Windhoek -“We may not be living the life we ought to live; we may not be doing what we ought to do in life; we may not be eating the food we ought to eat; we may not be attaining what we ought to own, but we must never ever give up on walking the arduous journey of success. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem, therefore make the choice for your life, and hold firm on it,” 29-year-old Willem Amutenya advises fellow youths.
Amutenya is currently a personal assistant (PA) to the Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Pendukeni Iivula Ithana. He is also the proud founder teacher of one of the best performing schools in the Oshikoto Region, Rev Juuso Shikongo Secondary School in the Omuntele Constituency, where he worked from 2011 until his appointment as a PA in 2015.
He did this, despite hailing from a village where education was not understood nor valued. “This is testified by the limited number of educated peers in my community. I recall well when most of my peers missed schooldays to hunt birds and ground squirrels, fishing and selling fish during efundja (floods), as well as playing interesting games, such as “Take all”, a gambling game, to make some few money,” he says.
“The fact that there was not much motivation and inspiration to keep one focused in school, I believe that the fear of disobeying my mom’s instructions and fear of disappointing her at home highly contributed to overcome the pressure from my peers.”
Amutenya started his primary education at Iihongo Combined School. In 2002 he moved to the boarding school, Uukule Secondary, for Grade 8 to 10. His mother promised him that he could attend any school of his choice if he passed Grade 10 with good marks.
After doing exceptionally well in the Grade 10 examination, he joined Oshigambo High School in 2014.
“It was at the boarding school where I met children with unique backgrounds, different from my community. Those exposed to careers and clearly understood their vision in education inspired me to compete with them. At Uukule Secondary School, I received academic recognition in different subjects, including Mathematics, Physical Science, Life Science and Accounting.”
At boarding school he was motivated to take up leadership responsibilities, as he did in the Student Christian Movement (SCM). At Oshigambo High School, he was elected the SCM chairperson, and a spokesperson of the Learners Representative Council (LRC).
In 2007, he registered for a Bachelor in Education (Science) at the University of Namibia, funded by the Oshikoto Education Trust Fund. This is a community bursary fund where the region raises money to pay students from the region, who are then required to later teach in Oshikoto Region for a specified number of years.
“Student life was not challenging to me, unlike to most of my [fellow] youth, simply because I was a bursary holder. I managed to develop myself through student activism and leadership.”
In 2008, Amutenya was elected as the Education Faculty representative at the university and in 2009 was elected to the SRC academic affairs portfolio, and the chairperson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN)’s Society on campus.
“I also founded the Unam Education Society on Campus. In 2010, I was again elected the Unam SRC president.”
Apart from being a member of the SRC at Unam, he was a member of Namibia National Students Organisation (NANSO)’s regional and national leadership in 2010, also representing Namibian youth at the African Youth Leaders Conference in Libya the same year.
In 2013, he established the Omuntele Youth Expo in Oshikoto Region. In 2014, he participated in the training programme for Young Politicians in Africa, which took place in Johannesburg, South Africa. Currently he is the acting chairperson of AAA Namibia, a youth empowerment organisation.
Amutenya sees being a young personal assistant to a minister as a golden opportunity to work directly with a principled, law-abiding, visionary and hardworking politician: Pendukeni Iivula Ithana.
“Despite the workload, my job is more of a learning institution,” he says. Apart from the enthusiasm to serve his government and country, in five years’ time, he wants to pursue business aims and join his fellow countrymen and women in the fight against poverty and for self-sustainability.