By John Ekongo
The death of Niko Bessinger has dealt a severe blow to the country, particularly the ruling party, which in a space of two weeks has lost two party stalwarts, both instrumental in the attainment of independence for the country.
Besides the ruling party, members of the architectural industry joined the chorus of people whose lives were touched by Bessinger and his death.
Colleagues in the architectural industry depicted the late Bessinger as a “very philosophical man and a deep thinker”.
Kerry McNamara of Kerry McNamara Architects Incorporated, in a telephonic interview with New Era yesterday described Bessinger as a “very matured man, an understanding man and a man who had no vindictiveness in him”.
The McNamara firm employed the late Bessinger, during his early years as a qualified architect upon completion of his BSc in Architecture in 1981 from the University of Detroit, Michigan. McNamara says because of Bessinger’s connections and politics, it was difficult for him to find employment before independence but his firm saw beyond his politics and took him on.
“The man had a good mind, very analytical and generally just a good person, and we took him in long before affirmative action because of who he was and how he viewed the world.”
This on many occasions landed McNamara in constant fall-out and pressure from the authorities.
Bessinger rose to become a partner in the firm until his appointment as Minister of Tourism and Wildlife Conservation at independence.
Former Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) politician and architect by profession, Hans-Erik Staby depicted the late Bessinger as a laid back person with an easygoing character.
“He had well balanced views in his contribution and he was a man whom you sense that he did not have any negatives on his side,” said Staby.
Staby was an opposition MP during the reign of Bessinger as a Minister of Environment from 1990 until 1995.
According to Klaus Dierks, a Namibian historian in his book “History of Namibia” the Walvis Bay born Bessinger received his primary schooling in Windhoek at St Bonifacius Roman Catholic School Primary School. He proceeded to St Augustine Secondary School in Parow, South Africa. In 1966 he completed high school with the Athlone High School in Cape Town, South Africa.
From 1969 to 1972, he was attached to the Architectural Faculty at the University of Cape Town. Some six years later and with the help of McNamara, he obtained a Fulbright scholarship to pursue a qualification from the University of Detroit, which earned him an entry and an award on the dean’s list as one of the best students. He qualified as an architect in 1981.
Bessinger was a re-gistered architect in Namibia since 1983 and was a member of the Namibia Institute of Architects and the Namibia Council of Architects and Quantity Surveyors.
At the time of his death, Bessinger ran a private architectural practice from home.