Monday, February 27, 2012

weekend parties in the townships

"When it's time to party, we will party hard."
-Andrew W.K.

My original plan for Friday night was to go see Gazza play in Katutura, but Mark’s nice Herero friend Nelson warned me against it, informing me that it was being held in a venue that was far too small for the crowd that was going to show up, and that it could get ugly. I imagine that could have ended up an interesting story to tell, but remembering what happened the last time I saw Gazza, decided not to and instead called up F and L to see what they were up to.

me and frieda

I met up with the girls at Jokers, and from there we moved on to Nessi Park bar, this little hole in the wall that wasn’t much more than a shebeen, deep in the heart of Katutura (the black township). There we joined the rest of the guys who were passing around biltong and a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. This was the first KFC I’d eaten in over half a year. It was delicious, especially with a side of biltong. The KFC in Katutura, by the way is one of the few places that are open late at night, and the drive-thru is as busy and packed as a night club on a weekend night.

It was a cosy bar, lively despite its modest size, with a jukebox chained to the wall where for one rand, Namibians could play their favourite songs from albums with titles like Vaar was Jy?. Even though I didn’t recognize any music from the jukebox (they didn’t seem to have Gazza), I was reminded of how much I love jukeboxes, and wish they were more prevalent in North America.

It was a pretty fun night, chatting up various folks, although for some reason the conversation kept turning to the subject of death. I remember reading in Heather Keachie’s blog that sometimes people in the Gambia just die, and you have to accept it as part of life. With the high rate of both HIV/AIDS and road accidents in Namibia, it seems like Namibians have to face death more often as well, especially since the average life expectancy is so shockingly low, around 50, for a country that was relatively developed as Namibia. Anyway, it means that I’ll often have surprising conversations like this:

Me: How are you doing?
Person: Oh, not bad. Kind of hungover still.
Me: Oh yeah?
Person: Yeah, my cousin shot himself last weekend, so we had the funeral.
Me: What?
Person: It’s not that bad. We partied. He told us to, in his suicide note. He said, Live life. Have fun.
Me: What?
Person: Should we get more tequila shots?

Or this:

Person: …And that’s where they found him.
Me: Hey, what are you guys talking about?
Person: My ex-boyfriend died in a car accident a while ago.
Me: ....what?
Person: Well, he was my boyfriend at the time. Of four years. But you know, you have to move on. At first I thought I could never love again, but you just have to move on.
Me: That's terrible to hear!
Person: Would you like another drink?

Anyway. Eventually the gang decided to move back to Jokers to shoot pool and shoot tequila. Thaddeus insisted on dancing, even though it was a pool hall. I ordered pizza.

this beer ad is kind of weird. why are you watching me?

Saturday was my coworker E’s birthday party. It was a proper Namibian birthday party, as in it started at noon and ended around sunrise the next day. Namibians have a party stamina like you would not believe. The party was held at S’s house in Khomasdal, the township that was originally designated for coloured people. It was about twenty women and Dean, who for some reason decided to spray his head like a half-hearted blind clown.

the smoking section at the party

little boys trying to sneak into the party

me and the birthday girl

singing happy birthday to emmerentia

As usual there was a lot of music and singing and dancing. S has a karaoke machine, so people went to town on it, even the baby.

At one point, someone put on Gazza's song "Seelima" and everyone was doing the dance around the living room. It was pretty awesome, almost as good as be able to see him live. I love watching people here dance.

teaching the baby to dance

even the little boys are amazing dancers

My favourite part of the party, however, was waiting for potjiekos. I have come to the conclusion that potjiekos is basically culinary torture. It's a southern African stew that is cooked outside in a cast iron pot called a potjie that seriously remind me of the Korean stone pots that my favourite dish soondubu chigae (soft tofu stew) is cooked in. Anyway, potjiekos is absolutely delicious but it takes a long time to prepare and it's cooked very very slowly...for hours. and hours. Basically, you sit around the pot, drink beer, chat, throw some more ingredients, drink, chat, dance, throw more ingredients in, and wait and wait and wait and wait for it to cook. And the whole time it smells absolutely delicious. It's torture, I tell you.

soondubu in traditional Korean stone pot



If anybody would like to buy me a potjie as a wedding present, they are totally welcome.

let's get a party going
now it's time to party and we'll party hard
let's get a party going
when it's time to party we will always party hard
party hard party hard, party hard, party hard party hard,
party hard, party hard party hard, party hard, party hard...

-Andrew W.K., "Party Hard"