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Honouring the Legacy of Tomas Koneka Iindji (1980-2024)

Written by on May 22, 2024

In a solemn tribute to the late Tomas Koneka Iindji, I recall the profound words spoken by Mike Mansfield in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol on 24 November 1963, as he honoured president John F. Kennedy: “there was a wit in a man, neither young nor old, but a wit brimming with the wisdom of an elder and the pure insight of a youth, which in an instant, vanished.”

Similarly, as we remember and celebrate the life of Tomas, we reflect upon a wisdom that transcended age, a spirit vibrant with both maturity and innocence, now lost to us in time.

Today, one month after the passing of Tomas Koneka Iindji, our community reflects on the life of a man who left a lasting mark on Namibia.

Born on 1 February 1980, at Ombuga yAmunyoko in the Oshana region, to Helena Itamalo and Jafet Iindji, Tomas was the youngest of seven siblings.

His journey from humble beginnings to influential leader is a testament to his determination and vision.

Tomas’s academic and professional paths showcased his relentless pursuit of excellence.

Educated initially at Ombuga Combined School and later at Oshakati Senior Secondary School, he faced financial challenges, but never let them deter his ambitions.

He began his career modestly as a check out supervisor at Diskom in Windhoek.

He embarked on his distinguished banking career at Bank Windhoek, thereafter dedicating over fifteen years to First National Bank — a tenure that not only shaped his professional path but also catapulted him to prominence within the industry.

Known as a banker of the people, Tomas transformed many patrons’ views on banking, making it both accessible and valued.

Through dedication, he eventually rose to become the head of business and commercial banking at Standard Bank Namibia in 2024.

We remember him with profound gratitude and deep respect for his extraordinary contributions to the financial world.

Alongside his career, Tomas achieved academic success, earning a diploma in finance from the American Institute of Bankers and an MBA from Regent Business School.

He was pursuing a qualification in chartered banking with Bangor University in the United Kingdom at the time of his death.

Tomas’s impact extended beyond the banking sector.

As a chairperson of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the northern region for ten years, he influenced economic policies and supported the development of local businesses.

He served on several boards including the Ndonga-Linena Green Scheme Project, NamibRE, MVA, Nust, Unam Engineering Fund and IUM, contributing his expertise to various facets of national development.

As the founding president of the Koneka Social Club, Tomas was instrumental in mobilising resources for numerous projects that benefited impoverished communities throughout Namibia.

His leadership and generosity caught the attention of national figures, including founding president Sam Nujoma and Namibia’s second president, Hifikepunye Pohamba, who supported his initiatives.

As secretary general of the Koneka Social Club, I witnessed firsthand Tomas’s remarkable leadership.

He was a paragon of humility, loyalty, diplomacy and generosity.

His intellect and selflessness guided us for over two decades, embodying the true spirit of service.

Tomas was a devoted member of Swapo and the Evangelical Lutheran Church, embodying the values of faith and service.

His personal life was equally rich, married to doctor Iyaloo Shiimi-Iindji, with whom he shared two children, Helena and Habib.

His death on 23 April at Lady Pohamba Hospital after a short illness was a profound loss to his wife, children, mother, three siblings and all who knew him.

In recognition of his contributions, a request for an official funeral was made, reflecting the national esteem in which he was held.

Although not realised, the call signifies the widespread acknowledgment of his service and impact.

His death and the legacy he bequeathed us prompts us – the in-betweeners old enough to be considered young by the old and old by the youth – to re-evaluate the classifications and criteria for state and official funerals in Namibia.

Some, like me, will advocate for the recognition of deeds beyond the political spectrum to include notable contributions by the common folk to national service.

Someone once said that what we know, we know second-hand and that there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Therefore, I cannot help but glean from what other nations do.

In the United States, official funerals are offered to distinguished civilians who have contributed to national service.

It is a good example to emulate, for the day will come when all those who contributed politically to liberation are no longer around to be accorded state and official funerals.

The heroes and heroines of generations to come should also be memorialised into the annals of our nation’s history.
Yet, someone must be so bold enough as to make that call, to face the chorus of ignorance that will sombrely reflect the lack of foresight tomorrow.

That is the definition of leadership – seeing through the fog of emotions to chart the way.

As we mourn Tomas Koneka Iindji today, we also celebrate his remarkable life — a beacon of hope, a pillar of strength and a relentless advocate for economic emancipation.

Tomorrow, his legacy will continue to inspire current and future generations in Namibia, a nation he served with passion and dedication.

His story reminds us of the power of resilience and the impact one individual can have on their community and country.

His life was a vibrant embodiment of service, wherever and whatever your station in life is, driven by a mission to empower and uplift.

In the words of Rajesh Thankappan, now he has sailed away into the beyond where the distance can no longer be measured in kilometres or miles.

He was a jolly good fellow and his death is an enormous loss.

Tomas Koneka Iindji’s memory will forever inspire us to strive for a better Namibia

The post Honouring the Legacy of Tomas Koneka Iindji (1980-2024) appeared first on The Namibian.

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