Hallo, December

Martha Mukaiwa

It’s the first day of the last month of the year and the gods have seen fit to make it payday weekend and a Friday.

For the more spiritual among us (spiritual as in prone to drinking spirits, not prone to being the Lord’s strongest soldier), this happy coincidence may seem like a sign – a licence to throw caution to the festive season wind and end this year off right.

In Namibia, the code of conduct for December is simple: It’s based on a few linguistically evolving, yet easy-to-follow principles, such as “is fkkl, is festive”, “I’m here for a good time, not a long time”, and the electrifying idea that “we move”.

As someone who has visited various parts of the world during this time of year, I can confidently say nobody does December quite like Namibians, and here’s my list of the reasons why:

With the dawn of December comes the wrath of the Namibian sun. Though the source of the blood feud between the sun and our brave populace has long been forgotten, the vendetta involves waking up to temperatures of almost 30 degrees Celsius.

To combat the searing heat, Namibians have taken to drinking beverages as copious, cold, refreshing and as blurring of the edges as possible.

Beverages of choice include draught beer, wine and whatever has a label that reads “3 for 50”.

This level of alcohol consumption in the relentless December heat makes most Namibians a friendly bunch.

The parties are impromptu, the dancing is energetic, and the vibes are immaculate.

December nights in Namibia are almost as warm as Namibian days.

So, in-between waging war against mosquitoes, Namibians tend to make much of catching the sunset ahead of our gorgeous, starry evenings.

As a people who complain bitterly throughout our short but demonic winter, December evenings are a time to chill, to lounge, to sit on a stoep enjoying the break from direct sunlight, or to run to the service in plakkies, hollering: “Hey Bra! Do you guys have ice?”

When your beef is some of the most succulent the world has to offer, best believe it’s going to be the centrepiece of Namibia’s festive season celebrations. From a good old braai to a tongue-burning taste of fresh-off-the-fire kapana, meat is where Namibians meet.

December in Namibia is a time for travel. Families reunite in the north, likers-of-things head to the sand and sea of Swakopmund, and many others accept an impromptu invite to a party in the next town over.

With all this December migration comes a much-needed change of scene, but with a particular Namibian quirk.

All told, there are approximately 10 of us, and everyone knows everyone and the dog they used to have at their old house.

The result is that wherever you go and no matter how far you travel – north, south, east or west – your friend’s cousin’s brother will be quick with a cold beer as well as a questionnaire on whether you remember him, if you know so-so, and if they can interest you in forex.

Taking a taxi in Windhoek in December is a special situation. Especially if it’s a day like today.

Friday, payday, and the first day of the last month of the year.

Suddenly and for one month only, many of us feel like heroes.

Customers have just about made it through another year and supported the local economy via hair-raising rides across the city.

Taxi drivers have fought the good fight against the rising petrol price and transported the nation.

It’s a feeling as warm as the Namibian sun, and which enhances sociability and the sharing of crucial information as we go.

When are you travelling to the north? How long are you gonna work this season before chopping life? What specials are on at Metro?

Namibia, man, it’s a special place.

There are seven people here.

The economic struggle is beyond real and the sun is trying to kill us, but all that seems to dull to a whisper when we say “Hallo, December”.

– martha@namibian.com.na;
Martha Mukaiwa on Twitter and Instagram; martha.mukaiwa.com

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