Several field programs from the Spring 2015 Voyage had the opportunity to visit the Mondesa township located just to the northeast of Swakopmund, Namibia. The township offered students a chance to see what daily life is like for many people living throughout the country. Most people actually live in the townships, opposed to the cities themselves. It is a melting pot of Owambo, Damara, Nama and Herero people and continues to grow and evolve as people move to the area in search of work. While these townships were formed during a dark past as a result of apartheid, they have grown into thriving communities that have evolved into cities themselves with restaurants, salons, schools, and small independently owned shops providing everything from fresh vegetables to clothing. Everyone in the township does something to earn money to support their family. Whether it is selling vegetables from their home garden or collecting seashells to make jewelry, everyone pulls their weight. Our guide, Nande, was born, raised, and still lives in the township and was genuinely excited to share his story and that of his home.
While visiting, the students arrived just in time to see a traditional Owambo dance performed by some of the township’s youth. The bright clothing and rhythmic stepping and clapping instantly made us feel welcome and introduced us to their warm culture.
After a tour of the township and quick language lesson using clicks (a common element to the Nama and Damara languages), we had the pleasure of sharing a meal with Nande and his six month old son. The students tried traditional dishes such as ekaka (spinach), mahangu (millet) porride, chicken, and for those who were brave enough, mopanie worms!
Our wonderful meal was accompanied by the harmonious sounds of the local Acapella group, African Voices.
The ever present theme of the day? We help ourselves and each other. No one sits idle in Mondesa. Everyone is working hard at whatever they can to provide for their families and make a better life for themselves and their community.