Welwitschia’s Ark in the Namib desertAugust 5, 2012
Namibia’s religious geological featuresAugust 5, 2012
Text by Tim Osborne
Twenty kilometres north of Windhoek off the B1 is a fenced-off area under large camel-thorn trees. The area, which contains picnic tables, braai sites, and children’s playgrounds, is usually empty during the week, but starting Friday afternoon through to Sunday, it becomes a hub of activity for local Windhoek residents.
I dropped by on a recent Saturday afternoon to check out the place. All 25 picnic sites were occupied with people having parties and generally enjoying themselves. I selected three groups and interviewed them about what had brought them to the Brakwater (Afrikaans for brack, salty water) Recreation Park.
Shaun Diegaardt told me his group visited at least once a month and that they were attracted by the closeness of the park to town. It was a safe place for children to play, it was tidy and the toilets were clean. He and his party had been coming there for 10 years. He said he was a teacher at Pioneer’s Primary School, and that most of his group were family and friends from the school. He recommends the place to visitors, but notes that finding a site is on a first-come first-serve basis, and that during the Christmas season it becomes crowded.
At the next site I spoke to Omar Jossobs, who had been coming to the park for 20 years. His group consisted of fellow employees at the city traffic police. They liked the large, shady acacia trees, the playground equipment for their children and the cleanliness of the area. They usually arrived at noon over a weekend and stayed until the park closed at 22:00 hours.
Use of the park is currently free of charge. Access is via the old Windhoek–Okahandja road.
I was attracted to a jumping castle at one picnic area and found a large party enjoying their braai. Sergio and his brother-in-law Thompson, who works at Cymot, were celebrating a double birthday. Thompson’s daughter Deo had just turned six, and it was also the birthday of Sergio’s wife. They came to the park once a week and had hired the castle for the kids, who were hard at work expending their energy. They came rain or shine, and also stressed the safety aspect of the park. Where they live in the Windhoek suburbs of Soweto and Katutura, there is just not enough room to have a large party.
The park is owned by the City of Windhoek and falls under the administration of the Economic Development and Community Services department. It has been used as a recreational area since the 1950s, but was initially restricted to whites only. It was also used by Girl Guides as a weekend camping place.
According to Nancy Brandt, the manager of the parks division, after independence in the late 1990s, the park was restored to provide additional recreation for city residents. A caretaker’s house was built. Ablution facilities, three playgrounds and 25 braai sites were constructed, along with a secure fence. In 2008 another ablution block was added.
Use of the park is currently free of charge. Access is via the old Windhoek–Okahandja road. It is open to the public from 10:00–18:00 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and from 10:00–22:00 on Fridays to Sundays. On Mondays and Tuesdays it is closed for maintenance.
Due to the popularity of the park, the City of Windhoek is expanding it to the south with the addition of 13 barbecue sites and another ablution block. Future plans call for an area specifically for large functions such as church events and end-of-year parties. Decorative gardens and lawns and a fourth playground are also on the drawing board.
This article appeared in the Feb’12 edition of FLAMINGO Magazine.