Fare Thee Well Noko!

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Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

HE served the Ministry of Trade and Industry with rarely paralleled distinction, devotion and professionalism as Deputy Director of Trade Policy and External Trade. But then it was time to leave. More so to make the grass greener for his native land, and of course the rest of the sister countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Too late on the eve of his departure for SADC the Ministry of Trade and Industry may have realised what an asset he had been to it and the country at large. Reluctantly, it released him to SADC but sooner or later it dawned on the ministry that by serving SADC he was also in vantage position to serve Namibia. And he has by no means disappointed in this regard. His passion for his chosen career as an international trade policy analyst and expert was not only catapulted to greater heights within the SADC environment but was also opened up to wider horizons within and beyond the region.

As Namibia’s foremost SADC’s senior civil servant he did not shame his country, neither the region nor the continent. He came to distinguish himself as a fast-growing guru of international trade policy who could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other gurus despite the generation gap between him and them. There’s no doubt he was destined for groundbreaking achievements in international trade policy. That’s how my cursory acquaintance with him in this regard informs me.

But I would abdicate further and give more deep-rooted tribute to those more privileged to him and his prowess in this regard that is his colleagues in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, SADC and indeed the broader international trade policy environment.

It thus suffices to confine myself to him as a buddy-cum-nephew though informally and practically we were “Boetas” (brothers).

I am talking about Nokokure Murangi affectionately known as Noko. Call him Noko and invariably Nox and you would not only be at peace with him but his favourite buddy if not most favourite. As it may have been destined, true to what Noko really was, an unflinching freedom fighter, and later a patriot and visionary nation builder by virtue of his education as an economist, he passed away on March 21, the very day the country was celebrating its 18th independence anniversary. That in itself sums up the son of the Namibian soil that he was and the epitome in his own special way of the aspirations of our people for freedom, justice, egalitarianism and prosperity.

Hate or loathe him today, tomorrow you love and admire him, that is how some of us knew him. You go to breaking point today and a few minutes later, it is business as usual. His affection was infectious and imbued with overflowing generosity. Likewise, his passion for camaraderie knew no bounds. For some of us with outdated intellectual inclinations, he served as constant nourishment.

A globetrotter that he has been by virtue of his career as a trade policy internationalist, we had in him a living depository of world trends in politico-economy and a transmitter of world social and cultural practices and fads.

That speaks volumes of what an engaging person he was – who would at any given place not take long to make friends and likewise also envious enemies.

There’s hardly any place in Botswana he was not known or heard of. Known even by all and sundry, even by ordinary people. Despite the dictates of his high profile diplomatic career, he was indeed an ordinary and humble person.

Yes, that was Noko. One moment a formidable diplomat of repute, the next an ordinary person mingling and mixing with all and sundry. One time the quintessential gentleman, the next a Joe Public.

Noko passed away while on his way from Gaborone to Gantsi when his car hit a horse. In Gantsi, as much as any other place in Botswana, like Gaborone and Mahalapye, Noko had for a relatively short time established himself as an integral part of these communities. Seeing the devastation of the Gantsi community on his passing on, there was no mistaking what a loved and likeable son he had become. As his close associates would put it “I am empty”, so are many everywhere in the world he may have set foot.

However, one can only find solace and comfort in the indelibility of his footprints whether politically, socially and culturally. Yes, he may no longer be with us physically but his deeds shall forever be imprinted in our hearts, minds and souls.

Noko, may your spirit live forever!

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