Jim Freeman
4 minute read
22 Mar 2021
6:54 am

‘Heimweh’ is a word and concept that transcends linguistic culture

Jim Freeman

When home is a long way off... Germans hit the nail on the head with heimweh.

Two friends overlooking a sunset in Namibia | Picture: iStock

Zimbabweans of a certain generation are described as “whenwes” as are many South Africans who find themselves in the Antipodes. I suppose it’s true most people who are subject to a diaspora (for whatever reason) feel homesick but few describe that depth of longing for home as well as Namibians. It’s one instance where the English language is inadequate: “nostalgia” and “homesickness” don’t come close to the German concept of Heimweh – from which the Afrikaans heimweë – grieving for one’s homeland. You don’t have to be a German-speaking Namibian to know what Heimweh means. It’s a word and concept...