Have Your Yellowcake and Eat It
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Have Your Yellowcake and Eat It is a story of men, monsters and uranium in Swakopmund, a small coastal city in the west of Namibia. Founded by German settlers in the late nineteenth century, Swakopmund remains a popular holiday destination for Namibians and international visitors alike. How do young African men make their home in this peculiar town of pretty beaches and luxury hotels, a brutal colonial history and a large uranium mining industry? Are their close relations affected by global changes in the price of uranium? And how do we describe their life worlds which straddle many homes, neighbourhoods, and establishments - sometimes even existing beyond the limits of the post-colonial city? Employing a reflexive narrative and based on two year's fieldwork, Jack Boulton explores the myriad ways in which intimacy develops and manifests for men in a city defined predominantly by racialised difference and local and global forces of inequality.



Publié par
Date de parution 26 juin 2021
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9783906927305
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 32 Mo

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Have Your Yellowcake and Eat It
Boulton_Yellowcake.indb 1 06.05.21 10:09Boulton_Yellowcake.indb 2 06.05.21 10:09Jack Boulton
Have Your Yellowcake and Eat It
Men, Relatedness and Intimacy in Swakopmund,
Basel Namibia Studies Series 23
Basler Afrika Bibliographien 2021
Boulton_Yellowcake.indb 3 06.05.21 10:09©2021 The author
©2021 Basler Afrika Bibliographien
Basler Afrika Bibliographien
Namibia Resource Centre & Southern Africa Library
Klosterberg 23
P O Box
4001 Basel
All rights reserved.
Cover image: Young men look over the beach at Swakopmund Mole, 2016.
Photographer: Jack Boulton
ISBN 978-3-906927-29-9
ISSN 2234-9561
Boulton_Yellowcake.indb 4 06.05.21 10:09 Contents
Foreword by Steven Van Wolputte vii
Acknowledgements ix
Anonymity and Photography xi
Introduction: To the Lighthouse 1
1 Approaching Swakopmund by Land and by Sea 12
2 Uranium in Namibia35
Conversations 42
Time at the Beach62
3 Men,and Women67
Marriage and Weddings73
Lidia and Bayron79
Emotional Intimacy82
Men and Women86
4 Tentacles 90
Markets 93
Credit and Debt 107
5Doing Zula112115
Being Zula125
Stealing to Steal, Zula to Zula 130
6Male Relations, Friendship and Kollegen 132
Of Friends and Kollegen134
Friends Upgrade Each Other 138
Friends and Lovers 139
Friendship Viewed from Outside 145
Soft Masculinities 147
Desire Paths 150
Boulton_Yellowcake.indb 5 06.05.21 10:097 Night-Time 153
After Dark 156
Moving Forward (and Around in Circles) 161
Endings 170
8Conclusion: Will You Forget Me? 171
List of Abbreviations180
References 181
Index 198
Boulton_Yellowcake.indb 6 06.05.21 10:09Foreword by Steven Van Wolputte
Dear Jack,
Of all the places you could go to, you picked Swakopmund. Of all the possible topics, you
chose intimacy, that important, but oh so elusive, deceptively simple phenomenon (dare I
say concept?). And somewhere in the background, I assume, lingers the shadow of Doctor
Who. Anthropology has a longstanding love-hate relationship with science fction. SF.
Science fact and speculative fabulation, to quote Donna Haraway.
What better a metaphor, though, to illustrate the oneness of our existence than
uranium? Like uranium, we are all stardust that happened to land on this planet. The diference is
that uranium will be around, perhaps in another part of the universe, long after we are gone,
and long after the Ancient One will have risen from the depths of the ocean. Yet, you once
told me that your feldwork only started after you descended from the ofces of the uranium
institute, and let yourself be absorbed by the reality of life on the open market, or across the
Sam Nujoma drive, in Mondesa, Tamariskia or the District Resettlement Community –the
DRC. That, I guess, planted you frmly in the soil of the fat ontology you adhere to.
Swakopmund is indeed an awkward place: a seaside resort in the desert, with its fog
and cold, its jetty and its lighthouse; its museum, with its weapons and fags and hunting
trophies. An anomaly, an anachronism, where you can still sense the ghost of the colonial
and apartheid past as an awkward heaviness on your shoulder, shame, too, when again you
hear those echoes bouncing back from the dunes behind as someone – hat, sunglasses, safari
outft – belittles her waiter because the oysters are the wrong size. One of Cthulhu’s
tentacles undoubtedly was the racism of H.P. Lovecraft himself.
One oyster easily is an hour’s wage.
Yet, as you demonstrate, Swakopmund also is a place of friendship, relatedness and
intimacy among men, and if I have to pick one thing I like about your work it must be that
you, against the tide, highlight men’s vulnerabilities. Obviously, as for instance the chapter
on zula demonstrates, your reciprocators lead lives one cannot characterize but as
precarious. Yet, this precariousness does not defne them. Amidst all the mistrust, deception and
suspicion there glisters friendship and tenderness, warmth and camaraderie. Yours is
