How Current International Affairs Made Me Write about What to Drink in Namibia: A Soliloquy

With North Korea successfully testing two ICBM’s (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles), Venezuela’s government effectively shutting down any potential opposition and the White House switching positions more often than the Browns do quarterbacks, it’s hard to hold onto any potential optimism for the future of international affairs. However, I recently just finished the second season of Master of None and although it is a completely fictional television series, it provides an ending that gives fictional hope, which, is better than no hope at all.

The variables surrounding North Korea’s nuclear situation are plenty. From the latest UN Sanctions to Trump threatening the Hermit Kingdom with ‘Fire and fury the world has never seen’ to Chinese importing resources and goods from North Korea due to a humanitarian exception within the UN resolution banning coal exports from North Korea. Now, and if you’ve been witnessing the secret-but-not-so-secret bromance between China and North Korea, Beijing isn’t exactly keen on putting pressure on Pyongyang to change its behavior. But why?

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Well, looking at the expanding sphere of influence that China is creating in the Asian and Global arena, China does not want a regime collapse happening to its next door neighbor.  because of eventual political instability or upheaval but also due to the fact, if it were to occur, every nation against China’s outward moving influence would be at their gates with pitchforks and torches.

North Korea’s defiant behavior of UN Sanctions makes foreign affairs specialists and diplomatic experts wonder if they ever have been effective. Past sanctions (actually six rounds of sanctions) haven’t performed as many concerned countries would like them to and North Korea, with political, trade, and diplomatic underpinning from China, has seemed to merrily carry along with its nuclear program. So what makes these new UN sanctions more robust and potentially behavior-altering?

China has agreed to them and their tightening measures. It’s as if the friend who has supported you during your stint in AA but was secretly slipping Kahlua in your coffee stopped providing coffee. U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, has said that the latest sanctions are “the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation.” If history is any indicator of the future, North Korea may continue its nuclear development despite targets of the UN sanctions, such as the Foreign Trade Bank, will suffer along with potentially costing the nation an estimated $1 billion a year.

The US and South Korea  both offer differing stances on the topic. The White House portraying a more threatening stance than the Undertaker on a WWE Monday Night Raw session while South Korea, specifically President Moon Jae In, are looking to establish a closer relationship with Pyongyang. However, the South Korean president stated that there will never be acceptance of war erupting again on the Korean Peninsula. Meanwhile, North Korea’s threat of using ICBM’s on the U.S. Territory of Guam, which is a strategic hub for the U.S. military, may put pressure on the South Koreans to face the reality of potential skirmishes erupting on the peninsula if any ‘preventative strikes’ do happen. Do I smell another Cuban Missile Crisis?

“This is not a coup d’etat.”

Those words were spoken by Juan Carlos Caguaripano, a former Venezuelan National guard captain about the military uprising and political crisis escalation occurring in the northern coastal South American country. Venezuela, which has been dealing with months of violent street protests and a President who is in the process of establishing a dictatorship, is slowly being pulled apart. Even raising the potential of slipping into a civil war.

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who, if you don’t follow the news or simply don’t care, has been attempting to establish a “constituent assembly,” which would be allowed to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution. Yes, to rewrite a constitution. Awfully scary thought if you are a Venezuelan citizen. What is even scarier is that the Supreme Court of Venezuela is more loyal to Maduro than a Red Sox fan living in Manhattan. Nothing says loyalty like staying true to your team behind enemy lines. Yet, citizens of Venezuela, actually more than 7 million of them, held a symbolic referendum vote that rejected Maduro’s draconian plan. The plan is seen by the public as a way for Maduro to keep control of Venezuela following the end of his term in 2019. 98% of the opposition supporters voted against the proposed “constituent assembly.”

Trump has threatened sanctions against Venezuela, specifically on the energy sector. But with Maduro already jockeying a regime that has jailed opposition leaders, postponed free elections, censoring news outlets, and in the midst of a failing economy with an increasing internationally known humanitarian crisis, any sanctions on the oil industry of Venezuela may make matters worse for the already suffering population and economic position. Furthermore, the US relies on Venezuela for a significant share of its oil supply. Historically, the US has sanctioned individuals of Venezuela including the vice president, Tareck El Aissami, and selected members of the Supreme Court.  Oh and I forgot to mention, Russia has diplomatic ties with the Maduro regime. Really throwing a Kremlin flavored piece of gum into the US foreign policy hairdo.

So. Where does this leave the US in the never-ending game of chess on the international table? Imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry can directly impact the US oil prices, forcing reliance on other suppliers (which some I’m assuming are hoping for) while causing millions of Venezuelan individuals, who are already scrambling faster than Trump’s media committee during his election campaign, to leave the country (already happening) or seek higher levels of foreign aid and assistance. Pressure from other South American countries is necessary along with UN intervention, at least provisionally or until the Venezuelan public and ex-military organize a framework to effectively oust Supreme Court members and keep Maduro’s crass idea of a “constituent assembly” as just an idea.

Despite potential nuclear threats, the rise of an acrimonious dictatorship in Latin America, and no finalized batting order for the White House roster, I’ve gone ahead and researched, sampled, and compiled a fairly decent list of what you may order when you belly up to the bar or find yourself at the next braai here in Namibia. I should note that I’m not condoning the use of alcohol but simply presenting what is available here since, and I’m a firm believer in this, eating and drinking your way into a culture is the best way to comprehend why things are done in a particular manner. And also because reading about alcohol is fairly intriguing. Not saying blogging about other topics such as entrepreneurship initiatives, methods of sustainable development, and my personal feelings are dull but let’s face it, someone starts talking about booze, we tend to lend an ear.

