Katutura or Tura as it is known by the residents, is one of the largest locations in Namibia but for some reason, its lifestyle is often snubbed like a poor relative one tries to avoid.
But Katutura is also a location were everything is at your disposal. For some it is the cradle of opportunity while for others it is simply home, the way it has always been since they were born.
For me personally Katutura is the one place were even the rich can come to escape the everyday realities of life. Tura is that place you can find a bar, a club, a gambling house, a park or a carwash and nobody will judge you or questioned you about your intention of being there.
The people of Katutura make it what it is whether you hate it or love it. There is a place for every individual that walks its streets.
To meet the criteria of living in Katutura, means one must always be street smart, street conscious and street business minded and never be naive as nothing is as it seems. Ostensibly, the location is a blend of different individuals but scratch for its soul and you find an amazing, colourful variety. Its people mix together giving it the familiar aroma of Katutura. Thus when driving through the streets, you notice the overwhelming street markets that always seem to intimidate me even if I don’t buy something. The smell of Kapana fills your nostrils while you exchange a few words with the Tate selling Kapana for ten dollars a bite.
There are open market butcheries, flea market stands and the hooting taxi drivers that are always in a rush. In this din, the consumer brings the final piece of the puzzle, always on the hunt for a bargain, always looking for something to take home to the large family, which is also a Tura hallmark.
The location always seems to be full of life and bursting with energy regardless of the time of day or night. Its vibrant life seems oblivious to the people who try to squeeze in every last minute between the time they come home from work, and late at night when the vendors finally call it quits.
Paradoxically, Katutura is a place of both hope and despair. Young people lament that they are cursed. They cry foul and blame their hopelessness for being unemployed on the government. Meantime, they drink and gamble with their last few dollars. The endless begging of the struggle kids at the robots and the shoot out was also pinned on the government, even after they got given jobs.
But there are those who live a life of hope as they are exposed to the positive side of life in the hood, such as the youth centres and sporting facilities. Some pursue education at one of the many institutions offering some form of education, some legit and some not so legit. This education, even how informal, is the source of hope for many aspiring to a brighter future.
Then there are the dreamers that you meet at random. When you start a conversation with them they tend to tell you the most outrageous stories of what they will do if they were millionaires. They are also known as cheese boys, charming young men who dresses well and speaks properly, relying more on their looks than on their brains. Often, they are the ones that have expensive cars like BMW’s and Mercedes Benzes parked in front of their shacks yet they sleep on foam mattresses without blankets on the ground.
Katutura also has the ghetto drama queens, young women who are obsessed with their hair, make-up , nails and the latest fashion trends. These women tend to live for appearances even if their own bellies are churning from hunger. They are the ones who always ask for lunch and try to con men for a few dollars. They are the “gold diggers”. And if you are lucky and observant you might even catch a glimpse of a Lanie (a white man) going about his business, seemingly comfortable being part of a very small minority of whites who live in Tura.
Over weekends, Tura exudes its own magic with over-the-top jukebox music booming from every second house or shack with a bar or a shebeen. As the night grows the alcohol flows, and fights break out. Whether it is old beef or egos that need fixing, men fighting men over girls and girls fighting girls over men, is part of the tapestry.
Those Windhoekers living in the suburbs do not have the slightest idea of what I just described. For them, Katutura is on another planet. But if you are looking for an exhilarating experience this weekend, go to the “other” side of town, to the location, and go meet its people. Yes, indeed Katutura is a place called home for the individuals that rest their heads there. For the rest, put your heads in the sand and pretend not to know about the other side of Windhoek. But you are missing out on great fun.