Moving back to Windhoek after studying in Cape Town, the one thing I was apprehensive about was how I would long for my Saturday mornings at the farmer’s market. One of my best friends, Mewawa, mentioned the Windhoek City Market. I decided to try it out the very next market day.
It was a Friday afternoon, I arrived at The Village and was stunned by the surprising contrasts this block of buildings has to offer. From the outside its grey, and looks like a block of offices. On the inside it is spacious and green; this is where you can relax on your day off with a coffee in one hand and a good read in the other.
As I sauntered about, French sounds gently soothed the atmosphere and I admired quirky clothing and jewelry pieces that all seemed to call out to me: take me home with you!
Somewhere between getting Indolicious fried noodles, curried beef martabak, homemade moist brownies and searching for the perfect spot to unwind, I ran into an old high school friend, Lovisa. While we caught up on years, the sun set and the market turned into a balmy summer night with a village square feel.
The Windhoek City Market at The Village is the fusion of two dream-teams with one mission – to bring people together:
Meet the one dream-team, Wouter van Zijl and Leon Bernard: these two engineers developed the beautiful space on 18, Liliencron Street in Windhoek, where the market takes place. Wouter focused mainly on sewerage and Leon on the building structure.
I met Wouter and asked him: “What makes this building special?” “It is more than offices because offices are boring, and it relates to human interaction,” he replied.
Meet the other dream-team, Bernice van Staden and Nerine Uys: Bernice moved to Windhoek with her husband when he was transferred to work in Namibia. At the time she was a registered psychologist in Pretoria and thought she’d get back into it. To cut a long story short, the registration process for psychologists in Namibia was rather tiresome and Bernice was at a loss about what to do. Just a few months later her friend Nerine moved to Namibia with her husband from Cape Town. Together they dreamed of creating a market in Windhoek.
Nerine’s entrepreneurial spirit fired on Bernice’s talents, and the first market took place in February 2014. It became a regular event, hosted once every three months at Eagles Beergarden & Restaurant and United Sport Field stadium.
In a latter time, Wouter and Leon reached out to Bernice and Nerine, to host the market at The Village, as they all have a similar dream – of course the ladies agreed!
I asked both Bernice and Wouter: “What do you want the market to be remembered for?” Bernice said: “Community building and letting others know that everything is going to be okay”. Wouter said: “Overcoming racial discrimination and accepting one another”. I can only second both of them; whenever I visit the market, I feel at ease and at home amongst a mixed crowd of people – a feeling worth experiencing yourself.
Nerine moved to Swakopmund early last year, and an opportunity for a new market was born! Their first Swakopmund market opened its doors in September, in Hendrik Witbooi Street, across the Hansa Hotel inside the Old Edgars building. This is Nerine’s and Bernice’s first permanent in-door market, which has its own distinctive culture and atmosphere.
As much as the Windhoek City Market creates a space and time to unwind, it is a space where Namibians and visitors to our country can support each other’s dreams. It has created a unique opportunity for small business owners to learn and grow.
So, if you’re tired and a tad uninspired after a week of work, studies, city sightseeing or lazing around, go and roam about at the Village. Make a new friend or two, let the assortment of food stalls make you forget about what to cook for dinner for one night and enjoy the market’s cosy yet urban atmosphere. See you there!
See below 2018 market dates for Windhoek and Swakopmund.
Have you ever been to the Windhoek City Market? What do you like most about it? Let us know by sharing your story in the comment section below.
Author – I’m Nela, from Windhoek Namibia but born in a small village called Omatunda in northern Namibia. I am passionate about writing, research and photography, as it helps me gain knowledge about people and my country.