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In Windhoek it’s “o´zapft”, too

Avatar of inke inke 24. October 2017 - Discover Namibia, Culture


The tradition of having an Oktoberfest in Namibia’s capital city of Windhoek started almost six decades ago. Vats will be tapped on the Windhoek Wiesn, better known as the SKW sports grounds, on 27 and 28 October, when temperatures in this part of the world already soar to 30 degrees Celsius and more. 

As befits the occasion, especially young people increasingly enjoy adopting the Bavarian dress code of lederhosen and dirndl. More than 5000 people are expected to flock to the two-day event, organised by Namibia Breweries and SKW (Sport Klub Windhoek). The brewery, which famously adheres to the German ‘beer purity law’ of 1516, created another Festbier, a festival tipple that will only be available during the Oktoberfest. As brew master Christian Müller proudly explains: “Festbier is a special brew with a higher volume due to more wort. The permitted alcohol content is 5.0 to 6.2 percent. We achieved 5.6 percent this year, right in the middle. The beer has a lovely rounded flavour, with the sweeter malty notes dominating the balanced hop bitters. There are light biscuit notes, too.”

As in the previous years, the Kirchdorfer Musikanten will take care of the musical entertainment. They will travel to Windhoek straight from the Oktoberfest in Munich. The Bavarian music ensemble is very popular with the Namibian crowd and will have them rocking again. The chairman of the Windhoek Oktoberfest Committee, Norbert Wurm, also announced a newcomer to this year’s festival – Broers, a South African band.  

There is more to the Windhoek Oktoberfest than drinking beer, dancing and partying. Various activities are part of the programme again: log sawing, high striker, a competition to knock nails into timber in the shortest possible time, kicking soccer balls into a goal wall and bow shooting. Beer mug lifting is for ladies only and they have to wear a dirndl to compete. The winner will reign as the Queen of Beer for a year.  

With pork roast, pretzels, Weißwurst (Bavarian veal sausage), roast chicken, Obatzda (a soft cheese dip) and more on the menu, nobody will go hungry.

The Windhoek Oktoberfest is quite unique because German tradition blends with African flair. It brings Namibia’s various population groups together for partying, having fun and enjoying the excellent Windhoek Beer. On Friday gates will open at 17:00, while the official opening of the festival will take place around 19:00. On Saturday the fun starts at 11:00 with live music joining in from between 12:00 and 13:00. Partying will continue until late at night on both Friday and Saturday.  

When the 26th Oktoberfest was held in 1985, Hans-Werner Trümer, then the chairman of the SKW, said in an interview with the Windhoek Observer: “Kurt Dahlmann, the editor-in-chief of Allgemeine Zeitung, should actually be regarded as the ‘father’ of the Oktoberfest in Windhoek”. Back in 1960 Dahlmann proposed to organise a Bavarian-style beer festival at the SKW to raise funds for the sports club. The first Octoberfest already took place over two days, a beer called Tetje-beer was brewed specially for the occasion. Food and drinks were in abundance. The highlight of the event was the ‘rags ball’ on Saturday evening, which included a traditional costume competition and the crowning of the Beer Queen. The event had to come to an end already at midnight.

The Oktoberfest is a fixture on Windhoek’s calendar of events. A Beer Queen was crowned from the start in 1960. The title is earned by the lady who is able to lift the largest number of beer mugs in one go – no trays are used. The first Beer Queen was Marianne Berker, wife of Hans Berker who was later appointed the country’s chief justice. 

In the mid-eighties a ‘brick lifting’ competition was held for men. Participants had to line up a row of bricks and lift them pressed together from both ends. The bricks had to stay in place for at least ten seconds. In 1985 Dirk Roos won with 17 bricks. Brick lifting was later replaced by log sawing, and Fritz Küstner und Dieter Neumann were the champions in 1990.  

Tickets for the 2017 Windhoek Oktoberfest are available at Pick ‘n Pay stores nationwide and via www.webtickets.com.na 

Dirk Heinrich

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