On my trip through Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, I stopped at a small coffee joint to satisfy my caffeine-needs. In the end, I am still a Dutch. It was not my first time that I visited this small place in one of the poorest areas of beautiful Namibia. The type of area where people die of malaria because they can’t find transport to the nearest hospital or can’t spend two dollar to safe their own baby’s life. On the outside, nothing had changed. Still the dark orange/brown red-earthy color. Inside still the slow service and the super friendly girl who looks like she doesn’t need anybody as a customer today. Yes: everything looked as usual: I was even happy with the absence of Take Away Coffees. The mugs are on the way, like two years ago, I was told. But I observed something new there in the far dark corner and it made me angry, actually: it made me mad. I saw two gambling machines. I asked who had put these things there, at first nobody could tell me. I noticed the Russian signs and buttons on these what must once have been flashy and bling-blinging Mokba-one-armed-bandits. I could almost smell the wodka. After asking around a bit, some guys told me that a white guy had put them there and someone from the Ministry of Finance was the owner. Now that is what I call development! I took my instant coffee. Outside I found these young guys begging, hiding their small glue bottles in their hands when you approached them and I imagined how the future for these guys would look like if the gambling machines would be connected soon. The locals seemed not very interested in the machines. Some of them told me that all in a lot of shebeens (local ‘drinking places’ ) these machines had been placed recently. I want to stop here and leave the cynical thinking up to the cynics. Hope to meet you on the road! Have a nice day! And keep exploring!
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Shelly Githonga is a Kenyan writer. Last year, her screenplay was selected from the catalog of the Kenyan Scriptwriters Guilt, to be produced. Days before the movies premieres, we talk to her. Who is the writer and what moves her to write about a serious subject as mental health?
If my luck is bad
And his aim is straight
I will leave my life
On the killing field
You can see me die
On the nightly news
As you settle down
To your evening mealâ€¦.