By Maggy Thomas and Angie September
WHEN Carike Freygang was at the Nampa head office, you just knew it.
The noise from the normally quiet newsroom could be heard as you entered the building as the 26-year-old Erongo Regional Bureau Chief infected everyone around her with her lust for life.
So it was again just two weeks ago as the Namibia Press Agency (Nampa)’s regional staff converged on the head office for a staff meeting, and one of the highlights of the year – was the year-end function. To say those last few days together were lively would be an understatement. Laughter echoed around the newsroom as Carike and our other colleagues bounced jokes off each other, and had us in stitches with their general observations of life out in the field as a Namibian journalist.
The night of the year-end function flew by and the next morning, Carike was one of the first reporters to leave for her hometown, eager to get back home and back to work. Little did we know it would be our last few hours together, and how fortunate we feel now that that last goodbye dragged out longer than she wanted!
Carike started her career at Nampa in June 2012 with an enthusiasm, which seldom waned. Smart, humble and full of life were just some of the words you could use to describe her, and she wasted no time in winning over friends at the agency with her infectious ‘joie de vivre’. Anyone who really knew her would know that part of the package that was Carike, was also that trademark stubbornness – something that served her well in getting that important story. Less than two weeks after we said goodbye to her as she rushed off home, we were informed that the lively young woman had been taken away from us. A few colleagues had heard by Monday morning that Carike passed away in an accident just outside Rehoboth the previous day. However, nobody wanted to share this horrific news, maybe for fear of the finality thereof once it was said out loud.
When our Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nghidinwa Hamunime, made the official announcement just before the diary meeting, we were dumb-struck. By Thursday, the mood of the Nampa family is still sombre as we mourn the death of one of our youngest journalists, but more than that, a dear friend who was taken away from us in the prime of her life. Many of us still find it hard to believe what has happened, but with the tears have come all the good memories she created for us. Hamunime said she was one of the agency’s best journalists – always eager to take on new, exciting challenges and always willing to learn, work hard and sacrifice her time for her beloved Nampa. “This is a very big loss for us, and I can fully comprehend how much of a loss it is to the family, especially her parents whom she always spoke so fondly about. We will remain forever grateful to Carike and her family for being part of the Nampa family.”
Omaheke regional bureau chief Charles Tjatindi said news of her death struck him like a knife through his heart. “The world and journalism in particular has lost a compassionate, caring, joyful soul, who was so full of life it is hard to imagine she is no more. Carike and I met some years ago when she was still a rookie reporter for the coastal newspaper, Namib Times. “Her love for life and cheerful persona immediately caught my attention,” he noted.
She was the kind that would never shy away from giving others a piece of her mind, even if it meant unsettling people. “She was a dominant figure at the coast in the world of fast-paced journalism – what a great loss. You have left a big void in journalism circles in the Erongo Region, my bubbly friend. Go well, Carike. We will keep the fire burning in your honour at Nampa. Go well, great soul, your place shall never be replaced; your legacy shall linger,” Tjatindi said.
Senior business reporter Maggy Thomas and Carike shared a special bond. “I called her Princess Carike and my little sister, because everything she did, she did with style and dignity. She carried herself like a princess. I felt she lived her life to the fullest. She touched people.
There is no one who can say they met Carike and cannot remember her. She had a life well lived and was humble, energetic and always wore a perennial simile which will last in my memory forever. Hamba kahle sis,” she said.
Senior reporter Pearl Coetzee also had a close friendship with Carike. “I was fortunate enough to meet someone special like you – the energy, laughter and at times your hard-headedness. You brought so much fun, love, peace and laughter into our newsroom. Just the other day we planned to spend more times together, just to relax and have great fun, but the Almighty had other plans for you. I will never see you again, but the love you gave me through all the years will take away my tears. Goodbye my sista, friend and colleague,” she said. Administrative clerk Mathilda Dempers remembered her as being very outgoing, friendly and as having an ‘open personality’. “She could easily steal a person’s heart with her personality. Very lovely and kind, she will be missed very much”, Dempers added.
