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Son keeps Uncle Spike’s legacy alive

AFTER inheriting Uncle Spike’s Book Exchange from his father, new owner Clifford Yates is determined to continue his legacy.

George Yates (82) died in November last year after running the popular Windhoek bookshop for 40 years. His son, Clifford (35), says he has no immediate plans to modernise the little shop. He wants to keep it the way his father left it for now.

“My father spent almost half his life here, and enjoyed every minute here meeting fantastic and awesome people along the way,” he says.

The Namibian found Clifford busy entering barcodes into a computer on a Wednesday morning at the bookshop at the corner of Windhoek’s Tal and Garten streets Clifford remembers that his father took over the little nook of a shop with a few thousand books and even sold pot plants, CDs, and watches for a while, until the books became too many and he ended up selling books only.

“The shop got bigger and more popular over the years, and even now it is ready to burst at the seams,” he said.

Clifford said since his father’s death, everything is now back to normal.

“We are open from Monday to Saturday, we only closed for a few days after my father died. We are still selling books. You can bring your old books in and we will see what we can use.

Clifford said his father always said, “Every book has an owner”, even if it is old or new.

Our interview is cut short by a customer who walks into the shop with three bags full of old books. She tells Clifford that she has come to exchange the books. Clifford immediately gets to work.

The light and calm atmosphere in the bookshop feels as if Clifford’s father is still working behind his little desk.

The Namibian notices an elderly man sitting on a brown stool in the crime books section. He is passionately paging through a book titled: ‘Steve Martin, The Attorney’.

“I’ve been buying my books here for many years now. I stay at the farm and make sure to buy my books before I leave the city,” he said.

Fillemon Xuruseb said he enjoys reading crime and court-related books.

“Those are my favourite books,” he said.


George Yates was the fourth and longest owner of the book exchange shop.

The shop was opened by Neville Edgar Bauser, who worked with long-time friend Jan Dreyer.

Dreyer eventually bought the shop from him.

In 1980, the Millers bought the shop and moved to its present and iconic location, and in 1982, George Yates took over.

Some of the oldest customers who reacted to the news of his death last year had taken to their social media page to remember his legacy.

Long-time customer Stella Ipinge said Yates used to offer her a space to rest in while her mother was running errands in town.

“I remember his shop was the epitome of a rare visit to town from Katutura. He allowed my mom to let us sit in the store and read while she ran errands. It nurtured my love for books in my early primary school years.

“It was in his bookstore I first saw comic books, the Betty, Veronica, and Enid Blyton collections, providing a sweet escape to different places, and expanding literary horizons,” she said.

“His bookstore is legendary. He played a pivotal role in the lives of many. A landmark of note in our society – what a life well lived. Thanks for sharing him with us. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” she said.

The shop also has a WhatsApp group book lovers can join. The groups range from English fiction and non-fiction, Afrikaans fiction and non-fiction, German fiction and non-fiction, children’s books in all languages, as well as history and collectibles.

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