My Road Trip to Angola was Amazing

Angola is my third favorite country in Africa for various reasons. I was born in exile Angola, in a SWAPO refugee camp in Kwanza-Sul, during Namibia’s struggle for independence from the South African apartheid regime. I have fond memories of Angola from an early age of 10 when I left in June 1989 to go to Namibia after the war ended. Despite the war that my freedom fighter parents were fighting under SWAPO, my life in Angola was one of peace, joy, happiness and freedom. I felt so protected by SWAPO and the Angolan government that I had no worries or fears. All my basic needs such as shelter, food and clothing were provided for free. Life in Angola was great to me. It was the only life I knew and the first year In Namibia was not a happy one. I missed Angola and all my friends that I grew up with. Namibia seemed very strange. At one point, I wished that SWAPO would lose the election so that we could go back home to Angola to continue fighting the Boers…. Of course, that didn’t happen. SWAPO won and my parents and all exiled Namibians were happy to be back. I never got a chance to go back to Angola since I left in June 1989 but it has always been my dream to go back and visit my country of birth.

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Early March 2017 while visiting the northern part of Namibia (Owamboland where my Oshiwambo culture and family originates from), I decided to take a quick trip Angola just to see how she looks like. I was required to get a yellow fever vaccination to travel into Angola. I wanted to see everything so flying to Angola was out of question as I wouldn’t be able to see much and I didn’t have a lot of time to tour the whole country. So, I decided to either drive or take the bus. A friend told me about a luxury and affordable bus that leaves from Namibia to Angola called Macon. Before I could settle for Macon bus I decided to do a bit of research two days before my scheduled trip into Angola. Just to prepare myself for the trip, I visited the Macon bus station on the border of Namibia and Angola in Oshikango/Santa Clara. Before I could enter the Santa Clara (Angola side of the border), I had to fill in my immigration papers with the Namibian immigration officials. I was traveling on my Namibian passport so I didn’t need a visa to go to Angola. Namibia is one of the few countries in the world who don’t require a visa to visit Angola. Our car didn’t obtain clearance to go into Angola before so I had to cross the border on foot which was just a matter of going to the other side of the gate which is kept open during normal business hours. It is very close and easy border to cross. You just basically walk through with no questions asked until you get to the Angolan Immigration counter didn’t look very secure. From what I witnessed, anyone could easily cross into Angola without proper documentation but you will probably get caught eventually while in Angola because they have a lot of road blocks where they check for IDs. But I heard one can easily bribe the officers and still make it through the road blocks without proper documentation. I would advise against entering Angola and any country without a visa and proper documentation.

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Nonetheless, the Namibian side of the border (Oshikango) was very clean, very organized and orderly. I expected the same for the Angolan side (Santa Clara). As soon as we passed the Namibian side of the border, gang looking Angolans started hustling us. They offered to help us pass by immigration faster, they asked to exchange our money into Kwanza (Angolan currently). Some people were selling food and drinks in the open along the way to the immigration counter. It was a mess, compared to what we were accustomed to when we travel. But then again, this was my first time crossing any country border so maybe this is the norm but I doubt it…. When I got to the Angolan immigration counter, I saw people just passing through without their papers checked. I supposed the officials, somehow, knew who was a regular and who was visiting for the first time because my brother and I tried to just call through and they stopped us and we asked how come others could just pass through without being checked. Language was a problem at Immigration as they only spoke Portuguese and we only spoke Oshiwambo and English. Luckily, some of the Angolans speak Oshiwambo so they could translate to the officers. Soon after, we got our Namibian passports stamped and went through….

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The reality of life in Angola hit us once again the moment we walked out of the immigration building. We were hustled right away again by gang looking youths who wanted to exchange our money into kwanza. They didn’t take no for an answer, they keep following us and when they stop, the next person carries on. I feared being robbed. Good thing I was with my brother and I didn’t go alone to check out the situation on the Angolan side of the border. I would have been terrified if I had gone alone. I wouldn’t advise any non-Angolans, females especially, to cross the border on foot alone. It’s just too messy. And to make matters worse, there’s no taxi service near the immigration building. We had to walk to the Macon bus stop which was quite a walk. We were offered a ride on one of those motor taxis who look so unsafe and they don’t provide helmets for passengers and the driver is not wearing a helmet either. Those motor taxis only take one person at a time so my brother and I would have been separated which was not an option at this point. So, we walked to Macon bus stop.

