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Siteseeing-Tour Nkurenkuru

We start our site seeing tour of Nkurenkuru in the centre of the town.

Here, where the D3405-Gravel-Road from Rundu ends, and where the main road turns sharply to the West, is the centre of the town. What do you expect in the centre of a small town: The market place, the supermarket, petrol station and the place where the taxis cars stops to pick up people on their way to Rundu? All these used to be here in the centre, but part of it moved to other areas of the town. But we consider this junction still the centre of Nkurenkuru. Here at the big decorative limestone block, next to the signboards, you can meet the people of the town and hear the latest news of Nkurenkuru.

If you have a look around you will soon discover the different building styles found in this village: traditional buildings build with tree trunks and clay next to brick buildings. A small stall in which somebody is selling used clothes from Europe the stand fixed together with used plastic sheets next to a big supermarket. The big black plastic container out of which the self brewed Tombo is sold covered by an old sack next to the Restaurant with bar where you can buy cold Windhoek beer. The subsistence farmer who keeps his cattle and goats with him in the village and cultivates his field alongside his house in spite of the official policy that this declared area should not be used for agricultural purposes next to the well paid teacher in his brick house. This obvious contrast is even stronger in relation with the other side of the river, here in Nkurenkuru you have electricity, a working telephone line, cars and satellite dishes, things which were unthinkable of in Angola a few years ago, when that country submerged from a 30 year long civil war.

It is from this central place in town that we turn to the North. In the old days this was the small track that led from Nkurenkuru to Simanya in the North and from there to the border post at Katwitwi. Nowadays the former track, which has been widened to a broad gravel road, forms part of the town. On your left hand side you will pass a high wall behind which one of the most fruitfull gardens of Nkurenkuru was once hiding. Fruittrees and big vegetable fields were supplying the town and its surrounding with fresh products, when the big "Cola-Cola" supermarket was still funtioning. A visit to the garden was always a special event.On

Next to the former "Cola-Cola" supermarket which was found on different locations of Kavango is the house of one of the elders of the town. Master Nairenge, whom many consider to be the mayor of Nkurenkuru, has moved to Nkurenkuru many years ago and build his house in this central location of the village. On your right you will pass the former slaughter place. Here meat was sold in big pieces, according to your own need. Before the market was build, each seller had his or her own construction as a Cuca-shop in which the best Tombo of Nkurenkuru was sold.

If you walk on the street to the west, you will soon the blue image of the Okavango in its valley. A road, next to the petrol station, leads down to the river. From here a ferry is again run to Angola, after it was not in use for many years during the civil war in Angola. If the ferry is used it is a sign that peacefull years have returned to both countries. If the river has very little water in the dry season of the year the river can be crossed at this place without a boat or ferry. The water over the sandbanks will only reach till your knees and it is possible to pass the river by feet.

From your position in the main road of Nkurenkuru you will recognize the Angolan settlement Cuangar on the high dune on the other side of the river. It is that settlement and its history that gave the reason why Nkurenkuru was established at the present position. It was in Cuangar (formely called Fort Kuangar) Here, at the big bend of the river was the former palace of the Kwangali hompas. The represantatives of the colonial powers wanted to be as close as possible to the kings palace. This was the motivation why the Portuguese build their military fort next to the settlement and called it "Fort Kuangar", as a reminder of their neighbours. It was not long after the Pourtuguese that the German colonial masters followed suite and build their first police station on this side of river, excactly oposite the kings palace. That was nearly a century ago. What you now see of Cuangar has nothing to do with the number of cups of Tombo you have finished, but are the remains of the buildings after the civil war and the many attacks that left the former beautiful town in ruins. For many years during the recent history Cuangar was only used as a military camp. Depending of the situation during the civil war, the ruins were either in the hands of the UNITA or under the control of the Government army. The final defeat of UNITA in February 2002 and the death of Savimbi has cleared the way for peace in this part of Angola.

 

  2003 Hans Martin Milk,