Trail-blazing Diplomat Returns Home


By Chrispin Inambao WINDHOEK When he bade farewell early this week at State House in one of his final high-profile diplomatic tasks in the country, even President Hifikepunye Pohamba showered praise on Tuneya Hussein Dado, who had until now served as Kenya’s High Commissioner to Namibia. The groundbreaking diplomat has done so much to augment existing multilateral ties between Namibia and Kenya, and he also did a world of good to concretize multilateral links when he served as Dean of the Diplomatic Corps for Africa and other groups. He was described as the most active diplomat with no equal in the diplomatic corps. As a point of fact, during his four-year term as his country’s representative, Dado did so much to address the present skills deficit facing Namibia as a result of its colonial legacy, particularly in the nursing field where he initiated the recruitment of Kenyan nurses. Namibia will soon also recruit a small contingent of highly experienced architects as well as electrical and mechanical engineers from Kenya because of the diplomat’s initiatives. In a recent interview held at a restaurant frequented by the local bourgeois, the diplomat who cuts a debonair yet down-to-earth figure, said he first came to Namibia as part of the civilian component of the United Nations Transitional Assistance Group (UNTAG). As an UNTAG member in 1989, prior to the country’s independence, he was among the hundreds of personnel in the UN mission that oversaw the crucial first historic elections. “I came here as a High Commissioner on April 3, 2002. I was appointed on February 2 2002. But before that I had been to Namibia earlier in 1989 as part of UNTAG civilian officers who came to assist in the first democratic elections of a free Namibian nation,” he said on the verge of his departure to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nairobi, Kenya. When asked to list some of the highlights of his diplomatic posting to Windhoek, Namibia, he said point-blank, “First and foremost, I am happy to know that during my stay here relationships between Kenya and Namibia improved a great deal, so much so that we’ve had high-level exchanges of visitors. Several ministers from Namibia visited Kenya, and several Kenyan ministers and other high-ranking officials also visited here on various issues, learning from each other.” One of the notable high-profile visits to Kenya involved the Founding President, Dr Sam Nujoma, who flew to the East African country aboard the Falcon. One of the epitomes of the sound bilateral ties existing between the two countries is the fact that over 60 Namibians afflicted by an array of heart disorders have so far been flown to Kenya where their ailments were remedied by heart specialists. Kenyan doctors, apart from giving a new lease on life to scores of people, have also literally saved our treasury ‘an arm and a leg’, as the saying goes, because their treatment costs only a fraction of what surgeons at referral hospitals in neighbouring South Africa charge Namibians. For instance, Namibian state patients airlifted to South Africa used to cost the Ministry of Health and Social Services amounts ranging from N$80ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 to N$120ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 per person, whereas a similar operation plus medication costs less than N$30ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 in Kenya. Those operated on in the East African country range from small children to an 85-year-old and, as part of the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed barely a year after Dado took over the reigns at Kenya House, his country also pledged to assist Namibia in setting up its own Cardiac Unit at the State Hospital, which will soon become functional. Kenyan heart surgeons will staff the Cardiac Unit until such time as it is Namibianized. “One good thing is that once it is established, Namibia will also serve as a referral area for Mozambique, Angola and other areas. So this will be something for Namibia. And Intensive Care nurses are being trained in Nairobi to prepare for this important day,” he stated. “On top of that, Namibia is experiencing quite a serious shortage of nurses. In Kenya we have a surplus. So last year we held discussions with Ministry of Health officials when they were looking for nurses from all over the world. We signed some agreement in Nairobi and agreed to give Namibia 110 registered nurses, not new recruits.” He added the first batch of 60 nurses dispatched so far to Namibia and already deployed in Kunene and Caprivi, among other regions, were briefed to treat Namibians as their own brothers and sisters and “not as foreigners, and we believe in giving our brothers and sisters in Namibia the best because what is good for them is good for us”. The diplomat said Kenyan nurses are also at hospitals in South Africa, the UK and the USA, as are other professionals from the former British colony now the main business hub of that part of Africa because of the existing political stability and sound economy. Thirteen Namibians are also in that country where they are studying to become pharmacists and medical engineers, he said during the wide-ranging interview. On the volume of trade between the two countries, he said plans are in the pipeline to have direct air links between Windhoek and Nairobi and “once that takes off, the sky is the limit as far as trade is concerned. We want direct sky links.”