Besides being hustled all the way to our destination, our next shocker was the uncleanliness of Angola. We have already heard tales of how Angola is dirty and how Angolans are not very clean people from those who have interacted with them in Namibia and those who have visited Angola. I just didn’t believe it was this bad. Compared to the Namibia side of the border, Santa Clara was very dirty. There was trash and dirty running water everywhere. We even saw people standing in very dirty water with their shoes, no shoes and flipflops waiting in line, with no care at all about the unhygienic water. I suppose this is the norm for them and it doesn’t bother them. Now I understood why everyone is required to get yellow fever vaccination before they would be allowed to enter Angola.

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Arriving at the Macon bus station was a relief and a ray of hope for Angola based on what I had seen up to that point. The gated bus station was very clean and had seating area, with phone charging ports and bathrooms and TV in the waiting area. It was also operating orderly and the customer service was superb. I inquired more about their service, the bus schedule, and the cost. They were indeed very reasonable. My trip to Lubango would cost less than US$50. My trip from Lubango to Luanda would cost less than US$100. I had gotten these information on their website which I was able to translate to English right now but I wanted to stop by and see for myself and ask all the necessary questions in person before I decide. I didn’t buy a bus ticket that day as I preferred to buy it at the same time when I leave, just in case I change my point.

We didn’t realize the border closes at 6pm (Angolan time) and 7pm (Namibian time). So, on our way back to Namibia, the border agents in Santa Clara wouldn’t let us through because the border was closed. They told us that the Namibian border was closed too. My brother and I started to panic. There’s no way we could spend the night in Santa Clara. We already didn’t feel safe enough in the town and we didn’t see any hotels while there. The only option would have been to sleep at the Macon bus stop but that was out of the question too. We didn’t know the border closed so early. I wish the immigration officers told us that we only had less than an hour because we told them that we are only going to visit the Macon bus stop and coming right back. To make matters worse, my sister was in the car with two toddlers and she doesn’t drive so it would not be safe for them to sleep on the Namibia side of the border either. We explained this to the immigration officers on the Angolan side and they let us through saying good luck, the Namibian immigration officers may not let you through. Once they let us through, we ran as fast as we could to the Namibian border. Everyone we passed was telling us the border was closed. One or two people told us to go and try to plead our case.

Indeed, the Namibian side of the border was closed too. We found people begging for the immigration officers to open for them so they can get into Namibia. The immigration officers had just closed the gate and were walking away when we got there. We called after them to please come and let us in but they just kept going saying the border is closed. I was so desperate that I was calculating how I’m going to jump the border fence and explain myself later. It wasn’t that high and I was determined that if I try, I would make it over. There was no way I was leaving my four-year son on the other side. Luckily, one of the immigration officers who saw us cross the border into Angola and who was there when we explained that we are coming right back, walked by and we pleaded with her to please help us out. She remembered us and went inside the building. She came back with the supervisor who also remembered seeing us. They eventually let my brother and I to get back into Namibia after hours. God bless their heart. We were so happy to be reunited with our family who were waiting for us in the car. Was it not for the two small children in the car, we would not have been forced to spend the night in Santa Clara. We were told to come back the next day to get our passports stamped so it would show a record of us having returned into the country. We lived to tell this tale and laugh about it. So, I would advise anyone using the border to make sure that they’re back way before 6pm before the border closes. Always ask what time the border closes because the immigration officers will most likely assume that you already know and won’t tell you. The time was written at the entrance somewhere but it is easy to miss if no one points it out.

Two days later, my brother and I decided that we would drive to Angola together as it would be faster than the bus and will provide more convenience and opportunity to sightsee properly along the way from Santa Clara to Lubango and then from Lubango to Luanda and then back. The night before we were supposed to leave, we were driving around in the village where the roads were bumpy and not tarred. This caused the back light of our car to fall off. We didn’t realize this until much later and all the repair shops were closed for the weekend. Our car wouldn’t be cleared to travel into Angola without all the lights working properly. I didn’t want to waste any more time and the uncertainty of having the light fixed on time, so I decided to take Macon bus to Angola.

