Thursday, October 20, 2011

swimming in the pool where freedom was fought

Eliza is leaving in several days to move back to Berlin. We’re all going to miss her very much, especially me, because I feel like she’s the least craziest of our bunch. She invited us over yesterday to go for her a swim in her pool. She lives in this giant house that is kind of typical of Luxury Hill: all you can see from the street is the high wall blocking everything, and even once you get past the gate and the barking dogs, for some optical reason, you only see part of the front of the house – it’s impossible to see how far back the whole thing extends. You walk past the trees and the glass room with the home gym, walk down some stairs, through this passageway, past a kitchen, past another kitchen (why?), down more stairs, and then all of a sudden there is a lovely large pool waiting for you. And the house still goes on, literally past the eye can see.

This is Anton Lubowsky’s pool. This is Anton Lubowsky’s house. This was where Anton Lubowsky lived. This was where Anton Lubowsky worked. This was where Anton Lubowsky fought for Namibia’s freedom, one of the only white men to openly support the South West Africa People’s Organization. This was also where Anton Lubowsky was assassinated, shot on his own property, by gunmen who to this day have never been brought to justice. That’s a lot of history to take in while cooling off in your friend’s pool.

For some reason I have been quite fascinated with Anton Lubowski these days. I feel like I keep running into his name, whether it’s swimming at his house, or through my boss, who used to work with him back at Eliza’s house and had come over the night he was shot, coworkers who knew him, or at our office library which I discovered acquired his law books after his death. I like to open these books to their front page and trace my finger over Anton Lubowski’s name neatly handwritten.

And why not? I’m always particularly impressed by folks who, despite being born into relative comfortable privilege, sacrifice it to go beyond their perspective to see how others are suffering and then selflessly dedicate their lives to defending their cause. Anton Lubowski was an anti-apartheid freedom fighter and a human rights lawyer who had been detained many times for his “radical” anti-racial segregation views. He bravely openly supported the movement despite threats and accusations of being a white traitor, and played a vital role in Namibia’s independence, and after he died, he was the first white man to be buried in the graveyard in Katutura, the black township of Windhoek. Who wouldn’t be fascinated by his ghost?

Sometimes thinking about Anton Lubowski reminds me of my great-grandfather, who fought for the underground resistance in Korea against the Japanese occupation, and was killed by the Japanese regime, or at least we assume he was, because one night he simply disappeared when my grandfather was still a young boy. I like surrounding myself with the ghosts of brave heroes. I feel less like I can complain about trivial things, like how hot it is during the day and how cold it is during the night, and more compelled to do something worthwhile and meaningful in my life.

Read more about Anton Lubowski