Posted by: koolwine | September 19, 2010

Namibia: The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo

American volunteer teacher Larry Kaplanski is smitten by his Namibian co-worker, Mavala Shikongo.

Country Focus: Namibia; the area was originally called Deutsch-Südwestafrika and then South-West Africa until 1990

Namib means “place of no people” in the local Khoikhoi language

The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo
Peter Orner
Originally published: Little, Brown & Co, 2006.
My edition: Back Bay Books, 2007.
306 pgs.

Acclaim: Winner of the 2007 Bard Fiction Prize; Winner of the 2007 Virginia Commonwealth University First Novelist Award

To make a long story short: Ohioan Larry Kaplanski arrives in remote Goas, Namibia to serve as a volunteer teacher at a Catholic boy’s school.  He quickly falls for his colleague Mavala Shikongo, a young woman who has just returned from fighting in the Namibian War of Independence with a two-year old son in tow.



  1. Namibia has a sad colonial past as the German Imperial Colony: South-West Africa (1886-1918). The current low population density is probably related to the severe administrative and economic suppression of the native Herero and Ovambo tribes in favor of the economic interests of German colonists. Native survivors of a heated conflict (Waterberg, 1904) were forced into the near-by Kalahari and banned from SW Africa under pain of death. By some accounts the Herero population declined 80% under German colonial rule.


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