My Stint as Tour Guide in Owambo

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Jacqueline Angula and a fruit vendor in Oshakati, Nina van Schalkwyk.

Text Jacqueline Angula

Before we went on this adventure I really hoped, prayed, that my two colleagues who have never been to the north would love Owambo as much as I do. I wanted them to see the beauty in everything. I wanted them to be in awe of this part of THEIR Namibia. But above all I wanted them to say the four little words: WE WILL BE BACK. 

Our journey started at the open market in Ondangwa where we bought a bag of eembe, a traditional fruity snack, and I taught the girls some phrases in Oshiwambo, such as tangi meme (which means thank you). The next stop was my dad’s village, Olukonda. I was so proud to show them the place with the best sunsets, but also because it was the first place in the north where the missionaries settled. We visited the museum and walked through the first church that was built in the north. To experience something so sacred was the highlight of our first day. 

My homeland was showing off in a big way. Exactly the way I hoped it would. Day two only got better and more fun. The pride I felt when I heard my friends “oohing” and “aahing” at the beautiful scenery, green so soon after the first rains; the way they spoke about how Owamboland reminds them of other parts of Africa. The “oohs” and “aahs” continued when they saw little kids in their school uniforms walking on the side of the roads. Or when we drove over a bridge and rolled down the windows to get a perfect shot of the pans filled with lilies. Listening to them talk about the tall makalani palm trees that are only found in this part of Namibia gave me a warm feeling. 

On day three we all got to experience some places as first-timers, which was exciting for me as well. I visited the colourful Dr Frans Indongo Market with them. Another proud moment for me because we are developing, we are building, we are creating. The market bustles with an energy that reminded me of the downtown Johannesburg bus terminal with minibuses everywhere. Only that here everyone speaks Oshiwambo. For women dressed in their ndelelas, it is a place of business, where people sell goods, make goods, cook food to be sold, or where people like us just stop by to enjoy what is on offer. After a mini photo session with some of the locals we found a nice Otala (place with shade) where we sat down for a break. My friends shared a dumpy (a 660 ml returnable bottle of beer) and discussed the photo shoot. 

In the evening we went to a local bar. On the way, we chatted in the car about how we would only stay for an hour. We stuck to our one-hour rule, because we were the first to arrive. Being us, we wouldn’t let an opportunity or a beautiful sunset go to waste, so we toasted the memories and the success of our trip on the balcony of the snazzy bar. 

We got lost and found our way again. We got bitten by mosquitoes at a beautiful traditional restaurant. All of us ordered traditional food, which we couldn’t finish. Be warned: the people in the north are very generous with food portions. 

When they dropped me off at the airport to continue their journey to the west, I did not have the heart to ask them if they intend to be back. But I saw the sparkle in their eyes at the end of every day when they spoke of my Owamboland, and so I am sure that was their “yes, we’ll be back”.

Owamboland and my father’s hometown, you did not disappoint for a second! Of course we will be back! 

This article was published in the Winter 2018 edition of Travel News Namibia.

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Travel News Namibia
Travel News Namibia
Travel News Namibia is a high-quality glossy Namibia travel and lifestyle magazine tasked with promoting Namibia to the world. With riveting stories, first-hand encounters and magnificent photographs showcasing tourism, travel, nature, adventure and conservation, TNN is the ultimate and most comprehensive guide to exploring Namibia. Travel News Namibia is published in five different editions per year. These include four English- language editions and one German. Travel News Namibia is for sale in Namibia and South Africa.

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