What’s New in the CBD?

Alfeus Mvula

On a Monday afternoon in Windhoek’s central business district (CBD), the hustle is somewhat hampered by the cold.

Winter has arrived early and the white rhino that has recently taken up residence on Independence Avenue glistens as if fashioned from ice.

Though it’s a novel notion, sculptor Alfeus Mvula trails a hand along the massive public art piece and says it’s made from the finest white marble.

The rhino joins a number of new sights and scenes in the central business district, including Karel Swanepoel’s vivid, heroic and offbeat murals which just about catch one’s eye when trying to photograph the newly opened Hilton Garden Inn near an alley on the bustling street. Down the way from the sparkling new hotel, Chow Now, a brand new offering from Taste, beckons as the wind bends the plants that fringe the Freedom Plaza courtyard.

Back on Independence Avenue, Mvula’s white rhino draws curiosity and a snapshot or two. Originally sculpted in 2017 and familiar, perhaps, from its former perch at the College of the Arts on Fidel Castro Street, the rhino’s purpose, as stated on a plaque by sponsors Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) in partnership with Namibia Professional Hunting Association (NAPHA) and Mvula, is to support rhino conservation.

The rhino is for sale and proceeds from its purchase will go to the artist, as well as to the development of a NAPHA conservation school.

“I created this sculpture to raise awareness of white rhino poaching in Namibia,” says Mvula. “The issue is the illegal hunting of the white rhino for its horn. It happens a lot, especially in the north. In fact, everywhere. Wherever there is rhino, they’re always in danger.”

Local authorities recently reported that 28 black and white rhinos had been poached in Namibia since the beginning of this year – 19 of them in Etosha National Park.

“Public art is important because having an image, a sculpture in a public space like this, can educate everybody,” says Mvula. “This is a main street where there are many people and everybody can hear the message: Please protect our rhino.”

From crucial conversation about conservation on Independence Avenue to entrepreneurial expansion at Freedom Plaza, Chow Now by Taste partner and business developer Thando Mdevulana introduces the space. Chow Now is Taste’s third location after their flagship restaurant in Eros and their eatery at Hosea Kutako International Airport.

“The idea for Chow Now is mostly grab-and-go,” says Mdevulana of the minimalist yet vibrant new bistro which opened last month. “The type of people who work around here don’t have a lot of time but we want to give our clients a convenient food experience focused on fresh produce.”

If you’ve experienced the more upscale Taste in Eros, Chow Now offers the same quality and full-bodied flavour, but for the hardworking citizens of the central business district.

Succulent beef stirfry, chicken Caesar salad and delicious wings, as well as a selection of cakes, muffins and breakfast fare, are all fresh, packed and ready to go and can be enjoyed in a soothing and aesthetic space adorned with lush faux greenery, neon lighting, bamboo light shades, tables elevated with freshly cut flowers and boasting large glass windows and plenty of natural light.

“Everyone is welcome,” says Mdevulana, despite the fact that Chow Now is situated on the ground floor of the Nedbank head office building.

“Our menus are tailored for everyone from the high-end CEO to the guy who sweeps the street. If you look at our menus, we provide the same quality as one would get at Taste. You could experience the best burger and get it for N$80 here instead of getting it for N$200 at the restaurant. The flavours are the same.”

If you’ve been craving a taste of Taste, Chow Now has you covered in the CBD and is open from 07h30 to 17h00 from Monday to Friday.

Last but not least for this ‘what’s new’ edition and now open on Reverend Michael Scott Street, is the Hilton Garden Inn. Located just a stone’s throw from Windhoek’s first Hilton, this plush new hotel is a boon to the bleisure (business and leisure) traveller.

Walking in off the street, you’ll step into a well-appointed and functional lobby, grab-and-go café and The Pekuta Grill & Bar. The latter delivers your fancy of kapana, pork ribs, Thai curry and more to a series of lime booths offering a dazzling view of the sunset through the restaurant’s large glass windows.

For your digital nomad, freelancer and gig economy types, the lobby’s wealth of aesthetic solo seating and plug points are inviting, as are the hotel’s neat bar and lounge.

If you’re staying over or require meeting or conference rooms, the hotel’s clean pool, on-site laundry and fitness centre are notable amenities alongside 66 square metres of flexible meeting space and facilities.

“We are thrilled to open Hilton Garden Inn Windhoek – marking the brand’s debut in Namibia,” says the hotel’s general manager, Amos Mworia, in an official statement. “We look forward to providing reliable and friendly hospitality to domestic and international travellers looking for an upscale yet affordable stay in Namibia.”

Each endeavoring to add more culture and colour to the city many of us call home, that’s what’s new in the CBD.

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

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