Offbeat – 10 May 2013
We could solve all the nationality issues with a couple of speed bumps, especially in front of my house, so I could go out in the mornings and amuse myself by watching the boy racer become one with the birds, and the pilots at the airport, as his turbo-charged bike launches him into the air.
We have two types of people in my neighbourhood, generally speaking. They are Namibians and Angolans. They are different from one another, at least I think so, listening to what one person says, that the Angolans drive like maniacs. If it is normal for an Angolan to drive like a maniac, then they probably have something to say about the way Namibians drive, probably that Namibians drive like arthritic tortoises. I don’t know. I can’t understand Portuguese.
This leads me to the question of whether or not the local black taxi drivers are all Angolans, because most of those taxi drivers drive like they learned their trade from Grand Theft Auto, except when they park in the middle of stop streets to discuss with their fares where they are going to go and the weather and all of that.
It also leads to confusion about the boy racer who goes from zero to 120, in the 40 metres from the top of the hill to the gate in front of my house. For those of you who are not from here, ‘Namibian’ is code for darker pigmentation, which leads to yet more confusion. The boy racer is obviously not Angolan because he was here before the Angolans started moving in, I feel like a Namibian because I was born in Namibia although I don’t have darker pigmentation, and the Angolans in my neighbourhood must all be ‘Namibian’ because they have darker pigmentation.
Perhaps we can take some meaningful steps towards clearing up the confusion by saying we are all neighbours, but allow me to say that I am Namibian because although I have only achieved my milky, coffee-coloured skin from years of sunburn, my heart is as darkly pigmented as any ‘Namibian’s’, not that hearts have pigmentation.
We could solve all the nationality issues with a couple of speed bumps, especially in front of my house, so I could go out in the mornings and amuse myself by watching the boy racer become one with the birds, and the pilots at the airport, as his turbo-charged bike launches him into the air. If we could also have a traffic officer at the stop sign to deal with the taxis collecting their fares, that would be nice as well. Otherwise, just give me the ticket book and I will fine them myself in the spirit of volunteerism, and aggravation. Don’t bother telling me what the fine is. I’ll make it up by adding zeroes after the number nine.
With the simple step of installing a couple of speed bumps, we could all become true neighbours, and leave the questions of nationality, borders and language to people who care about that sort of stuff: Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and possibly some Portuguese language teachers, not that I know any.
The funny thing about the Namibians and Angolans is that they both go to the same bar, drink the same beer, watch the same football and music videos, and play on the same pool table. The television is free, but maybe Foreign Affairs could subsidise the beer and pool, and maybe English or Portuguese lessons in the bar, instead of spending money on formal diplomacy. Home Affairs could also have someone come sit there with forms and a stamp.
I also notice that many Angolans walk to the shop, just like Namibians, my sunburned-self included, instead of driving like maniacs. Perhaps we could also have a pedestrian bridge for the river, in the rainy season. I don’t think anyone, Namibian or Angolan, likes the slippery stones, and the water smells like the sort of squelchy stuff you scrape off your shoes in disgust.
I walk though my neighbourhood a couple of times every week. I look in wonder. Even the very old ‘non-Namibian’ lady who is actually Namibian potters around without concern. Anywhere else and she would be behind high walls with armed response signs, barbed wire and electric fences. She is part of the neighbourhood, and we have peace.
The whole thing of nations and borders boils down to driving and language. Nothing else seems important. I am sure there are other places like this place. Perhaps we could all learn from them.