The modern and organized capital of Namibia has an entirely African character.
Melting pot of different cultures, men, and women every day walk the clean sidewalks and fill the modern Shopping Malls of the capital, and it is not difficult to meet Herero women in their traditional attire alongside businessmen dressed in the latest fashion.
The area was once known for its hot thermal waters, called / Ai // Gams in Damara/Nama and Otjimuise in OvaHerero,
both meaning “place of hot steam”. Winterhoek was the name that Jonker Afrikaner, the fourth Orlam Captain in South West Africa, gave the location where he settled in 1840, probably in remembrance of the Cape Mountains from which he came. Subsequently the name changed to Windhoek, which means windy corner!
When Namibia became a German colony, the commander of the German troops chose Windhoek as the location for a garrison and laid the cornerstone for the construction of the Old Fortress, the Alte Feste, and with it the second foundation for the city of Windhoek as a settlement. Today, Windhoek has around 400,000 inhabitants with the majority of the population living in Katutura and its northern suburbs.
Katutura was created in the 1959 by the ruling South African administration, segregating the non-white population and its manifold ethnic groups.
Translated as the place where we do not want to live, the large suburb was divided into areas, where Damara, Nama, Herero etc. were confined in their respective quarters. Even today on the doors of some of the older houses there are letters that distinguished the peoples, H for Herero, D for Damara, O for Ovambo, and so on. and on the roofs of the houses often flies the flag of SWAPO, the party that led Namibia to independence.
But this is the past. Now it is an area in full development, a city within the city, with shops shopping malls and markets, butchers cutting meat and putting it to grill it on the braai, or barbecue, a countrywide tradition and old South African habit. Cobblers repairing shoes, restaurants that offer the typical Namibian dish of pap (corn porridge) and meat, women busy at their sewing machines to prepare student uniforms and traditional Oshiwambo clothes, shebeens (informal bars) and electronics shops.
In Katutura’s western suburb of Hakahana, the heads, intestines, and innards of cattle and goats and sheep are a delicacy cooked on the open fire, while customers are cueing for this African gourmet food!
At lunchtime people including Ministers and government officials, flock to the Single Quarters waiting patiently for their turn to obtain some Kapana, meat grilled over coals, with freshly baked rolls.
Eveline Street is considered Katutura's sunset strip that never sleeps: stalls of all kinds, shebeens with names like Bad Boys, Generation Life Bars, barbershops, and car washes.
Khomasdal, in apartheid times the area restricted to the Coloured population (people of black and white ancestry), continues to be a multiracial suburb.
And when the business centre of Windhoek empties after five o’clock and quietens down, life in Katutura begins.