Dr. Silas Ithete Hango, Lecturer, Department of Engineering, José Eduardo dos Santos Campus, University of Namibia. Interview posted on 25 July 2019
Welcome Dr Silas Ithete Hango, a.k.a Ithete yaHango to Namambe, I am pleased to have you on this platform.
1. I like the name Hango? What does it mean?
Hango is my grandfather’s given name. He was born on a day of a family wedding. So the name basically means someone who was born during a wedding. This symbolises happiness in the family – a new born baby and the wedding celebrations at the same time.
2. When last were you 100% happy and why?
It was on the 29th of June 2019 when my wife and I paid a courtesy visit to my Hero, the Founding Father of the Namibian Nation and the Founding President of the Republic, Cde Dr. Sam Nujoma at his Etunda Farm. To spend the day with one of the World inspirational leaders brought an extraordinary happiness in my life recently.
3. Well before we continue with other questions please tell us more about yourself.
I was born and grew up in a famous village called Okanya (near Okahao), in Omusati Region, herding cattle, goats and donkeys. I attended my kindergarten to junior secondary education at the Nakaheke Combined School (today known as the Junias Etuna Kandjeke Combined School). I then moved to Oshakati Senior Secondary School to pursue my secondary education in Sciences and Mathematics field of study. After this, I was enrolled for a National Diploma in Public Administration at the Polytechnic of Namibia (today known as the Namibia University of Science and Technology, NUST). Unfortunately, I could not finish the diploma, because I had a privilege to undertake a bilateral scholarship to study in Russia.
In Russia, at the Voronezh State Pedagogical University, I obtained a Bachelor of Physics and Mathematics Education, while a Master of Science in Solid State Physics was obtained from the Voronezh State University. And then I happily came back home.
I became a high level Physical Science and Mathematics teacher at the prominent Ruacana High School (also known as Ruacana Vocational High School) for 2 years, and then became a founding Tutor and a staff development fellow at the Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology (FEIT) of the University of Namibia, again for 2 years. I was also privileged to be awarded with a postgraduate scholarship to pursue a PhD research at the School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment of the University of the Witwatersrand (known as WITS) in Johannesburg, South Africa. A degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the field of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering, focusing in Corrosion Science and Engineering was awarded to me. I am a holder of a certificate in Corrosion Engineering from the Corrosion Institute of the Southern Africa, Johannesburg.
I am working at FEIT, giving lectures in the field of Metallurgical Engineering. I also supervise and mentor students, and I am married to the most beautiful lady in the World, Madam Magano Mbute Kanime-Hango.
When I am free, I like watching soccer, going to church and watch documentaries. I enjoy listening to gospel musics and travelling.
4. Are you still studying or have finished for good?
As they say education has no boundaries, I will keep learning new things until old age. I have just been accepted to undertake a post-doctoral fellowship at the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. I will carry out a research fellowship with an idea to address a specific corrosion problem in Namibia. I feel blessed to be here and I look forward for challenges and good learning atmosphere. On the other hand, I always think of going to proceed where I ended at NUST or pursuing something at UNAM or International University of Management (IUM) – just to get a Namibian qualification.
4.1 What was the field of your studies?
I have a combination of fields of study that eventually directed me to one: Physics of Materials and Mathematics leading to Materials Science and Metallurgy. I can happily say my field of study was in Materials Science and Engineering with emphasis to Corrosion Science and Engineering.
4.2 Why did you pursue that area of specialization?
I found out that Namibia has so many neglected problems, and there is a need to create awareness and solve these problems. Corrosion is one of them. I chose this area so that I try to prevent and control corrosion in our motherland Namibia.
5. What about your work experience? Tell us in details about your work experience?
I have over 12 years of teaching experience at secondary and high education. I also have some industrial experience through the FEIT staff industrial internship progamme – an initiative that allows FEIT academics to have hands-on industrial training. I enjoy doing corrosion tests, and I look forward to having a laboratory that will clear and control corrosion in Namibia.
6. What would you describe as the main highlights of your careers?
It is so exciting to work with metallurgical equipment, visiting the mines, doing research, teaching and supervising students.
7. Is there something that you have learned from your career that has shaped your life for goods?
I have learnt to believe in myself through decision making and working with different people with different opinions and backgrounds. I gained lots of confidence and self-determination, and also how to assist others academically.
