Taming My Elephant
Tshiwa Trudie Amulungu
UNAM Press, October 2016
In Oshiwambo, the elephant is likened to the most challenging situation that people can face. If an elephant appears in the morning, all planned activities are put on hold and the villagers join forces to deal with it. For Tshiwa Trudie Amulungu, the elephant showed up on many mornings and she had no choice but to tame it.
Growing up in a traditional household in northern Namibia, during the period of South African rule, Amulungu’s life started within a very ordered framework. Then one she crossed the border into Angola with her schoolmates and joined the liberation movement. Four months later she was studying at the UN Institute for Namibia in Lusaka Zambia. She went on to study in France before returning after 12 years to take part in the elections that led to Independence.
Amulungu recounts the cultural shocks and huge discoveries she made, both in exile and after Independence, with honesty, emotion and humour. She draws the reader into her experiences, reflecting on the socio-historical-cultural context, and portraying life, friends, and community in the different places she lived.
This is a compelling story of survival, longing for home, fear of the return and overcoming adversity in strange environments. It is also a love story that brought two families and cultures together.
The author reflects on the vast differences in life experiences over three generations in her family. There is no comparison between her childhood and that of her children, let alone between their youthful experiences and those of her parents.
‘A remarkable and important book, which should be widely read in Namibia and by other general and academic readers interested in Namibia’
Heike Becker, Professor of Anthropology, University of the Western Cape