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On a Sunday morning, my brother escorted me to Macon bus station on foot as we left our car at the Oshikango border. Macon bus does not accept non-Angolan debit or credit cards. So, I went to all ATM machines between the border post and Macon bus stations, about 4 of them, to withdraw money so I can pay the bus but they were all not working. Luckily, I had 2000 kwanzas that I withdrew from one of these ATMs two days ago but I needed 2028 more and the money exchange hustlers could exchange my Namibian dollars into kwanzas. The Namibian dollar is well received in Angola because it is stronger in value. I could get enough kwanzas so I bought my ticket and boarded the Macon to Lubango. The bus was very clean and I had a front seat right behind the drive so I could see everything. The bus also had entertainment (music and movies to watch).

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On my road trip to Angola, the first thing I noticed, other than the dirt and uncleanliness in Santa Clara, is how green the country is. The high way road was also excellent. I didn’t see any potholes until about 127 kilometers from Lubango. The Angolan passenger who sat next to me on my way to Lubango spoke good English so he could give me updates about Angola, economically, politically and culturally. He was also my translator as I didn’t speak Portuguese.

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I arrived in Lubango at night, about 8 hours later since I left Santa Clara. The trip would have been 4-5 hours by car but the bus makes frequent stops. We stopped in every town that we passed. This was a good thing because I got to see all the towns on the way to Lubango and this exactly what I wanted; to see as much of Angola as I possibly could on the road trip. It was great to be back in Lubango. Lubango is the last place I lived in Angola before we left for good to go to Namibia. I lived in the SWAPO camps in Lubango so we didn’t interact with Angolans that much and Angolans were hardly seen in our camps. The Mwila tribe that lived near our SWAPO camps were the only Angolans I was a bit accustomed to but we were discouraged from interacting with them. I believe this was for security reasons. Nonetheless, a friend of my who I had never met but was introduced to me by a close of friend of mine who was her relative came to pick me up from the Macon bus stop. Her name is Mariana and she’s a very beautiful inside-out lady of Namibian origin but was now living in Lubango. Lubango wasn’t much different from all the other Angolan towns we drove by along the way, except that it was a bigger town. When I got to my friend’s house, they were having a birthday party so it worked out great for me because I love to party. The Angolan music of kizomba, semba, kuduro and tarraxinha was blasting through the speakers, the food was great, plenty of drinks and the vibe was just perfect. I’m a social butterfly so I didn’t waste any time. After I greeted everyone and got a bit settled, I got right on the dance floor and enjoy my first party in Angola. The people there were so wonderful, you would think we knew met before…

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The next day, I went around Lubango. Our transportation was not available so Tatiana and I decided to take public transport… I didn’t want to get on the motor/bike taxi because they seem unsafe. Tatiana and everyone tried to convince me that they were safe but I couldn’t get over my fear of riding on a bike, especially when the passenger and driver didn’t have helmets. Unfortunately, I had no other choice as that was the only form of public transportation readily available and I was told that we were not going too far. So, I hopped on one of those. Boy, was I scared. First, people drive crazy in Lubango, I have noticed. There are no traffic lights so the bike was just maneuvering its way through the streets and crossing the roads was scary for me. I wanted to get to our destination quickly so I get off. I held on tight to the driver and I prayed that my fear wouldn’t distract him because an accident on one of these would be quite serious. I felt irresponsible agreeing to get on one of these. When we got to our destination, I told myself that never again, will I get on a motor taxi. Our destination was Millennium Mall, one of the major malls in Lubango. We went there so I could purchase a sim card or system as they call it for my phone so I can make calls and get on the internet at the local rate. Unfortunately, the Intel phone store there was down so I couldn’t purchase the “system”.

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Tatiana said we must go to another store and that we must get on a motor taxi. I was like “no way am I getting on those again. I have a 4 year child who needs his mommy…. I can’t be this careless with my life…” I asked if we could just call a private taxi. Public taxis are the minivan that looked just as unsafe and overcrowded as you’re in there with a lot of other people. I have seen those mini vans drop off people while still moving and people getting on them while they were still moving and the door was still open. So, we called a private taxi where it will just be me and Tatiana. However, it was going to take a long time and it is much more expensive. We waited for a while and eventually I got tired of waiting and asked Tatiana if the store is within walking distance. It was about 10 minutes away so we walked to another Intel store and on the way, I got a chance to sightsee Lubango. It was beautiful, although unclean with trash and dirty running water, just like everywhere else I have been to Angola thus far. Unfortunately, that cell phone store’s system was down too. We went to another one and same thing. I ended up not getting a sim card and I had to roam as I got tired of asking to use other people’s phones to contact my family and son in Namibia. I was roaming on my USA contract number and my bill for two days of roaming came to about US$250. Bummer! But I had peace speaking to my son and making him feel like I was close and that he was fine. I couldn’t take him to Angola because he was too young for the road trip and I didn’t have a visa for him. I also didn’t know how Angola was so I didn’t want to take that chance with him.

