Motivated by his role model, Pan African political leader and publisher,Marcus Garvey,Iipumbu Sakariahas confidently embraced communication as a career even though he only practised it in contrast to studying it.
He is of the view that one can do anything indicating that, as said by Marcus Garvey; “with confidence, you have won before you have even started, whilst without confidence you lose the battle before you even start.” Today, the new Namibian Statistics Agency (NSA) deputy director of strategic communication joins a number of professionals who pursue careers very different from what they studied at tertiary level and he is loving it.
Author of the ‘Namibia Workers in Times of uncertainty: 20 Years After Independence’, Sakaria’s career move into media came as a surprise to many, since he is a qualified University of Namibia (Unam) Accounting Graduate. Wanting to learn something new, Sakaria took up a job offer with the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) as a freelance journalist, just after Unam.
“I was highly influenced by the philosophies and opinions of Marcus Garvey who continuously emphasised the significance of the media in society. I also observed the media can literally shape the directions of discourse of any group of people,which I found quite intriguing. Since I enjoyed writing, I grabbed the opportunity to become a journalist without hesitation,” Sakaria says, adding, before long, he was promoted to be the editor of the NUWN newsletter,The Namibian Worker.
He soon moved on to work at the Labour Resource and Research Institute (LaRRI) as a researcher, which earned him the opportunity of a lifetime, being the Personal Assistant (PA) to the National Planning Commission (NPC) Director-Deneral, Tom Alweendo.
Whilst at the NPC,Sakariawas personally involved in the process of finalising the Statistics Act No. 9 of 2011,as well asin the creation of the NSA, which would be his next employer.
Recently head-hunted from the NPC to the NSAand then appointed in his current position, he says: “Those at the helm of the NSA must have thought I could add value to the institution and that is why they picked me.”
NSA is the central statistical and repository authority for all statistics produced in Namibia. It, inter alia, collects and disseminates statistics and spatial data, educates the public on their use and then designates them as official statistics.
In his new position, Sakaria deals with image management, as well as external and internal stakeholder consultation. In addition, he is the spokesperson of the agency, amongst many other duties.
Although his new responsibilities come with challenges, he is confident his experiences at the NPC prepared him for greater things such as this position and more.
“What enhances my work is the fact that I have learnt a lot from Tom Alweendo. He had the unique administrative ability to efficiently run an institution and at the same time the mastered the art of human relations, in short, the great ability to work with people. I believe the ability to get along with people can make one’s life and work so much easier. This does not mean you always have to be a good guy but one needs to take people as they are and find ways to get the most out of them,” he notes.
Working with people, organising and planning are his greatest strengths, as being responsible for people is an exciting part of his job, he reveals.
“I also like building or contributing to the establishment of new things. It therefore excites me to be part of a young NSA. I hopeto one day be able to say, ‘I contributed to what it is today’.
Growing up in Exile under the guidance of Swapo, is what laid the foundation in his journey to what he is today. His educational background started while in exile,in Angola and then later in Germany, where he had been sent by Swapo.
He was schooled partly in the then German Democratic Republic and then after independence, he returned home to continue his primary and secondary school at the Deutsche Schule Windhoek. He would join Unam for his Bachelor Degree of Accounting, then completed a Labour Diploma, which was then followed by a Master’s Degree at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. In his view the decision to pursue his Masters’ Degree was the best decision ever taken and it surely gave him the edge.
He grew up within the community of Swapo as raised during the war of liberation, which taught him how to love, respect and work towards uplifting his community. He also learned that one should be principled and never sell their soul for riches. These are principles he still cherishes today.
“As a child of the liberation struggle, Swapo raised, took care of and eventually brought me into an independent Namibia, as always promised. Today, we live in a free and stable country where everyone lives a peaceful life. Of course not all is rosy in independent Namibia but the legacy of the true Swapo Party, and its true cadres, is something that will live within me forever,” he emphasises.
This active, ambitious man also attributes all his success to God and his mother whom he says has always ensured he stays on the right track in all his endeavours.
Through life, he has learnt that in order to get ahead, one needs to walk on roads that may at first seem to have absolutely nothing to do with their initial goal; but those should act as stepping stones towards achieving the ultimate goal. Sakaria is therefore of the opinion that giving the best in every endeavour will always bear fruits.
He also believes in staying humble no matter how much one has achieved and to always acknowledge your blessings.
“Count your blessings because there are many who are far worse off than you are. Everything is from God and without Him,we are nothing. Whatever we pride ourselves with is all from Him. I have learnt that humility, discipline and respect matter the most if one aspires to achieve greatness in life. If you take one step forward, God will take the next two for you. But if you stand still, then not even He would be able to assist your endeavours because they would be nonexistent.”
He also learned that there are many things that are not entirely in the hands of children. Some decisions are taken by elders and as a child one has to follow those instructions whether one likes it or not. Even if you don’t agree you will have to follow the advice of your elders and parents because they have your best interest at heart and are the closest thing you have next to God on this earth.
For a man who loves exercising and watching soccer and basketball in his free time, Sakaria only hopes to keep excelling in his work and contribute to the development of Namibia. “I wish to see every Namibian gain access to basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter, which I believe is doable, because Namibia has sufficient resources to uplift its people’s standard of living.” PF