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For the love of /Ae//Gams – Lifestyle

On its best days, Windhoek is the /Ae//Gams Arts and Cultural Festival.

People are dressed in their traditional clothing as if it were the premiere of ‘Black Panther’ (2018), food stalls serve a selection of local delicacies at a pace reserved for a real sweat-inducing competition, and friendly games of Owela They delight those heading towards a main stage with traditional dances, local music and spoken word stars.

While there is always much to improve, the worst thing about the festival’s celebration of culture, the diversity of Namibia and its talented artists, is that it only happens once a year.

If rumors in tourist circles are to be believed, Windhoek is a city you can actually avoid.

One night, a decent hotel, a good steak at Joe’s Beerhouse perhaps and then choose one of the luxury accommodations and venues, where the wildlife and landscapes are often inaccurately positioned as perhaps more notable than the people.

When Namibians attend free public events, such as the /Ae//Gams Arts and Cultural Festival, it becomes abundantly clear that the local population is as colorful as the country’s natural heritage.

Where else can you find Windhoekians clamoring out of practically roadworthy taxis while the driver watches the Windhoek city festivities and shouts, “Ouch! What’s going on there?” only to be told “It’s Tate Buti, mos!” while his passengers walk in the wrong direction on the wrong day to see the wonder, often shirtless.

Windhoek is also the kind of city where actors will work long, hard hours to convey the struggle of migrant workers ahead of International Workers’ Day, before an unimpressed woman in traditional dress delivers unsolicited criticism, shouting stage notes. from the sidelines.

“Oh, genius! You are not here? Can’t you say something? Tell us what you’re doing! Just running around with shopping bags. No man!”

Ah, Namibians. You have to love his appreciation of conceptual interpretation and historical social commentary through emergent theatrical intervention.

Arts appreciation aside, given the cultural occasion, Namibians will dress to impress.

On the list of strikingly beautiful things, there are women wearing full Damara, Nama or Ovaherero dresses.

There is the vibrant pink of the Aawambo Ondelela so beautiful against brown skin, the feminine bows and ruffles of the traditional Baster clothing and the beauty of the leather dresses of the Ovahimba and the San, among much more.

Seeing it all together at the /Ae//Gams Arts and Culture Festival is a hope.

Although Namibia has its share of tribalism and there is much to consider and do when it comes to uplifting marginalized communities as well as accessing true social and economic equality, /Ae//Gams is a place where Namibia’s diversity dazzles , even for people a moment.

It’s rather a shame that this only happens once a year.

Imagine if /Ae//Gams, or a similar small-scale event, happened every month.

Imagine if the invitation to wear traditional clothing, perform and learn the traditional dances of others, eat traditional food, and discover the traditions of our peers were commonplace.

How much more national unity would there be?

How many more tourists would spend that blessed day in our wonderful city to learn, experience and meet the people who are the owners, guardians and guardians of the natural heritage that so attracts, while interacting with the international community that calls for the beauty of this land at home?

Venture around the world and you’ll find similar monthly and weekly markets packed with tourists eager for an authentic experience while interacting with the average local beyond the smiling hospitality of their accommodations.

The /Ae//Gams festival is not perfect.

I would like to see more of an outdoor arts and crafts gallery with live demonstrations, an increase in traditional games and some more theatrical performances would be welcome.

I would love to hear dramatic speakers and storytellers take the stage to talk about Namibian folklore, history and local legends.

Imagine a screening room for watching Namibian films, as well as better production and rehearsal value when performing traditional dances.

Nothing is perfect, but the /Ae//Gams festival is constantly improving and taking several steps in the right direction.

As the end of summer blesses us with the last rays, one cannot help but enjoy all that Windhoek could be as an artistic, cultural and tourist destination.

Festivals like /Ae//Gams offer a glimpse and the vision is vibrant.

[email protected]; Martha Mukaiwa on Twitter and Instagram; marthamkaiwa.com

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