KOICHAS – The late Willem Konjore was this week celebrated as a humble, caring and generous natural leader who will be missed but never forgotten.
The towering figure from the south was a member of the Constituent Assembly, who also served as deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Cabinet minister.
But he remained rooted in Vaalgras, where he worked, married and led the locals as a local man of the cloth, teacher and politician until his death on 10 June 2021, aged 75.
New Era visited the settlement, 80 kilometres northeast of Keetmanshoop in the //Kharas region this week.
Martin Biwa, senior traditional councillor of the Vaalgras Traditional Authority described their leader, the late reverend Willem Konjore, as a humble, caring person, who always puts the less fortunate citizens’ needs before his own.
He said this when paying tribute on behalf of the traditional authority to the retired politician.
“He would not mind to offer his car, cattle and food at funerals when a family was in need,’’ Biwa explained.
The councillor said through the perseverance of Konjore, children in Vaalgras today have the privilege to attend school up to the primary level at a community school.
“The previous Roman Catholic school, where he was a teacher, has been closed during 1967 due to political unrest and it was our leader who negotiated with the Council of Churches in Namibia and other foreign donors for the Koichas Community School to come into existence in 1983,’’ said Biwa.
Another milestone, according to Biwa, was that of the former Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture (2008 to 2010) and Minister of Environment and Tourism (2005 to 2008) being instrumental in the erection of an MTC tower in Vaalgras and residents today have access to information communication technology and radio services.
Also contributing towards the tributes, Willem Apollus (71), who grew up with Konjore, hailed him as a person the community of Vaalgras shall miss but never forget.
“This man was a born leader, who actively participated in politics and fought for our rights prior to the country’s independence,’’ he added.
Apollus recalled an incident where the community of Vaalgras were brought to their knees after a failed ostrich project led to them owing the landowners a lot of money but through the leadership and negotiation skills of the late politician, the problem was amicably resolved.
Meanwhile, Patricia Swartbooi, an elderly woman in the community, said Konjore, as their spiritual leader, has always listened to his congregants' emotional, physical and personal issues, advising them and giving them the spiritual upliftment needed.
“He was also a father for all of us – never discriminating on solving people’s challenges where possible,’’ she added.
Swartbooi also sad the community of Koichas and Vaalgras will always remember and adore their ‘Kai Meester, Nanab’ Konjore, for his good, noble deeds.