Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

Namibia: This Week in the Khuta - a Hero Silenced

column

Sleep tight dear Minister

I met the late Minister of Education, Dr Abraham Iyambo when I started doing educational stories for our newspaper and I fell in love with his personality. He was the friendliest minister I knew. He was so down to earth and always seemed happy. Over night, he became my favourite minister.

I do not only speak for myself when I say I was deeply shocked by the untimely passing of Dr Abraham Iyambo, last week.

When I heard of his passing from a colleague on Saturday, I could not believe it because just a week before he assured the journalists at a media briefing that he was in good shape and more than ready to start with his work at the ministry.

Before his death, the minister had a public battle with an undisclosed ailment since late 2011 when he was hospitalised at a local private hospital for months before he returned to work early July.

The late Minister of Education is one of the few Namibian politicians whom I admired for his work ethic. He was a visionary, a man with integrity. He worked hard and had many plans to turn the education sector of the country around.

Born in 1961 in the Northern part of Namibia, he studied Food Chemistry for four years (1982-1985) in Cuba before leaving for the United Kingdom where he studied a BSc in Food Science from the University of Surrey, graduating in 1990. In 1994, Dr Iyambo obtained his Ph D at the same institution before returning to Namibia where he became a member of the National Assembly in 1995.

Dr Iyambo rose to prominence when he was in charge of the Ministry of Fisheries where he was minister from 1997 to 2010. When President Hifikepunye Pohamba appointed him as the Minister of Education in 2010, I hoped that he would make the same efforts that he did at the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to improve the country's education sector.

At the time of his death, the youthful minister had the daunting task of turning around the misfortunes of Namibia's education system which analysts say needs an urgent overhaul. Namibians were over the moon when he announced late last year, that the ministry will implement the Universal Primary Education Policy which was one of the resolution of the first Education Conference spearheaded by Iyambo.

In his condolence messages for the minister, the president of the IPM, Tim Ekandjo described the late minister as an exceptional leader who was approachable, accessible and always willing to lend an ear.

He said, the Late Honourable Minister was an extra-ordinary man who made time for his people, and instead of just preaching leadership, he exercised leadership. The youth looked up to him because he was appointed as a young man and therefore they could relate to him.

Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, were also filled with condolence messages for the minister. It is evident that Namibia has lost one of its most loved and admired politicians. Many agreed that no one will be able to fill the big shoes of Dr Iyambo. He was a hero in the true sense of the word especially to the education sector of this country. He was silenced too soon and will not be able to see the fruits of his hard work such as the full implementation of the Universal Primary Education.

Sleep tight, Dr Abraham Iyambo, you are dearly missed.

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