Namibia, a former German colony, has been an independent nation since 1990 when it broke with South Africa after a protracted and bloody conflict. Located on Africa’s Atlantic coast, Namibia is bordered by South Africa, Zambia, Angola, Botswana, and is separated from a small slice of Zimbabwe where the Zambezi River arcs between the two nations. Namibia is a constitutional democracy and is the first nation in the world to include environmental protections in its constitution. It has a stable government, and since independence, has managed to avoid the internal strife that plagues so many African nations. English is the official language; although, Afrikaans, German, and native languages are also spoken. Much of the population is multilingual. Its history is like much of Africa’s: tribal rule followed by colonial rule and finally independence.
Despite the somewhat dodgy reputation of Wikipedia articles, this one gives an accurate and concise account of Nambia’s history:
“The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by San, Damara, and Namaqua, Since about the 14th century AD, immigrating Bantuarrived as part of the Bantu expansion. Since then the Bantu groups in total, known as the Ambo people, have dominated the population of the country and since the late 19th century, have constituted a large majority.
In the late 19th century during European colonization, the German Empire established rule over most of the territory as a protectorate in 1884. It began to develop infrastructure and farming, and maintained this German colony until 1915, when South African forces defeated its military. After the end of World War I, in 1920 the League of Nations mandated the country to the United Kingdom, under administration by South Africa. It imposed its laws, including racial classifications and rules. From 1948, with the National Party elected to power, South Africa applied its apartheid policy also to what was known as South West Africa. In 1878 the British Cape Colony had annexed the port of Walvis Bay and the offshore Penguin Islands; these became an integral part of the new Union of South Africa at its creation in 1910.
In the later 20th century, uprisings and demands for political representation by native African political activists seeking independence resulted in the UN assuming direct responsibility over the territory in 1966, but South Africa maintained de facto rule. In 1973 the UN recognised the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) as the official representative of the Namibian people; the party is dominated by the Ambo people, who are a large majority in the territory. Following continued guerrilla warfare, South Africa installed an interim administration in Namibia in 1985. Namibia obtained full independence from South Africa in 1990. But Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands remained under South African control until 1994.”
This is the center of the downtown area. Windhoek is a city of colonial German style buildings and glass towers.
Nambia’s capital and largest city is Windhoek, a place where the past and the present blend in a seamless mix that would not make sense in another place or time. On the main downtown street, merchants offer every conceivable modern item while across the street in the city park in front of government buildings, villagers from the countryside dressed in traditional garments sell their handmade baskets, carvings, and trinkets spread out on blankets in the shade of acacia trees. Only the tribe that clings most closely to the ways of their ancestors, the Himba, are not seen in Windhoek. Every other group at some point comes to the capital.
For me, the most interesting place we visited while in Windhoek was a restaurant, Joe’s Beerhouse. Not before or after have I seen anything quite like it. The roasts of game animals are served buffet style, accompanied by local fruits and vegetables. The food was delicious, but it is the venue itself that stands out in my memory. Imagine a large African mud daubed village style thatch roofed enclosure that is open to the air in the middle so that the smoke from a huge fire pit can escape. Under the roof are additional fire pits and dining tables. The walls are decorated with traditional African artifacts and craft items. The mahogany bar looks like one at which Hemingway might have once enjoyed a beer. The atmosphere is a combination of touristy commercialism and traditional African culture. Dining there on a winter evening is recommended as the fire pits will be roaring and the buffet will be groaning. It’s a hoot and would make a great setting for a novel!
Title: Miami Days, Havana Nights
Series and Book #: sequel to Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel
Author/pen name: Linda Pennell
Genre: dual timelines of historical fiction/contemporary women’s fiction
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Date of Publication: July 18, 2018
Number of pages: 556
Word Count: 103,000
Debts. Most people have them. Many involve money. Others fall into less well-defined categories.
1926, New York City. After witnessing a gangland murder, seventeen-year-old Sam Ackerman is sent to Miami under Moshe Toblinsky’s protection. Once in Miami, Sam is forced into bootlegging. He falls in love with Rebecca, whose devout parents refuse to approve the match until he disentangles himself from his criminal bosses. With the end of Prohibition, Sam persuades Toblinsky to set him free. The price? A debt, as Toblinsky puts it, of friendship. A debt that Sam keeps secret from Rebecca. A debt that will one day come due.
Present day, Gainesville, Florida. History of American Crime professor Liz Reams seems to have it all - early success in her field, a tantalizing discovery associated with old time gangster Moshe Toblinsky, and the love of a wonderful man. Life is perfect. So why does she keep refusing her guy’s proposals? Her journey toward understanding begins when she must confront a long-term, yet unacknowledged, personal debt. Once on the path of self-discovery, she finds clarification at every turning, most importantly during her research into Sam’s life. All of these personal revelations come at a price, however, as she becomes embroiled in emotional and physical dangers that may prove greater than she can handle.
Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F7NFD8K
May 18, 1926
105 South Street
New York City
Knocking - sharp, loud, rapid - echoed through the empty speakeasy. Sam froze, the notes of a tune stuck in the roof of his mouth. He glanced at the entrance and leaned the handle of his push broom against his shoulder. Puffs of dust settled on the floor boards around his feet while he remained motionless.
It was late, too late, to be admitting customers, even for the city's illegal watering holes and gambling joints. Although a thick crossbar and several stout locks protected the heavy iron door, an uneasy feeling crawled down Sam's spine. Growing tension over control of the Fulton Fish Market, in fact the entire South Street area, was making a lot of people jumpy, including him.
Several seconds passed without noise from the other side of the door. Sam let out his breath and laughed at himself. Working at the fish market in the afternoon then staying up half the night at the speakeasy didn't leave much time for sleep. It kept him on edge. All the rumors and threats floating around these days weren't helping either. Inclining his ear and hearing nothing, he relaxed and gave his broom a shove.
Bam, bam, bam.
Sam's heart jumped into his throat.
"Open up, Monza. I know you're in there." The shout, colored by an Irish lilt, came from the second floor landing accompanied by renewed pounding. "I come to talk with ya. We need to settle this business. I got a proposition for ya."
Sam's breathing kicked up a notch as he looked over his shoulder toward the office. The boss didn't like to be disturbed when he was meeting with his guys. The pounding from outside in the hall returned in earnest, but the office door remained fixed.
"You gonna open this damned door or do I break it down?" The doorknob rattled and jerked.
Behind Sam, the office door clicked open an inch. He watched in the mirror over the bar as the muzzle of a .38 Special emerged from the opening, its nickel-plated barrel glittering in the overhead lights. One of the gangsters stepped into the room, met Sam's eye in the mirror, and jerked his head, then the room went dark. Sam dropped his broom and backed into an alcove next to the bar. The office door opened wider. Several shadows scurried across the floor. Metal locks and bolts snapped and clanked, then the entrance door swung inward.
I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother's porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.
As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, "Let's pretend."
I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.
"History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up." Voltaire
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