Home > About > Photos


32 photos.

House 16, Ponhofi School, Ohangwena, Namibia, 1997 House 16, Ponhofi School
Ohangwena, Namibia, 1997
I stayed in this house in late 1995 with Liam Garvey from Australia.
Greg Vogl, Windhoek, Namibia, 1995 Greg Vogl
Windhoek, Namibia, 1995
Me shortly after 'swearing in' as a US Peace Corps Volunteer.
child outside a tin house, Oniipa, Namibia, 1995 child outside a tin house
Oniipa, Namibia, 1995
Because of the recent population boom, deforestation has limited the amount of available wood (mostly from omusati/mopane trees) for fencing and housing. As a result, a more Western style of housing has been adopted: rectangular houses made of metal or concrete, with wire mesh for fencing. These houses are hotter and costlier, but they are more permanent, they save wood, and their modernity makes them a status symbol. A volunteer teacher I knew lived in a traditional compound in a hut with walls made of cement interspersed with hundreds of empty dumpies (beer bottles) to act as tiny windows of light. Another volunteer helped to stock a dumpie library with books. Tin buildings are very commonly seen on roadsides, often serving as bottle stores (bars).
Class 11C, Ponhofi School, Ohangwena, Namibia, 1995 Class 11C, Ponhofi School
Ohangwena, Namibia, 1995
Most of the girls were in the required uniform most of the time, but the boys preferred to pretend to be rebels. In many schools, students cannot afford to buy a uniform, but at Ponhofi this was mostly a false excuse. The students were generally friendly, polite and well-behaved. They tried incredibly hard, despite their limited exposure to English, so although the teachers did not enforce discipline well, they usually did not have to. Most students came from rural farms, yet they hoped to get a job in a town or city, where the competition for white-collar jobs is stiff.
100-yard dash on the football (soccer) field, Ponhofi School, Ohangwena, Namibia, 1995 100-yard dash on the football (soccer) field, Ponhofi School
Ohangwena, Namibia, 1995
Sport and recreation facilities are very limited in rural areas in the North. Sports shoes and uniforms are luxuries that few schools or students can afford. Also, it must be difficult to be an athlete considering the low amount of calories in the diet provided by the hostel cafeteria. Yet some of the boys appeared to have great potential. Sports for girls are not considered very important.
staff, Ponhofi Senior Secondary School, Ohangwena, Namibia, 1995 staff, Ponhofi Senior Secondary School
Ohangwena, Namibia, 1995
The teachers and staff at Ponhofi were a great team and fun to work with. They were a culturally and linguistically diverse group. Ponhofi had more volunteers than most schools and was relatively overstaffed (average teacher class load was *only* 25 to 30 hours per week out of 40, and average class size was about 35). The cities and relatively nice schools like Ponhofi attract the best teachers and students, so there is a very unequal distribution of talent.
mural, Windhoek, Namibia, 1995 mural
Windhoek, Namibia, 1995
Murals are a popular form of art in urban Namibia and South Africa, especially around the time of independence and the end of Apartheid. This mural represents the diversity of Namibia's flora and fauna.
mine field, Ohangwena, Namibia, 1995 mine field
Ohangwena, Namibia, 1995
I passed this mine field every time I walked from the dining hall to the post office. Large armored trucks would drive through the mine fields and set off mines around lunch time. The border between Namibia and Angola remains fairly heavily mined, and many people, especially children, continue to be killed or injured by mines long after the end of the war. Children think the mines are toys and pick them up. An education and de-mining campaign has helped somewhat, but it is much more expensive to de-mine than to mine. The US continues to be one of the few countries that refuses to sign the international treaty banning land mines.
souvenirs on Post Street Mall, Windhoek, Namibia, 1995 souvenirs on Post Street Mall
Windhoek, Namibia, 1995
Souvenirs for sale include baskets, wood bowls and animal carvings, necklaces, and drums, most of which are made in the North. Downtown in the capital city is very similar to a European city: modern, clean, and many rich people. When you go to the suburbs you see the poor people in small houses crammed into dusty lots. During the Apartheid era, non-whites were driven into the suburbs, and though the law has changed, the inequalities are slow to go away.
fence and shelter inside a traditional homestead, Oniipa, Namibia, 1995 fence and shelter inside a traditional homestead
Oniipa, Namibia, 1995
A traditional Owambo homestead was a large maze of wooden fences surrounding a group of round wood huts with thatched roofs and sand floors, each of which served a different purpose (bedrooms, grain storage, kitchen, social quarters, etc.) Wealthier farmers now own cars or bakkies (pickup trucks).