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Tatiana and I walked around downtown Lubango which was walking distance from where I was staying. The foot tour was fun but my face felt dirty from all the street dust and dirt. I quickly washed it when I got home as it was the most uncomfortable feeling. My face is very sensitive to dirt and I felt the same way I feel when I’m a room full of smokers. Nonetheless, Lubango was wonderful and the people I was with were wonderful and made me feel so welcome. I went on another tour of Lubango the next time by car this time. We went to see mountain Tundavala, Jesus Christ Statue and I got a chance to see more of Lubango. I couldn’t make it to the snake looking road because it was just too scary for me.

A few days later, I left Lubango with Macon bus for Luanda, the capital city of Angola. I wanted to stop by in Lobito as I lived there for a few months when I was 7 years old and had fond memories of the seaside town where I stayed right by the beach. I was running out of time and couldn’t stop by in Lobito so I went straight to Angola. The road to Angola was bumpy with a lot of potholes. Thank God I was in a huge bus and felt safe from accidents. I was so glad that I didn’t drive with my brother because the roads were so rough. Our car would have broken down and we would have been more prone to accidents. It would have been very unsafe for us, especially if we broke down in the middle of nowhere…. I believe God caused that light to fall off to protect us… Nonetheless, the trip to Luanda was fun. Again, I was lucky enough to sit in the front row, right behind the driver. I asked to swap a sit with someone on the bus because it was my first time in Angola and I wanted to see everything. They understood that I was a tourist and were very accommodating…. One of the things that stuck out for me during this road trip was the Unita place that I passed one time with a SWAPO convoy and feared for my life. This place is where a lot of Unita rebels used to hide out in a ditch nearby and ambush oncoming cars, mostly Angolan cars. SWAPO convoy was safe as it was guarded by SWAPO soldiers so Angola civilians used to join the convoy so they can safely cross this point during the war.  However, I saw dead bodies for the first time when I pass by there at the age of 6. I could never forget the sight of Angolan civilian cars burning with bodies inside the cars and on the ground with their legs sticking out. This was when there was civil war in Angola between the MPLA and Unite forces. So, it was quite amazing driving there again. This time it was a peaceful sight because the civil war ended when Savimbi, the leader of Unita was killed a few years ago.

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I also drove passed Sumbe the capital city of Kwanza-Sul the province in which I was born. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to go around Kwanza-Sul as my destination was Lubango but I intend to make another trip with more time to visit Kwanza-Sul. We eventually arrived in Luanda and I fell in love with Luanda once more. The city is surrounded by the beach and I’m one of those people who loves the beach and just being around the water. The city may not be as clean but it sure is beautiful and bustling with energy. One of my friends, Cafala, picked me up from the bus station and took me around Luanda. I spent the night at my cousin Martha’s place who lives in Luanda. It was nice seeing everyone. The next day I went on another beautiful tour of Luanda and spent some time at Miami Beach, one of the popular beaches in Luanda.

My time in Angola was short and went by very fast. Four days later, I returned to Namibia. The plan was to fly back as I didn’t need to take the long bus ride back anymore, now that I have seen everything that I needed to see. I went to buy a plane ticket but they were sold out and the next one available wasn’t leaving until two days later. The plane ticket to Ondjiva, the Angolan town closest to the Namibian border, the town after Santa Clara, was about 35,000 kwanzas. The bus would get me there sooner and at only 14,000 kwanzas. So, I decided to take the bus back. It was a long trip but well worth every time spent. I had an amazing time in Angola and I’m happy to finally say that I have been back to Angola since I left in 1989. I will be back again soon and with more time. The purpose of this trip was just to see Angola and reintroduce myself to my country of birth. My goal was accomplished and I have memories to last me until I visit again.

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With love from Namibia – Land of the Brave

Greetings from Southern Africa, Namibia to be exact! I’m on a 5-week vacation, visiting three beautiful Southern African countries; Angola, South Africa and Namibia.The beauty of being a Health Promotion Management Consultant  and running your own business is that you have the flexibility of being able to pick up and go on vacation whenever you want to, for as long as you need to, without seeking the “time off work” approval by anyone, and while still having the flexibility and option to do a bit of work while on travel… I suppose it’s more accurate to say that I’m on a business and pleasure vacation.

