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Friday, July 3, 2015

Memories of South-West Africa

 

Although an aversion to the then practised apartheid made me leave South-West Africa again in 1969, I still have very fond memories of my time in Lüderitz in what is now Namibia - see here.

I've just discovered this clip in which Ben Fogle heads to Africa and the deep desert sand dunes of Namibia to live with 50-year-old Gideon David and his young family in the largest conservation area on the continent. Gideon is a master bushman who quit a city career in life insurance for the dry and dusty desert.

Gideon, better known as 'Boesman' (bushman), is a third-generation Namibian man whose German grandfather settled in Namibia in the 1940s to raise Karakul sheep, prized especially for their pelts, which must be taken within eight hours of birth. This was a huge industry for Germans in Namibia throughout the 1900s and still going strong when I was there, but the industry crashed in the 1970s. It is recovering slowly now, with demand coming from high-fashion houses and from Russia and China. But most farmers went bust in the 1970s and desert tourism became the only option for making money.

'Boesman' does not advertise. He doesn't even have a website, and if you google him you won't find anything. You’ll find the odd article, or blog post about someone's visit but that’s it. The property is only identified by a post out the front with two shoes on it. When their daughter was born, someone put a tiny pink baby shoe out the front. So there are now three shoes and that’s it.

Their farm is near Maltahöhe' - 'near' is a relative term in a country as vast as Namibia - and I've just sent a pretty Australian postcard to them. Perhaps you want to do the same? Their address is:

Yuri and Gideon and Laila David
Farm Shangala
No 190
Maltahöhe
NAMIBIA
AFRICA