my first house, Ponhofi School, Ohangwena, Namibia, 1995 my first house, Ponhofi School
Ohangwena, Namibia, 1995
I shared this house with Adams Kamulegeya, a Ugandan maths teacher I later met by chance in Mutukula in 2003, his Owambo wife Letu, their newborn baby, and some chickens (who had the biggest room). It was a modern concrete house with a metal roof, and electricity and running water (most of the time).
goat, Ohangwena, Namibia, 1995 goat
Ohangwena, Namibia, 1995
This goat was slaughtered for a party held by a British volunteer. Goats and cows are a common source of meat in the North, and goat meat tastes good when properly seasoned and cooked.
monkey, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, 1995 monkey
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, 1995
beer-bottle library, Oshikango, Namibia, 1995 beer-bottle library
Oshikango, Namibia, 1995
high jump, Ponhofi School, Ohangwena, Namibia, 1995 high jump, Ponhofi School
Ohangwena, Namibia, 1995
Joanitha dancing, Bukoba, Tanzania, 1995 Joanitha dancing
Bukoba, Tanzania, 1995
Joanitha at Bukoba Secondary School, Bukoba, Tanzania, 1995 Joanitha at Bukoba Secondary School
Bukoba, Tanzania, 1995
ferry, Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995 ferry
Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995
We took a ferry like this to get to the island. It only took about an hour, but it cost about as much as a three-day train trip to Zambia.
columns, Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995 columns
Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995
The influence of the highly advanced Swahili culture has extended up and down the coast of East Africa for several centuries. They traded with people of distant lands, sailing on the Indian Ocean in dhows.
door, Zanzibar Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995 door, Zanzibar Town
Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995
Zanzibar town is a picturesque Islamic city with narrow streets, ornately carved doorways, and centuries-old buildings which are being restored. It is becoming a major tourist destination in Africa.
mosque entrance, Zanzibar Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995 mosque entrance, Zanzibar Town
Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995
The Swahili people are Muslims; their language is a mix of Arabic and Bantu languages, and can be written in either Arabic or Western characters. Millions of people from several countries in east and central Africa speak Swahili.
National Museum, Zanzibar Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995 National Museum, Zanzibar Town
Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995
The Zanzibar National Museum includes many fascinating items from the Swahili and colonial eras.
cow and hut, Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995 cow and hut
Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995
The island's main industries are tourism and agriculture. Many kinds of spices are grown on the island for exporting.
tortoise, Prison Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995 tortoise, Prison Island
Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995
Prison Island is a short boat trip from Zanzibar town. There we saw the ruins of the prison, swam and snorkeled above the coral reefs. It is easy to find these large tortoises on the island. They move very slowly; the big ones must weigh over 200 kg.
sycamore fig tree, Ondangwa, Namibia, 1995 sycamore fig tree
Ondangwa, Namibia, 1995
The north has some very large trees that provide shade even in the dry season. In the rainy season, this tree is surrounded by water.
Makalani palm tree, Ohangwena, Namibia, 1995 Makalani palm tree
Ohangwena, Namibia, 1995
As you drive north towards Ondangwa, you are suddenly surprised by the appearance of these tall trees, which are an indicator of a relatively wet rainy season and of large underground water reserves. Ovambos use every part of the tree, which they call omulunga, e.g. the trunk for stools and cattle troughs, fronds for weaving baskets, eendunga (palm nut fruits) for food and oil, and sap for producing palm wine. Wood of other trees is used for housing, fencing, firewood, furniture, cups, bowls, buckets, fish traps, handles and weapons.
flamboyant tree, Morogoro, Tanzania, 1995 flamboyant tree
Morogoro, Tanzania, 1995
The red buds of Flamboyant trees are a common sight in southern Africa and add colour to the surroundings.
tree roots, Changuu (Prison) Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995 tree roots, Changuu (Prison) Island
Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995
For me, this picture symbolizes the idea that African roots run deep. Once you live there, you cannot forget your memories and responsibility to your friends and family there. You know that one day you will return. (Changuu Island used to be a prison; now it is inhabited by snorkelling tourists and giant tortoises.)
spiraling palm tree, Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995 spiraling palm tree
Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1995
Compared with those in Namibia, the trunks of palm trees on Zanzibar island are very tall and thin. The wind may have caused this tree to grow in a corkscrew shape.
baobab tree, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, 1995 baobab tree
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, 1995
Baobab trees are common throughout Africa and can be found in the northern part of Namibia, where they are known as omukwa. They can live for hundreds of years. This one is very old and has a trunk of about 10 metres across. The San use many parts of these trees.
Tom and Mary Vogl and parents, South Bend, Indiana, 1995 Tom and Mary Vogl and parents
South Bend, Indiana, 1995