I flew here from Washington, DC Dulles Airport with Ethiopian Airlines. It was my first time flying Ethiopian Airlines since they just introduced a direct route to Namibia (with two quick stops). I enjoyed the 20 hour flight because the service was superb; great movies on my own personal TV, enough leg room, and they fed us a lot, rather too much but who’s complaining, right?!….. I would highly recommend Ethiopian Airlines… If anyone knows someone in management position at Ethiopian Airlines, please have them contact me or please share their contact info….

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Inside Ethiopian Airlines

Moving on…. 12 hours later, we landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, got out of the plane and waited for a about two hours before continuing to our final destination. However, we couldn’t leave the airport. Apparently, it’s hard to get a visa approval to Ethiopia and just about everyone needs a visa (I believe there’s only one or two countries exempt from the visa requirements). Nonetheless, my short stay inside Addis Ababa International Airport was horrible. It has to be the worse airport I have ever been in my life (but then again I have only been in two airports in Africa; Johannesburg/South Africa and Windhoek/Namibia. From the plane, outside the building, the airport looks beautiful. I even thought it looked better than Windhoek/Namibia’s Hosea Kutako International Airport. I was quite impressed. But as soon as I set foot inside the airport, I felt like I was at a village bus stop, some where in the remote areas of Africa. It was hot, over crowded and not welcoming…. I was standing in line for the whole two hours with nowhere to sit. The bathrooms looked small, scary and nasty from outside but they were actually cleaner inside than I expected. Maybe they just got cleaned before I entered since the cleaning lady was still in there. Others have told me that the bathrooms are usually nasty. I guess I was a bit lucky that day. Anyway, that was a bit disappointing considering the fact that Ethiopian Airlines provided top notch service. The airport should match its national airline and upgrade….. Two hours later, I was happy to leave Addis Ababa airport with Ethiopian Airlines. We made a quick stop in Gaborone, Botswana to pick up more passengers before heading to our final destination, Windhoek, Namibia. We didn’t leave the plane this time but I wish we did so I can at least say that I stepped a foot in Botswana since I have never been there before…. 20 hours later after leaving the USA, I arrived in Windhoek, Namibia to the lovely sight of some of my family members….!

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I’m happy to be writing this blog post from one of my favorite travel destinations in the world; the beautiful Namibia!  Namibia is my 2nd home for various reasons. I wasn’t born or raised here but my parents are Namibian. So I make it a point to visit here often, for business and pleasure. It’s good to be back home, surrounded by amazing friends and family , including my 4 year old son, who’s on his second trip to Africa. He came here for the first time when he was only one and loved it. Hopefully he will grow up to be a global trotter like his mommy.

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Recap: Trip to Namibia in 2014; my son’s first trip to Africa at age of 1.

If you have no idea where Namibia is and have never heard of it, do noy despair. You’re not alone. There are a lot of people out there who have never heard of Namibia and have no idea where in the world it is. I live in one of the most international cities in the world, Washington, DC, and I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that I’m the first Namibian they have ever met. 95% of the people I meet in the USA had never met anyone from Namibia. I used to joke around that maybe I should start carrying a petition so people who meet a first Namibian could sign the petition and I will present it to the Namibian government and compensate me for the wonderful job that I’m doing as a non-paid, un-official Namibian Ambassador promoting Namibia to the world… I decided the petition was not necessary; I’m happy to be of service to my country of descent and helping to put her on the world map, in my small but big way….

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The basics… Namibia is pronounced NAH-MEE-BEER, NOT NAMBIA; note that there’s an “i” after the “M.” Sorry, I know you can read and know how to put your letters together but I had to make that clear because that’s what I always hear when I say “Namibia”… People who have never heard of Namibia or been there make it a point to correct me saying…”Oh, you mean NAMBIA”…. And I’m like… “No.. It’s N-A-M-I-B-I-A…. There’s an ‘i’ after ‘m’…”… Now that we have gotten the pronunciation out of the way, here is the fun and cool stuff about Namibia that will make you fall in love with her, like many people do when they are introduced to her.

