No matter if you’re black or white

June 25, 2011 - Leave a Response

I have now spent over a month in south-western Africa, namely Windhoek, Namibia.

People say it is Africa for beginners. I do not really know what that means. Does a country have to have no infrastructure, terrible poverty and a political crisis to ‘deserve’ to be part of Africa?

That said, though they say Namibia is a middle-income country, this income is very unevenly distributed. Many Namibians live in poverty – in a few years the tin shacks in Katutura in Windhoek have multiplied and multiplied. Germany colonialised Namibia in the late 19th century, and after World War I South Africa took over. This means that Namibia is still recovering from the consequences of Apartheid.

This is what has struck me most – how divided Windhoek is. The most hands-on way to experience this for a foreigner is to drive around in Klein Windhoek (white) and Katutura (black). The odds are the person behind the wheel in the enourmous 4wd jeep is white. He might be driving to his farm – the majority of Namibian land is still owned by whites.

A few weeks ago we were taken to Kiepie’s, a bar where there’s a live band, wooden floors, ‘couple’ dancing (something the locals call windsurfing) and only white people – Boer farmers, mainly, according to the people who took us there. It was bizarre to be in a place like that in a city with maybe five per cent white people. The climax of the night was definitely when they played ‘Black or White’. No, it didn’t matter if you’re black of white – everybody just happened to be white.

Now, before you start raging about my ignorance I need to acknowledge that I am from a very homogenous country. It is easy to point out that the moviegoers are white and the politicians in the upper house are black. It is easy for me to question the land ownership issue – I do not live here. I am not even pretending to have enough knowledge about the country to be able to analyse this well. I can just observe.

I might see it in a black and white way, but what I’ve seen so far is just that, black and white.

You know who you are

June 24, 2011 - One Response

Films I want to see again

June 24, 2011 - Leave a Response

ǃGãi ǃhoes

June 21, 2011 - Leave a Response

…or good evening. That is Damara, one of the coolest languages on earth.

Greetings from Windhoek, Namibia. I will not blame Africa for not writing anything lately – I have simply had too many things to write about. However, my friend urged me to write something ages ago, so from now on I will get over myself and tell you about white Afrikaans hipsters, Katutura, lost-in-translationesque shopping Malls and Thor.

More on that later.

For now I will settle for telling you that I have almost learned to answer when my housemates say “matisa?” (how are you?). The answer is “!ái a”.

Now, this is in Xhosa, which is not as cool as the Khoisan languages like Damara, but it will have to do.

 

Make some noise

April 30, 2011 - Leave a Response

Sorry folks, the blog is intellectually under construction. Happy Walpurgis.

While waiting, take a look at this. The shiz, yo.

And although I never thought I would say these words, Elijah Wood is fantastic. Fantastic.

Day 11: Your dreams

March 3, 2011 - Leave a Response

I once had a dream that I was the Doom Guy from one of the Doom games (no idea which one) my brother used to play. Instead of monsters, however, I had to shoot people I knew, friends and family.

What would Freud say?

Day 10 and 12: February

March 3, 2011 - Leave a Response

Last month, I found an apartment and a job. I now work and live in North Melbourne.

Since I used to live and study on the south side of the city, the northern suburbs are totally foreign to me. This is something I would not have believed before I moved to Melbourne. You have to live here to understand how big the city is.

That said, I’ve only lived in the inner city. Although last semester I had to travel (yes, travel) 1,5 hours to Berwick once a week, so I have a glimpse of the vastness of Melbourne.

I now work in a great little cafe near my apartment. Many of the customers are regulars that come in almost every day. It’s nice. Among them are a few guys from the North Melbourne football team. It’s funny how the cafe fills up with a bunch of fit, two-meter tall football players who order chicken or lamb salads and skinny lattes.

Since apparently I cannot go on living in Melbourne without choosing a team, I guess it has to be North Melbourne.

Day 9: What’s in my bag

January 29, 2011 - One Response

What’s in my bag or, rather, my backpack?

The short answer is, at the moment, my whole life.

I don’t mean this in the Up in the Air -kind of symbolical sense. Almost everything I own in this city, this country, this hemisphere is in that backpack.

I like it.

Though I don’t share Mr Clooney’s character’s views about relationships, I like not having too much stuff.

People have too much stuff.

I grew up in a household where you didn’t throw away stuff. This doesn’t mean my parents are crazy hoarders or anything, they just don’t like throwing away things that still work and could still be useful. They are from the generation that fixes things instead of throwing them away and buying new ones.

The thing is, it just feels like you have more freedom with less stuff. I would like to be like George Clooney (sans emotional issues) and his carry-on luggage only.

Just writing this, though, makes me realise that I’m a bit of a hypocrite. Who am I kidding – I have stuff. I have stuff home in Finland. I even have stuff here in Melbourne. I can try to sell you guys this romantic notion that I have nothing but quiet determination and my backpack. The truth is I have a suitcase full of stuff in addition to the romantic backpack.

Literal answer? My handbag at the moment contains: wallet, camera, ear plugs, map of central Java, chewing gum, various used plane tickets, various tickets to public transport in different cities, comb, usb stick, an earring, band-aid, various used movie, theatre and exhibition tickets.

Day 7: A Moment

January 28, 2011 - Leave a Response

In London in 2009, I was watching this photo shoot, and beside me an old woman, who looked a bit like a Miss Marple, asked, “is that a man or a woman”? Just as I was going to start a rant about why that doesn’t matter, my patient friend answered her. All she said was “Oh dear, oh dear”.

Day 6: My Best Friend

January 28, 2011 - 3 Responses

Ida and I met in kindergarten in 1992. It was (and is, I think) a wonderful small kindergarten on a bar-heavy pedestrian street in Helsinki called Iso Roobertinkatu. When almost all the other kids went to the same local primary school, Ida and I went to a Waldorf school.

We sat in thousands of art classes together, went on school trips to the Finnish archipelago, to Trondheim, to Amsterdam. We learned the Eurythmy alphabet (did you know that the Eurythmics got their name from Eurythmy. Well, now you know) – and though I can’t speak for Ida, I didn’t understand any of it.

Now Ida lives in London and I in Melbourne.

The point is, nineteen years later, we’re still friends.

Though we don’t meet very often right now because of geographical reasons, I know that when we do I’ll have a great time. I know that I don’t have to explain everything to her, because she knows me so well that she will understand.

That said, it sucks that we live on opposite sides of the world right now.

Ida and I in 2005, I think.