Oryx steak was for dinner, juicy and red, with a sprig of thyme on top of it like a mast on a sailboat. We sat around the table with another USAID-funded project that has overlapping aims but has been local for five years. So they know a thing or two about the group we are working in, all embeds.

They are doing a workshop with exactly the same group we were with but without the regional folks. And after that it is our turn again, possibly with more of the same. It is all very mysterious.

The restaurant where we had gathered is perched on the top of a hill and overlooks the Windhoek plain, providing a spectacular view of the sun setting in between rainstorms left and right (but not over us), enormous electrical jolts and a red/orange/purple sun sinking through white and grey clouds. Like a calendar picture.

We had one vegan in our party. It is tough to be a vegan here. The waitress, being a true Namibian, explained to us that only red meat counts as meat. Consequently, chicken and fish are considered vegetables. And vegetables are nobodies. Our vegan colleague ordered nobodies.

We are half a day away from the end of the workshop. There has been much talk about behavior change and the behavioral and attitudinal shifts everyone thinks are needed. The talk is sincere but the constraints they are up against are enormous. We tried to turn them from despair and cynicism into hope and possibility but I know it is not a switch. Yet this country gets things done and has money (Namibia is an upper middle income country I learned today). The entire week we have been eaten lunch with the compliments of the Namibian government. I can’t think of any country (except for Japan) where the government took care of us.

1 Response to “Nobodies”

  1. 1 axel February 24, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Love the “…only red meat is meat.” Reminds me of the the spirit of the seafood braai in South Africa—protein driven, and fast.

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