Veteran political journalist Jan Poolman died on Tuesday night. His wife, Ronel, said he suffered from abdominal pains and they rushed him to hospital where he died unexpectedly.
Some colleagues of the late Poolman said he was in good shape at work on Tuesday and did not show any signs of bad health. He passed away at around 00h30 at the Roman Catholic Hospital in Windhoek.
Poolman’s career in the local media include stints at the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation, New Era, The Namibian, Die Republikein, Namibian Sun and Informanté.
Namibians from all walks of life paid tribute to Poolman on social media yesterday, with some describing him as a man who played a big role in moulding young journalists. In his last assignment Poolman served as deputy head of Informanté.
Head of Informanté Chris Jacobie described Poolman as someone who loved journalism and who, despite his age, always welcomed new challenges. “Jan had Namibia in his soul and had contacts all over the country – both in the ruling party and opposition parties. I must also say he was very stubborn. We would always agree, but when we disagreed it would take a lot to convince him,” Jacobie said.
According to Jacobie, Poolman placed great emphasis on developing and maintaining healthy relationships with other media houses and journalists. “Jan believed that a story does not belong to anyone. Therefore, there is no need for animosity. He knew that once the story is published it belongs to everyone.”
“I don’t think he had any enemies. There were people he disagreed with, who were angry but they were never enemies. He also never held grudges or used the media to settle scores,” said Jacobie. He said Poolman had a scheduled appointment with his doctor yesterday.
“He finished two stories on Tuesday and submitted them. I find it strange, because he would normally submit his stories on Wednesdays. Maybe he did not feel well, but didn’t want to show it and, therefore, finished his stories earlier.”
“As a journalist I have so many times seen good people taken away inexplicably. One would think the bad ones should be taken [first], but that is life,” he remarked. “Although he drew his last breath on Tuesday, I would say he will draw his last breath tomorrow [Thursday] when his last two stories appear in the paper. That is the wonder of the art of journalism that cannot be done in any other profession,” Jacobie said.
Veterans affairs spokesman Edson Haufiku, who worked with Poolman for two years at Informanté, described Poolman as someone who had a talent for grooming young reporters.
“He was very friendly and he had time for everyone in the office. He would sit us down and show us how things should be done. There was a time I travelled with him to Oshakati and I saw a different side of him. He would talk with everyone and even utter a few words in Oshiwambo,” Haufiku recalled.
The 61-year-old Poolman leaves behind his wife and two children, as well as a lasting legacy in Namibian journalism.