The Freeborn of Namibia

I flew from London to Johannesburg where I slept for a night then on another plane to poetically named Eros airport in Windhoek, Namibia. Each airport landing strip was smaller than the previous. I felt like a stone skimmed across a lake more tired with each landing. From Eros I flew to Ondangwa airport at Oshakati , rural Northern Namibia. In total I'd travelled for thirty hours. There I met a chipper Richard Finch, a mixed race Trinidadian educationalist, who escorted me to the Oshakati Country Lodge.

Oshakati is the rural capital whereas Windhoek is the business capital. Recently Oshakati has been flooded. Flood water loosens the earth and brings the dead back to the surface. I'd never thought of flood as a graverobber. The mosquito are alive and well and I am, apparently, dinner, an exotic takeaway.

Within the next few days I teach at the University of Namibia's Oshakati Campus and speak at a teaching conference to where some attendants had travelled for days. It's humbling to experience that kind of dedication to literacy and learning. Oshikata, Northern Namibia is sixty miles from Angola and about the same distance from Botswana.

The Ruling party in Namibia – SWAPO – are those,   who fought the apartheid regime,  who gained independence in 1990. Namibia is a relatively young country in the making. And the  the university hall is where the apartheid army forces and their mercenary friends chanted slogans before waging war on the black Africans, on  SWAPO.

Now the university is full of what are known as The Freeborn: They are born after independence. If only the apartheid army knew that years later a poet from England would be teaching poetry, in their mess hall, to the future children of those they were to try to kill. 

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