Namibia: Buchters Have Mixed Feelings Over Newlook Festival

The Lüderitz Crayfish Festival will showcase on the Namibian calendar again this year after being suspended for two years due to Covid-19. New Era recently took to the streets of the southern coastal town to ask residents how they perceive the event.

Thomas Swartbooi, a security officer here, reasoned that the main attraction at the festival will be that of visitors being able to taste crayfish at an affordable price. “I believe it will be also the first time for some of them to eat this healthy delicacy from our ocean,” he added.

He said events such as this festival can boost the town’s economy in that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be allowed to promote and sell their products at stalls to be provided over the three-day period. “I will definitely attend the festival, as this is a once-off annual opportunity, more so seen in the light that we had the last one in 2019,” observed Swartbooi.

Manick Festus is, however, a bit skeptical over the event. “Why should the organisers always hire artists from outside town at an expensive rate to provide entertainment during the festival whilst we as locals, when approached, are getting ‘peanuts’ compared to what these outsiders walk away with at the end?” he questioned. He furthermore alleged that only a certain group of ‘highly-placed’ people are benefitting every year from the event, enriching themselves in the process.

The long-distance driver added that he will not attend the festival, as it will be too expensive to do so. Another resident, informal trader Natalia Hamutenya was very optimistic about the festival.

“I will go there to sell my products, which consist more of dried meat products,” she enthused. Hamutenya expressed her desire to see more traditional food and handmade items at the event.

She, however, on behalf of others trading at the same place, registered their unhappiness of not being informed about applications to run commercial stalls at the venues. “We feel disadvantaged for not being given this golden opportunity, and we must now sell our stuff outside the premises where the event will take place,” she added.

She echoed the sentiment that those from outside town visiting the festival will bring in much-needed capital to the town. Willem Swartbooi, who roams around the streets of Lüderitz on a daily basis, said he is hoping to land an odd job during the three-day event. “The organisers and SME owners should, however, consider us as the less fortunate when determining the prices of goods and services during the festival,” he said. Swartbooi added that he furthermore hopes that there will be more local ‘proudly Namibian’ products sold during the event. In his contribution, Erkkie Mupanda, a self-employed entrepreneur, felt the planning and organising of the event was done in a poor manner as not all can be accommodated. “Like in the past, one will find more exhibitors from places outside town, which is bad for the development of Lüderitz as money will now flow out of town, ” he noted.