We had a jam packed schedule for out first full day in Namibia, with eight different stops throughout Windhoek and Katatura. Our first stop was the National Library and National Archives. At the National Library we were shown around by senior librarian Nomusa Senzanje. We got to see their ‘Namibiana’ collection, because the library tries to acquire everything published about Namibia, not just materials produced in Namibia. Our next stop was the National Archives, right next door to the National Library. There we met with chief archivist Ndahambelela Hertha Lukileni. She gave us a tour of their facility and showed us some interesting items in their collection: maps, historical photos of Namibians as German prisoners, the personal diaries of Hendrik Witbooi, a famous Namibian leader and the face of the Namibian ten and twenty dollar bills from the 19th century, as well as a copy of the German extermination order that led to the 1904 Herero genocide.
Then we went to the Windhoek Public Library and were given a tour by Ruth Shikongo, one of the librarians there. The library was whites only facility during apartheid, but now is open to anyone who wants to use its facilities. You don’t even have to be a resident of Windhoek. Although we visited in the middle of the day, the library was pretty full with most of the computers and study desks occupied.That was quickly followed with a trip out to the Katatura township to visit the Greenwell Matongo Library. To us it looked full, because almost every chair was occupied, but our host Mrs. Mariet Hayes told us that most of the time the library is so busy people have to sit on the floor. The library runs amazing children’s programs; they once had 800 children participate in a ‘Olympics’ where children represented countries they created in various events. The library also offers computer training, a community garden, and many other services for the community.
In the afternoon, we had lunch with our host from the National Library and Archives Service, Veno Kauaria before embarking on a short tour of downtown Windhoek. We walked around downtown before going to the National Museum, where Jermain walked us through the exhibits on different Namibian cultures and wildlife. Finally, Jermain drove us up past the Namibian Parliament, the oldest German church in Namibia and then up a hill outside the city so we could get some beautiful views of Windhoek. By that point we were all pretty exhausted and headed back to the hotel. It was a very busy day, but a productive one.