Even Sarah was trained to become a bike mechanic; she’s been there the longest and is still sceptically watching us.
Bike and intercultural communication? Not necessarily! While Eileen is happy to inform us that the revenues are used to pay wages, purchase spare parts, tools and other bikes, and that the proceeds are even enough to support soup kitchens and kindergartens, Sarah continues to work around the bottom bracket of an old hardware store wheel without showing any interest in us. In a last burst of hope, we unload our mountain bikes and push them under the green awning. Her co-workers gather around showing their amazement. They’ve never seen a damper before, so they press on the fork and examine fascinated the disc brakes. A head squeezes through the closed rows of upright shoulders. Sarah. The invitation to ride a few laps with one of the bikes around the dusty courtyard paves the way for cultural understanding in the end after all.
An outstretched hand, a solid nimble step, the curly hair stowed proudly beneath a sun hat;
a day later we meet up with Anna, petite in size but with the character of a lioness. During the struggle for independence in Namibia, she was born in an Angolan refugee camp and only returned many years later to Katutura. In 2011, Anna Mafwila founded with a startup funding of the Development Bank of Namibia, a small company with an unusual plan, an innovative business she calls Katu Tours. She wants to use bicycles to bring her customers, mainly tourists, together with the population of Katutura, in an almost physical sense. Side by side with the locals, they should experience the cultural roots of the country’s traditional cuisine and the African way of life.