Treasures in our Backyard; Mimi Mwiya and her creed to tour Africa more
In the year 2008, we had a family friend visiting from Italy and she absolutely insisted on visiting Sossussvlei because she had read in her Lonely Planet, or something, that Sossussvlei not only had Namibia’s, but some of the world’s most spectacular sand dunes. I had lived in Namibia all my life, yet I think that was the first time I was learning that Namibia had other dunes save for the ones across the coast.
My curiosity about Sossusvlei was piqued and I thought how nice it would be to visit it someday, yet it wasn’t until last year, almost a decade later, that I actually made it over there, but even then, a newly-made friend from Switzerland had to work very hard to convince me to join him on the trip.
I spent the year 2014 in the Western Province of Zambia, in the heart of Barotseland, Mongu. A Finnish friend planned to visit me and she told me how excited she was because she had read online or somewhere that just 2 hours away from where I was staying, were Zambia’s Ngonye Falls, not as celebrated as the Victoria Falls, but certainly just as breathtaking.
I could go on and on about all the times people have come from across borders and pointed out some national or African treasure I could get to in a couple of hours, but never thought to. I’m pretty sure I do not only speak for myself when I say that sometimes we forget to appreciate all the beautiful and monumental things we have in our own countries and we go out searching for those in other countries, and other continents.
And other times we don’t forget, other times we simply take it for granted that they are so close to us. They are at home, so we kind of just imagine they will always be there and so we should rush to see the places that are further from us, the ones that won’t always be so easy to reach.
Except, that’s not always the case. Namibia is home to the largest known fallen meteorite in the world, the Hoba meteorite. While it has been around for thousands and thousands of years, it has also gotten significantly smaller over the years, it has been sinking, and it’s quite likely that the children and grandchildren of my generation will never get the chance to see it.
During my homesick spell in Europe, it hit me what extreme lengths I had gone to to see The Eiffel Tower, yet I had never bothered to take the couple of hours’ drive it would take for me to see the Hoba meteorite, a national treasure that may not always be around. And I resolved I wouldn’t let this year go by without having seen the Hoba meteorite. And today, that’s a resolution I can claim I have brought to fruition.
Namibia has 14 regions, each one of those regions has at a least one place worth visiting, a place that lots of tourists travel thousands of miles and spend thousands of dollars to visit, places I could visit for next to nothing. Yet I do not.
I’m embarrassed at how many places in Namibia I’ve never been to and while I would have liked to visit at least one every month, I cannot trust myself to be in the country that long. So I’ve decided that each time I travel out of the country, on my return I will visit one place in Namibia, and I will know this story, our story, one place at a time.