Bohitile: Still moving
WHEN the Windhoek Country Club Resort and Casino appointed Clara Bohitile as a board member recently she was not breaking new ground but plunging into a pool of familiar waters as she bagged the fifth board member position that she will serve for the next three years.
The Windhoek Country Club Resort and Casino is a state-owned four star 152-room hotel with an 18-hole golf course, a swimming pool and a river, roll ball and casino.
Commenting on her new appointment Bohitile says, “This is another opportunity to serve and to make a difference and to also make our male counterparts realise that we can do it. As a board member, you give leadership, guidance, and one must be prepared to guide and to supervise management and staff to ensure finances are well managed and that the money is spent on intended purposes, that is what I will strive to do and also accomplish”.
She says the hotel is strategically located and its being on the periphery of the city contributes to its ambience and makes it an ideal hotel for tourists and guests who want to relax. Bohitile says she is happy that management of the hotel has improved a lot and its financial position with it.
Considering the number of other boards that she sits on, Bohitile was just being modest when she said, “I am not sure how I qualified to be appointed a board member. Windhoek Country Club is a parastatal and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism appoints the board members. I cannot say what made them choose me.”
The former Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Sport and Culture as well as Finance, proudly retraces her footsteps from school going age, “I was born in Windhoek many years ago and the most interesting thing many people ask is how the city girl became a passionate farmer.”
Bohitile went to school in Old Location at the Catholic School and later moved to Gunichas Roman Catholic School in Omaheke.
She proceeded to Dobra High School and when she completed High School she enrolled at Tshiye edCollege in South Africa where she studied Home Economics.
Bohitile’s thirst for education was not quenched and after graduating from Tshiye College, she furthered her studies at Vista University in South Africa for specialized training in Home Economics and English. Back home, Bohitile got a teaching post at Shifidi Secondary School in Katutura.
When it was time to move on, Bohitile joined the Council of Churches in Namibia. The organisation at that time was acting as a mini Government in the absence of a people’s Government before independence. An opportunity arose with the Rossing Foundations where she was assigned a position responsible for education programs for the whole country for the Foundation.
It was during her stint with Rossing Foundation that the Founding Father, Dr. Sam Nujoma appointed her Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Sport and Culture. In the last part of her second term, there was a mini reshuffle and Bohitile was moved from the Education Ministry to Finance.
Evident in her character is tangible determination that is mirrored by her appointment to sit on a number of boards in the country. Bohitile sits on the board of Namibia Literacy Trust, an organisation that is geared to ensure continued literacy programs for Namibians illiterate Namibians to make them Literate.
She is also a member of the First National Bank Foundation Trust and Chairperson of the Pinnacle/Metropolitan Empowerment Trust. The Trust’s thrust is looking at marginalisation, poverty reduction and funding programs that are in related fields.
While Deputy Minister of Basic Education, she envisaged a broader forecast of the marginalized people in Namibia, the San, Himba and farm workers education.
The Ministry, during her tenure, created mobile schools for the nomadic Himbas. A scheme to benefit farm workers children, the San and the Himba children was created to avail funding to children who need tertiary education at the Polytechnic of Namibia and the University of Namibia.
Bohitile also focused on girls’ education and joined Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), a pan-African Non-Governmental Organisation working in 32 African countries to empower girls and women through gender-responsive education.
“We formed our own local branch that we called FAWENA (Forum for African Women Educationalists Namibia) to focus on education for the marginalised, concentrating on access, retention and completion of education and I became the organisation’s first Chairperson,” says Bohitile. She was also elected Vice Chairperson for the regional organisation whose head quarters are in Kenya. Bohitile was also instrumental in the formation of the Namibia Literacy Trust that is responsible for continuous literacy programs aimed at reducing illiteracy among Namibians.
In 2010, the educationist turned farmer became the first female to chair the Meatco Board. The appointment, Bohitile speculates, might have been influenced by the Emerging Farmer of the Year award that she received in 2006, breaking the ice as the first female award winner. She is a commercial cattle and goat farmer in the Omaheke region, Gobabis district and recently ventured into game ranching that is now attracting biltong hunters from South Africa.
The popular saying, “Charity begins at home,” holds true for Bohitile who says she was born in a very serious farming family.
“I was born in a farming family and everybody, boy or girl, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters worked on the land and most are farmers. We all did work regardless of sex.” Bohitile is urging fellow female counterparts to take farming seriously and as a business to earn a living out of it and to pass the passion to children so that the legend continues.
“I just feel as Namibians we all have a responsibility to contribute towards the development of this country. We must make a difference and a contribution towards the development of this country and we must be prepared to serve in our different expertise areas and fields,” Bohitile concludes. PF