While grappling with pain and grief for losing his wife, speaker of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi yesterday narrated the last moments of his wife Jane.
She died on Tuesday while on a flight to Windhoek in his presence.
British-born Jane Rosemary Tuauana, a renowned writer, editor and former publisher with an academic background in African studies, died aged 70.
Despite being unwell when they left the country for London a few weeks ago, Katjavivi said in an exclusive interview with the popular Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Omurari FM radio programme Keetute that his wife Jane was in high spirits on their return.
“While enroute to Namibia just after passing the Rwanda airspace, I realised that my wife was not moving,” Katjavivi told listeners in the early morning show.
“Upon checking up on her, I realised that she was not breathing, and it was at that time that I notified the airline staff, who notified the doctors. The doctors tried their best, and she was pronounced dead an hour before reaching Namibia. It was a very difficult day. I have lost my wife of over 40 years. The Katjavivi residence has lost a shining light, she is gone to eternity.”
He also used the opportunity to thank President Hage Geingob, Vice President Nangolo Mbumba, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and family and friends for comfort and support they provided during this difficult time.
Family spokesperson Tjama Tjivikua yesterday said the official memorial service would be held on Thursday next week at the St George’s Cathedral (Anglican Church) in Windhoek, while the funeral is set for Saturday, 20 August.
“We want the family to be afforded the privacy from tonight (Thursday) up until 16h00 on Tuesday, 16 August,” he pleaded.
Jane received a master’s degree from the University of Birmingham in African Studies.
She worked at World University Service (UK) in 1975 as a scholarship officer, focusing on southern Africa, and with Swapo in London as an information officer from 1976 until 1978, before later moving into magazine and book publishing.
She married then Swapo activist and historian Katjavivi in 1981, and they moved to Namibia shortly before Independence in 1990.
At the dawn of independence in 1990, Jane was a writer, editor and publisher.
She set up New Namibia Books, and for 10 years published Namibian writing – literature, autobiographies, academic books, school textbooks and children’s books.
She found and operated a bookshop specialising in books about Namibia and Africa.
She furthermore served as the founding chairperson of the Association of Namibian Publishers and the Namibia Book Development Council; was southern African representative on the African Publishers Network (APNET) board; and a member of the African Books Collective management committee.
She has consistently been a consultant on book development projects in Africa. Jane was likewise the founding publisher of the University of Namibia (Unam) Press from 2011 to 2016, publishing and peer-reviewing books in law, public policy, history and memory politics, autobiographies, language and culture, and indigenous knowledge.
Jane was a dedicated wife, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother and friend to many around the world.
She will be remembered for her gentleness, kindness, consideration and eagerness for helping people and for contributing to the writing of Namibian stories, National Assembly deputy speaker Loide Kasingo said on Tuesday.