The main event in Munich finished earlier this month on the 5th October. The Windhoek Oktoberfest may not compete with over six million patrons and 7.5 million liters of beer drunk (enough to fill three Olympic swimming pools) but in its own way, it is flying the flag for the reputation of good beer and hospitality in this south western corner of Africa.
On the 25th and 26th October, the Sport Klub Windhoek will host the 55th edition of the Oktoberfest. Over 5000 people are expected to attend (compared to a 1000 in 2010). There are similarities to Munich of course. The women waitresses wear traditional dirndl dresses, the men wear lederhosen, the beer is served in steins and the Kirchdorfer band (the main band during the Munich festival) will be playing. Traditional German delicacies of Hendl (grilled chicken), Brezel (huge pretzels) and Shweinshaxe (pork knuckles) will be served.
Adding a certain local flavour will be Namibian band Famaz Attak and there will be long established activities and games like archery and tree trunk sawing.
The main event is the beer of course. Most beers will be provided by Namibian Breweries (NB) who adhere strictly to the age old German rules of the Reinheitsgebot. This ‘purity law’ was enacted in 1516 to control beer quality standards, and stipulates certain conditions such as the recipe can only include barley, malt, yeast and hops. NB will be bringing out a special festival brew of Hansa beer. I am a big fan of the clean taste of the local Namibian brews especially the flagship Windhoek lager.
It takes a certain suspension of belief and environment to be at an Oktoberfest in southern Africa with an average temperature of 22°c but if any country can carry it off, it is Namibia. This former German colony is peppered with solid German architecture and there are a significant number of locals who speak German and have maintained certain traditions and customs.
The Namibians are also an hospitable lot. No one is too stressed in this corner of Africa and the locals are quick with a smile and a helping hand. This festival is growing fast with visitors from all over the world testifying to its popularity. It promises to be a great weekend, if you will be able to remember it!
Windhoek Oktoberfest by Nicolas Edwards