GROWING up on the streets of Keetmanshoop and Tses in the 1960s, Clara //Gowases experienced the harsh treatment of the South African colonial regime. It affected her to an extent that she vowed to contribute towards the country attaining its independence.
//Gowases is a renowned teacher and politician. But perhaps she is better known as one the few women representing opposition parties in Parliament. She was elected Chairperson of the Republican Party (RP) in 2009 and subsequently listed second on the party’s electoral list for the 2009 general elections. In March 2011, RP’s president Henk Mudge resigned leaving //Gowases to replace him. Following is an extract of an interview with Confidente recently.
//Gowases was born in Keetmanshoop. There she attended primary school up to grade 3. Her family later moved to Tses where she completed her matric at St. Therese High School under the leadership of former Environment and Tourism Minister, Willem Konjore. Sadly her parents passed on when she was six years old and was adopted by her uncle and aunt. She adoringly refers to them as her parents.
As a matric student in 1976, together with others, she boycotted classes because of the inferior education system. She says growing up during that time was not easy. “The then white South African apartheid regime ruling over Namibia made it even more difficult for any parent to bring up their children and to look after their families. But my parents got through it all with the assistance of other extended family members, teachers and preachers.
“My upbringing was tough but my parents were determined to steer me towards success despite the circumstances in which we found ourselves,” she said.
In 1978, she became an assistant teacher at Baumgartsbrunn Primary School. She later became an acting principal at the same school base on merit. //Gowases was transferred to Dordabis Primary School in 1988 as a head of department and in 1990 when Namibia attained its independence she got another transfer to Augeikhas Primary School as a teacher.
As she became more familiar with the teaching profession, she upgraded and eventually received a teaching qualification through the then Windhoek College of Education.
//Gowases explains that her interest in politics was triggered by the needs of people. “People around me when I was growing up experienced difficult times. I saw their struggles and so I decided to become a part of the solution.”
And it all started in 2004 when //Gowases was invited to a Republican Party (RP) meeting. Attracted by their vision and mission with emphasis on grassroots, she joined the party initially as a member and political activist.
She steadily rose through the party’s ranks. In the same year she joined the party she was placed second on the party’s City of Windhoek council election list. In 2010 she was elected Chairperson of RP. A year later she was elected onto the second spot of the party’s National Assembly list. Five years down the lane in 2015 //Gowases was elected vice-president of the party.
The party only got one seat in Parliament. At the time the president post was vacant and automatically she filled the spot, representing RP in Parliament. She has been a Member of Parliament representing RP since 2011 to date.
Passion for Education
As a qualified teacher, //Gowases could not turn a blind eye to the country’s education system described by many as troubled. She too is of the opinion that the system is experiencing difficult times adding that the country’s future is in danger. “With that our next generation is not empowered enough. We have to go back to the drawing board one more time and do serious analysis of the education situation in the country.”
As an MP, //Gowases says she focuses her energy on education, job creation, drought and poverty eradication. “Namibia is still far from properly looking after all the basic needs of all its citizens. That worries me. Often I get sleepless nights reading all the discrepancies affecting our nation in the media.”
As a leader, //Gowases says she strives to be constructive. “I don’t dwell too much on my gender as a leader. One has to lead whether you are a woman or a man.”
After politics, // Gowases says she will go back to grassroots level to render her experience and better her community. “The community needs the experience one picks up in one’s involvement in politics. In fact, by the time I leave politics I will be in my retirement years.”
She advised fellow women to be themselves adding that the sky is the limit.
After the hustles of office life, // Gowases says she enjoys cooking, catering and reading. She also likes to spend quality time with her children and grandchildren.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015