The freedom murals in Windhoek, capital of Namibia, are its most eye-catching feature. Long walls on which people have been encouraged to express their thoughts and feelings about a hard-won independence, these have turned into mesmerising tapestries of slogans and pictures in riots of bright, grateful colour. "Africa is coming South," I read in several places, and "Thank you UN!" I even found an Indian tricolour on one, acknowledging India’s support to the Namibian freedom struggle. Standing before these murals is a curious experience: humbling and yet intoxicating. For this well-after-midnight’s-child, it was the closest I have ever come to a taste of that famous spirit of 1947. In the murals, the spirit, the sentiment, the emotion, is nearly palpable.
You also feel them in an old hilltop fort. Now the national museum, it’s filled with mementos from the early days of independence. There are photos; emblems of the UN observer teams who monitored the first free elections here; T-shirts and buttons from the parties that fought them. Not your usual museum bric-a-brac, but who wants that? Especially in what may be the only museum in the world informal enough to display a rock concert poster: from Ziggy Marley’s Independence Concert.
And the museum is thronged by excited, curious, chattering Namibians. And they seem intoxicated with that spirit of freedom as well.