People think Namibia is a small country just cause they have never heard of her. She’s the 34th largest country in the world at 318,772 mi² / 824,292 square kilometers. she’s 12 times the size of the USA and slightly more than half the size of Alaska. In the general scope of things, the only small thing about Namibia is her population, which estimated at 2.3 million people. She’s a big, under populated country with a GDP per capita of US$6,000 which is quite high at 48% of the world average and therefore it’s considered to be a middle-income country, although there’s a big income disparity among its citizens. The life expectancy of Namibians is 63.88 years. Not too shabby…

Namibia is rich and beautiful country on the southwest part of Africa, with unspoiled, breathtaking landscape, highly protected environment, and wildlife. She’s neighbored by South Africa on the south, Angola on the north, Zambia on the northeast and Botswana on the east. The Atlantic Ocean is on the west. Namibia is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. She produces large quantities of lead, zinc, tin, silver, and tungsten. She’s the world’s fifth largest producer of uranium, is the fourth largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa. She’s also rich in alluvial diamond deposits, a primary source for gem quality diamonds. Namibia has a rich culture from its 13 diverse ethnic groups; The San People (formerly known as the bush people who make up 3% of the population), Owambo (50%), Whites (6%), Damara (7%), Herero (7%), Baster (2%), Nama (5%), Kavango (9%), Colored (this does not mean black people like in America; it basically means mixed-race , 5.5%), Tswanas (0.5%), Himba (0.5%), Caprivian (4%), Topnaars (0.5%).

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Politically, Namibia is a peaceful country with a stable democratic government. It used to be a German colony and then after World War 1 when German lost everything, Namibia was handed to the British who didn’t want to deal with her on that level so she was handed apartheid South Africa, who ruled Namibia under the same apartheid regime that was in Namibia. Namibia and South Africa basically shared the same government and was an un-official province of South Africa from 1918 until the apartheid war ended in 1989. Namibia became independent from South Africa on March 21st, 1990. I’m proud to say that my parents were one of the brave freedom fighters who fled apartheid Namibia to pick up arms and fought to liberate Namibia. Namibia is coined “Land of the Brave” because of brave men and women like my parents who laid their lives down for the freedom that Namibians enjoy today.

Compared to many African countries, Namibia is quite industrialized, with good infrastructure. She is one of Africa’s success stories and is considered to be one of four LEAST corrupt country in Namibia. Most people who visit Namibia often marvel at her beauty, cleanliness, and level of development; citing that they felt like they were in a European country. So tourism wise, Namibia is a paradise and heaven on earth. I always tell people that there’s nothing in the USA that I can’t get in Namibia. The only difference is that life is slower in Namibia, there’s no sense of urgency, customer service sucks (my biggest Namibia pet-peeve; hopefully it has improved since I was last there 3 years ago), the air is fresher, the food it better, even coke/coca-cola tastes 100% better and more authentic (Lord help me, I’m on a coke diet but hopefully I won’t give in…)… Anyway, there’s no better way to introduce you to Namibia than through this amazing video. Check it out:

 

Week 1 – Hello Namibia! I’m back!!!

I spent the first week in Namibia catching up with family. We threw a party party for “sweet mother”, went out partying with some of my cousins, went on a tour of Windhoek, provided some global health fitness travel services, relaxed and enjoyed time with loved ones.

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Windhoek City baby!!! My home in Namibia!
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One of Namibia’s staple foods: Oshifima and Vambo chicken
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YUMMY! My son and I’s favorite items to consume while in Namibia!

 

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I love Windhoek!

First order of the day when you visit Africa is to get your hair done/ braided (styled) perfectly by the local people at an affordable price. Support local business… I got my hair braided by Johanna’s Beauty Salon +264816569253 (Windhoek, Namibia). Johanna has been doing hair since she was 10 years old! Video Music by: TK/Joseph Nashilundo.

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Fun Night out with family

Fun Night, party hopping from Katutura (the Windhoek township area) to Windhoek City Center where we closed off the night at Monaco. #Oshimwenyo (FunLife) with #Family #Monaco #Windhoek #Namibia

And of course, I had to visit Single Quarters for some Kapana. Kapana is Namibia’s delicacy and you can’t come to Namibia and not eat Kapana (barbecue meat prepared the Namibian way)….

