June 4, 2012 Windoek Namibia
So it’s the second day of training and I woke up this morning after so many of the girls alarms had gone off and Kaylan came into our room to check on us, realizing that we all overslept. Kaylan asks if she can speak to me and I get scared like I was about to get in trouble. She brings me to the back after I asked her if it was bad or not and she has a look of concern. She read me an email that my dad sent her telling her that my Aunt Chinwe and cousin Zuggy were in a plane crash. For some reason I thought she said they were amongst the survivors, so I got up and began to celebrate. At this point she probably thought I was crazy. I sat back down and I said ‘so they were the only survivors?” she said, “no, nobody survived”. My heart sank all the way down as far as it could go. I then started to try to rationalize it in my head somehow by talking about my aunt and cousin, explaining who they were to me and how good of people they were and questioning what I was hearing. How could my auntie who takes such good care of me and loves unconditionally be gone? Does that make sense? I just couldn’t wrap my mind around what was going on. I wanted to hold my mom or someone I knew right then and there. I longed for the love of a loved one. The other WorldTeach volunteers were hugging me and really being there but it’s just the simple fact that I don’t know them well so it didn’t seem good enough, although I thank Kaylan the field director for being there for me so much she was so helpful. This just happened to be the day that we were all going to buy our cell phones and change our money. I wanted to go and at least do that so I could call my father to see how he was doing since my Auntie Chinwe is his youngest sister. Then I wanted to call my mom and tell her and also speak to her to let her know I made it safe since out of her and my dad she was the only one who didn’t email back yet when the Field Director emails them to say we made it to Namibia safely. I got ready and Dana was nice enough to stay behind with Kaylan and I so we could catch up with the rest of the group later. I made the whole group cry when I was telling them how important it is for us to not be too busy to contact our relatives more often. I received an email from my Aunt Chinwe congratulating me for making it into WorldTeach but I had been so busy I kept forgetting to email her back but it was constantly on my mind. That hurt me even more. We finally got out and met with the other crew, Namibia is so gorgeous and Windhoek is so developed, but Auntie Chinwe was still on my mind. I decided to take pictures and at least have that memory since the memories in my mind were flooded with my Aunt and cousin. I tried deal with it the best way I could and I stayed quiet but if someone tried to talk to me I didn’t shun them away, if I really didn’t want to talk I just stated that. When we went to Wimpy’s (a Namibian mcdonalds basically) it was so nice and we sat down and ate. I was mainly quiet the whole time until I started silently crying again. It was too much and I didn’t want to be around anyone. We left shortly after and walked around the mall some more.
Later on after we arrived back at BPU (Back Packers Unite) Hostel, there was a Young lawyer that came to tell us about Namibian culture and different aspects of Namibia that we may want to know. Since I knew she would be the one talking for the most part I decided to join the group. I am glad I went because it was so informative and she researched Namibia for a living as well as studied Law and Nursing (and she was only 24 wow!!) plus she grew up in Namibia so she was legitimately telling us the facts. I found it interesting that she said that education in Namibia was western influenced. She said they don’t even learn about Namibian history until the fifth grade. She said they learn about Russian history, western European and American history; and the Namibian history they get is not even sufficient basically. Also, to my surprise, the Herero Ethnic group still uses hairstyles to signify who they are in society. I read that about Pre-colonial Africa, but to hear that Herero women still braid their hair forward to represent a young girl; Single dread like braids going back to represent a woman who has gotten her period and is ready to marry; and a thick metal piece on top of their head and braids to signify that they are actually married. I thought that was absolutely awesome to see that Africa is so diverse that we can use hairstyles to represent ourselves and not just as a fashion statement. The Nurse, Lawyer, Researcher (lol) was so informative and knew so much especially about my placement (where I will be teaching) which is Opuwu, Namibia, because she grew up there! She told me it was fun there and I will fit right in because I seem down to earth ad people won’t call me Oshumbolo (basically American or white person). I was glad to hear good things. Richard and I (The Dynamic duo) sat there and talked to the Upcoming cultural panel as well as herself during the break and we had a gooooodddd time, we laughed, Joked, and asked each other questions about our respective cultures. I love Richard by the way, we are the only two black volunteers and Kaylan is the coordinator She’s black as well and was surprised to see us especially Richard because she said it does not happen enough or often at all.
Now we have finished talking and the cultural panel comes up, they answered some interesting questions all the way from race relations in Namibia, to traditional Namibian weddings. The cultural aspect of Namibia is so interesting because there are so many white people still. I honestly didn’t expect so see so many, that’s not even the interesting part, a lot of them still look down upon black people. I can’t understand it because now they have the opportunity to move to any European country of their origin but they’d rather stay in Africa and frown their nose upon the Africans. I must say not all of them do, but I’ve encountered so many (especially at the airport in South Africa). I guess there is still a lot of hatred because of Apartheid but I can also say that there are a number of interracial couples as well. I don’t know, I’m confused.
Later on we had a Braii (barbeque) and it is basically what Nigerians would call Suya (grilled meat with spice, raw onions and tomatoes) it was sooooo good.
I know you guys want to hear more about Africa and my training as well as teaching experiences, but today was obviously an interesting day filled with sadness. It was also a very informative day, I’m glad I chose to join the group sessions because I know my Auntie and Cousin were both so happy for me and they would want me to enjoy. I’ll end up going to Nigeria to say goodbye to them but they are always in my heart. I learned so, so much from my Auntie Chinwe, she taught me so much, I even wanted to walk like her, and do business like her. She commanded the room everywhere she went, and was admired by those around her. Zuggy was quiet but humble, and he loved to dance, he liked to joke around and was a good kid, he did not cause anybody any trouble. I love them forever and ever. <3