Reporter Sawi Hausiku-Lutibezi, who mans the political desk, said one is never prepared for the loss of a loved one. “To say the least, Carike, your passing caught me off-guard. Your loss has turned all our lives upside down, and the world as we knew it has changed. If there is one thing that you have taught me, it’s that it should not take death for one to appreciate life”, she said. She even left an impression on intern Anna Salkeus, who only knew Carike for a short time, who said, “the short time that I have been in Carike’s company, I often wanted to ask: ‘child, why are you so happy?’” I have never seen happiness on such a level. What stood out the most about her was how she would shake happiness into the colleagues who walked around with frowns and say, “smile! why are you so sad?”
The CEO’s personal assistant, Selima Shimwefeleni, said Carike stole her heart from the day she walked in for her interview. “I knew she would become one of us, so outgoing, bubbly and outspoken, always calling me saying, “I love you”, even when she called over the most mundane thing such as supplies for her office. She always knew how to make people laugh!” Shimwefeleni recalled.
Sub-editor Francois Lottering recalled Carike’s dream of working as a camera operator in conflict areas such as the Middle-East. “She always wanted to pursue such stories without hesitation,” he noted. Northern senior regional bureau chief Mathias Nanghanda said Carike “clearly demonstrated friendliness, openness and frankness towards fellow regional bureau chiefs. She was the only female regional bureau chief amongst us,” he said, adding that she did not stand back for anyone. Institutional worker Clementine Katjingisiua was proud to call Carike her friend. “She could not pass by without asking how you are. I really miss you my dearest, may your soul rest in peace”, she said. Another intern, Kaino Nghitongo, said the few days she spent in Carike’s company were dominated by laughter. “I just wished you were based in Windhoek, because the newsroom was just alive every time you were around. The first day I met you, you walked in the boardroom with a bright smile, and I just knew this is a sweet person.
Carike, you have gone too soon, but I know you have gone to a better place than this world. I miss you, and was really looking forward to working with you. I’m sad that won’t happen anymore, but I hope we will meet again. May your soul rest in peace, and may the Almighty God guide your soul to His kingdom,” she said. Kavango regional bureau chief Olavi Haikera said Carike was a charming person, who got along easily with people, including strangers. “Having known her for five years, frankness is something I learnt from her, as she was someone who was never afraid to state her mind”, he said. //Karas regional bureau chief Paulus Shiku said he remembers Carike as a fun-loving person, who spoke her mind. “My last moments with her were at our year-end function, where we took a beautiful picture showing how close we were,” he noted.
Senior reporter Esme Konstantinus had this to say: “I have no words. I do not know what to say – I remember my last time with you like it was yesterday. I used to say: ‘Carike, jy’s tog mal!’ I will always miss you, rest in peace for only He knows why it had to be that way.” Sub-editor Natasha Wahengo said she admired Carike for having been able to just ‘up and go’ abroad whenever she felt like it – having had no responsibilities such as a husband or children. “Carike was also tech-savvy, and was up-to-date with the latest technology in smart-phones, making sure her phone was the best around. She also quickly mastered video camera work, which Nampa introduced to its journalists in the middle of this year, and did not mind showing others the ropes… when Francois was not looking! She gave me the nicest compliment the other day, and I will treasure it for the rest of my life, because I know it was sincere. When she left for her duty station recently, I was one of the lucky people she said goodbye to by giving us hugs, not knowing that she is actually saying goodbye my colleagues, God will come get me soon,” said Wahengo.
Angie September, also a sub-editor, said she will miss Carike’s lively presence, and recalled the trip she undertook to Europe earlier this year. “She had this dream to do a Contiki tour to Europe, and earlier this year she made it happen. It was amazing how Carike didn’t just exist, she truly lived her life. How many of us can say that about ourselves?” she asked.
May our dear friend’s soul rest in eternal peace.