A teacher by profession, Nathalia /Goagoses (NG) spread her wings and trailblazed in various key positions in the public service during a career spanning over 35 years.
She was the first black school inspector, the first female head administrator for the Namibian Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) and served as the first female director of education in the Omaheke region.
Famous for her no-nonsense attitude towards corruption and abuse of power, Nathalia is perhaps better known as the first female chief regional officer of the Erongo Regional Council, a position she held with the highest professionalism, while maintaining proper financial records for five consecutive years, until her retirement last year.
She has since ventured into business and became the first black person to own a multi-million-dollar property in Swakopmund, a situation that has been difficult to achieve for many, over the years.
Despite all her accomplishments, Nathalia would like to be known as an advocate for reading, assisting the needy and the youth, as well as a mother and wife, who enjoys dancing.
This is what she shared with Confidente’s Marianne Nghidengwa (MN), while speaking about her career, her latest ventures and the importance of ploughing back into the community.
MN: Give us a snapshot of who you are.
NG: I am a village girl, who is self-determined and came from humble beginnings, with rewarding achievements. I am a mother of five, a professional woman who worked for the public service for 35 years. I am also result-oriented and a critical and independent thinker, although I am perceived by some as controversial. I am a teacher by profession. I have vast international exposure. I am a good negotiator and a proud holder of a Master’s Degree from the University of Free State.
MN: Briefly tell us about your upbringing?
NG: My parents, who are late, were from different cultural backgrounds and were indeed a very strong combination. I was the only girl amongst four brothers. In our upbringing there were no stereotypes. I was treated the same way as my brothers. I was the first sibling who started to drive my father’s old bakkie at the age of 11. My strength had been drawn at that stage. Our dad happened to be a strict disciplinarian and to him ‘right is right’ and ‘wrong is wrong’. You got punished on the spot for wrongdoing and you got recognition for achievement. On the other hand, my mother was a unique character, very angry at times, yet soft-hearted. Her highest school level was Standard 3, but her level of logic and reasoning and taking on issues were just incredible. She had a caring and sharing personality. My mother was a successful businesswoman of that time. She remains my role model.
MN: You held various key positions during your career. Tell us about some of them and what contributions you are most proud of?
NG: I was the first black school inspector after independence, together with Miss Albertina Nangolo in Khomas, Otjozondjupa and Omaheke. I was instrumental in the formulation of the Language Policy, brought integration at former white schools, like Windhoek High School, Delta and Jan Mohr, in terms of teachers’ appointments and the placement of learners from formally disadvantaged backgrounds.
I was the first female head administrator for the Namibian Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF). I successfully arranged with Cuban universities, during the tenure of Nangolo Mbumba as the minister of education and granted loans/grants to 100 Namibian students from 13 regions at the time, and took them to Cuba for studies in medicine and other critical fields. About 85 percent of those students completed their studies and are contributing in different ways towards nation building.
I served as the first female director of education in the Omaheke region and provided increased access to education for the marginalised children, mostly San. Two new schools were also built – Donkerbos and the Gobabis Project. I successfully negotiated with Rössing Foundation to assist with the education delivery in selected secondary schools. The Rössing Program certainly enhanced the performance and learning outcomes in the beneficiary schools.
I also served as the first female chief regional officer (CRO) for the Erongo Regional Council, a position I handled with passion to serve the grassroots well. I am mostly proud of two outstanding achievements: I took the famous Wlotskasbaken saga out from a court battle, which lasted for ages, and put a development plan for this prime settlement under the jurisdiction of the council. The settlement is ready for development and occupation. I shall always keep a watchful eye on this baby of mine, guarding it jealously against any form of corrupt practices and abuse of power.
Another big mark and legacy I left behind are the unqualified financial reports, for the consecutive five years of my office term, as a proud accounting officer. Financial discipline and prudence had been the order of the day. Some did not approve of it, but being a principled and trained professional, I did not budge to the undue pressure. Hence, my clean exit from the public service, after 35 years of dedicated service.
MN: Having worked in various sectors, how has that shaped you as a woman and a professional ?
NG: I grew from strength to strength every day. There has not been a single day without challenges. Some were easy to handle, but others were extremely tough to overcome. It taught me a few skills, to listen, respect others’ views, to consult, to acknowledge and above all to read as well as to learn from mistakes. It also empowered me to be decisive and to be able to defend my decisions. It taught me to be strong, to take tough decisions, to be consistent throughout and to act without fear or favour.
MN: You have since ventured into business. Tell us about your enterprises and the services offered ?
NG: I like to take up new challenging tasks in life. Currently, my sons and I are managing our business, known as the Kalahari Convention Centre, which is the largest and best establishment in the Omaheke region, located in Gobabis. The business was one of the three top finalists of the Development Bank of Namibia Innovation prize awards of 2017.
Together with other partners, we acquired a property trading as House of Telne (old municipal building), which keeps me productive and busy, as an emerging businesswoman.
I am also the first black female owner of a huge prime property in the CBD of Swakopmund. History should be written about this breakthrough. It has never been easy to acquire a multimillion property in the coastal town. I am also indebted to acknowledge the support of the Swakopmund Municipality’s political leadership, the Development Bank of Namibia and the entire Namibians who stood behind me to realise my business goals.
We are still working around the clock to put the Swakopmund business in full operation. Soon, the first four-star boutique hotel in the heart of the coastal town will open its doors.
MN: You are considered as an influential woman by many. What are you doing to inspire fellow women and little girls to be hardworking independent forces ?
NG: My blessings are meant to be shared with those less privileged. Girls and boys, alike, in schools, who are from deserving backgrounds, are favoured. Women empowerment is on top of my priority list. Being a strong advocator of instilling a reading culture, I support projects by young writers. Recently I have pledged to support PNM and Authors by Paulina Moses. It’s very inspiring to see young Namibians embarking on educational projects of this nature.
I contribute in cash and kind, depending on the need. About N$50 000 to N$100 000 is budgeted every year for this purpose. Women projects in Okombahe will be supported to the tune of N$30 000, as start-up capital. I do humble contributions in-kind, by speaking to or motivating learners on the importance of education, citing my own life as a young hardworking scholar, who was never satisfied with best. My aim was to get distinctions and pass with flying colours.
MN: What would you say was your formula for success, which you wish to share with others ?
NG: Hard work, determination, knowledge, skills and discipline. Sometimes arrogance, but not always. Never allow yourself to be bullied. Always be sober, keep reading and associate yourself with successful people. Always consult trustworthy and successful people. Be honest, stay away from lazy and corrupt people.
MN: What has life taught you that you wish to share with fellow women ?
NG: There are two things. Never share everything about your personal issues and your plans with others, because you never know their motives. Learn to keep important and core issues close to your chest. I still regret until today having become a victim of my own openness. Lastly, strike a good balance between your professional life and that of family setting. Too much of any one thing might be unhealthy, because in that process you would neglect the other important aspect. Your family should not be neglected, because of being a professional. Never lose your womanhood, always find time for yourself, your children and spouse or boyfriend.
MN: Just what do you do for a little fun ?
NG: I am a friend to all, especially young ones. I want to remain relevant, by socialising. I am a good dancer and I love an inviting atmosphere, surrounded by beautiful people from all walks of life. Lastly, it is worth noting that the social responsibility budget is my personal funds (pension), as businesses are not able to do what we want, due the prevailing economic situation.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015