Misconceptions

When Americans think of Africa, oftentimes the first thing they think of is people living in mud huts with no running water or electricity. While that is a reality for some Namibians, it is important to not generalize.

A traditional Ovambo hut at the Tsumeb cultural village museum

A traditional Ovambo hut at the Tsumeb cultural village museum

Namibians love television just like Americans and have all of the same cheesy shows that are played back in the states. On my first day with my host family, my host brother started watching the MTV show Ridiculousness. Another volunteer watched four hours of Keeping Up With the Kardashians with her family. In Tsumeb, I watched Minions and played FIFA, Call of Duty, and Minecraft on PlayStation.

What is on the radio? You guessed it, American music.

I have also been asked multiple times about how I feel about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Many people have smartphones here and are obsessed with WhatsApp and Facebook.

Although Americans may not know much about Namibia, Namibians are very aware of American culture. It makes me wonder why Americans do not know more about other countries. It seems like we are raised in a bubble to think that America is the best and nothing can compare to it. Seeing how things are not-so-different here has made me think a lot more about American culture and, I’ll just say it, elitism. It’s not about being better or worse than any other country, culture, ethnicity, gender, etc. Some things are the same country to country and some things are just different. I can’t say that America is any better than Namibia, it is just different.

Bathroom in our Okahandja host family’s house

Living room from our Okahandja host family house

Kitchen in our Okahandja host family house

Living room in our host family’s house in Tsumeb

Eric and I stay in our own separate flat with an on-suite full bathroom on our host family’s property in Tsumeb

Our Tsumeb bedroom + bathroom

Our Tsumeb kitchen! Complete with two refrigerators (not pictured)

3 Comments
  1. Your host family seems quite wealthy and I assume that they’re far above the national average income. I would be surprised to read that they represent the common Namibian family. About the American culture that infiltrates all the parts of the world, that is not a surprise: since WWII we are all more or less Americans, whether we like it or not.
    Anyway, very nice trip and adventure guys, very generous too. Congrats!

    • It is hard to describe the “common Namibian” family since the wealth gap here is so large. Our family in Okahandja was made up of an english teacher, a regional manager for a mattress store, and two kids. The jobs that they had aren’t extraordinary in any sense, but it allowed them to live at the level that you see in the pictures here, what I would call middle class. The problem is that there are not enough jobs so unemployment is rather high. Families that have one or both parents unemployed, single parents, and multi-generational households are common here and that is when you start to see the middle class drop off.

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