Images of wildlife, orange-coloured dune and semi-nude hunter-gatherers and Himbe women usually dominate search results for Namibia; you’ve just been ripped off if you’ve defined your impression of this beautiful country with those images. Anyone who arrives in Windhoek, the Namibian capital, can testify to the dramatic contrast between its development and those images, and this is exactly what I experienced on a day out in Windhoek.Unfortunately, most of those who visit this southern African nation barely spend time to experience its beauty.
As a witness, I’ll say Windhoek is one of the few places in Africa that could easily pass off as somewhere in Europe. It is a city of shiny buildings, historical monuments, shopping malls and many modern city’s signatures. For tourists, Windhoek is a place to walk and wander through beautifully laid streets and among people (blacks and whites) who seemingly have a purpose to their steps.
While many people fly into Namibia through Windhoek, the city’s tourists are few, and I wasn’t surprised when I was there a couple of months ago only to find out I was about the only tourist everywhere I went in the city. If you are coming to Namibia for the first time, the wonderful experience at the airport should give you a snippet about how organized this country is. Don’t expect hectic entrance experience that is characteristic of some country’s entry points. When I arrived, it didn’t spend up to 30 minutes to get through immigration and other formalities after touchdown. And the exchange rate there was good.
Windhoek most popular street is probably the Independence Avenue; I doubt if anyone can validly claim to have been in the city without being there. It’s an epic and hectic place defined by largely nondescript but clean buildings, busy pedestrian and traffic. Hotels, craft market and shopping malls, among others are some of the sights of interest in Independence Avenue.
Erkrathus Building, built in 1910 is one of the catchiest German-designed buildings in Independence Avenue. You’ll easily notice it because of its sloping red roof and ornate windows. The building is impeccable, it belles its age in its beauty. I recall entering one of the shops and stealthily looking for cracks, as evidence of disuse, but I found none.
The other colonial landmark is the Christuskirche, a German-built church. Built with sandstone and completed with red roof tiles, the building looks like it was finished just last week, though it has stood through a century of different weathers. Before heading to Robert Mugabe Avenue where Christuskirche is, I found a fast food whose specialty was Pride Burger close to the Ministry of Justice. I stopped there for a bite and the few minutes I spent there was worthwhile. The staff were very friendly, one even offered to take me through how to prepare local dishes anytime I was free—because I had teased them for not selling Sadza a very popular local dish.
Close to Christuskirche is the imposing bronze statue of Sam Nujoma, a national hero from the revolution era. The statue stands in front of a huge edifice, something of a shinny skyscraper; that houses the city’s museum. Inside it are exhibited pieces showcasing Namibian history, especially their battle for independence. Tank, a jeep, lots of military clothing and huge panoramic paintings depicting warfare and atrocities are the main highlights of the museum.