Why I love the 'Cattle Country'

29 April 2016 | Opinion

To the untrained eye, the capital of East, Gobabis, is a sleepy village-cum town with one long street, lined up with butcheries and clothing shops. I guess that is the notion of what people do in Gobabis – eat meat and buy clothes for their children. Here is what you did not know about the cattle country, as the Omaheke region – of which Gobabis is the main town, is also known.
You must learn to pronounce the town name correctly. It is not Ngo-mba-mbis. It’s just plain Gobabis (your tongue must be pressed firmly against the front teeth, and rolled backwards towards the inner cheeks – or something like that). Or if you, like many of the natives here, are struggling with the ‘mb’ and ‘ng’, then simply revert to ‘Epako mbuae’ – everyone does!
Forget about traffic rules you learnt elsewhere. Here everything happens in slow motion; think a Nigerian African movie when Ramsey Noah gets ready to slap Geneviève – he lifts his hand, after three seconds the hand is still half way from its target…and then eventually after a whole minute it finally lands on Geneviève’s cheek. When she falls to the ground, the same rule applies.
All directions at Gobabis start with “Go down Lambaba Service station….” or “After passing the Lambaba service station, you turn left…”In fact, the service station is centrally located and one would think it was all part of the plan. Ja, a journey to the village for my people of the great Omaheke Region is never complete until you pass by the Lambaba Service Station for those juicy steak.
Kamunamunine Torobotlegendst can only be pronounced by natives. The same goes for Itumeleng Magone Ipulegeng Nguatjitavinai and Riritiriviviboo road. If you come upon these names during your brief stay in Gobabis, simply smile and point to the name, while scratching your neck. It works like a charm all the time.
The repair of the large pothole in the centre of town is a lifetime entertainment – they have to keep the flame going and as such no permanent solution is sought. You see, whenever the municipality’s bull dozers move in to repair roads or grade them, the whole town takes to the streets to witness the spectacle.
If a driver actually has his turning signal on, it is probably a defect. All you have to do here is watch the other driver closely and study his action. If he revs his car and looks to the right, chances are he will be turning left and vice versa. If he does not rev his car, nor look left or right – he is from Windhoek, just like you.
All laddies clad in the stylish Victorian dresses and driving a Toyota Hilux 2.4 diesel should be given right of way. After all, they are the ones that gave birth to all these aspiring farmers that you find in AGRA wearing those big hats and khakhi uniforms. O yeah, farming is the ‘in-thing’ here; whatever you do make sure you are seen reversing your Hillux bakkie into Kaap Agri or AGRA. Chicks here dig that!
Donkey carts, horse driven carts and other remnants of the Wild West are permanent road users of Gobabis. Whenever you encounter them on a day that you are late for a meeting with the Governor or the Mayor (I mean, what other meeting you will truly attend now?), simply smile and wait for the entourage to pass.
Asking for money to quench your thirst is a fashion statement. If you have been asked by over ten people for a N$10 in a single night at one of the town’s bars, it is not because they really need the money. They are simply keeping in touch with the latest trends. Trust me, they do not ask for N$1.00 anymore – they have upped the game. If you offer them N$9.50, they will not take it – how dare you insult their intelligence!
Everyone knows everyone and everything about everyone! Don’t be fooled by the fact that you live in town and the majority of the people live elsewhere; they know about you as much as they know about their white employers’ secret visits to ‘the locations’ under the cover of darkness. They might not know your name, but that has never been a limitation.
Such is life in the eastern town of Gobabis. Have a safe trip back home and call again.
Until then…