Namibia, be humble

The Namibian visa story drained a lot of my energy and there are still a lot of things that I don’t understand:

  1. Why would the policy of a country not welcome people who are willing to work for free for non-profit organizations that end up creating work places for local people?
  2. Why would it take 4 months to make a decision about a visa application?
  3. Why would you call to announce that the visa was approved and the permit can be picked up when in fact the application was rejected, and the permit transforms into a letter of rejection?
  4. Why do so many people working for the government abuse their positions?
  5. Did they even read the application before making a decision or are all the applications for which no bribes were paid just rejected by default?

I would be very grateful if anyone could explain at least some of these things to me.

Short version of this long story: since mid March, we (BEN Namibia and I) are trying to apply for a one year volunteer permit for myself. Namibia doesn’t understand the concept of “volunteers”, so it has to go through a working visa application. 26th of June the visa was rejected. 8th of July home affairs called to say that it was approved, it only needs to be picked up. 17th of July home affairs hands in a rejection letter instead of the working permit.

I was getting really enthusiastic about my future work in Namibia, I was picturing bike trailers in many other places, not just Walvis Bay, I was imagining myself biking around Namibia, promoting this free and healthy way of transportation, I was starting to think of a “riding your bicycle month” fundraising campaign, I was thinking about ways to estimate the impact of an NGO on a given community. So many ideas, so much time waiting for a response, so much stress to obtain all sort of ridiculous documents, so many people trying to make it happen…and all for nothing. And that’s when the “something” was an unpaid job for an organization that has improved that lives of many Namibians so far.

Oh, well…for sure it’s not the first, nor the last time when ideas and good intentions go to waste because of bureaucracy, abuse of power and/or corruption.

Meanwhile, I’m featured in the national newspaper of the only country in the world which refused me a volunteer visa so far. Not for this story (yet), but for the best job I ever had: collecting garbage on the streets for recycling.

It was nice to get to know you, Namibia. You might think you’re special and maybe you actually are, but that doesn’t mean you have to be so damn arrogant. Being humble is generally a better strategy.

On the road again…Tanzania next week.

5 thoughts on “Namibia, be humble”

  1. I had a qualified Zimbabwean workshop foreman, for 11 years, who trained many NIMT students, that became a force in the field.
    The same inconsiderate/incompetent handling by Home affairs let him and his family emigrate to New Zealand, where they were more than welcome.
    Obviously this put a stop to our training future Namibian artisans.
    Anybody who needs qualified artisans in Namibia knows that such is an extreme rarity 🙁
    The question, begs WHY ?

  2. I would be interested to find out how easy it would be for a Namibian to get a one year volunteer visa in your country of residence. Im guessing the answer would be: ” extremely difficult”. Regardless of how good you think your intentions might be and how you have been treated elsewhere; nobody is entitled to enter a country and just expect to get a free reign to do what they want. Maybe you are the one that should remember to be humble. Is an autonomous africa free of foreign intervention such a bad thing?

    1. Thank you for your comment. You are raising some good points, indeed. The truth is that I don’t know how complicated it would be for a Namibian to obtain a volunteer visa in Romania. Besides, there is often corruption in Romania around these things. I didn’t expect to get a free reign to do what I wanted…but I would have appreciated to have been told after one month that a visa is not possible, given the intentions explained in my motivation letter, not only after 4 months of moving around, waiting for an answer. I would have also appreciated not to have been told that the visa was accepted, only to find out that it was actually rejected when picking up the letter. Yeah, I guess autonomous Africa/Europe/America/Australia/Antarctica is in general a good idea. Except when foreign interventions help create more jobs for locals, improve education in villages, bring access to technology in remote areas etc etc. If I think of Romania, I know for sure that a lot of the foreign interventions were bad for the country. Yet many others improved things. But you are right. For sure everyone needs to be reminded to be humble, including myself. 🙂

  3. Discrediting the whole country for one organisation’s bureaucracy, abuse of power and/or corruption us you call it is not cool.

    1. Don’t get me wrong: I still love Namibia and most of the Namibians I’ve met during my stay there. There are many people in Namibia that I miss and I’ll never forget. I was just trying to raise a point related to a big organisation that is part of the government – Home Affairs – and, if not corrupt, it proved to be very inefficient every time I had to deal with it. It’s a pity, as many foreigners have good intentions and could contribute towards the development of the place.

Share what you're thinking - sharing is caring. :-)