Going back in time a bit, but here’s a little note on “My view from a koppie: Onjuva, Namibia”
20 January 2008

It is sunset time once again. I am perched on a rock, viewing the changing light from the top of the hill near Onjuva Village in the north-west Kunene region of Namibia. The rain is incoming and it is the first time I have had to cover up since I arrived as the temperature this time of year is swelteringly hot. The coolness is a welcome change from the draining, dry heat. I wrap my dust-covered kikoi around my fly-infested shoulders. The sky turns from pinks to moody blues. My eyes struggle to stay open…life has been so fascinating since my arrival two weeks ago, but tiring too. There have been new people, places, concepts, cultures, languages… the list goes on. Working for a non-government organisation supporting local conservancies, I find myself living out in the open bush as one of the field-based staff. A roof of stars houses me each night. I am at peace with the simplistic life as the locals live. The only material possessions I keep are my camera and the odd bits of clothing and literacy which make my life a little easier.

As I take a moment to gaze above at the intimidating clouds, it seems as if one is uncharacteristically green… or lilac. This phenomenon would not surprise me as out here it seems as if anything is possible. Recently I have had the privilege to witness a rainstorm blow in across the mountains of Angola, over the bordering Kunene River and onto the plains of the Marienfluss in the desolate north-western corner of Namibia. The preceding calmness, followed by violent wind and drops of much needed water were all too exciting. As storms are unpredictable, extremely localized and more often than not a non-existence, they are appreciated even more so by the people and the land when they occur. The few drops that fell teasingly kissed the dry earth only to depart too soon, making way for the unforgiving sun once again.

To add to the list of experiences I am working and living with the Herero and Himba communities in this isolated north-western area. These are some of the most patient, humble, peaceful people I have been in contact with. They are furthest from Western societies’ influence out of all the people in Namibia, and it shows in the manner of most of these peoples. Here, traditions and cultures are still intact. I find the ‘harsh conditions’, as would be described by Western standards, in which these people survive to be fascinatingly intoxicating. Life occurs here, as it does everywhere else; but to the untrained eye it is missed. It is through the ‘harshness’ of the environment that appreciation and respect evolve. People abide by the unwritten laws. Communities are small enough for the traditional authorities to receive and dispatch information in order to manage the people.