Namibians have their own compass

17 February 2017 | Columns

If you follow directions to a certain place given to you by a Namibian, chances are you will end up somewhere between Timbuktu and Lake Tanganyika – when all you wanted was directions to get to Otjiwarongo from the Okahandja parking lot in Swakopmund!

I tell you, its like we have our own compass - one which never points to the True North!

Imagine landing at a remote village along the equator only to be greeted by some strange fellows dressed only in their birth suit, jumping up and down and speaking in a language similar to that used during medieval times!

Let’s say you decided to sneak away for the weekend with your better half to the wilderness where no one will recognise you. Halfway there you discover that you are on the wrong route, so you stop to ask for directions.

At the nearest service station you ask the young fella there for directions to Kamanjab.

“Kamanjab is not so far etse… ju yust drive this way and you will find a big mountain next to the road. The mountain is round and made up of rocks, you won’t miss it. So when you arrive at that mountain….ignore it and keep going up…”

A person standing next to your ‘tour guide’ would intervene and offer to direct you himself. Taking a stick and drawing large lines, probably a map of the area, he would attempt to direct you to your promise land.

“You see, you are here now. This is where you are. Just turn around – but not a whole turn, just a little turn to the right and go down that direction until you reach three big trees. From there just go and go and go…when you get tired, that is where Kamanjab is!”

My people from Omaheke are no worse. A typical direction would start off with “…do you know where Mr. Katjimune stays? The road passes right next to his house”

If you answer in the negative to the question, the informant will continue “…what about Mr. Tjatindi’s house? Surely you must know that one…”

He keeps on asking you of the different residences, and by the fifth try he gives up and deems you a failure. “You are useless….how come you do not know all these people? How on earth am I supposed to help you then?”

What is worse is when a passenger in a taxi attempts to direct a taxi to her destination. Mind you, my best friend Tjeripo was in a similar situation recently. The jack-of-all-trades as we know him tried his hand at driving a taxi for his friend.

A passenger in his car gave him the following directions “…you see that big lamp post…it is not there, just keep going…”

As they eventually approached her destination after a lot of dead-end turns, the passenger said: “Ok Mr. Shelipo, you can start stopping now…”

My good friend stopped the car, much to the dissatisfaction of the passenger.

“Why did you stop here? You taxi guys always want to lop the people. I will sue you and the taxi owner!

“But you said I must stop,” Tjeripo protested.

“You foolish boy…I said start stopping – not stop. You do not listen good you people.”

She probably meant ‘slow down’, but that is Namibia for you!

Yeah, those are my people from the hood – always full of drama.

Ever dialled a wrong number at 02:00 and it ends up in a house of a man from the hood?

When he eventually picks up the phone, he will give you an earful as to what time of the night it is, and whether you are out of your mind calling his house that time.

“I am sorry sir, I was looking for Charlie…”

“Dude, there is no God-damn Charlie staying here and I do not care if he is the King of England…this is my private time. Don’t call here again…”

But the situation is different when you call a man in the suburbs.

“I am sorry but is this the residence of Charlie?”

“I am afraid you have a wrong number sir…,” comes the voice on the other end.

“Ok…sorry to bother you, good night.”

“Noooo problem. Look it up in the directory and call again if you don’t find it hey.”

Until then…

[email protected]

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