Posted on Leave a comment

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

So I’m all settled in my place for the summer 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 toNamibia 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!

Posted on 1 Comment

I live right next to the school!

So I arrived in my new town today, It wasn’t quite how they described it but the people here are very nice. It was an 8 hour drive from Windhoek to my town where I’ll be teaching called Opuwu. The driver was funny, and I saw 3 Giraffes, The Giraffes stood there so tall and reminded of how good God is. I couldn’t help but think, look at the beautiful design of those Giraffes and how they stand there looking like statues, Just beautiful! And the landscapes and mountains were beyond amazing. I’m realizing that Nigeria and Namibia are so much alike and so much different at the same time. The same African Spirit is still there but the cultures are so diverse it really makes me appreciate being able to experience two different African Cultures. For example, that clicking sound that people often make fun of when referring to Africans I s real, except the clicks come in between words and there is a certain way that you have to click to get the meaning of each word. It’s actually very sophisticated. The driver that bought Karina and I to our placements actually speaks that language, and He told me what it was but I didn’t get the spelling  so I don’t want to give you guys the incorrect spelling. I liked listening to him talk to his friends in his language as we stopped along the way, he even listened to a radio station with the language. Well I’m all over the place with this blog but now I’m in the town, the principal and vice principal of the school are so happy to have me here, my room is nice and the teacher I’m living with is nice along with her family. Tomorrow I’ll go into town and meet people and another WorldTeach volunteer (year long) lives close by, we’ll most likely meet tomorrow, she’s been here since January. Oh by the way, I saw Himba women in their traditional clothes today, it was quite interesting. They wear a certain paste on their body and hair to protect them from the sun, and yes, they are somewhat naked but their style of dress and the way they present themselves shows who they are in society, it is a very sophisticated way of life and is historical as well as inspirational. It’s good to see Africans that still keep their traditions although having so much western influence around them.

Posted on Leave a comment

South African House Music!

So we went to a club in Windhoek, Namibia. #1, They definitely know how to party, dress, dance, and all of the above. It’s not like I thought Namibians/ South Africans didn’t do any of those things, but it’s definitely a side of Africa that is hidden from the media. #2, South African House Music!!! Is Awesome. Richard and I had a ball of course, with our new shoes from the mall in Namibia lol. Rachel (Summer coordinator) came with us who wanted to go. Kaylan (the field director) came later and it was even more fun! They played about 3 hip hop American songs and went right back to the South African House. It’s not a grind fest like American clubs, people just go out to dance and have a good time. It was free too! My kind of place! The original place we were supposed to go to was 50 Namibian Dollars which was not very fun looking so we didn’t go inside.  Anyway the place was fun but we had to prepare to travel to our sites the next day so we left around 12:30….. Before all this, we went to a Traditional Herero restaurant, Herero’s are an ethnic group in Namibia. We had all sorts of meat (Namibians love meat) and potato salad, sweet potatoes, and a donut, Namibian Style. I have to say the food was really good but I did not enjoy the liver or the sweet potatoes. I loved the sheep and beef, and fish. It’s amazing how one tribe may season something a little different than another tribe and it be two completely different meals.

Posted on Leave a comment

I have no title for today

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