Can you ever imagine a person in the media field and being a loner? This is what Umbiroo Karuaihe-Upi (56) is as much as she is in an industry that exudes her personality as she is expected to be out there representing the national broadcaster.
“Growing up, I was a quiet child, a loner, but naughty. When I returned from America and got a job as a TV journalist, my mom was taken aback as she couldn’t believe her loner child studied to be in the limelight and in front of people. But ironically, my dad JP Karuaihe Snr always encouraged me to become an actress. Perhaps he saw the hidden talent in me that my life skills teacher Mr Edison saw. He also encouraged me to study drama.”
“I am a loner. A person of many acquaintances but few close friends. Also, another thing is that people don’t know how hard I had to work to reach my goals when I was doing my Masters at the University of Tennessee, I had three kids to take care of on a shoestring budget. Additionally, I had to maintain at least a B average to keep my scholarship and to remain in graduate school. It tested my resolve and my determination to succeed at all cost. I needed to sacrifice a lot to gain success. It is doable,” shared Umbiroo.
Shortly known as Umbi, the Chief Commercial Officer at the NBC has been married to Ngamane Karuaihe-Upi, also known as Uncle G for 19 years and has three biological children, adopted two and five grandchildren.
The Ella Du Plessis Secondary School alumnus was born in Otjinene in Omaheke region and pursued her higher certificates at Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in TV, Film, and Radio. Umbi currently has a Master’s of Science in Communications, majoring in Broadcast Journalism – University of Tennessee, at Knoxville.
The journalist who once aspired to be a criminal lawyer due to her upbringing and influence from her father who was one of Namibia’s first black lawyers said she is happy that she dedicated and sacrificed time for her studies to be where she is today.
She would tell her 10-year-old self that she was all along right to make education her focus as it paid off in the long run and encouraged Namibians to take academics seriously when opportunities present themselves.
The reason for joining the media industry is because she enjoys storytelling, history, and writing. The aim is always to make sure that the storytellers control their narrative as Africans.
Businessman and Managing Director of Orano Mining, Hilifa Mbako, a good friend of Karuaihe-Upi in their heydays introduced her to the media industry.
“My teenage friend Hilifa Mbako introduced me to media. He was an intern at Die Republikein and during holidays, he took me with him once to his job. He told me what he was doing and I said, ‘Yes that is what I want to do’.” I have never regretted it once!
Umbi said upon matriculating, she immediately wanted to be a journalist as she was already exposed to the field and wanted tap into it. “When I graduated from Ella du Plessis High School, I informed my dad, I wanted to be a journalist and he supported me wholeheartedly. He made sure I go to New York where I started at Spring Valley Community College and later transferred to Lehman College in the Bronx,” mentioned Umbi.
A day in the life of umbi
“I am a morning person. I wake up at five o’clock or a bit earlier with a nice strong cup of coffee and meditate. I love those early morning hours when it is quiet and peaceful. I will sometimes go on various days to the gym for an early morning swim or take a walk with my husband. In the past, we used to climb the Klein Windhoek Mountain, but it has become too busy.”
As the Chief Commercial Officer at NBC, she is in charge of Sales, Public Relations, Television Licence, Research, and New Business.
“My day will be spent with meetings and interaction on various levels at the office. I come from a big family so I have to attend to activities and responsibility related to their needs. On top of that, I am married into another big family similar to mine.”
Being a highly organised person, Umbi doesn’t want to deal with things that she could have prevented. “I am your quintessential Capricorn, so bad that I don’t like surprise parties or organising them. When I am relaxed, I love to watch TV crime dramas as I am interested in how cases get solved.”
Umbi has also taken the academic sphere by its horns and is a part-time lecturer.
“I have also been teaching media classes at Unam and Nust on a part-time basis since 1998, so some of my evenings will be dedicated to lecturing. My all-time favourite class to teach is Legal and Ethical Issues in the Media. I go early to bed after I have watched NBC news.
when my day was hectic, I will vent to my hubby who is a patient listener. I will also have a glass of wine and/or read a magazine. My husband likes to take me to the movies to unwind.”
Food for thought
Umbi enlightened that whoever wants to pursue journalism, it is important to do a lot of research on the topic they are covering, must be well read, informed and tech-savvy.
“A good journalist must have integrity, be ethical, courageous and have excellent communication skills. You need to have a passion for journalism as it is hard work and sometimes not always appreciated. To be a TV journalist is even more taxing as you need to consider your appearance as well. You must be able to communicate properly with people of diverse standing/status in society. You need extremely high emotional intelligence and calibrate at a higher level of consciousness. You need to be confident and you can only be confident if you know your work. You need a mentor who can assist you to skip some pitfalls” she ended. – firstname.lastname@example.org