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Global Health-Fitness Work in Namibia

I’m passionate about providing health, wellness and fitness services around the world. As a Global Health Fitness Professional with over 15 years experience in the field, I work with the The WellnessPlex Global Health Foundation, where we travel around the world providing free health education, health screenings such as blood pressure, cholesterol, body composition, glucose, and fitness/physical activities, especially in low income communities where there is a great need for such services. Our global health campaign motto is “Know Your Numbers and Move Your Body.” To support our global health campaign, please visit http://www.thewellnessplex.com or email info@thewellnessplex.com / thewellnessplex@gmail.com.

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Providing free health screenings #KnowYourNumbers
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Leading a dance fitness session #MoveYourBody

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Windhoek, Namibia

Windhoek is a beautiful capital city of Namibia. It is considered to be Africa’s cleanest city. See for your self (video below). My tour included a visit to shopping malls, Parliament build and garden, State House, various Hills where you can get a beautiful view of Windhoek, Christ Church, National Museum, Christ Church/Christus Kirche.

Watch my tour of Windhoek City

 

Beautiful Windhoek City (Independence Avenue)

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Magnificent view of Windhoek City from The Hill…..

During my tour of Windhoek, I had an unpleasant experience while admiring the State House. This is what went through my mind soon after the experience….

The Status update I made on my social media profile which received a lot of comments and likes in favor: “Not allowed to take pictures and videos of the State House? What the heck? There are even signs on the big wall-fence saying no photos (videos) allowed…. (Disclaimer: I got the attached image from google)…… I don’t live in Namibia so yesterday I was doing a tour of Windhoek City like a true tourist, appreciating the City. When I got to the front/the main entrance of the State House, far far away from the nearest State House building, I got out of the car about to take pictures and video and the security stopped me saying no pictures and videos allowed. I was confused, like what???…Why??? There are no such restrictions at the White House in America, and even at Buckingham Palace, which is a far bigger deal than the Namibian State House, security wise… The public/visitors can even go inside the White House…. The State House was built with Namibian tax payers money but yet Namibians cannot even take a nice and decent picture of the State House, nor are public visitations allowed? This does not sound right…. Eepangelo nali talepo nawa (in Oshiwambo which means the government should do something about this)…. Or am I missing something???”….

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Namibia’s State House

My favorite part of being in Namibia is that I get to experience life in Windhoek City and life in Katutura, as I have family members who live in both. Katutura is a township in Windhoek. It is Namibia’s version of Soweto in South Africa. Katutura and Soweto basically have the same history of apartheid. Just like Soweto, Katutura is where black Namibians were forced to move to by the apartheid regime during apartheid, far away from Windhoek City where the white Namibians lived. Today, Katutura has a mixture of modern houses and shacks. It’s a people’s place where there’s constant fun and liveliness. People there seem happier, livelier and freer than those who live in big houses in the city, in spite the poverty. I have family who live in Windhoek City and Katutura, however, Katutura is my favorite place to stay and hangout while in Namibia.

Watch my Katutura video here:

 

I also got a chance to visit Hereos Acre in Windhoek a memorial site for Namibia’s hereos who played a big role in liberating Namibia from colonialist and apartheid. I had to pay respect to the fallen heroes of Namibia. Their blood and sweat waters Namibia’s  freedom that we so enjoy today. Their sacrifice for freedom is celebrated every year on the August 26 which is a national holiday.

Watch my visit to Heroes Acre here:

 

Week 2: Visiting South Africa!

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 I had an amazing time in South Africa visiting family and going around Pretoria, Soweto, Johannesburg and Sandton. I have members to cherish for a lifetime and I can’t wait to be back again soon. Be sure to read the South Africa post in my blog. Click here to read all about it.

Week 3: Back in Namibia!

When I got back from visiting family in South Africa, I got put the final touches on organizing my family reunion on my dad’s side. The reunion was a huge success. I got a chance to meet some of my family members for the first time and reconnected with the ones I already knew. I also got a chance to learn more about my beautiful large family. Family is precious and we should cherish each other at every opportunity we get.

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Enjoying a family reunion

After the family Reunion, I traveled to Owamboland (The North) where my family originates from. I’m from the Aawambo tribe and our native langue is Oshiwambo. Nearly all the Oshiwambo speakers in Namibia (50% of the population) travel to the North to visit family. You can’t visit Namibia and not travel to the North (village) to visit family in the village. The trip to the North is always a fun and therapeutic with because of the beautiful Namibian scenery, great company, yummy food and entertaining music.

