What’s in A Week

Some people think it’s a bad omen. The fish dead and floating along Lake Oanab’s shore. They think God is warning but it’s just rain pouring, flooding Katima, delighting Windhoek as a little girl’s glides across Goreangab Dam.

( Listen to author reading on SoundCloud)

The newspapers say she was gone three days before she was found. Five years old, alone and floating like the fish.

Her mother reported her missing after giving her to her father and that was the last time she’d see her little girl go. See her alive and well and not as never-again as the 19-year-old woman at Aroab.

The one who had a boyfriend who had a knife and used it to stab her once and again and again and again.

For the ten-year old girl in Ongwediva the count is two. Twice a 25-year-old man sexually assaulted her. Twice he dragged her out of her childhood and into the nightmare that will last much longer than those fleeting, shuddering, minutes, haunting her waking hours, creeping through her nights, setting her apart.

The good news is that Namibia had a record year for tourism.

More people came to visit us than ever before. They came to see Swakopmund, they marveled at Sossusvlei, Epupa Falls and the Skeleton Coast and some may even have made it to the water. The one that floats fish and the other that floats girls.

To get to the former they may have taken the Windhoek-Rehoboth road. They may have driven past the fateful spot where five died and many wept as drivers of a tractor, a Jetta and a Mercedes Benz clashed and crashed and killed.

I took a photograph of the dam once.

Of a little boat trailing a big blue car and I thought it quite a thing. A crowd had gathered to watch it go. To watch it take to the murky water, sending waves rippling across the surface concealing God knows what below.

I’m reading all this in a taxi to the mall.

I’m scrolling through through the headlines on my phone, witnessing what’s in a week and wondering what the world is coming to when I realize the man beside me is talking.

He wants my cap.

It’s hanging off a loop on my gym bag. It’s cool in its statement of ‘Royal’ and it’s geometric black stitching and the taxi driver would like me to be the kind of Samaritan who gifts caps to men in moving cars.

It’s a few days before the request becomes sinister and I shake my head “no” with a laugh.

It’s good natured and friendly banter and I exit a few minutes later with faith in the world and in strangers.

Shapuline Shaduka wasn’t as lucky.

A man wanted her cap, she fought back and she died in an attempt to protect what was hers.

She leaves behind a one-year-old girl and a degree as unfinished as her life. Dead in the arms of the father of her child, Shapuline joins a number growing with each passing day.

Women killed, abused, raped and assaulted in a country that needs to educate and discipline our boys and men with as much zeal as it reserves to beseech the Lord.

Shapuline’s killer is 19 years old.

He’s stunned and he’s sorry and he’s a product of society.

One in which perceived disrespect can end in murder. Where ten year olds and toddlers are fair game and the headlines grow more gruesome each day.

They say a woman has fled to the southern parts of the country.

She’s in the wind carrying the N$46 730 she stole from her Chinese employer and a terrible part of me grins.

Not because she’s taken what’s not hers.

Not because stealing is good or admirable or right.

Only because I imagine her as bare feet hitting the sand, bloodied soles slapping the concrete doing what I wish so many Namibian women had but fatally failed to do…