This morning I pitched up at Home Affairs at 7h30. The row was even longer than the one I encountered yesterday. I got that sinking feeling in my stomach, and decided to tackle the long road to Gobabis. Only 197km of open road between me and four Unabridged Birth Certificates.
This was a mixture of applications for ID’s, birth certificates and death certificates.
Mr. Agarob (his real surname, no kidding!) was sitting next to me on the bench. He featured a nice homely alcoholic aroma, and I suddenly wished I had also taken a few sips before entering this place. But I was soon relieved of my misery. I was at the counter only 15 minutes later. I explained that I needed full birth certificates. The nice lady said I should rather apply for them in Windhoek, because she has to request them from Windhoek, and she was still waiting for other peoples’ documents since May. I once again felt as if the earth beneath me had sunk in.
But this lady was really nice. She could see my disappointment, and then suggested that we phone them in Windhoek and get confirmation over the phone. The people in Windhoek take very long before they answer the phone, so she will dial the number and I must sit in her office with the phone, and call her when someone finally answers. This happened quite a while later, and she took over and discussed the issue with the person on the other side. This person took down the details of all three my kids’ birth certificates, and told her to hold on. The phone was again transferred to me, and I called my angel lady a few minutes later. The person on the other side confirmed the details on the birth certificates, and she was now happy that all details were correct according to the Birth register in Windhoek.
What happened now still seems like something out of a dream or a movie. She gave me the Official Full Birth Certificate book, and told me to fill in the details just as I had on the application form. My handwriting was very neat on the application, and she was happy that I could fill in the form myself. I faithfully and neatly filled in the details for all three my children. She signed all three certificates and stamped them.
Now the issue of my own birth certificate still remained unresolved. She said I could leave my application with her, enter my name in their other book, and call in a month’s time to see what happened. But maybe I should just try again in Windhoek, because she cannot promise me anything.
I walked out of the building exactly an hour after my arrival, with my three children's Full Birth Certificates in my hand. Not only were they in my hand, but they were also made out in my own handwriting! How many people can say that?
Lucky kids! Hopefully they will never have to struggle to obtain things like these when they are adults, because they will be citizens of a developed country. I wonder if the Australian and New Zealand Immigration guys know how much trouble we have to go through to obtain these simple items.
On the way home I took a few shots of a nice park in Witvlei. The Joel Kaapanda park. See what you down-under guys are missing?
When I arrived back in Windhoek at 12h30, I decided to give the Home Affairs Office another try after 14h00. Maybe the crowds disappear after lunch.
I arrived at 14h05. I couldn't believe it! There were only about 10 people outside. At 14h15 they came to open the gate, but did not even bother to control the crowd, as it was too small to worry about. I thought something must be wrong, but what the hell, try it anyway. I ended up second from the front in the row designated “Birth certificates Khomas region”. The only problem was that we were all now sitting nicely on the benches, and waiting, but there was no one behind the counter. Only the cashier’s box had an occupant.
Anyone who tried to go near a counter was confronted by the Police lady, who did not take kindly to any uncontrolled behavior. “Sit there!” was the only answer you got to any question you asked. I sat. The lady next to me began talking to me, and I told her where to go and what to do in order to obtain a passport. I was now suddenly the expert around here.
Ten minutes later our nice Police officer started handing out application forms. She walked along the row, and handed you whatever form you needed. I got a big frown because I had my form already prepared and completed. Now my neighbor needed a pen. I had a pen, because I was prepared for anything! My pen soon became public property, but I don’t mind as long as I get it back.
Finally a lady appeared behind the counter. People everywhere jumped up to storm towards her. “Only ONE at a time!” she yelled. Everybody got back. Soon it was my turn, and she took hold of my papers. She started filling in an A4 paper titled RECEIPT.
“Come back in 7 days” she said and handed me my receipt.
That was it.
I will go back in 7 days, (definitely in the afternoon), take my receipt with me, and see what happens. I got my pen back too. I walked out of the building at 14h30.
I am still a bit stunned. What a day.
And almost no one even noticed I wasn’t at work today.
This had better all be worth it…