For over 14 years, Tate Johannes Fekayamala has woken each morning at 05:45 to prepare for work, a few minutes taxi-drive into Rundu from his homestead in Konke.
He was working for Standard Bank Rundu Branch for the past 14 years since moving from the main branch in Windhoek where he had worked for 15 years.
Each morning, he has to be the first one in the Standard Bank Rundu branch. By 07:30 when the Head Service Support, Francois Van Wyk walks in, Tate Johannes’ brooms and mops have rested, he is now busy preparing coffee for the boss; four sugars, strong, no milk, and in the afternoon, tea with the same sugar.
Over the 29 years, he has worked under several branch managers, many of whom he still remembers by name, Yvonne Stefanus, Corne Cloete and now Francois van Wyk.
“They have all been good to me. I also know the young man. He is a good young man, our Chief Executive, Vetumbuavi Mungunda.”
Humble may be his position but he has observed the bank’s growth for three decades and the biggest change has been the system.
“The customers are more now than when I started. Sometimes it means the bank gets very full and busy.”
By the time the Bank gets busier with clients queuing up, Papa Johannes is out on his daily routine. A stop at Nampost to pick up the letters, queuing up at NORED to pay the branch’s power bills, and other few errands required by the manager, dropping this envelope at the municipality or don’t forget to bring me a piece of chicken from Shoprite, another employee would request.
In many ways, Standard Bank Rundu Branch colleagues value and appreciate Tate Johannes, as they affectionately call him. When he returns to the bank, it’s almost midday, the first thing he notices is the dust that comes in with each feat walking into the bank, later he realises a child has messed on the floor, some have attempted to shred incorrectly filled deposit slips and left them all over the place.
Studying Tate Johannes is like learning about the calling of a janitor. At 59 he remains a pillar in the branch and is Standard Bank’s longest serving employee. He has almost become the uncle and father figure to the tellers and his other colleagues.
“God has kept me over the years. I have not experienced any major problems. I worked for good people and I have had children who are making something of their lives, I’m very happy,” he says.
Tate Johannes only speaks in Afrikaans. He says it has never been a problem. He never bothered to learn English in the old days because while working for Standard Bank in Windhoek, he resided in Wambolokasie before the move to Rundu in 2003.
The key to his happiness at work over all these years is enjoying time with others, Tate Johannes says. To him: “It’s something I want to do all the time. I always like to be at work meeting people. That’s the main thing in life, meeting people.”
Tate Johannes has seven children and following in her father’s footsteps, Justine works in Standard Bank’s IT department in Windhoek.
Two of his children Jeremiah (Information Systems) and Augustu (Electrical Engineering) are final year students at UNAM and NUST, respectively.
Augustu is so exceptional that Nampower provided a scholarship. All of the children are Standard Bank children he jokes off, having been sired while he worked in the Bank except his oldest son, 31 an employee at Jet in Windhoek. His youngest is eight.
“I want to thank Standard Bank because they also helped me with my children’s education. And not only that, when I was working in Windhoek, I got to shake the hands of President Hage Geingob and Hifikepunye Pohamba when they came to visit the Bank, I would have never gotten that opportunity in my life if I didn’t have this job,” he tells Us Namibia.
Head of Service Support and second in command at Rundu Branch, Francois van Wyk, who has worked seven years with him says, “Fekalamaya is quite humble. Even when he has to take instructions from someone who is younger, he doesn’t take it begrudgingly. He’s like a father to everyone here in the bank.”
Throughout his years of experience at the Blue Bank, Tate Johannes has been well respected by both colleagues and customers alike. Fruitful journeys like these speaks strongly to the Bank’s value of “Becoming the best company to work for”.
Born and raised in Konke, Tate Johannes grew up on in rural Rundu, in a family of seven who all sought greener pastures. His first job was in 1970 at Olympia Super Market in the fish and chips division.
Next January, he retires and plans to retreat to his village homestead, use his pension funds to buy some cattle and venture into tomato and coffee farming.
“I would have liked to have worked for one extra year, but I have to retire on January 5 when I turn 60. I think the time is right to move on, the land is good, I’m ready to move to the next chapter of my life, farming,” he says.
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