“Welcome to our home,” National Assembly Speaker Prof Peter Katjavivi said as he warmly opened the door for New Era Weekend at his Klein Windhoek residence.
“Hi, it is nice to see you and welcome to our home,” his wife Jane said as she emerged from the lounge, which is under siege by fluffy toys that belong to Amari, their 18-month-old grandson.
We had arrived just before 06:00 in the morning, but Katjavivi was eager to show us the family corner, tucked in the corridor leading to the bedrooms and adorned with family pictures. More pictures from his diplomatic mission are atop a cabinet in the dining hall. There is also a lot of African décor, including an artwork of him by a local artist.
“My daily routine is very predictable, because you must be able to know where you are supposed to be at a certain time to attend meetings,” Katjavivi remarks, as he casually sips on tea brought into the study by Jane.
The partially lit backyard study is filled with stacks of books and gives off an aroma of a well-maintained school library. The books on the shelves have screaming headlines about Africa, this and that.
“By the time when we are up for a light breakfast, our grandson is up and is equally competing for attention. If people are talking, he will be moving from one person to another for attention. Then one of us will give him breakfast, put him in the little chair and keep him busy,” he said.
“It is such a joy to have him with us. He reminds us of the time when we were parents and looking after our kids,” he says of Amari, who by this time is still sleeping. “When they want to get my attention, they let my grandson loose and he finds his way to my study, bangs on the door and I know what to do next.”
Katjavivi has a twinkle in his eyes as he speaks of his beloved grandchild. Besides Amari, the other person who makes his heart skip is his wife, Jane, whom the Speaker repeatedly referred to as “my dear wife”, as he gave New Era Weekend a glimpse into his daily life, his home and his working spaces.
Even President Hage Geingob appears to have taken note of Katjavivi’s term of endearment for his life partner and referred to Jane as “his dear wife” when acknowledging the presence of the Katjavivis at a State function later that day.
Having fathered a former policeman, who is now fulltime farmer, a medical doctor, a banker, a filmmaker and an artist, Katjavivi beams with contentment and happiness when he speaks about his wife and his children, emphasising that he is in constant communication with all his kids.
In between the discussions the former diplomat did not shy away from revealing some his favourite things, such as his love of jazz music, his favourite colour being red, and that he enjoys red or white dry wines, depending on the meal he has it with.
A former athlete, he enjoys walking and horse riding, and is crazy about sports and enjoys watching documentaries.
Walking up to his official car, joined by Jane and this reporter, Katjavivi warmly greets his driver, security detail and his domestic staff, asking: “Did you sleep well? How are you today?”
It is the same warmth the Speaker would extend to staff at the Parliament Building, even when he questioned the police officer as to why she is not directing traffic correctly to allow for a smooth flow.
He quickly rushes into his office, greeting all as he passes – and so does Jane – to handle some administration issues and get his first morning briefing from his team before heading out to join President Geingob and other senior government officials at the launch of the food bank.
The discussions in the car on the way there range from rental prices, government flats, the food bank, parliamentary works and the death of a close relative to one of the parliamentary staff in office.
Lunch was at Xwama Restaurant in Katutura with President Geingob, First Lady Monica Geingos and others. He seemed slightly disappointed that New Era Weekend did not make it to the lunch: “I prepared something for you there to eat,” he said afterwards.
In the late afternoon Katjavivi rejoined with wife, daughter Isabel and grandson Amari at Safari Hotel for a commemorative event organised by the US Embassy in Windhoek.
It was after the second function of the day that Katjavivi’s face showed signs of worry and sadness.
“Did you have something to eat,” he asked the driver. “No, they wouldn’t allow me inside,” the driver replied. Katjavivi turns to New Era Weekend, “But why did you not tell me he was left outside? This is not good,” he says, cementing the indelible impression that he is indeed a very caring person.
As we arrived back at his home at 21:00 Katjavivi headed straight to his bedroom, saying he had to start early the next day.