Mistreatments from the stepmother, child abuse, child labour and missing out on school are some hardships Sebastian ‘Haitota’ Ndeitunga had to undergo, little did he think he would grow up to be one of the prominent people in the country.
Unashamed of his past, police chief Inspector General Ndeitunga told Entertainment Now! that his childhood shaped him into the man he is today.
Early life and education
Born in the early 60s in the ‘Aakwahepo’ clan of the Oshiwambo tribe, Ndeitunga spent his early years in Ohakadu village, Ohangwena region.
After his mother passed on, he was adopted by his late stepmother, who mistreated and abused him.
“I was very young when my mom passed; all I can remember is that she died in the house, but I do not have a clear image of her. One of my father’s wives took me in and she was terrible to me; I had to run away from home to look for greener pastures,” reminisced Ndeitunga, describing his childhood as “thorny”.
In 1973, Ndeitunga found a job in Nuichas farm in the //Kharas region, where he served as a shepherd, but earned peanuts and endured unpleasant working conditions.
“I worked there for 15 months while staying in a shack, and my biggest dream was to become a farmer with a lot of cattle.”
Ndeitunga fled to exile with Swapo tropes, where he was trained for military and was recruited as a bodyguard to the retired police commissioner Elise Haulyondjamba in 1974.
While they gave most of his peers administrative jobs in exile, Ndeitunga, nicknamed ‘Haitota YaKalola’, could not afford the same opportunity, as he could not read nor write.
“I was 16-year-old; I could only speak Oshiwambo and Portuguese. However, while I was working as a bodyguard, I was advised to join the school. Because of my daily duties, I could only attend grade one evening classes, under the supervision of a teacher by the name of Nghatanga. He taught me how to read and write English” he recalled, sitting comfortably in his presidential looking office.
Ndeitunga studied till grade three when he was instructed to go to Cuba on a military mission.
While in Cuba, Ndeitunga continued with his school, however, he was fortunate to skip a few classes due to his intellectual capabilities.
“After matric, I pursued my studies in political economy and later changed to Bachelor of Law at the University of Havana. I also did a postgraduate in Maritime Law in 1993, the same year I came back to Namibia.”
Despite several difficulties and obstacles, Ndeitunga which means ‘I groomed myself’ took all the challenges positively and transformed them into opportunities by courage and strength.
Career and family
Talking about his first job after independence, Ndeitunga stated that he first worked as a casual worker in the fish factory in Walvis Bay and his job was to count boxes of fish.
After working in the Ministry of Home Affairs for a few years, Ndeitunga rocketed into the police force, where he learned the spirit of selflessness, social responsibility, dedication and nationalism.
Ndeitunga is married to his long-time sweetheart, the head of medical services in the military, Mrs Ndeitunga, and they have four children.
Asked how they attempt to bring balance to the hectic pace of life, Ndeitunga said, “We never really had busy lives until we got into the current positions. Trying to juggle the demands of work and family can be very rough. But, we mastered the art of being organised. Time management plays a major role in our family, and I always check up on my children whenever work allows me to.”
Bodyguards and handling public stress
“Having bodyguards can sometimes be uncomfortable; however, they assist us to serve and do national duties”.
As someone who is always pressed to the limit by the public, he shared his techniques of how he remains calm and focused amid challenging situations.
“Pressure from the public is not all that tough, but [it is] not simple. I listen to the public, focus on the task at hand, and always take constructive criticism seriously. As a leader, it’s my responsibility to also guide the members of the force to be respectful, friendly and very committed to their work.’’
Interests and hobbies
“In my free time, I spend quality time with my family and watch soccer. I have always been a fan of soccer and I used to play soccer in my heydays, even though I was not good at it.’’
He advised young Namibians to take their future seriously, as nothing comes on a silver platter.
“I want young people to be patriots of this country. They should be determined to sacrifice themselves for their country. We have done what we could for the country and ourselves. Now is your time to take over,” he concluded as he organised his desk.
As his tenure to serve as the police inspector general ends in two years, Ndeitunga said he wants to live a legacy of extraordinary leadership and a lifetime commitment to the safety and security of the Namibian nation.