I am sad to have to post this as my second not too happy story for 2008. Lets hope things turn for the better.

It was a calm and cool morning; at least it started that way. On my way into town to return last night’s movie, Shoot ‘Em Up, not highly recommended by the way, I was confronted by a young man of no more than twenty. I had noticed him on my way over the bridge with a gang of other youths, but I had not thought much of it. I did hear a little bit of shouting as I passed. I suppose they were organizing the crew.

I had reached a busy intersection and was waiting for my time to cross. This guy got right up in front of me and was motioning at my DVD in hand. I calmly told him to buzz off and be on his way. That’s when Mr. Knifey made an appearance. Now Mr. Knifey said a lot without even saying a word. Mr. Knifey meant business unlike what I had expected from his companion now standing right in front of me.

Here I was experiencing my first ever encounter with a stick up in Namibia, actually it was my first stick up ever. Wait, that’s not entirely true, I was jumped when I was 17 or so and had my bike stolen. But this was different. Or it felt different. I was surprised that this was happening in broad daylight, it wasn’t even 11am. I was most shocked that this was happening in peaceful little Windhoek. I have always been a strong promoter of the safe and relaxed environment in central Windhoek.

My heart raced. I was caught in a moment I won’t ever completely recall because it was entirely fueled by instinct and quick and decisive decision. I was requested that I give up my money. “Give me the money, give me the money!!!” The money? Oh you mean my money??

I backed up as soon as Mr. Knifey made his first appearance. I noticed one other crew member circling me from the rear but he was much less vocal and aggressive. He was probably still in training.

Mr. Knifey advanced with his companion and somehow got me by the shirt. I was still dazed but managed to stall a moment or two as requests were beckoned “Give me the money, give me the money!!!”

Instinct, man it’s an interesting thing. Somewhere up there calculations were being made about timing, probability, outcomes, etc. Before I even could imagine I had pushed this guy away from me with my left hand and shocked as he was I had a moment of solitude once again. With him went a good portion of my button up shirt which was now exposing most of my chest. I glanced around me, cars everywhere, people also waiting at the light on our island of confusion. I am sure that some people took note of the situation but unfortunately not an officer in site.

As the light had now changed, we’re talking about 120 seconds for our little encounter; I began to make my way across the street. I looked back and Mr. Knifey and companion were in pursuit. I ran, I ran so far away. I did not want to meet this crew for a second encounter.

When I got to the video store I was clearly out of breath and looked quite shaken. I was hoping to find a familiar face there but it was a new employee. My shirt was in tatters and I was sweaty and frazzled.

I was fortunate to bump into someone I knew on the main strip and get some consolation. But I have not settled down, even now. There are so many potential paths that situation could have taken.

I for one think that Mr. Knifey was only for clout and would not have been used even in the most extreme of cases. That may be a fairly naive presumption but looking into this guys eyes I could not see the kind of rage or desperation which would be required to break skin on another human being. What madness it would take to run a knife through another’s body. I certainly cannot fathom such aggression and disregard for life.

Now a little bubble has been shattered and my care free attitude of hitting the streets in the city will be constantly challenged. I had heard of stories of ‘jackings’ from people but considered them always to be isolated cases where opportunity was presented. In my case a very slim opportunity was presented as I stopped at the light. What a bold and risky opportunity these guys took to confront me in the middle of a busy intersection. I’ll be watching my six whenever I am in town in the future.

A special note to family and friends, I really hope this does not worry you too much. This sort of thing could happen in any city or town in the world, most likely with much more aggression and higher risks involved. Believe you me; I will be taking much better care as I travel in the future.

CC BY 4.0 The Great Escape by Michael Paskevicius is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.