Thursday, October 6, 2011

set your pants on fire: snapshots of work and play

I've noticed that while i describe at length my ordeals in fighting cows in the middle of the road, the other interns have written lengthy intellectual analyses about their work on their respective blogs. you know, grown up legitimate law stuff. well, I do assure you that I do work during the day, even if I don't talk about it much. here's a bit of what I did last week:

Last week at work, my supervisor informed me that we were going to Parliament. Right now. This was unfortunately the one day that I’d worn jeans to work, and the one day I was caught without a suit. Every instinct inside me cultivated from law school recoiled in horror. But I could not miss out on this chance.

My organization had helped put together a luncheon at the Parliamentary restaurant entitled “Children’s Rights, Children’s Responsibilities”, a discussion of the latest draft of the Child Care and Protection Bill currently in its public consultation phase. The attendants included Members of Parliament, Cabinet ministers, folks from UNICEF and representatives of the African Union. Plus journalists from the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation. And I was wearing jeans. I still shudder.

I snuck into the back of the room with my shameful jeans just as the Ombeyha Yehinga Organization dance troupe was giving a presentation on children’s rights through modern dance, which was not only technically impressively acrobatic but also surprisingly effective in conveying its message, given the fact that I know next to nothing about interpretive dance but still got the message. Then Dr. Benyam Mezmur, of the African Union and also an expert advocate on children’s rights, gave a speech on his position on the draft bill, noting that he hoped that this Namibian bill would be able to serve as an example for other African countries in drafting similar legislation to protect children’s rights in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

He fielded questions from some of the Members of Parliament, and then lunch was served, which was a relief to me because I was sitting right behind the Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, and every time the media focused their cameras on her, with me and my blue jeans in the background, I just wanted to hide and set my pants on fire.

Lunch was delicious, but the servers refused to tell me what one of the meats were. “It’s like beef,” they assured me. I don’t like being told that something is “like beef”. Many things are “like beef”, and I feel nervous when someone won’t tell me what it actually is. Eventually, as I was eating it, my supervisor told me that it was actually cow intestines, which actually was not so terrible, given that it looked kind of spongey and could certainly have been something more unusual. In the end, it tasted pretty good, and so did the custard.

okay, that was enough of work. back to play:


In the evening, we decided to check out the Windhoek Show, solely because all of our Namibian coworkers kept asking us if we’ve gone to the Windhoek Show and it seemed like something we should be doing. It was held on the Windhoek show grounds, and seemed to be somewhat like the Central National Exhibition in Canada or maybe the New York State Fair that I’d gone to earlier this year. Except it was a bit smaller, and one of the exhibition halls was filled entirely of exhibits from government ministries. I’d heard some complaints that the Windhoek Show was not as impressive this year, and that the fireworks had been cancelled, but it was still pretty neat to check out, and the beer came out to about $1.50 per bottle. We surveyed the food vendors and ate some currywurst, and then went on a very spinny midway ride. In retrospect, we probably should have done that in the opposite order.

Texas Braai - two words that should have been put together a long time ago.

midway rides at the windhoek show

okay i am sorry but that is a sad carousel

The main feature we wanted to check out at the Windhoek Show was the concert series. That night’s theme was “Girls Know How 2 Party” and it was a great chance for me to discover some of the local female musicians. First we saw Blossom, a singer-songwriter who performs on the guitar in many languages including French. I really enjoyed her music, especially when she brought on the Joy Divine choir for her last song. Anybody know how I can join a choir around here?


Next up was Tequila, a popular Namibian R&B artist. She was a great singer with catchy tunes, but I have to admit I didn’t pay much attention to the music. What was mildly distracting was her bikini-clad backup dancers, who were all very talented and looked about fourteen years old. Every time these uncomfortably young girls shook their booty, I thought I might get arrested. While not denying that everyone on stage was quite talented, it was a bit of a bizarre experience for me. Tequila would sing, the uncomfortably young girls would shake their booties, and then Tequila would thank the Lord and we would realize that this song was another gospel song. This was my introduction to sexy gospel.

thank God these photos are blurry.

The headliner for the night was Lady May, whom my coworkers tell me is really big here and also quite a character. The music was fantastic but her performance was also a bit odd. She went on stage for about two songs, and then announced that “the real Lady May was coming soon”, introduced her deejay, and then walked off the stage. And did not return. At least the deejay was quite decent. All of the young men jumped up and started dancing like crazy. It’s pretty different from North American boys, whom you have to get drunk and then drag on the dance floor. Here, it seems like Namibian guys are just looking for any chance to dance. And how they moved! Like their pants were on fire. It was a bit intimidating for us North Americans and Europeans, so we did that thing that we do which is watch awkwardly from the sidelines.

When we told our coworker Grace the next day about Lady May’s odd disappearance from stage, Grace wasn’t surprised at all. She told us that Lady May’s been pulling some strange antics lately. At the Namibia Music Awards earlier this year, she accepted the award for “Best House” by flipping off the audience – which included all sorts of important Namibian celebrities and politicians - and concluded her speech with, “Love me or hate me but I’ll forever be Lady May…Good night mother*ckers.” On live television. It caused quite a scandal. I daresay she almost out Kanye-ed Kanye.

sweet girls: nobody is ever too old for cotton candy