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A Namibian black worker

I cycle a light day for a change and stay at this guest house where I meet a construction worker.

A days rest became a great short fast cycling day. I did not like the place yesterday. They were only letting hotel guests use wi-fi and pool. Doesnt make you feel very welcome. So instead of rest I decided to go another 80 km to the next town. Thankfully the dirt road is hard and smooth, better then a tar road.

And the wind pushed me fast to my destination where I could finnish early and enjoy the pool before shopping and dinner.

As I arrive I take a quick dip in the pool and then go shopping. They use South African time here so the shop closes allraedy at five, Namibian time. Prices are pretty high. I pay 20 USD for 1 kg of apples, 3 tin cans of tuna fish, 1 pack of cereal (wheeta bits), 1 jar of root beets, 1 bag of chips, 1 L of milk and 2 cans of spagetti and meatballs. My guess is that half of the products are more expensive then in Sweden. I also buy meat separatly but this is cheap. I get two pieces of lamb, 1-2 portions for 2 USD. Everything except the meat is imported to Namibia and the further out in the countryside you go the higher are the prices.

So after shopping I come back and I meet this guy. He is 45 years old, but my gues would have been 55. He is skinny and the eyes are tired. There is a silence and a sadness over him every now and then. I meet him after arriving early to the guest house and I see him making his dinner at the campsite. I ask him if we should share our food and cook together. He is open for it.

I dont know if it was all he was going to have for supper but I know there is only less then half a pumpkin in his small boiling pot and the vegetable is done cooking as we meet. I add macaronies, meat and root beets to our kitchen session. We brake the fire wood as we start talking about what we do and cook together as darkness falls. He has no plate and eats from an old plastic container for butter.

Name: Ignasuis Rechter

Age: 45

Occupation: Constructionworker

Goal: To support his kid in all possible ways

Sorry. But can I ask how much you make doing what you do?

The owner here pays me 18 NAD/ h (1,4 USD per hour. But I have to tell him I need more. When the year is over I want to be able to build a shack as a home. A corrugated zink plate shed. 3x6 m in size.

The picture shows a street of theese type of shaks.

Ignasius continues; I work here at the guest house doing repairs and refurbishment, brick work and carpentry. If I get 20 NAD I will be able to save a litle and build the shack at the end of the year. It will cost me around 4000 NAB (300 USD) to build.

He is speaking very low, mumbling a litle. Not afraid for anyone to hear us over. But it is an old mans voice or a tired voice. Many times I ask him to repeat what he said. I dont here what he sais. He is smoking but not a lot, two packs a week.

The working hours are 7-17, 1 hour lunch, mon-frid or saturday sometimes. When the day is over I go to my room which the owner lets me stay in and I listen to radio. I cook my supper and take a shower. Then I listen to radio.

He went to school 8 years. Then he left the school so his sister could go to grade 12. It is more important fir a girl to go the whole way, or else the young girls get kids and marry early. She has her own construction trading company now. Ignasius used to work with her. But when he fell in love he moved to the town of his girlfriend who is now his wife.

The wife has four kids and Ignasius has been like the farher now for four years.

I used to work at the farms but it pays very bad. 1100-1500 NAD (90-120 USD) per month and then you also have to buy food.

My wife is working in a farm. She is drinking a lot. She is drinking to much that one, he repeats. She has three children since before. Our son is the fourth and is 1 year and 5 month old. I support my soon by buying cloths and food. I dont give money because his mother will drink it away.

After dinner I ask to see where he lives. We enter a room trough a simple wooden door next to the camping facilities. Probably an old shed for garden tools. There is no electricity. There is a bed in one corner. An outdoor metal table in the other corner and a few items are on and around theese furnitures. There is also one of those smoking spirals by the bed to keep mosquitos away. He lights a candle and we continue talking.

This picture is taken in the morning the day after of his room

At the farms he checked the fences and took care of cheap and cattle. Now he is doing all kinds of construction work and this is his first job on his own in this occupation. He had worked two month and will continue for several month here. In the last farm he came in to an argument with the boss and he had to go. And then he lost all his tools.

- - -

Over night I think about all he has said and I decide the fund should help him. He is deffinatly poor. And he is deffinatly working. It was pay day yrsterday and the town was full of drunk black village people, but he was not one of them. I will ask him to stop smoking but it will be his dessision.

I wake up and look out my tent and I see the man bringing his matres from the campsite to the room. He explains later that it is often so many mosquito that he sleeps better outside in the wind. I tell him I will help him with some tools and we agree to meet after breakfast.

The shop for tools is not well equipt. But we find some things and the fund also supports him with a new cheap phone. The former one his wife borrowed. She went out to drink and came back drunk and had lost his phone. It all costs 111 USD for the fund.

So now he thanks me for what I or the fund has done and he sais that he will ask for a litle more money by the hour from the owner and in a few weeks he will be allright. He thanks the lord for our meeting and he looks very happy in his eyes.

My thoughts linger on a sentence he said yesterday night in the candle light.

"Life is short and you have to make sure that you do everything that you can before you go to your rest place."

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