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School starts at 6:40am! & a Namibian teacher opens up & opened my eyes.

Hello All! As I create new content to bring to you, I’d like to repurpose some blog posts I’ve written from back in the day before you all knew me. This is one of my 1st blog posts as a teacher in Namibia in 2012. I have not edited it, I have left it exactly the way I wrote it. Namibia is a country in Southwest Africa, and suffered under apartheid until the 90’s with racism still at an all time high, that I experienced first hand and many times while I was there from white colleagues from the U.S. (especially Peace Corps) and whites that lived in Namibia. I’ll post more about that later. For now, enjoy this post from my 2012 eyes, and tell me what you think! Have you traveled overseas for work in Africa, what was your experience?


6/10/2012

So I’m all settled in my place in a house where teachers and volunteer teachers live. I live with a Namibian teacher, her son and three daughters. I basically have one side to myself but it’s Africa so of course we don’t state any boundaries, we’re all free to move around the whole house. People actually think I’m Namibia in this town by looking at me, they think I’m Oshiwambo (the most populous ethnic group in Namibia). I think that’s pretty funny, once they realize I can’t speak Oshiwambo they become confused. And everybody thinks my name is funny, that’s funny. My name is African and other Africans think my name is funny, I guess they think because I live in the U.S. I’m supposed to have a western name. A lot of people here have their African names but they use their Christian names (basically western names). When I tell them my name is Nigerian they seem surprised, but on the flip side, Namibians love Nigerians and the movies as well as the music they all say Nigerians make comedies lol. Nigeria also helped Namibia out a lot with education when Namibians were in exile, fleeing the country. I don’t forget to mention that I’m from the U.S. too and that my mom is African- American, so they can see the diversity. They have so much interest in that and they are really curious, they really love to see that connection. Which brings me to my next thought; I was going food shopping with my housemate today and she was telling me that she never sees black volunteers come to Namibia, Maybe out of all the ones that come I’m like the second one she saw (she actually brought the conversation up, not me). She said she would like to see more Black American volunteers come because it makes her feel more comfortable as if it was her brother or sister (those were her exact words). This is a Namibian teacher telling me this, it’s not like she doesn’t like the white volunteers, she appreciated their help, but they make her feel foreign. We must remember that Aparthied only ended in 1990 and the whites in Namibia are still very racist towards Africans. That made me think that we really need to start pushing our young African-American children to study abroad in Africa. The teacher said that would be good so they can see that Africa is good and see the similarities of the African Diaspora to Africa.

I have to mention that Namibian music is awesome and I’m surprised it’s not very popular, the same way I’m surprised South African house music isn’t popular. Namibians are very calm, cool and collective people. They are peaceful at least from what I’ve seen in Windhoek and here in Opuwu. They are very relaxed and friendly.

I saw a few Himba men today and even more Himba women, their traditional clothing intrigues me and it may sound silly but I really want to try it. Himba men wear these skirts in the front and like a long piece of clothe in the back, wearing a t-shirt and they carry a stick around.As I said yesterday, the Himba women are basically naked up top with their breasts out and a skirt at the bottom. they wear something like in the middle of their breasts but I don’t want to stare so i don’t know what it is . They wear a brown paste all over their bodies and in their hair, this paste protects them from the sun. I was told today that Himba people are very rich people! Someone who watches TV in the U.S. and came to Namibia and saw a Himba person may assume they’re poor because of their nakedness but they are actually rich. So that goes along with what I said yesterday about their style of dress being sophisticated and representing who they are in society. And thier hairstyles tell who they are so if they are young, married, or just started their period then their different hairstyles would represent which one they are.

I’m excited that I start teaching tomorrow but school starts at 6:40am! During training week they said schools can start as early as 7 and that was bad enough, but 6:40? Geesh! Well I’ll just prepare to be up at 5:30 or maybe even 5:45 since I live right next to the school. It’s literally a 30 second walk, which is awesome. I know the kids will be shocked like I said I believe I’m the first black volunteer at their school, so I wonder how it will go. I remember asking one Namibian student how Namibians felt about African-Americans (me and Richard wanted to know) and he said he didn’t feel any kind of way, but when Paul asked him what they felt about white Americans he said that “the whites are superior and smarter”. So, with that being said, that is probably due to the fact that they are the majority of people who come to volunteer in places like Africa. Even when I was in Nigeria a friend said “whites are more innovative, blacks are not” another said “we don’t have whites to look up to, so we look up to the light-skin”. So we have to realize that both Africans and the diaspora are feeling negatively about one another. Other people may not have gotten this vibe when they go to Africa, or maybe they didn’t ask. Being that I’m a product of an African and African-American coming together, I have seen it first hand, and I want people to know that all it will take is education to bridge this gap that is dividing us apart. Let’s begin to educate and show the good of both sides. Education is what will save us, that is why I’m so glad to start tomorrow so the youth can see that yes African-American people want to come and help in Africa too, not just tour and party, but really make a difference. I heard it first hand from a teacher today, they want to see more African-Americans in Africa so they can see the good in us as well as us seeing the good in them.

Anyway above all, i’m excited to meet my learners tomorrow and create a bond with them so we can learn from each other!

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