You may know her as the sometimes occasional host of Talk of the Nation on the national broadcaster, accompanied by a historic path in local media to an extent of establishing herself as a businesswoman – now running Oxygen Communications and a print publication.
Hilda Basson-Namundjebo is a jack of many trades: sports, media, and communication. She has tapped into them because of the will and determination and desires to succeed in life through impact making, provoking thoughts and changing lives.
In terms of media, her father was the biggest spur in joining the industry. “My dad was the inspiration. I could read at an early age because he brought newspapers home every day. We had a small black and white projector, and he would show us movies on it from time to time. That gentleman was just ahead of his time. I wish he was still around.”
Hilda’s maiden name is Basson, but there is more to the story than meets the eye. “My father took on the surname in South Africa, as the tradition was in those days when black surnames were too difficult to pronounce or remember. So, in my paternal family lines, there are quite a few surnames among us. But the main one is Katjitae,” she explained.
Some friends, who know her heritage well, call her by the Katjitae surname and others, despite the fact that she has been married for such a long time, call her Basson. “I think people think Hilda Basson is a name and not a name and one surname.”
The love anecdote
Hilda is married to Phillip Namundjebo; she vividly recalls how this holy matrimony all came into effect. “I met my husband, Phillip, at the American Cultural Center in Windhoek, as we were both seekers of knowledge. Bill Clinton’s speechwriter was in town and he did a public lecture. I remember meeting a shy guy, who wore an expensive jacket and who had an important surname – but that’s it. He decided right there that I was the girl for him,” educed Hilda.
Months later, the two lovebirds met again at the Ongwediva Trade Fair and that’s where he got her number; he was with his sister, Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun.
“I knew Martha because she owned several hair salons – and her salon made so much money from me doing my hair there, with people coming in asking to do their hair like mine. So, she agreed to sponsor my hairdos. That worked in his (Phillip) favour – and the rest, they say is history. I married a kind guy, and I thank God for him.”
The couple is nesting their five bundles equally, even though they are not biological. “We have four boys (not all biological), and a daughter. We have brought up our children that they are all brothers and sisters – whether biological or not, and they have wholly endorsed that. One of the boys is my late sister’s son, whom I brought up since he was nine. I have brought up a lot of kids in any event, so my house is always full.”
Hilda, the busy bee
A lot of planning goes into Hilda’s day. “My work is to make someone look good or to tell an amazing story about a brand. So, there is always research, loads of writing and communication in my day.”
When her boys were small, she would cook every day – but three years ago, they had a chef at home, who taught the boys to cook, and they do it well enough, while Byron has taken it to another level.
“So, now I cook once a week; it frees up my evenings to join a Bible study online, prepare for a board meeting or to continue working. I make the best chicken pie in the whole world. But then, I make a mean pasta and a hearty lamb stew. I cook well in general and I also bake well.”
Being a busy bee and in the media, she saves her television viewing for the weekend and then binge-watches.
Hilda was quite focused on the onset and determined to get the right qualifications. She currently holds qualifications in business from the Stellenbosch University Business School.
“I studied television and production in Germany; I hold several qualifications in a variety of fields. I am a chartered public relations practitioner with the Public Relations Institute of South Africa (Prisa); I also completed a three-year leadership programme with John Maxwell EQUIP, and a qualification with Duke University in corporate governance.”
Hilda’s favourite pastime is interior decor. “I love beautiful spaces, so I study new trends all the time. I am also currently subscribed to an online interior course to enable me to enhance my skills in this area. Soon, I will add something new to my list of skills in this space.”
Other than that, she is a walker. “I can walk long distances without easily getting tired. I go to Ferreiras’ Garden Centre and look for green things to plant – but in general, I never really get bored.”
She said: “Either I read, study, research or make trouble among my people. I am blessed to have more than a handful of real crazy friends like Lazarus Jacobs, Norman Tjombe, Erik and Mia, Big Ben (I call him Biggie) and others whose names I probably shouldn’t mention”.
The common friends, like any friendship, argue, debate, share ideas, recommend television programmes and books, share every economic report under the sun and take bets – whether Trump is going to take another four years in office or not.
Overall, Hilda is a loner. “I like being alone. I do so much of my life in public that I love being on my own or just with people in my inner circle.”
The fervent tea fanatic, preferably Earl Grey, said she might just have a podium of selling the aromatic beverage of that nature. ?I like my tea like the English drink it. One day, I will own a high-end restaurant with exquisite décor, wholesome food and the best tea in the world.?
Food for thought
“Make your footsteps. God, the Creator, is so huge; he created your path for you to discover and travel. So, get silent from time-to-time, and dazzle the world with your brilliance.”
“Namibia is tough on people who write their own rules of success, so be prepared to be unpopular from time-to-time and to be looked down upon. It’s ok when you know who you are. Those who are for you will always be there. And those you make nervous because they can’t own your soul or lay claim to your success will always resent you.”