Marianne Young

Marianne Young

High Commissioner, Windhoek

Part of UK in Namibia

5th March 2012 Windhoek, Namibia

Hitting the road least travelled by to the South of Namibia

I have just returned from a fascinating week-long familiarisation trip to the deep south of Namibia. I visited British businesses, a High Commission-funded environmental project, met with local mayors, officials from the Karas Governor’s office, flew by helicopter to visit NamDeb’s offshore marine diamond operations, saw a 16th century Portuguese shipwreck, talked to local school children about the benefits of the Commonwealth, and tracked down a Chevening scholar and some British nationals to help reinforce our wardens’ network. It was a packed itinerary covering several thousand kilometres. It helped give me a real flavour of this special region of the country and learn a lot more about its varied challenges.

HE Mrs Marianne Young at the Mayte Emergency Medical Rescue Clinic

My route took me through three provinces, starting south from the capital Windhoek via Solitaire (where the justly famous local apple pie turns out to be sold by someone of British extraction) to visit the new medical clinic in Sesriem. The clinic was set up by a Romanian tourist, who tragically lost his wife in a car accident in this isolated area and subsequently funded the medical facility. The clinic now caters to the mainly tourist market visiting nearby Sossusvlei, the site of Namibia’s stunning red dunes. I was really impressed by the dedication and energy of the young Namibian paramedics I met manning the centre but sobered by the tales of the accidents they dealt with. It was a salutary reminder of the need to encourage everyone travelling the dirt and gravel roads of rural Namibia to stick to the speed limits and avoid travelling at night, where animals on the road can pose a far greater hazard than people falling asleep. With 31,000 British nationals visiting Namibia last year, this is an important point that I can’t stress enough, as car crashes remain one of our major consular issues in Namibia. Arrive alive!

From there I continued south to call on NaDeet, the impressive environmental education centre in the NamibRand Nature Reserve. The British High Commission funded some solar panels for the centre, so it was good to see them in action and to learn more about the residential education programmes available for local school children. Activities include learning to cook on solar cookers, minimising water and electricity usage, and encouraging more active links between humans and the environment. In a country blessed with so much sunshine, it is great to see creative ways of harnessing the sun’s rays to deliver practical services and enhance renewable energy use.

A visit to NADEET

We glimpsed the wild horses of the Namib after passing through Aus to the coast. At the pretty coastal town of Luderitz, I learned about ambitious water front development plans from the Mayor, Her Worship Susan Ndjaleka, and CEO of the Luderitz Waterfront Development Company, Fluksman Samuehi, a former Chevening scholar and MP, who studied in Lancaster. Luderitz is interested in twinning with a comparable British coastal town in the same way that Tsumeb has twinned with Chesterfield, which I will discuss further with the Namibian High Commissioner in London. But I would be grateful for any constructive ideas in the meantime to get this council to council process underway.

I then had the rare opportunity to get escorted south through the Sperrgebiet National Park, the prohibited coastal zone where access is controlled by De Beer’s local operating company, NamDeb, to reach the closed diamond mining town of Oranjemund. I will write a separate blog on my diamond mining experience but suffice to say that it was a fascinating glimpse into this hitherto cut off and rarely accessed world. My trip included visits to a NamDeb’s offshore marine mining vessel, their on-shore operations and the wreck of a 16th century Portuguese trading vessel, which was discovered during beach mining operations in 2008 and has been described as “one of the world’s most exciting archaeological discoveries on the African continent in the past 100 years”.

After visiting the mouth of the Orange River and looking across to see South Africa, I travelled upstream to host an evening for the remaining British inhabitants of the community at Op My Stoep bar and restaurant, which stood in beautifully for a British pub. More Brits were signed up to help man the new wardens’ network across the country and help provide us with more eyes and ears on the ground in the furthest flung locations of this vast nation. As is so often the case with such gatherings, it ended up being a really enjoyable, informative and useful evening.

