GERMAN VILLAGE IN AFRICA IS BEING BURIED BY THE DESERT
(P1) A desert in southern Africa is probably the last place you would expect to find a little SLICE OF GERMAN LIFE.
(P2) But KNEE-DEEP in the SHIFTING SANDS of the Namib Desert in Namibia, the ABANDONED village of Kolmanskop stands as a TESTAMENT to German colonization of the early 20th century.
(P3) The town SPRUNG UP around a diamond-mining operation and quickly became known as one of the richest towns in southern Namibia, a German colony until World War I.
(P4)The diamond fields were so BOUNTIFUL that some say the PRECIOUS STONES could be SCOOPED right out of the sand.
(P5) The town had numerous AMENITIES including a hospital, CASINO, ice factory, and electrical plant, and even its own swimming pool. Kolmanskop’s German HERITAGE is UNMISTAKABLE in the style of the once PRISTINE villas and shops, and many signs about the town are in German.
(P6) But with Germany losing World War I and diamond production moving elsewhere, the town soon lost its PROSPERITY and was entirely abandoned by 1954. Now it survives as an attraction with guided tours bringing tourists through the empty houses filling with sand as the desert slowly retakes the town.
(P7) The town of Kolmanskop lies about 8 miles in from the Atlantic coast and is accessible with tours from the nearby port of Lüderitz.
(P8) As a large SWATH of the area is still an active diamond field, entrance to the “Sperrgebiet” — “Prohibited Area” in German — is restricted to only those with permits.
(P9) ALLEGEDLY, a railroad worker found a huge diamond in the sand while shoveling next to the tracks in 1908. Word spread quickly, and soon a diamond RUSH began.
(P10) The town soon became a BUSTLING center of business.
(P11) This house was owned by the former mine manager. Its RESTORATION shows the huge wealth of the town and the mine officials, as well as the beautiful turn of the century German architecture.
(P12) However, very few houses have been restored. Most lie in a DECREPIT state of DECAY, BUFFETED by the desert wind.
(P13) Some houses are filled with sand reaching from knee depth all the way to the ceilings.
(P14) The railroad running through brought further growth. The desert community’s peak was around 1,200 workers and residents immediately following World War I.
(P15) Kolmanskop’s LUXURIOUS amenities once included a theater and a BOWLING ALLEY.
(P16) The town had electricity, a water supply brought in by rail, and was home to Africa’s first TRAM system.
(P17) The residents enjoyed BREATHTAKING views of the ARID Namib desert, which is now RECLAIMING the town.
(P18) The town has been used as a location in numerous films.
(P19) It’s popular with photographers too, who hope to capture it before the desert reclaims it entirely.
(P20) Families of AFFLUENT mine officials who STROLLED the streets are long gone; only tourists visit Kolmanskop now, a CURIOSITY in the shifting sands.
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- The article mentions that this town has been used as “a location in numerous films.” What sort of movie could be shot here?
- The Germans in Namibia were very far from home. Did people from your country colonize or settle in any distant locations?
- What is the strangest place you have ever visited?
- Visiting the desert without a tour guide can be very dangerous. Why?
EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:
What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.
- Slice of life
- Shifting sands
- Spring up
- Precious stones
- Bowling alley