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This Week in The Khuta – Pocketful of Emptiness

Greetings to all the respectable readers of the Economist. It is good to be back after a long period of vacation characterised by all forms of merriment. I’m sure most of us had the opportunity to spend time with loved ones which is a way to recoup after a long year of drudgery. Looking back at 2012 there were definitely enough fears to warrant “the end of the world” prophecy. But alas it’s January 2013 and we all look hopefully to what this year has in store for all of us. I for one am excited but BROKE.

Yes it is true. I fell into the trap that most of us often do and now micro-lenders are looking quite attractive. Let me rewind a bit to the events of December 16th when I had a conversation with a taxi driver who at the time seemed selfish and inconsiderate. After the simple pleasantries that we exchanged as I got into his taxi, I asked him how he was going to spend his holiday. He looked at me and said he’ll be spending his time in Windhoek. He could not afford to travel home as he had to save up for the usual expenses of the first few months of the following year (2013). He further explained that going home meant he would have to spend most of the money he had earned on cows, goats and all sorts of presents for relatives he didn’t really care for. “I would rather send some money home and spend this holiday making more money. Windhoek is getting expensive” he uttered.
I remember brushing him off as someone who hadn’t had a chance to get into the full Christmas spirit. Now that the new year is here, I cannot help but think that he was right. The taxi driver didn’t fall prey to the world’s game of spending. In fact, I dare say he was realistic about his finances. As for the rest of us, am not so sure. Our whimsical spending during the months of November and December is rewarded with increased prices of food, water and basic utilities in 2013. The amount of bills we have to pay seem excessive and the more I look around the more I realise am not alone. Society is already starting to feel the strain of the financial pull and I bet the banks will record a new record high of loan applications.
I personally blame the pressures placed upon us by a culture that make us feel that holiday season is meant for spending and all forms of cavorting. Additionally, I find it insensitive that no one is talking about the consistent depreciation of our Namibia dollar coupled with the rising prices of almost everything. Am I the only one who’s realised even N$300 gets you very little at stores where you used to be able to walk away with a month’s grocery? The “tolerable levels of inflation” spoken off by the Bank of Namibia is unfortunately intolerable for most of us. In fact those values may be a bit suspect. I hope 2013 doesn’t turn out to be a further squeeze on our pockets but if it does I have a message for all. Walk to work or school, eat canned food and switch off your phone during holiday seasons. Basically, plan for the worst. You have been warmed.

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