By Sven-Eric Kanzler
Sagarias Swartbooi is the first to notice them – the motionless mountain zebra on the steep escarpment opposite us. “The most prominent difference between Hartmann’s mountain zebra and Burchell’s is the markings,” he explains. “Hartmann’s mountain zebra, for instance, wears striped pants down to the hooves, while the Burchell’s zebra has hardly any markings on its lower legs at all.”
Swartbooi guides us through the Naukluft mountains on foot. He was recommended to us by our Naukluft Experience hosts, the owners of the Ababis and BüllsPort guest farms, who work jointly towards more effective marketing of the Naukluft area.
Among other things, they hope to improve the living conditions of the small Nama community Nabasib, 15 km south of BüllsPort. The community of about 200 people is poverty-stricken. Due to a lack of employment, there are hardly any prospects for the future. To help change this, the guest farms and the community have formed the Naukluft Foundation. Ten dollars of every bed booked on any of the three guest farms goes to the Foundation.
With the help of the Foundation, the young Nama Sagarias Swartbooi was able to complete the Levels I & II courses offered by NATH to become an officially recognised tour guide. Visitors who want to learn more about the fauna and flora of Naukluft and the Nama culture during their day trips can book Swartbooi through one of the guest farms.
Elfriede Plaatjies was granted the same training. She is the community representative and teacher at the Nabasib Primary School. Her task is to start training more young people in tourism-related activities. In addition members of the community are to be trained in dry-wall construction, which will allow for the construction of solid low-cost housing at the village and the stabilisation of roads on the surrounding farms. Long-term plans include the construction of a campsite and backpackers lodge at Nabasib.
The Foundation also supports the Nabasib school choir and dance group by providing material for the Nabasib women to make the waistcoats and traditional dresses with white aprons. The first appearance of the choir and dance group was at the official inauguration of Naukluft Experience at the end of February. In future they are to appear at functions and in this way help support their community financially.
The Foundation also supplies raw materials for the production of crafts. Moses !Haubab and Petrus Swartbooi produce small tortoises, geckos, windmills and mobiles from silver wire, pearls and papier mâché. The attractive souvenirs are on sale at the guest farms.
This article appeared in the April ‘05 edition of Travel News Namibia.