HE Mrs Marianne Young meeting with the British Business Group in Luderitz

Back on the road to travel to Aussenkehr to visit the Cape Orchard Company, which is now exporting table grapes to Sainsbury’s, Tescos and Marks & Spencers. Then on to Keetmanshoop, where I called on the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, and learned about the town’s land service challenges and received more interest in UK town twinning. Lastly, onto Tses to speak to school children at Novak Primary School about the benefits of the Commonwealth with guest officials, including the Karas Regional Governor’s Special Advisor and Education Director.  There is plenty of news about this school visit elsewhere on the UKinNamibia website but I must mention the fabulous cultural performances that the Nama school children put on for us all and the amazing choral performances which were profoundly moving. A big congratulations also to the Commonwealth essay prize winners, who produced such well researched and written pieces. It made it hard to find a lot more additional information to share in my speech!

If you are planning a visit to Namibia do consider travelling to the south: this trip opened my eyes to the sheer beauty and grandeur of the vast landscapes in this isolated corner of southern Africa. It boasts the second largest canyon in the world, the Fish River Canyon; eerie desert ghost towns, like the abandoned former mining town of Kolmanskop, outside Luderitz; the wild desert horses of the Namib; and splendid desert and wild coastal scenery. But please, please DRIVE CAREFULLY!

4 comments on “Hitting the road least travelled by to the South of Namibia

  1. Your Excellency,your story to Southern Namibia is fascinating and a special life experience.As I have pointed out during our dinner,your itinerary was spot on,and you truly demonstrated care in your official capacity as BHC to Namibia,by looking around for your fellow patriots and opportunities to strengthen bilateral cooperation. Once again,Congratulation.

    You have given a fair account of what the South is all about…

    Take care and all the best..

    Fluksman Samuehl

  2. greatings miss young my name is nelvin mureko i am one of the paramedics from sesriem here in namibia,i personaly want to say that it was a plesure and an encouragement having you here at the center and would like to thank you for spreading out the news about roadsafty and awerness im sure that it will slow down or reduce the number of accidents that has been taking place recently,thank you very much…

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About Marianne Young

Marianne Young is the current British High Commissioner to the Republic of Namibia. She arrived in Windhoek in June 2011 and presented her credentials to the President of the Republic of…

Marianne Young is the current British High Commissioner to the
Republic of Namibia. She arrived in Windhoek in June 2011 and presented
her credentials to the President of the Republic of Namibia on 3rd
Mrs Young joined the FCO in 2001 following a career in international
journalism, including time spent running an Asian maritime press office
in Singapore and a traineeship on the UK’s Times newspaper.
Her first role in the FCO was as a Press Officer in News Department,
after which she went on to be Head of the Great Lakes Section in Africa
Directorate and then Head of the East Africa & Horn Section.
In 2005, she became the first Head of Communications for the Engaging with the Islamic World Group.
She moved to the British High Commission in Pretoria in February 2007
and served as the Head of the External Political Section and Deputy
High Commissioner to the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland.
Mrs Young moved across to the British High Commission in Windhoek in
June 2011, and presented her credentials to the President of the
Republic of Namibia on 3rd August 2011.
On her appointment as British High Commissioner to the Republic of Namibia, Mrs Young said:
“I am honoured and delighted to be appointed Her Majesty’s High
Commissioner to Namibia. I look forward to working to strengthen the
many commercial, political and cultural ties between our two countries,
and to help the many British nationals who holiday there. My family and I
are particularly thrilled to be remaining in southern Africa – and to
have the opportunity to explore this beautiful country further and
discover more about its people and culture.”
Curriculum vitae

Full name:
Marianne Young

Married to:
Barry Young

Two daughters and one son

June 2011
Windhoek, British High Commissioner

2007 – 2011
Pretoria, Head of External Political Section and DHC for the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland

2005 – 2006
FCO, Head of Communications, Engaging with the Islamic World Group

2004 – 2005
FCO, Head of East Africa & Horn Section, Africa Directorate

3/2003 – 8/2003
FCO, Head of Great Lakes Section, Africa Directorate

2002 – 2003
FCO, Press Officer, Press Office

2001 – 2002
FCO, Departmental Report Editor, Press Office

Joined FCO

Senior Correspondent, Fairplay Group, UK

Staff Editor and then Asia Editor, Fairplay Group Singapore

Graduate Trainee at The Times newspaper, UK

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