MINISTER of Safety and Security, Nangolo Mbumba had a pleasant surprise on Sunday August 15, 2010 when his family organised a birthday luncheon for him. Mbumba is one of the heroes we are profiling this month for this special supplement.

We chose to talk to one of his daughters, 25 year-old Namene, who has some fond memories of her upbringing and was closest to her dad, naturally as the last born of the six children that the Mbumbas have raised.

Apart from the six who are now all grown up, 10 grandchildren and more coming were part of the Mbumbas that were gathered to celebrate Nangolo’s 69th birthday.

“My dad is a very quiet person who has his family at heart. He is gentle, caring and very sensitive to his family’s needs. He is just as important to his family as he is to the people of Namibia but whatever he does, family comes first.”

Being the daddy’s little girl, Namene recalls accompanying her father to his first budget speech when he was appointed Minister of Finance and other important state occasions.

She also remembers the family’s days in exile.

“The days we were in exile in Kwanza Sul, Angola. I was very young; my mother tells me my dad would always carry me on his shoulders to the camp pre-school, even when he is wearing the camouflage. To this day, he takes pride in his work without neglecting his family, we are that close to him,” says Namene.

Mbumba has this to say about his 69 old journey: “I was born a teacher, by a teacher, I grew up as a teacher and now I am a teacher. I went to the then Ongwediva Junior Secondary School for three years before going to Oshigambo High School which had a reputation of being the best school in the northern part of the country built by Finish Missionaries. I was there for four years.

And that is where I started my political career. There was one old man called Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo who was instrumental in recruiting us to politics. In 1965 we left Namibia. I was in Zambia, went to the USA. Having done that I spent 10 years in Angola teaching in schools. I was Secretary to Cabinet before I was sent to Walvis Bay to negotiate for the return of Walvis Bay to Namibia. I then held several ministerial positions including, agriculture, finance and information.”

Born in Olukonda, Oshikoto on 15 August 1941, Mbumba is the current Minister of Safety and Security.

Mbumba graduated from Southern Connecticut State University in the United States with a BSc in 1971. Two years later in 1973, he graduated from the University of Connecticut with an MSc in biology.

After graduating from university in Connecticut, Mbumba began teaching at Harlem Preparatory School in New York City. Leaving New York in 1978, he returned to Africa and began work as Head of the Science Department at the Namibia Education Centre in Cuanza Sul, Angola. In 1980, he was promoted to the post of Principal of the Centre, lasting in that position until 1985.

He officially took a position with SWAPO in 1985 as Deputy Secretary for Education and Culture. Leaving that position in 1987, Mbumba entered the position of Personal Secretary to SWAPO President Sam Nujoma.

Continuing in inter-party positions, including as joint-administrator of Walvis Bay during its handover to Namibia in 1994, Mbumba gradually worked his way up the party. Since 1993, he has been a member of the National Assembly. Also since 1993, Mbumba has held a ministry including Agriculture, Water and Rural Development (1993-1996), Finance (1996-2003), Information and Broadcasting (2003-2005) Education (2005) and now Safety and Security.

The most ironic part about Mbumba is that he shares his birthday with his private secretary Muna Muukua-Hamutenya and the two have worked together since 2005. Muukua-Hamutenya was born on 15 August 1974.

At home, Mbumba likes to relax in the family lounge, a cup of rooibos tea in one hand, a newspaper or two in the other while at the same time flipping through the news channels on TV – all the while off course chatting to his lifetime partner and wife Sustjie.

His favourite food? Traditional Oshiwambo dishes of a large variety served with meat and occasionally, sea-food from the coast.

The two are normally by themselves as their grown up children are now staying elsewhere, but Mbumba always makes it a point that one or two of the couple’s grandchildren are with them during weekends and school or public holidays.

“Our mom always brags about her husband as her best friend ever and the love of her life. I think the two were really meant for each other. She always advices us to find partners for life and avoid mistakes that come about as a result of wrong choices,” she says of her mother.

According to her the one thing that she learnt from her father is that although the fundamentals of ‘knowledge is power, education is the key,’ are over-emphasised elsewhere in the educational sector, “someone has to provide the key, and that is what my father did for many people.”

“He’s really a people’s person, sometimes he officiates as MC at functions and he seems to like it. He is always in the public eye and always leads by example and often teaches his kids or other children the real values in life. As a teacher by profession he excelled to greater heights and really gave his best effort when he was appointed Minister of Education,” Namene adds.

Namene considers her brothers and sisters as some of the most fortunate children in Namibia as they grew up with both parents and got considerable parental guidance and good education. Other members of the family are Desmond (36) who is the eldest, followed by Ripuree (33), Matati and Theodora (both 30) and Mutaleni (28). Some are married and others are still single and have various professions ranging from aviation, mining, telecoms, diamond trading and the film and media industry.

Asked what would be her wish on her fathers’ birthday, Namene says: “On behalf of the whole Mbumba family I would like to say Happy Birthday Papa. Thank you for all your love and support to your children and grandchildren and being a good role model. You have always been someone we look up to. You might not have been around sometimes on other commitments, but we want you know that you will always be in our hearts. We love you very much.”PF