Spring 2000 • For centuries this part of Africa has been home to Himba, Herero, San, Owambo, and some of the planet's most vivid desert, sculpted as if it were orange meringue. Germans arrived here in the 19th century and made quick work of exploiting the natural resources, mainly diamonds. After the Germans left, the blandly named South-West Africa was administered by the apartheid regime of South Africa until blacks rebelled, their leader becoming the first president of the newly independent Namibia in 1990. Nine years later I saw a photo of the Namib Desert at Stacey's Bookstore (R.I.P.) and couldn't get it out of my head, so I went there for my birthday. Met Sakkie while I was stuck in Luderitz, a fever dream of a town on the South Atlantic coast—stark dunes, German colonial architecture, and Herero women wearing enormous hoop skirts topped off with head scarves shaped like bull's horns. Sakkie and his wife Anri let me use their home in Windhoek as a base camp for over a month, an unforgettable gift for a milestone birthday.
Restricted Diamond Area, Sperrgebiet
Anri & Sakkie, Windhoek
Catfish hunter, Owamboland
Gert & Mario, Oshakati