"Visiting Mondesa, a black township near Swakopmund" Top 5 Page for this destination Namibia Travelogue by 850prc

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Making new friends a world apart from home

We spent about six hours touring the Swakopmund black township of Mondesa, and visiting with her people.

We were treated with great kindness and interest, and had a wonderful time learning about life in the black townshiops of Southern Africa.

My daughter always loves meeting kids on our travels. In the accompanying photo, Sara poses with Fenny Matsui, a young Namibian girl who, along with some friends and neighbors, had just put on a demonstration of tribal dance for our entertainment. This was a "private" performance, and was held in an alley of Mondesa. Part of the township tour is that they assemble some of the locals to give you a demonstration of music and dance following your Ovambo hut meal. Very enteraining stuff, and I still get a huge kick out of watching the video we made. Such high energy!


Located all over Mondesa, as well as other black townships in Namibia and South Africa, shebeens are unlicensed local taverns. Some are docile, others quite dangerous. And, I'd recommend that NO foreigners visit one without being accompanied by a local, a friend or someone knowledgeable of the area.

The fellow in this photo was kind enough to pose, striking a nifty revolutionary stance for my camera. In reality, the young fellow was actually quite drunk, and spent most of the time that I was present hanging onto me and telling me how glad they were that I had visited. My visit was over a year ago, so hopefully the gent has sobered up. : )

Ready for dinner at an Ovambo Hut

In Mondesa, dinner was prepared and served in a traditional Ovambo Hut. The cuisine was, with one exception, completely authentic native cooking. Among the items we consumed were a kind of wild spinach, some nuts that we much like dates, a form of what we southerners would consider "black eyed peas" and a flat bread. Almost without exception, I found it to be terribly UNDERseasoned. I guess I've become quite fixated on my home spice cabinet. : )

We were also served a native "beer", made from various local grains. It was weaker and far less stout than the Germanic brews available throughout most of Namibia.

Another item served were fried mapano worms. These caterpillar-like worms are deep fried in butter and garlic. I can't describe them as overly tasty, but I did manage to eat a couple. BTW, you may notice the grim expression on my daughter's face in this photo. She knew that they were going to cook some worms and she didn't want to eat them. We'd assured her that she could decline, but at this point I don't think she believed us.

I did mention that one non-native item was served, probably for the benefit of our western palates. A lovely barbecued chicken, quite spicy I might add, was served. It was, not surprisingly, our favorite dish that evening.

Hans' house

We visited a fellow named Hans in Mondesa. He's a local artist, and is very partial to bright colors and designs. He, among other things, makes beautiful hand-painted t-shirts depicting the animals and scenery of Namibia. (See below for a photo of my daughter's purchase)

Hans' family made mint tea for us, and we had a nice 45 minute visit in his living room. Hans is also a music fan, and it turns out that he and I are both HUGE Bob Marley fans. (My favorite album by Marley is "Kaya", in case anyone would like to know.)

There's a Bob Marley song that goes "is this love that I'm feeling?" Well, while we were visiting Hans, and in fact everywhere we traveled in Mondesa, I had the distinct feeling that the locals literally loved having visitors from afar. Very, very charming people. : )

Sara's colorful t-shirt, painted by Hans

As mentioned above, Hans the artists specializes in colorfully hand painted t-shirts. My daughter Sara found one that she really liked and we made the purchase. If I remember, it cost about $10 US.

Sara still wears the t-shirt two years later, and the designs are as bright as the day we bought it. Apparently artist Hans markets a quality product. : )

Very, very kind people

Here is another photo of some Mondesa residents. These folks had assembled after our meal, in anticipation of the young girls' planned folk dancing.

As everywhere we traveled, the locals were friendly and most honored that we'd chosen to visit. In truth, the honor belonged to us, as we got to enjoy an evening with these kind and gentle people.

Naftalene, a grand dame of Mondesa

The lovely and regal lady pictured here is Naftalene. She is dressed in the traditional Herero dress and headpiece. The headpiece is designed to look like the horns of cattle, which are greatly prized by the Herero tribe.

Naftalene welcomed us into her home and spoke for approximately 30 minutes about her people and their culture. We were privileged to engage in a running dialogue with her about the many items confronting the Herero in the 21st century. All in all, she was a most gracious and classy lady.

Meet the Beatle

OK, it's a play on words. All fans of the Beatles know that the first fab four album marketed in the USA was called "Meet the Beatles". This fellow pictured with me goes by the moniker "Beatle". And, he chose it because of his affinity for John, Paul, George and Ringo. Beatle was our guide and driver throughout our afternoon and evening in Mondesa. In the photo, we're shaking hands in the Ovambo hut after dinner.

Beatle was another of the kind and friendly souls that we encountered and enjoyed on our evening in Mondesa. I get the feeling that he'd work "Eight Days a Week" making visitors feel at home in his corner of Namibia. As for any more Beatles innuendo, perhaps I should "Let it Be?"

Help! : )

  • Page Updated Dec 19, 2004
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