Walvis Bay on a Sunday is like an American suburb, except for the desert all around: the streets are empty, with wide avenues and watered lawns, and no white people walking anywhere. The houses are neat, modern, and boxy; and all are fenced off with cameras and security guards. Cars are mostly white (yes, but why?); and new, apparently because everything rusts quickly due to the fog rolling in from the sea.
Everybody seems to go to church here on a Sunday morning. Or to the Farmers’ Market. And with everybody I unfortunately mean the white people, because I simply do not know how the black people live as they live on the other side of town. At the Farmers’ market there were only 3 non-white customers during my visit. Some black families played on the adjacent playground, but did not mix with us at the Farmers’ Market.
A young woman referred to the “whole town” and I had to ask her for clarification if she meant the white community. She nodded – and I could not help but think what kind of tight community she lives in that excludes all the others in town and considers itself an entire town.Our house is part of a beautiful, lush compound right by the lagoon. It is locked from the street but open from the lagoon side, via a little picket fence gate. Our house is installed with alarms due to burglars in the past. We are not allowed to bring our laptops into the back yard, lest they be seen and desired. We have been advised to hide our valuables in several places, preferably more creative ones like under the mattress or a pile of clothes in the wardrobe. And we pull the curtains down when we leave.
It is sad that the culture and social climate here have created frustration, anger, and jealousy. It is sad how some here have obtained a sense of being justified in taking something from wealthier people, because they themselves have much less.
Walvis Bay is sweet and sleepy, and very different from my world.
(Walvis Bay, Namibia; June 2017)