"Our Great Elder Namib"
Published in the Namib Times, 28 March 2013.
By Marcia Stanton
Once upon a time, our Great silent Elder Namib lived; she was older than the rest- 55 million years old in fact. She was a remarkable caretaker and was the guardian of the world’s most magical animals that were different from any other animals in the whole world. You could see right through some while others blended in with the earth so you couldn’t see them at all. There were big ones and tiny ones- some lived in a little bush that held water in its leaves; others made dens under the sand. The tiniest most colourful plants lived all over the surface while 2,000 year-old plants had the best view in the desert. Birds came from all around the world to visit this special Elder because they loved her and they entrusted her to care for their young.
The ocean’s fog provided clean drinking water and there was plenty of food. The light of the sun and the moon illuminated the breathtaking scenery by day and by night and the wind brought with it the warmth and the cold. There must have been billions of stars in the sky at night! Oh what a beautiful Elder, our Great Namib.
Humans became good friends of the Great Elder and found shelter in her desert. The children spent countless hours playing with her. Humans loved her dearly and were thankful for her gifts, but one day a new group of humans arrived that started hurting her, our quiet sensitive Great Elder. They poisoned, bullied and beat her up in the interest of money and fun, until one day she had scars all over her body, scars that even the moon could see at night. No one place was left unscarred.
Some humans were nice and tried to protect her, but they got bullied too. Other humans knew our Great Elder was suffering, but they thought it was better to befriend the bullies and ignore what they were doing to her. This gave the bullies even more strength to destroy our Great Elder. The human children were heartbroken and they hated to see their friend suffer. Although they feared they were too small and insignificant in the eyes of the adult humans, they tried to protect the Great Elder anyway. When the bullies threw garbage on her, the children picked it up. They cried vast tears each night for their Great Elder and prayed that she would no longer have to face such abuse.
While the children were crying, the bullies continued. They even started poisoning all the water and food. They killed the magical plants and enchanting animal friends, including the babies! These animals fought to stay alive until one day they gave up. They could not survive the constant torment from the bullies, and they disappeared forever. Our Great Elder Namib and all her friends died that day. This is how it came to be that we lost the world’s oldest desert.