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Names and places November 6, 2006

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Namibia, Peculiarities.
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‘Ok, so when you’re on Nelson Mandela, go along to Sam Nujoma and take it right over the hill, until you hit Robert Mugabe. Then turn down Fidel Castro on the left.’

No, this isn’t some weird game played at the Zimbabwean Embassy, or the startings of a political coup. It is in fact directions to a braai at someone’s house. On my arrival, I was surprised at the often bizarre names given to the streets in this city. Only when I was giving these directions to someone did I realised that these names have become as familiar as Oxford St and the Strand, Cockburn St and Buccleuch Place. The only way to get around the city is by car, and since I do not own one, I am reliant on friends or taxis, which seem to take a different route each time you want to go somewhere. But it is a small city and I think I am getting to grips with the different neighbourhoods, even if just by street names. If it’s girls’ names, like Annastrasse, Mariastrasse or Dorothystrasse, I know I’m near home in Ludwigsdorf. If it’s mountains, like Drakensburg St or Everest St, you’re in Eros. Einstein, Edison and Bell St means you’re in Southern Industrial. The composers, like Bach, Mozart and Schultz, are found over in Windhoek West, whilst Socrates, Descartes and Voltaire can all be found in the aptly named Academia. Dorado Park has constellations and galaxies, Hochland Park has birds, and Olympia has an odd mix of different sorts of antelope (and there are a lot) and sports (never though I’d see a Netball St).

But it is the ‘great’ dictators and leaders that get pride of place. I proudly live closest to Nelson Mandela, and cruise down Mahatma Gandhi on my way to the pool, but it is Mugabe and Nujoma that get the longest streets in town. Many of the cities names have been replaced since Independence, but there are still a few Afrikaaner/German names floating around, especially those ending in ‘straat’ or ‘strasse’. And just to fill you in, Sam Nujoma was the first president of Namibia after Independence, just 16 years ago, and only stepped down to the current president, Hilfiyeke Pohamba, last year. Feelings are very mixed about the man that brought this nation into Independence, and people here are incredibly patriotic; but there are differing opinions which I will not go into until I have learnt more about it. Also apparently he has spies, and I fear that I could ‘disappear’ for disrespecting him in my blog.

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