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Home / At home with Oscar Capelao - Not your typical banker

At home with Oscar Capelao - Not your typical banker

2021-05-14  Paheja Siririka

At home with Oscar Capelao - Not your typical banker
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Banker Oscar Capelao eats, sleeps and breathes his profession, and on top of that still finds time to travel, cycle and climb mountains.

Born and bred in Rundu, the capital of the Kavango East region, Capelao comes from a relatively small family. “I hail from what I would describe as a typical Namibian family, and I count myself especially blessed to have my mom around.  But my family is relatively small (four boys), and we like being private.  I remain amazed at how different we are, and I am happy to call them my brothers,” he tells VIBEZ!


Interest in banking

“I have spent time working as an auditor at PwC, then I had a short stint at Old Mutual, and have now been with FirstRand for 14 years – one could say a lifetime.  But I don’t work in banking for the sake of banking. It is simply my area of gifting, that’s how my brain is wired; I think in numbers. I must also say that despite a challenging environment, the bank remains focused on creating the relevant solutions for our clientele. It is important from my perspective that we focus on doing the right thing.”


Favourite pastime

“I started with one mountain, and met a serious mountaineer along the way who sold me more dreams, so the list of mountains to climb just grew. I wanted to see Uhuru peak on top of Mount Kilimanjaro for myself. 

As with most things, I had a deadline for the mission, which was to summit Mt Kilimanjaro before I turned 40. So, in 2018, I signed up for Mt Kilimanjaro, and after a few months of intensive training, I summited in June.  It turned out to be much more than I ever expected, and within a year, I was at the base of Mt Everest.

“No climb is ever easy - mountains humble you. You grow, you meet new people, and in most cases, you are far from everyday connectivity and technology. 

There is no equivalent for the ‘high’ you get from a summit. Nothing quite beats that feeling of accomplishment. I still get goose bumps when I think of that sunrise moment on the peak of Kilimanjaro, with the clouds well below me. 

The 7 Summits are waiting.” Capelao is an avid traveller, and reckons it’s a privilege to live in Namibia, given the opportunities for travel it provides. So, he travels around to explore what this beautiful country has on offer, and does the same to countries faraway.

“I wish I could travel more. As they say, there are no foreign places - it’s the traveller who is foreign. There is so much to see in the world. If I am not travelling or spending time with my tight circle of friends, I relax at home. I lie around, I read, feast my eyes on Formula 1, or I watch my favourite team, Barcelona, in the Champions League.”


Banking vs astronomy

Capelao says that if he was not into banking, he would have taken up a challenge with outer space.

“I had huge admiration for the late Japie van Zyl, who worked for NASA, because I have a keen interest in astronomy. I’m fascinated by the size of the universe, the planets and the galaxies out there. I am puzzled by the big question ‘Are we alone?’, so I would have been dressed in a white coat behind a giant telescope.”


Time for relaxation

Capelao has several ways of destressing to prepare for cycling up to Base Camp on Everest. “I took up cycling. So inevitably, cycling is one of the ways I take on the road to clear my head. I also work out in that way, or I disappear, and that’s where the mountain climbing comes in. You can describe me as an introvert. After a few hours alone, I recharge. But music also keeps me sane, and I like watering my lawn.”


Food and drinks

“Coffee or tea. I am a recovering coffee-holic, but these days I mix it up by having an occasional cup of herbal tea. Like most Namibians, I love a really good steak. Other than that, I am not fussy about what I eat – as long as there are no onions or garlic in my food. My cooking skills, sadly, are not comparable to the rest of my skills set, but I can braai.”


Capelao Mantra

“You must be intentional about personal growth, read books, be curious about the right things, find a mentor, and have friends who challenge you to grow. If you surround yourself with winners, you’re bound to win. 

Should you surround yourself with less ambitious people, you will likely end up being just like them. Aspire to be the best in your chosen field, and be sure to make time to reflect on how you are doing.”


2021-05-14  Paheja Siririka

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