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Road trip to the North… The scenery!
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The scenery…. Road trip to the North

 

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Beautiful Rainbow in Owamboland (the North)

Video of my road trip to the North:

The northern part of Namibia has towns and villages. The villages are traditional homes and every Oshiwambo family has a traditional home that they go to on a regular basis to retreat, relax, visit family and to celebrate special family events such as weddings. The towns are modern with brick buildings, indoor running water and electricity. The villages on are a different story; visiting a village is almost like going back in time to he 1800s of before that. I get to stay at both modernized and traditional villages on both sides of my family. I chose to show the traditional one cos it’s different. Let’s be proud of where we came from, how far we have come and appreciate it all.

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Inside a village homestead….
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The field..
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Village huts
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Olupalo… A special place for gathering in the village
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Village huts

The village homes are called homesteads and they are surrounded by a fence. Some fences are made of tree logs, wire barbs and bricks. Some villages have brick houses but most of them have huts where people sleep and they don’t have indoor running water/taps and electricity. So villagers have to fetch water from a community tap, the river or the well. Life is very simple in the villages. Most of the stead has a kraal for goats, cows and other domestic animals. The food in the village is organic as families grow and prepare their own food.

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Me pounding omahangu which is made into Oshiwambo staple food, oshifima
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At the village kitchen
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Working in the field…

Unfortunately, most villages don’t have indoor plumbing so one has to go and do their business in the bush (toilet) and take a bath in the tree-log bathroom as shown below.

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Village life: Going to the bush (toilet) to do my business…
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Village life: Taking a bath

I had a great time in the North. I believe this is the most fun I have ever had visiting the village and I will cherish these memories.

Watch my village video below:

 

Week 4: Visit to Angola

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Angola-Namibia border: In Oshikango (Namibia side) crossing into Santa Clara (Angola side)

After my time in the village, I decided to cross the border into Angola and visit the country where I was born. Angola borders Namibia so it was a lot easier and faster for for me to go Angola while in the north via Oshikango/Santa Clara Border. I had a great time in Angola. It was my first time back since I left back in June 1989 after the apartheid war ended. Read more about my trip to Angola here:

Week 5: Farewell….

Oh my way back from the North/Owamboland going back to Namibia to relax and get ready to travel back to the USA, I made a quick pass through Etosha National Park to see the wild life. It was my first time there and wish I had dedicated more time to spend at the park. I only spend an hour there and didn’t get to see all the animals. To see as many animals, you need to go in the morning or early afternoon and spend a whole day there as they close at sunset. It’s preferable the that spend the night there so you can take all the time in the world to enjoy this magnificent Safari.

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Here is my video of Etosha National Park

 

HORRIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE IN NAMIBIA

I mentioned this at the beginning of this blog hoping that it wouldn’t be as bad this time and that there will be noticeable improvement but unfortunately, customer service remains HORRIBLE in Namibia, especially when the customer is black. A day before my depature, a store rep started a fight with me and my sister just because we asked her to assist us in the store…. Watch what transpired at #Safariland in Windhoek …… Namibian companies, please train/re-train your workers on how to deliver exceptional customer service…. Kudos to those who make customer service a priority.

 

Nonetheless…. As you can tell! I had the most amazing 5-week vacation in Southern Africa. Time went by too fast. Usually, I’m ready to get back home to the USA after the 3rd week as by that time, I have seen and done all that I needed to do during my visit. This time it was different. I believe it’s because I was traveling a lot inside and outside Namibia that I didn’t get to do everything I wanted. I didn’t visit Swakopmund, although I have been to Swakopmund before. Swakopmund is a coastal town of Namibia with the beach and the desert. It’s always a great place to visit. Here is a Swakopmund blast from the past:

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Enjoying the beach in Swakopmund, Namibia
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Quadbiking and horse riding in he Namib Desert in Swakopmund, Namibia

Furthermore, I didn’t get to do a full tour of Namibia and I didn’t get to spend as much time with most of my friends as most of my time was dedicated to spending it with family. But, there’s always a next time…. I thank God for traveling mercies and the wonderful time that I had and the people who made it special. Thank you!

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Admiring Air Namibia in the background at Windhoek International Airport
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Boarding Ethiopian Airlines back to Washington, DC via Addis Ababa
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In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Apparently Addis Ababa is Africa’s Capital City….

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Going outside Africa, I was at the nicer part of Addis Ababa Airport – the new airport..
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Touch town Washington, DC, USA! I’m back home!

View all the Pictures here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskScbKnn