Many of my German/Namibian friends, whose families have been living here for generations, like my friend Stephan Redecker, who took the beautiful pictures grew up with their parents and learned German at home, while English was taught in school and Afrikaans on the street. However, Afrikaans was a very difficult language for me to learn. Despite the very simple grammar, it was not easy to master. There is not a lot of help to expect from the “Afrikaners”, who being very proud of their fascinating language and heritage, somehow seem to think that Afrikaans should be a mandatory first foreign language in schools everywhere. I had to swallow my pride a few times when people would burst out in laughter at my clumsy first attempts mastering this highly expressive language. But once equipped with some basics, the language opened doors and hearts, and a very unique sense of humor that comes along with it, such as:
“Ons sal ‘n plan maak”
Truth be told: despite its relatively stable and well developed infrastructure compared to other African countries, working in the supply chain in Namibia, at times require nerves made of steel. Over the years I learned that trying to control things with the ‘German way’ won’t help the situation and will clash with the sometimes laid back Namibian attitude, at a time of crisis and urgency. What I appreciate is the pragmatic “we will make a plan” approach - whether it is the forgotten work permit for the technical expert from Germany, that was magically produced the evening before he landed, or finding a solution for the derailed malt containers stranded in the desert, or fixing the power supply of a broken water treatment plant by borrowing the one from the neighbor, Namibians will work together to find a solution.
(We will make a plan)