8. What opportunities and challenges came your way as an educator?
There were so many opportunities in academia such as talking to captain of industries, visiting places of educational interest, attending conferences, seminars and academic meetings. However, funding and lack of research equipment are always challenging.
9. Who are the people that you still remember as having played a key role in your education? And who is your role model at the moment and why?
My sister (Mrs Johanna Hango-Kadhila) and my cousin (Mrs Hertha Iigonda-Hango) – they both made me to love teaching and discipline, and they paid for me to go to schools. Mrs Saveria Endjala-Hango made me to love Physics, Mr. Bandu for Mathematics – my Physical Science and Mathematics teachers, respectively. Prof. Lesley Cornish and Prof. Frank Kavishe converted me to love Materials Science and Engineering, something I really enjoy till now. Mr. Andreas Tangeni Ndapuka is my friend, who encouraged me almost in everything. However, I am also a fun of politics. I constantly enjoy documentaries and interviews of my Dr. Sam Nujoma. I am so much inspired by his leadership, the way he spearheaded the liberation struggle of our motherland, the way he encourages the youth to study and work hard toward socio-economic development of our independent Namibia, his aim for unity and peace, and more for his loyalty and patriotism. I follow his history, and I always listen to his revolutionary speeches and interviews, and I am learning a lot. In one of his interviews, I had learnt that diamond is formed as a result of volcanic eruptions –something I did not get in school.
My role model remains my Dad, Late Tate Wilbard Amunyela gwaHango. He tried his best to make sure that we did not die of hunger and had sent me to school with his pension allowance and livestock he had.
10. In a brief paragraph how do you describe development in Ongwediva town?
It is a fast growing process. We have the most prestigious infrastructure in the entire Namibia: recreation parks, UNAM structures, shopping malls, hospital and clinics, high performing secondary schools, private schools and university/college, government representatives, banks, etc. So the Ongwediva Town Council is trying its best, and we expect for more.
11. What is that you think needs to be done to improve quality of life in rural areas?
Provision of quality education and services in rural areas, and to set up a platform for a strong awareness creation on the use and maintenance of equipment or services. This also involves seminars, workshops, motivational talks, sports and culture to be highly practiced at rural areas.
12. If you are given money and power to change or do something in Namibia, what would it be and why?
I would encourage the youth to do research, and provide them with as many scholarship opportunities as possible in the area of their choices. This is to make sure that all sectors of life have a thorough representation as far as education and development are concerned. I would increase the monthly pension allowance for old age group. This would also include poverty eradication in Namibia, because this group takes a good care of many families. I would also fight against crimes, alcohol and drug abuse and corruption strongly. I would also have some budget for agricultural development. I would also make sure all kids have a good platform to go to school.
13. When the public was informed that UNAM will open an engineering campus at Ongwediva, many have received the news with mixed feelings? How is the situation there now? Do you also get students from other parts of Namibia coming to do engineering courses there?
Yes, it was believed to be a bad decision ever by then. But, in 2009, the first intake was registered and already graduated in 2013. We enrol engineering students from all parts of Namibia and of any race every year, with a good number from the international community. The Faculty is growing, and we thank Dr. Sam Nujoma and the UNAM management for their thoughtful minds to have this excellent Faculty established. The Faculty is not only training undergraduate students, but also postgraduate students (MSc: Engineering, NQF Level 9 and PhD NQF Level 10). We look forward for many applications this year for 2020 academic year.
14. Coming back to your studies, what is the topic of your thesis and it is possible for the public access it online?
Well my topic is: Failure of pump systems operating in highly corrosive mine water at Otjihase Mine
It was to understand why so much corrosion was occurring in the Otjihase Mine, and then attempt to mitigate it by the identification of suitable materials to substitute those currently in use. It further advises on possible preventative methods, which may benefit other industries with similar problems. The full degree report (thesis) is available online. Click here to access it.
15. Is there any other thing that you would like to share with our readers?
We are very blessed to have a peaceful and blessed country. We have all the resources that we need on this planet. We only need to work together, educate and assist one another while keeping royalty at its best, avoiding corruption and making Namibia a utopia for everyone. We shall preach about unity, solidarity, justice and patriotism. “A people united, striving to achieve the common good of all members of society, will always emerge victorious.’ Dr. S. Nujoma
Thank you very much for your time and insight, it was a pleasure interacting with you.
Thanks a lot. Long live!