Southern Africa II: Namibian village

Jul 1st, 2005, 03:44 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 81
Southern Africa II: Namibian village

One of the optional activities available to us at Chobe Safari Lodge was to visit a Namibian village, which I opted to do. We went by boat. First stop, the immigration office of Botswana. As we approached the dock, two boats rocked gently, each with people inside; there were women mostly, some with babies wrapped on their backs. They are teachers who each week come to get their pay checks and do their shopping in Botswana. They then load all their goods in these small boats and return to Impalile Island. We climbed out and trudged the minor incline up to the tired, worn cement building of the immigration office, got our tired passports stamped, and then trudged back down to our boat, dust swirling in and over us. We then continued on up the river to the island, and walked a few meters to the immigration office. Inside (no photos allowed) we handed our passports, one at a time, to our guide, who then handed the passport to the official behind the counter. Once outside again, we were led by our guide to a young man named Nevin, who took over our group for the village tour. Nevin lives on the island and knows it intimately and loves it. We trudged--I use this word because in that heat, in that dust, and as tired as we all were, that is about all we could do. I was in the grip of a terrible cold to add to my discomfort. Nevin's father was a traditional medicine man who taught Nevin everything about all the plants and trees and what cured which illness or problem. It was fascinating to listen to. After a 20 minute walk, we reached the edge of the village. There, in the center, stood the biggest baobab tree I have ever seen. Small children stood in the shadow of another tree and watched us with curiosity. Nevin had given us each a small baggie of candy to be handed out judiciously. He advised that we be careful not to give candy repeatedly to the same children. Not even Solomon would have been wise enough to figure out who had not yet received candy, and it quickly became clear that when it comes to candy, Darwin rules. Only those quick enough to hide their first piece (where is anyone's guess because clothing was skimpy) and to get to the next adult with outstretched hand were able to accumulate more than one piece. The village is quite simple. And we learned that there are men who, for pay, will build your hut for you and its courtyard with a reed privacy fence. We went into one such yard. There, crouched on the packed earth, was a young mother next to a large tin tub, trying to convince her very dirty 3 year old that he really did want a bath. Our arrival gave the little guy the out he so badly wanted, and he darted to the oppositie side of the courtyard, dressed only in his tiny navy blue briefs. Adjacent to the house was a rudimentary shower, altho how it worked I could not figure out. Inside the house, dark due to no electricity, I was surprised to find two love seats; a gas stove in the far corner; some stand alone cabinet type structure. The gas stove was a puzzle to me, but it sat in a dignified manner in the corner with a tea kettle on one burner. The bedroom had 4 beds. The room may have been 10 x 10, and was dark. I cannot imagine the heavy work required to load this stuff onto a small boat, get it to the island, unload it, and somehow get it up to the house. But a gas stove? Some interesting facts re life here: around the age of 10, girls must move into the courtyard. At puberty, they must leave the house all together, and get their own, usually built by their brothers. The village no longer has arranged marriages, but the process of getting engaged must be done through the prospective groom's uncle. To approach his father would be the height of disrespect. Down the line, should a wife become problematic, the husband's uncle gets involved and tries to work things out via the wife's family. If nothing works, she returns to the family and her dowry is returned. If the husband is a problem, Uncle gets back to work. If that doesn't settle things, then the wife can return home and be free to marry again.
Eventually our guide, Nevin, said that "time was jealous of us" and we had to return because the Botswana immigration office would soon be closing. As we walked away, he showed us several water spigots, gift of a nearby lodge. Up until recently, children had been sent to the river for water whenever it was needed. So very many children were taken by crocodiles, that the lodge stepped in and donated the spigots which are located throughout the village. Now water can be fetched conveniently, heated, etc.
In addition to the traditional doctors, the village has its witch doctors, and Nevin had the hair on our necks standing with his story of how a witch doctor takes care of those he doesn't like. And if that person appears to the witchdoctor after his unfortunate demise, he can do so with a knife, or whatever. Then the witch doctor must heal himself and free himself of this visitor. To do that he must first get a black chicken. Not brown, not part brown, but all black. If none is in his village, he must go from village to village until one is found. He must then hold this black chicken at each end and kill it by tearing its neck with his teeth. The rest of the ritual doesn't get any prettier, and I think it would be not far wrong to say that the prospect of being cursed by a witchdoctor is a strong motive for behaving. Of course, if he just plain takes a disliking to you, then you are in trouble no matter how good you have tried to be. Hearing this account from Nevin was the only time I shivered in the unrelenting heat of this dust cursed island.
We returned to Chobe quietly, ate later on in the evening, and returned to our rooms to pack. On our way to the "ferry" the next day we passed through the little town of Chobe, and saw, scrabbling alongside the road, a very black chicken. Only one....but that is all a good witch doctor needs, right?
birder57 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2005, 03:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,218
May I suggest posting each segment of your report as a reply to the original thread? That way they will always stay together as a cohesive report which will make it easier for people to find and read them in order?
Kavey is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2005, 07:32 PM
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what other options were availabe to you at chobe? this does not sound too thrilling
Jul 3rd, 2005, 11:55 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 81
There are a number of activities available at Chobe. All of us preferred the game drives for the most part. In fact, three decided to take an all day game drive. At the lodge there is an office where you can go to sign up for whatever activities are available. I wanted to do the flight over the Okavango, but because water levels were so low, the flights had been suspended. Day trips to Victoria Falls were available--but beyond that, I do not remember since I wasn't interested in the rest. I seem to recall seeing something about white water rafting, but am not sure if I really did. I believe river cruises were available also. I chose to visit the Namibian village because global studies is taught to our kids at school, and I wanted to share that cultural experience with them. I think if you go to the Chobe Safari Lodge website, you may find a link to activities that are offered. You can email them with any questions, and someone will respond quickly.
birder57 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 04:18 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 56

Sorry to drag up such an old post (by this site's standards) but I'm just catching up now. I read your other report too which focused more on the game drives. Thanks for posting a report!

I actually found the same village tour with Niven a year ago quite interesting and it sounds like you did too but I suppose to each his own. Others can always do some of the other options or stick to all day game drives.

Just a couple of questions since you mentioned water levels at Chobe. Were you able to see Sedudu Island out there? It was flooded over almost entirely when we were there. The elephants didn't bother crossing to it because there was nowhere to get to! How tall were the grasses? Because of all the heavy rains a year ago the grasses somewhat limited our viewing although we were still very pleased with what we did see. And how crowded was Chobe Safari Lodge? I still dream of taking my family back there once the little one(s) can appreciate it. Or walk for that matter!
jeorgiagirl is offline  

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