I was cooking a big dinner of curry, brown rice, and lentils when Shunying decided she’d take a shower after her long journey and Princess laid down for a nap before dinner. Joanne knocked on the door. She knew it was around dinner time and was preparing to join us.
She was frustrated at her lack of internet access the day before when we landed, and her inability to reach Edwin Tijramba, who had suggested stopping by the day we landed. Joanne looked at the phone Jan Weiss left for us on the counter. “Does anyone know about this phone?” she said while holding it up. Suddenly, the phone began to vibrate in her hand.
“It must be Scobie,” referring to our new friend and driver who took us to the airport, and to go shopping. She handed the phone over to me.
“Hello,” I answered. I was greeted with a different Namibian accent than I knew Scobie to have. The person on the other line who was obviously confused by finding my voice at the other end. I asked him who he was trying to reach. “I am trying to reach Joanne,” I recognized the voice from hearing an audio sample he had sent along with Paula Leitz from her last visit as Edwin – our main contact and narrator for the film. “Is this Edwin?” I asked and proceeded to introduce myself. He told me he was right outside our gate. I told him great, and that Joanne would meet him up there to greet him.
I woke up Princess and told Shunying we had a guest and frantically cleaned up our modest cabin in an attempt for it to appear presentable to visitors. I briefly fretted my appearance before giving that up in favor of the task at hand. Princess emerged, groggy but excited to make Edwin’s acquaintance. Someone texted Maurice, attempting to rouse him from his jet lag nap. Edwin appeared at our door, with a smile on his face at seeing us all the first time.
Edwin receives his gifts of chocolate and coffee. From left to right: Joanne Lisosky, Princess Reese, Edwin Tijramba, Shunying Wang. Photo Credit: Andrea Capere
I awkwardly attempted the customary handshake and introduced myself, and we went down the line. I invited him to stay with us for dinner, and we offered him a glass of Pinotage, a distinctly South African red wine. He took us up on the offer.
Conversation was easy and friendly with Edwin. Having the large amount of background information provided to us by the Leitz’, as well as our extensive research on Namibia and the relationship between PLU, made the evening go smoothly and it began to inform the direction we would take in crafting interview questions and revising our story arc.
Edwin Tijramba and Maurice Byrd shake hands after dinner. Photo Credit: Andrea Capere
The hours passed easily, and soon it was time for us to see what Windhoek at night was like. Shunying tested her phone by calling Scobie, and somehow, Princess found out from him that there was a party that evening – a 1950s party at the Warehouse Theatre, a popular hangout for young Namibians. Scobie said he’d be happy to take us if we were ready in half an hour.
Edwin stayed around while the three of us haphazardly put together “50’s” outfits. When we emerged, Edwin insisted taking a picture with the beautiful young women, and said he’d join us for a short while.
All of us, dressed for a night out. Left to right: Shunying Wang, Andrea Capere, Edwin Tijramba, Princess Reese. Photo Credit: Joanne Lisosky
We strolled up to the gate, where we noticed the dapper young Scobie – dressed in jeans, a blazer, and a scarf.
We arrived at the Warehouse Theatre, a popular lounge and bar with young Namibians. It was 9:00pm local time and the place was packed with bodies. We were surrounded by beautiful, trendy people laughing and greeting one another warmly. This is in stark contrast to where Princess and I hail from where people look through and past you in a crowded room, barely acknowledging others’ existence. I find myself feeling more in touch with humanity and that there are so many of us when I am here.
Scobie De Wet and Shunying Wang having fun at the Warehouse Theatre. Photo Credit: Andrea Capere
We were struck by the friendliness, kindness, and affection that these people expressed to one another and to new friends. The touchiness and familiarity that the locals have with strangers is almost unnerving to a foreigner who might come from a more reserved or individualist society. People are so friendly in fact, that they kept introducing us to more and more people, and asking where we were going next to join us. Windhoek is also a small city in terms of population – about 50% more in terms of population than my hometown, Tacoma, Washington. When they answered a call from a friend inquiring about where they were heading to next and who they were with, they said, “I’m going to Vibe with Scobie and the Americans.” Windhoek is also a very cosmopolitan, international city. Beyond its long history of colonization and numerous indigenous ethnic groups, people from all over visit and move there
Kapana is a spice and a traditional way of preparing beef. In the Township of Katatura, Ovambo men still share pieces of a cow they buy together to grill the meat and sell in the Single Quarter, an open air market. This tradition is seen all around Windhoek. Photo Credit: Andrea Capere
We eventually found ourselves with the assistance of Scobie at a nightclub called Vibe, a two story building with two bars, a dance floor, and pool boasting American hip hop and South African house music. We danced late into the night until we all fell asleep on our feet at about 2:00am. We marveled that locals regularly stay out until 5:00am with no difficulty.
We hugged Scobie goodbye when he dropped us off in Pioneerspark, Windhoek – ready to embrace sleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.