Category: South Africa

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Namibia & North Korea

Many readers will wonder what the south-west African country of Namibia, one of the best-functioning democracies of the continent, can possibly have to do with North Korea, that staunch ultra-communist dictatorial hermit country in the far east of Asia. But there is a link. This: The Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang. North Korea has a massive demand for propaganda posters, monuments and other socialist-realist art, and most of that is produced by the Mansudae Studio. It’s a veritable industry. So big is the “industry” that it also has an “Overseas Projects” branch, offering their services to other countries. And several countries have indeed taken up that offer over the years, mostly in Africa,

Kolmanskop

This is the most fabled of Namibia’s ghost towns, in fact one of the most photographed ghost towns in the world. And indeed it is immensely photogenic. Hence this Blog post will essentially be a photo essay (as promised in the previous Blog post). But first here’s just the briefest of summaries of the history of Kolmanskop:

The town owes its existence to diamonds. In 1908, so during the German South-West-Africa colonial era, a railway worker who had previously had a job at Kimberley Mine, South Africa, discovered a diamond while clearing desert sand off a railway track. He showed the find to his German foreman, soon more more diamonds were found and before long a veritable diamond rush ensued. The whole

Namibia

I’ve finally finished processing the many photos I took in August in Namibia. Most were taken in RAW format so required a lot of developing/processing (white balance, exposure, etc.) so that was quite a bit of work, but that’s now done. In this new post I’ll give a general overview and a few taster photos (15 in total) – naturally with an emphasis on dark-tourism-relevant aspects.

One of the very darkest chapters in Namibian history was what is widely regarded as the 20th century’s first genocide, namely against the Herero and Nama peoples at the hands of the German colonial military, the so-called “Schutztruppe” (‘protection force’). This took place (mostly) between 1904 and 1907. One particular place

Islands of Dark Tourism

In this post I want to take you off the beaten track and to some less well explored, more exotic, remote locations. The eight selected places have only one thing in common: they are all islands. Other than that they are very different from each other and represent a range of distinct categories of dark tourism that dark globe trotters visit for very different reasons.

Of course there are well-known dark islands, too, such as Alcatraz or Robben Island, both former prison islands turned memorials, which today attract large numbers of visitors and hence overlap with mainstream tourism; but here we are going to get further away from that.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is one of the most significant international remembrance days, on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on this day in 1945. It’s impossible to cover every Holocaust-related dark-tourism site in a single post. But what I can do is give one photo each from all the main concentration camps and death camps, i.e. the main places where the Holocaust played out (in addition to

Dark Tourism and Bars

The topic of this blog post was decided by the most recent theme poll, where it sailed to a clear victory over all the other options by a huge margin (as reported in last Sunday’s newsletter). So here we go.

As a couple of commentators noted, the word ‘bars’ is of course lexically ambiguous, and exploiting that double meaning had been my intention all along. So let’s begin with the darker side of bars – those you sit behind in prisons and similar institutions.

The first