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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

HEAT, DUST AND DREAMS (article first published : 2002-11-10)

Namibia is a vast and still virtually-untouched wide open country. Since independence in 1990, the whole of the North’s vast wilderness has opened up to the urban adventurer – unfortunately not always to the benefit of the country’s plant and animal life and its delicately-balanced ecology.

In Heat, Dust and Dreams, Mary Rice and Craig Gibson first of all introduce us to the many wonders of the land itself. They then proceed, through words and quite breathtaking colour and black/white photography, to show how it may be possible to enjoy all this unique topography and history without destroying a very special part of the world’s treasure trove.

In the foreword to this book, the first they have ever written, the authors state: “It would be naïve and selfish to expect this long forgotten corner to remain pristine and untainted by the modern world – that one could somehow protect it from itself. It would also be disingenuous to suggest anything other than that the Kunene Region will, inevitably, change …”

Mixed with satellite and aerial photographs, the content explores the sand rivers that transect a corner of the region as well as some of the few floral inhabitants and plant life such as the extraordinary Welwitchia mirabilis with its long ribbon like leaves.

There are sections titled In conversation with … which feature a wide-ranging selection of people from a community game guard, a Dorslandtrekker from Outjo and an Otjitanda headman to Blythe Loutit and Mannetjie Ganaseb of Save the Rhino Trust. These profiles discuss their lives, memories of the past and perceptions of the future.

Heat, Dust and Dreams is a beautifully produced 160-page coffee table book published by Struik. In English and German it retails at a very reasonable R189.95. It is a must for anyone who has visited Namibia. Why not invest in it as a Christmas present for friends who love the adventure of travel? It’s equally a must for armchair travellers who appreciate any still-unspoiled part of this planet’s wonders. It’s a must, because it makes you think.– Peter Warren




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