WINDHOEK - When Mathias Haufiku, the founding editor of ‘The Patriot’ newspaper was pursuing his undergraduate studies, he never imagined that he would end up as a journalist. “Journalism never even crossed my mind. People just find it funny and they always ask me how I ended up here,” says Haufiku.
In fact, while pursuing his English degree at the now Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), Haufiku was certain he would end up as an English language developer.
But as fate would have it, the language enthusiast today heads the editorial department of a relatively new weekly newspaper with the fastest growing readership base in Namibia, since its inception three years ago.
Just last month, ‘The Patriot’ won a case against the Namibia Central Intelligence Service, the latter having sued to prevent the newspaper from publishing details about its properties, including two farms and a residence in Windhoek West.
In fact, the 30-year old says he has never applied for a job in his life and does not know whether it’s a mere stroke of luck or whether he is just fortunate.
It all started seven years ago when Haufiku joined New Era Publication Corporation for a six-month mandatory internship.
“For me it was just going to be six months and I was out,” reminisces Haufiku. But New Era’s then managing editor, Raja Munamava, identified potential in him that he was just not ready to part with.
“The leadership at the time saw something which I didn’t see in myself,” Haufiku speaks confidently.
But he admits that he did not understand at the time why Munamava did not want to let him go. With one semester left to go before completing his studies, Haufiku was asked to return once he had written his final examinations.
The next year, in 2012, Haufiku signed his contract and his duty station was the Kavango.
“At the time the region was not divided into two regions. But I realise now that Kavango was a blessing in disguise because initially I didn’t want to go,” he laughs.
It was in the now two Kavango regions that Haufiku’s craft in journalism was sharpened.
“When I went to Kavango region, I was fresh out of school with no media experience. I never sat in a journalism class so I guess the leadership at New Era at the time saw something that I didn’t see in myself,” he emphasises.
Having an entire regional bureau to himself, Haufiku had to prove himself and as he says: “the fortunate thing about journalism is that your work speaks for you”.
Not only did he establish a database of contacts with sources, but Haufiku also established a reputable brand for himself that saw him being head-hunted by businesswoman, Hilda Basson-Namundjebo. “I never regretted it,” says Basson-Namundjebo. In the beginning Haufiku appeared to be quiet and unassuming, recalls Basson-Namundjebo. And because he is quiet by nature, Basson-Namundjebo observed that he is diligent and focused. “We are exact opposites but we work well together,” she added. Starting a newspaper from scratch was not easy, Haufiku said. In fact, it is an experience he does not want to relive, despite the experiences and lessons gained.
“It was not easy but worth it,” he admits. However, that experience as well as his time in Kavango prepared him for his current job. “Our team is very young. I am just 30 and I am the oldest. So there is a lot of guidance that takes place,” said Haufiku.
Notwithstanding this, Haufiku says he loves the fact that everyone knows what they want. “You don’t need to micromanage the team,” he says of his editorial team.
Also, The Patriot gives opportunities to students, Haufiku adds.
A typical day in the newsroom of The Patriot newspaper entails attending morning diary meetings apart from Thursday, which is production day. In the diary meetings, the team reviews the publication as well as progress on the stories that they are working on for the week. After the meetings, the reporters go out in the field to gather information.
Being an independent person by nature has helped him along the journey of leading the editorial department.
“In my nature I am a very responsible person so when it comes to deadlines and meeting the targets I always ensure that those ones are done before I do anything else,” he says.
“I am very inquisitive and I think I have a nose for news.” These traits keep him grounded in the demanding job that he has taken on. Having an English degree is only a bonus, for his print journalism career, he adds. “Print journalism entails a lot of writing.”
One of the challenges Haufiku encountered in the initial phase of establishing The Patriot was that the publication was new on the market.
“You need to know the market and the readers that you want to capture,” he says. Equally, there was a need to establish a brand that would have the readers’ trust. To his surprise, however, Haufiku did not “know that I was such a well-known journalist”.
This made it easier for the team in terms of getting sources.
“People would say ‘oh Haufiku from New Era’ so I always had to correct them that I no longer work for New Era. Working with Ms Basson-Namundjebo also made it easy with her background in the media space. My experience in the field combined with hers made everything easy for the entire team,” he says.
Haufiku’s all-time inspiration and role model is his late mother. Also, he values family and when he is not working, he loves to spend time with his family.
Haufiku also spoke of his best work as editor and journalist for The Patriot. An article published in December of 2016 titled “Presidential web of conflict” is one.
“The feedback after publishing that story was overwhelming. People who didn’t think deeply into that deal told us how we opened their eyes regarding the conflict,” he says proudly. He cautions that remaining clean and free from conflict of interest is important. “I know we are a small society and almost everyone is connected with everyone but we need a way to manage conflict of interest in this country.”
For obvious reasons, the recent story regarding the Namibia Central Intelligence Service is another achievement in his career.
“It is big in the sense that it is not only for Namibia, it is not only for Africa, I think it is worldwide. I have always known that I am not a malicious person and my intent was never bad. That is why we were confident to take up this case. I am happy of the support we got from the entire media fraternity,” said Haufiku. On what lessons he learned from the case, Haufiku says: “You need to have vision. If you have a goal, regardless of the hurdles, regardless of the thorns in your path, you need to persevere and keep moving.”
New Era Reporter
2018-07-27 09:20:09 | 2 years ago