By John Ekongo
Prominent Windhoek-based architect and Namibia’s first Minister of Wildlife, Tourism and Conservation, now renamed Environment and Tourism, Niko Bessinger died yesterday morning at around 04h00, at his home in Khomasdal at the corner of Chrysler and Cargo Street.
Bessinger died at the age of 59 after a long battle with cancer.
Upon the news of his death, well-wishers, friends and former colleagues, among them President Hifikepunye Pohamba converged at Bessinger’s residence yesterday morning.
A report from Nampa says the President expressed shock over the death of
“It is a shock. I was shocked this morning at around 06h15 when I received the news that we lost our brother and comrade,” he told the mourners at the deceased’s house.
“It is a shock when just about a week ago, we were shocked at the departure of Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development (John Pandeni) and Member of Parliament, Kalla Gertze,” Pohamba said.
“I have come to the family and party members to mourn the death of our brother and comrade,” he added.
President Pohamba is reported to have suggested during his visit that a committee be established to look into the possibility of coordinating funeral arrangements and logistics in collaboration with family and the Government.
“We say, Niko rest in peace,” he added.
Bessinger was part of a group of Swapo leaders inside the country during the years of liberation, with the likes of Nathaniel Maxuilili, Daniel Tjongarero, Hendrik Witbooi, Frans Kambangula and Anton Lubowski – all of whom have since passed away except Witbooi.
In 1987, they were briefly detained under the notorious Terrorism Act 83 of 1967, by the South African authorities, for alleged terrorism, subversion and related charges.
Bessinger joined Swapo in 1972 and was appointed treasurer of the Swapo Windhoek office in 1977. The following year, he was made internal national treasurer of the party.
From 1981 to 1989 Bessinger was appointed joint secretary for foreign affairs on the Swapo national executive, until his appointment to a Cabinet position as Minister of Tourism, Environment and Conservation, at independence. He retired from Parliament in 1995.
Since then, he has been running a private architectural firm from his home.
He was instrumental in the design of the recently inaugurated State House in Auasblick, southeast of Windhoek as well as the Daniel Tjongarero House – New Era’s head office.
Bessinger leaves behind his wife, five children and grandchildren, his father, three brothers and four sisters.
– Own Reporter-Nampa