Taylor Price

Credentials: Namibia

2011 SKJ Fellow

Taylor Price departed for Namibia in the summer of 2011 — to explore “the role of traditional leaders … in implementing women’s rights policies enacted by the government” — and managed to extend her stay in the country for more than a year, carrying out research, networking, and bringing back a number of interesting stories.

Heroes’ Acre

Heroes’ Acre is a monument, located in Windhoek, to the soldiers that fought for Namibia’s independence from South Africa from the early 1960s to 1990. The monument itself reveals the influence of several design styles from across the world, including Greek and Roman friezes and Egyptian obelisks. Overall, Heroes’ Acre is reminiscent of several communist monuments, including China’s Monument to the People’s Heroes.

In addition to the aesthetic international influences, the story of Heroes’ Acre’s construction reveals the globalizing forces at work in Namibia as well. A North Korean company constructed Heroes’ Acre, a decision that met with public criticism of the government’s secrecy in awarding the tender. Chinese and Korean construction companies and workers can be seen all over Namibia. These companies are valued for their technical expertise and the workers for the low wages they command. Namibians are growing increasingly hostile towards these companies and workers, claiming that they are taking jobs from Namibians, among whom the unemployment rate is 40 to 50 percent.

International companies in downtown Windhoek

Namibia’s tiny population of 2.1 million people, combined with the vast Namib desert, has led to the country’s incredibly low population density, second only to Mongolia. This low population density, combined with its lack of arable land, small population and relatively recent civil war, has hampered the growth of domestic industries. While Namibia has relatively strong dairy and beef industries, most of the food and manufactured goods purchased by Namibian consumers are trucked in from South Africa.

Malls in Namibia

Malls have replaced outdoor markets as the center of commerce and shopping in urban Namibia. The behavior one sees in these malls is quite similar to what one observes in North America—teenagers walk around in packs, treating it as a place to see and be seen, while families drive in from Windhoek’s surrounding rural areas on the weekend to shop for school supplies, clothing, and groceries.

Read on about Taylor’s experience here.