Becker’s African Diary #22: And now, the end is near…

Windhoek, Namibia, 10.08.2010

To quote a famous American philosopher: “This Is It.” After 17,000 kilometres on the bike I have arrived where I started nearly twelve weeks ago. The bike is already at the customs, and the gear is packed up.

As always at the end of trips such as this the situation is tricky…on the one hand it would be very cool if it could continue, but one the other I am looking forward to lots of things as well…an espresso macchiato from Emma, talking politics with Paul, marching out from the news shop with 13 newspapers and magazines, stumbling into Circus guests with an interesting story and getting lost in sharing thoughts, standing on my balcony for the goodnight cigarette, listening to the sounds of the city…

It has been a fantastic trip, full of pictures that I will not forget and with people that I am happy to have met and from whom I learned a lot…actually, this is the main justification to travel at all. I have learned a lot: about the close relationship between the fight against poverty and political/cultural autonomy; about the dark sides of Europe – of which I have a more critical and distanced view after this trip; about the spectacular beauty of Africa; about the fact that racism has an institutionalised side that can be overcome in revolutions, but also a more psychological side that is more persistent; about the conflict between tribal loyalties, a guarantee of survival in time of oppression and also western-style democracy, where it is called nepotism and corruption; and about a sense of humanism between strangers that seems to mainly lost through over-commercialisation, even in the human relations of my home continent.

What a touching and rich part of the world this is.

There had been plenty of worries before this trip, perhaps more from the people around me than myself. And now? Technical issues: despite the distance, temperatures ranging from -4 to +38, lots of gravel, a few hundred kilometres of sand, all I lost was one headlight and my clutch…well done BMW. Dangerous situations in the past three months? None. Attacks against me or my property? Zero. Health issues? Nada.

Instead, curiosity, openness, helpfulness…wherever I went. I wonder when finally Europe will realise that Africa is more than just wildlife and starvation in the Sahel but is actually a story worth listening to and a wisdom to be learned from.

The best moment? Too many. Victoria Falls, the Namib, having my mates here to share the ride… But if I had to pick one it would be the sight of 25,000 English football fans switching mood from “children’s birthday party” to “funeral” in less than two hours. It was extremely funny, and will make me laugh for years to come.

The saddest memory? Poverty and inequality breeds many painful situations, but the picture of prostitutes from all over the continent, in awful physical condition, offering themselves to truck drivers at the Botswana-Zambia-Zimbabwe border will haunt me for a long time.

Thanks to Moenier, to Convey (J), to Natasha, to Bruce…you made my trip, we’ll stay in touch, and I hope I get the chance soon to host you in my city.

Thanks for reading this. I hope it did not steal too much of your time and: Travel…whenever you can!!!

Cheers, Andreas.