NDTC’s shining light honoured

By By Shasimana Uugulu
April 2011
Richard-Lee Shoombe is destined for great heights.

The 18 year old Grade 10 pupil At Opawa Junior Secondary School in Tsumeb scooped the Overall Winner award at the recently held annual Shining Light Awards.

The Shining Light Awards hosted by the Namibian Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) since 2008, aims to support and encourage the local jewellery industry by assisting in the development of both technical and design skills among the Namibian designers as well as increase the global understanding and appreciation of Namibian jewellery design.

Entrants to the competition are asked to create jewellery pieces that embody the symbiotic relationship between diamonds and stories by symbolizing the strongest of bonds.

“Symbols of knots stretch right across the globe, and have acquired a spiritual significance in many cultures,” says Paige Ekandjo, NDTC Marketing and Communications Officer.

This year’s event held at a local Hotel in Windhoek, recently, saw a collection of 10 brilliant diamond jewellery pieces produced by local designers being displayed by some of Namibia’s top models that included the reigning Miss Namibia.

The jewellery pieces were sponsored by numerous diamond companies with Shoombe’s piece emerging as the judges’ favourite, earning the Overall Winner’s title.

The youngster’s piece was an 18 carats white gold three ball pendant set with 1.361 round brilliant cut diamonds and a total weight of 38.64 carats.

Magnificently mastered, Shoombe’s work was sponsored by Steinmetz Diamond Group, one of the leading creators of the world’s finest diamonds.

The judges were impressed by this teenager’s creativity and he wooed their hearts with the design originality and progressiveness of his work.

Judges unanimously agreed, the piece by Shoombe had an international appeal where more than 60 percent of the value of the materials in the piece were diamond.

This was the first time that Shoombe participated in these international diamond awards.

“I feel lucky to have won the Shining Light Awards Overall Winner title. It is my first ever award I have gotten in my life and I should say it makes me believe more into myself and my work”, Shoombe explains.

The award boosted his self-esteem and confidence and he says now he aims to become one of Namibia’s leading creative designers.

At the tender age of 12, Shoombe enrolled himself at a local Performance Arts Centre (PAC) in Tsumeb in 2008 where he improved his creative skills and he eventually became a part time teacher the following year due to his skill and artistry.

He says, “I was among the first students to enrol at the centre and at first I registered without my mother’s knowledge after a friend of mine told me about it. I just love art and I am glad I am now into the territory of every ‘girl’s best friend’.”

His mother did not approve of his interest in arts but her stance changed when she started taking note of his skills and his fame grew around the Tsumeb neighbourhood.

“My mother would always tell me to concentrate on my school work and saw arts as a waste of time. She wanted me to further my studies at a tertiary institution and have a professional career,” he says, adding that at least now, his mother should not have headaches as to where to get his tuition fees.

“I am taking my school work seriously and would like to further study visual arts and fashion.”

His mother, Selma who could not attend the event in person to see her son scoop one of the country’s precious awards, describes him as a brilliant young man who has a good relationship with his siblings, family and friends.

“He is one of my three sons. When my husband passed away, Richard-Lee used to find comfort in his drawings and paintings. That’s how he consoled himself of the loss. When I discovered that he was taking it serious, I got very concerned and worried as I wanted him son to focus on school work and go study at the university.”

She adds that she used to prevent him from his drawing and painting, hiding them so that he could concentrate on school work.

“I am happy for my son. I wish him success in the jewellery design industry especially after winning the Shining Light Awards Overall Winner title. Although I could not attend the event myself, I instructed one of his Windhoek based uncles to accompany him to the ceremony and he was shocked to realise how big this event was. Initially, we all thought it was child’s play,” elaborates Selma Shoombe.

Apart from being a creative designer, Shoombe is known in Tsumeb for his talent in writing and printing on t-shirts.

“Many people in Tsumeb bring their t-shirts and designs to me so I can print them on their t-shirts. They have come to respect me and I respect them as we are all from the same community,” exclaims Richard.

The company that sponsored his 18 carats white gold three ball pendant set with 1.361 round brilliant cut diamonds with a total weight of 38.64 carats piece, Steinmetz Diamond Group took him to South Africa last year when his piece was being manufactured.

“It was an awesome experience. I do not know if it’s luck or sheer talent. Time will tell and I want to keep on doing this,” he says. PF