indeed a highly sensitive ethnography of men, with their uncertainties, fears and anxieties, an
ethnography that always looks sideways, never up or down.
And what a cosmopolitan lot they are. Stemming from about every African country
South of the Equator, they ended up in Swakopmund, Namibia and only have in common
Boulton_Yellowcake.indb 7 06.05.21 10:09that they like German cars and that they are always planning ahead. They are thinkers,
theorists, and doers, cultivating what Arjun Appadurai coined an “ethics of the possible” rather
than one of probability.
Perhaps this – the future – is the real monster, sweeping its tentacles across “the land
God made in Anger.” And here I do not refer to a nuclear or climatic Armageddon, but to
the future of relationships. What I mean is that Namibia is changing at a fast pace, not a
smooth, gradual change, but one that goes in irregular bursts, with sometime long pauses in
between, and one that does and will afect how women, men, young, old, rich, poor, centre
and suburb, beach and desert relate to one another. As you claim in the introduction:
intimacy is leaky. It also is contagious, and brings out the best, but also the worst, in people. It
flls voids, but can also sufocate.
In a way, this also refers to the future of vulnerabilities. The signs are there: though a
success story in the combat against HIV/ AIDS, Namibia has among the highest percentages
of alcoholism, and one of the highest suicide rates in the world, especially among young
men, caught as they are between a rock and a hard place (and my apologies for the cliché).
But then there is the night, the time when – as you write – the monster comes out and with
its poisonous tongue caresses the wounds incurred during the day.
Your friend screams in his sleep. Hands holding hands.
Yet these friends – whether they sell wooden fgurines or carved makalani nuts, whether
they speak Oshiwambo or Lingala – never stop planning and strategising to upgrade their
future in their attempts to break the circle of poverty. With lives punctuated by happy and
not-so-happy accidents, by new relations sprouting (however volatile, as in the case of the
open market) and old relations waning, they are constantly building and anticipating on
what lies beyond. Theirs, however, is not the distant, imaginary future promised by uranium
but the nearby possibilities of today, tomorrow, next week, or ‘later’.
At this moment it is difcult to ascertain whether this future will resurrect the
sleeping Ancient One, the dormant monster, the destroyer of worlds, or whether it will put it to
sleep forever. But I think your work does shed light on the experiments by which people,
women and men, young and old, try to come to grips with their present, how they emplace
themselves in this rapidly changing world, and how they negotiate the many divides that
scar Swakopmund.
A monster indeed.
Epanga randje, kaende nawa.
Boulton_Yellowcake.indb 8 06.05.21 10:09Acknowledgements
If all relationships are by defnition sympoietic, then this work is also the product of those
sympoietics. It means, in short, that nothing is established in singularity, despite my
hermitlike writing process. My time creating this text has been flled with friendship, intellectual
rapport and family; none are necessarily mutually exclusive.
Two persons in particular are owed deep gratitude. In Swakopmund (and further afeld)
there is one young man among many who showed me around, looked after me, cooked and
cleaned from time-to-time and even carried me home one evening. This text would be
nothing without his involvement. By extension, my thanks also go to his family, the family that
he is a part of. Equally, there are many men and women in the feld who, at various intervals,
have become close; allowing me into their homes, lives and families. Whilst I cannot write
your names here, be certain that I will thank you each individually.
The second of those persons is my supervisor, promotor, and conversationalist Prof. Dr.
Steven Van Wolputte. Over the course of this project I have gone up, down, left, right and,
indeed, around in circles; thank you Steven for your unrelenting patience and support both
during my time in Swakopmund and afterwards, and of course for your thoughtful foreword.
My sincerest gratitude to: Prof. Dr. Filip de Boeck, Prof. Dr. Karel Arnaut and Dr.
Thomas Hendriks. The constructive criticism provided on earlier versions of this work pushed
me to develop my ideas in new and interesting directions, and to shape my writing towards
its subject. The comments and suggestions that Prof. Dr. Rachel Spronk provided on
certain chapters proved valuable and insightful. Similarly, for Prof. Dr. Mattia Fumanti whose
work has proved equally inspirational in analysing my own feldwork and in creating this
I thank my fellow colleagues and friends at KU Leuven, especially IARA and IMMRC
(past and present): Dr. Wim Peumans, Dr. Hannelore Verbrugge, Dr. Tilmann Heil, Dr.
Geertrui Vannoppen, Dr. Jan Van De Broeck, Dr. Sean O Dubhghaill, Jasmin Tabakovic, Prof. Dr.

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