Well I couldn’t be writing this blog post in a better place. I’m in a small konditorei overlooking the sea in the bay in swakopmund, Namibia. Now To be honest I’m not working here i’m on holiday (although dignity in the desert sounds good) Over the last month or so the energy has just completely run out and well we all needed a break. So, you have to understand this was no sit by the beach solely type of break, it has involved 3000km of driving and African travel. It is a typical Witt trip, those in the know will know what I mean. However a holiday it is. This morning I’ve got Jacob as Jude has gone sand boarding with joshua and Ethan in the desert. I’ve got quiet (ish) contemplation, Jude full on adrenaline.
Believe it or not but Namibia has in been independent for less than than 20 years. For those of you schooled in south african history you will also know that it was a south african protectorate. So Namibia experienced apartheid and sitting where i am now would have been strictly out of bounds for the black population. It was literally a no go.
A few days ago i was in Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia. It’s quite nice for an african city, i am quite used to dust bowls, this was quite green in places, hilly and fairly well developed. To the north of the city is a vast industrial area’ the south the airport and to the east the leafy suburbs which are lovely to spend time in. They are cutely called Klein Windhoek (or little Windhoek) It is the name of one of these suburbs that This blog post has taken it’s name from. It is called katatura. It literally means, the place where we do not wish to live. Imagine that, someone asks you where you live and you reply well, its the place where no one wants to live. Of course in this case it was the whites who didn’t live in katatura, and it was the blacks that did. Now im sure today the township is different than it was, there was a large hospital for example, but the name sticks doesn’t it? I can’t imagine it will be called anything different in the future.
Talking about no go areas. How about the Namib desert? One of the oldest deserts on earth and extremely inhospitable. Over the last few days I’ve had some time to spend there. The first night admittedly I stayed in a luxury lodge next to the Atlantic ocean, but i did have to cover 300 km of desert to get there. Those who know my car here will know that it has the knack of dying for soft reasons at the most inopportune moments so in the back of mind was the possibility i may overnight in the desert itself!!!! Fear not though we made it to Cape Cross Lodge where the temperature was a massive 37 degrees. After camping and driving it was like being in heaven. However venture a couple of hundred metres from the lodge and you may as well have been on the moon. Vast gravel and sand planes. Sand dunes, cracked hexagon mud and not a drop of water for miles and miles around (and i do mean hundreds of miles). The roads are not tar they are made up of compacted salt. The Atlantic ocean provides the backdrop to the desert, but with rip tides and strong currents, it is not somewhere to venture either. In short it is katatura, not somewhere you would want to Iive. I guess namibia and africa in general is full of them.
At Cape Cross there is a cross erected by a seventeenth century Portuguese sailor. I have unending respect for explorers like him who went out on a limb to do something. Many of the early missionaries had the same spirit. They willingly went to places that were katatura. As i reflect, our mission here in africa is to allow those places that are katatura to be reached consistently and for them to experience the transformation that Christ can bring in a community.
One of the strains I find in living where I do is that it is a long way from the familiar, a long way from friends, from situations and people that we know. That is unavoidable in the task that we have, to reach places that are katatura you must bear some of the cost yourself.
On my way here to Namibia i met up with Sly who was at our conference in lusaka. It was such a great encouragement to meet him again, especially as he told me that he was off to botswana for 3 months and he was going to try and Plant the Life Initiative in Botswana. He himself was off somewhere that was katatura. Im sure ideally he would ideally want to live somewhere else but that’s the point, he can but he isn’t. I pray Gods help goes with him.
The day many people get the idea that we must all go to our own “katatura” is the day the gospel and the love that God brings takes a huge step forward to becoming a reality for thousands of people. Now there is something to think about for the rest of my trip.
Tomorrow I’m off through the desert to go and a short (and cheap) safari in Etosha National Park. Speak to you soon.