The great thing about leaving Canada and coming to Namibia in September (besides skipping Canadian winters) is that while all the summer festivals are winding down in Canada, they’re all just beginning in Namibia. And nobody loves music festivals like I do.
Today, after properly nursing our hangovers from the night before, we decided to check out Hart van Windhoek, a giant music festival held in Windhoek’s Olympia stadium, sort of like Ottawa’s Bluesfest, packed into two days. We had missed British boy band Westlife last night, and I had no idea about any of the bands that were playing tonight (it didn’t help that the entire website is in Afrikaans), but we knew it’d be a fun adventure so we set off.
We soon figured out why everything here was written in Afrikaans, and not English, the official Namibian language. D remarked that it looked as though all of the white people in Namibia had gathered together and shown up at this event. It would have gone unnoticed back in Canada, but the large gathering of white people was pretty conspicuous in Africa. Clearly this was going to serve as a big juxtaposition from last night, spent in the coloured persons district of Khomasdal.
And then I realized I was going to get a chance to experience the Afrikaner rock, including:
- Nicolis Louw: I wondered, is he the Afrikaner cousin of Nick Lowe? And then he opened his set with the Gummy Bears theme song.
- Bobby van Jaarsveld: Afrikaner Christian rock bad boy. I am not making this up. I know this not because I understand Afrikaans, but because the only song he sang in English was about Yeshua the Messiah, King of Kings.
- Kurt Darren who does not at all look like a pop teenage heartthrob, but I really liked his pop-dance sound a lot. Also, I think it was him that did a cover of the Black-Eyed Peas “I Gotta A Feeling”, which the deejay had played at the club last night. I used to dance to this song at clubs in Amsterdam, surrounded by Dutch people singing along. Now I was hearing it in Africa, with Afrikaners singing along
- Freshly Ground, one of the few mixed race acts that we saw that night, who did a pretty neat job of incorporating different indigenous African styles. They also did a cover of Shakira’s Waka Waka. I used to dance to this song with my mom for our Zumba class. It was pretty surreal to hear people singing “This is Africa” IN AFRICA.
- A duo performance between Romanz (a classical vocal fourtet/boy band) and Nianell (female pop opera singer). This was by far the most unexpected performance for me tonight. At times it was like Afrikaner Josh Groban/Il Divo on crack. They were tight, talented, but…I certainly was not expecting that. It was total culture shock in a strange way.
- Theuns Jordaan: his profile describes him as bluesy, but what I was hearing was Afrikaner country rock, yep.
While I thoroughly enjoyed my immersion in to Southern African music, what I enjoyed the most was the festival food. I dug up what Dutch I remembered to figure out what exactly the food vendors were offering. Ham en kaas toasties! Pankoek! Koffie!
I had a Kalahari burger – I have no idea what the meat was made out of, but from the taste I am that certain it was not beef, and that it was probably some kind of game. Given the fact that it was called a Kalahari burger, i am guessing it is a desert animal, MAYBE A LION. maybe i ate a lion burger.
Allison had magical potato spirals, which I consider to be a work of art.
Overall, it was a pretty neat experience, although the total Afrikaans immersion – and not knowing exactly what people are saying means or why they were gathering – made me a little bit uneasy. But maybe that was just from the bats flying ominously overhead, toward the rolling desert mountains.