Or an empty glass.

To begin, let’s start with the basics. Beer and Wine. Beer IS the most common choice of libation here; so much so that Namibia ranks top five in beer consumption in the world. Don’t believe me? Check out statistics here. And here. Yet, alcohol abuse is a serious matter here and that should be dually noted with the high rate of beer consumption. Alcohol abuse leads to unemployment and imprudent spending which leads to higher levels of crime and unfortunately domestic abuse. And when you decide to add all of these ingredients into a blender and set it to liquefy, you end up with significant levels of income inequality and rates of unemployment. Not the prettiest side of alcohol but it’s a fact that the world must face up to.

The Reinheitsgebot. What is it and how does that word even come about in this poorly written blog post? It is because most, not all, beer here is brewed by the German Beer Purity law aka Reinheitsgebot. The Reinheitsgebot imposes that beer shall be only made with three ingredients: barley, hops and water. That’s it. No less, no more. It was established in 1516 in the Southern German region of Bavaria. Although, modern regulations have made adjustments since the initial adoption.

This stems from the time the Germans, along with many other European powers, colonized almost all of Africa in the late nineteenth century. The Germans specifically had their presence in Namibia (then known as South West Africa), Cameroon, Togo, Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania. While in South West Africa and being Germans, they imposed the Reinheitsgebot upon the small brewing industry here. World War I comes and goes, Germany loses possession of South West Africa to British control and then became a South African League of Nations mandate. The territory becomes a part of  South Africa, falling under the harsh rule of imposed apartheid and controlling Namibia until it’s hard and long fought independence in March of 1990. With that being said, the Reinheitsgebot remains as an integral part of the beer industry here and reflects on the variety of beer choices available.

The brewing industry in Namibia has one major player and that’s Namibia Breweries Limited. Founded in 1920 by Carl List and Hermann Ohlthaver, four breweries facing financial difficulties were combined under the encompassing name of South West Breweries Limited. After Namibia’s independence, the name was changed appropriately to, Namibia Breweries Limited, NBL for short. NBL brews their entire line of beers within the Reinheitsgebot.

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Now let’s get to what you can enjoy in Namibia when it’s Friday at happy hour and your week just ended…

Windhoek Lager

Fairly tasty lager that’s mild and distinctive in the hops department. Certainly popular but not the bread winner here amongst the locals. 4% ABV and like most good things, available in a variety of sizes. It’s probably number three on my depth chart.

Windhoek Draught

My personal favorite. Coming in six packs of 440ml cans, it’s perfect for bringing to a braai or party and can be drank year round. It’s what I like to call, sessionable. 4% ABV and fulfilling. Feels like drinking a Namibian version of Budweiser.,

Windhoek Draught
Yes. That’s my hand. And yes. That’s a Windhoek Draught. #Advertisement

Windhoek Light

Light lager, low in alcohol and calories. If you’re health-conscious or enjoy drinking non-alcoholic beer, which I don’t know why anyone would, then this is your choice. I’ve had it and I regretted it. 2.4% ABV and could be used as substitute for water if necessary.

Hansa Pilsener Draught

Cheap and easy to drink. Great with chips after a week of PST. They say its for socialising but let’s be honest, we all know what draft beer is capable of.

Tafel

What true locals drink. Usually my number two and right hand man if I’m looking to unlock that inebriated creativity that we all holster.

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Tafel Light

Above but light. Meh.

King

Made with Namibia barley. Yay for homegrown, boo for taste. I rarely see anyone drink this. I’ve sampled it and I got asked “Why are you drinking that?”

Carling Black Label

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You’re looking to get smashed quicker than Lou Brock stealing second base in his prime.

Flying Fish

Flavored beer created by SAB (South African Breweries). Surprisingly good but I’d personally recommend only two. Unless you really, really enjoy want that morning-after taste of ‘Crushed Orange’ and ‘Pressed Lemon’ to linger around your mouth.

Camelthorn

Small-batch Helles or Weiss beer. Haven’t tried or even really seen it but I’m always up for testing out the waters.

Urbock

Bock beer. Enough said. You take down three and you’re either sleeping or face first in a plate of boerewors. Seasonal availability. Bocks are like wolves in the sheeps clothing.

Castle and Castle Lite

You’re at a rugby match or you’re watching a rugby match. And probably in South Africa.

Tassenberg

Classy Tassies. Coke and Tassenberg. A Peace Corps Volunteer classic. Beware the headache.

Amarula Cream

Amarula Cream is a liquor made from the Marula fruit. A fruit native to Southern Africa which is known to get animals Shane MacGowan drunk after eating it. The Cream version is reminiscent of Bailey’s and would probably work as a substitute in Irish Car Bombs. Also, great in your Sunday morning coffee.

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Amarula

The non-cream version. Tasty, somewhat sweet, I’d throw it in with orange juice, ginger beer and some lemonade. How else are you going to quench that thirst in the mid-summer’s heat here?

Potency

This may be made with battery acid and the leftover ingredients of Red Bull. It’s purple but not an appetizing kind and is akin to Four Loko but if Four Loko was fermented in an old nuclear waste barrel.

Ombika

Oshiwambo moonshine. Ride the lightning my friend.

Oh and here’s me getting completely denied a handshake by a child. Enjoy.

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3 thoughts on “How Current International Affairs Made Me Write about What to Drink in Namibia: A Soliloquy

  1. My mom thinks that she sent the letter to you in July. She did not realize that it took that long for you to receive mail. Glad to hear that you are doing well. I bring my tablet to my moms house every three weeks or so and she catches up on all that you are writing. You are an excellent writer. You should get a job in journalism 😀. Sending love to you ❤️

    Like

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