanzanian and you need water for thirst just say, “I need still water.” In Tanzania they don’t have. I am a Tanzanian from Bukoba, Kagera. I am used to eating a banana, the green banana (ndizi bukoba). But I told Ms Fauster to take me to a supermarket to buy one and I found there is the yellow banana (ndizi za kuiva). I never found the green banana in the market, which is hard life for me. I am a Tanzanian woman working for Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) and currently participating in the Exchange Programme Training in Journalism attached to the Namibia Press Agency (Nampa).