‘We met through Jerry Ekandjo’: Paulina Iilonga

21 Dec 2018 21:50pm
WINDHOEK, 21 DEC (NAMPA) – Widow of the late Petrus ‘Ekanda’ Nangolo Iilonga, Paulina Iilonga wrote that she met her husband through her cousin, Jerry Ekandjo, in a letter she had written for her husband’s memorial service.
She said she knew about Ekanda as he and Ekandjo, former minister of Sport, Youth and National Service, were close friends.
The letter was read out by former minister of Home Affairs, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana at the memorial service of the former deputy minister and Robben Island prisoner held here on Friday.
Iilonga’s wife said Ekandjo often spoke about Ekanda and at their first face-to-face encounter at the Windhoek Central Hospital in 1985, where she was a registered nurse and Iilonga came in for a routine check-up, she could put a face to the name.
After the chance meeting, Iilonga asked her to be his girlfriend, but she thought she could not lower her standards and go for an unemployed man while she earns a salary.
“He used to visit me up to three times a day with a gift, every time,” remembered Iilonga.
She said they dated for only eight months before he proposed without a ring, only to take her, 23 at the time, to American Swiss to choose her engagement ring. She thought the official proposal with the engagement ring would be done at their engagement party, yet again, he had other plans.
“He formally proposed with the ring in American Swiss, not in front of my parents or our family,” she wrote.
The widow said what her husband taught her was to be generous and helpful, not only through his words but in deeds as well.
She said he would pay the school tuition of strangers as well as relatives, help buy back houses families lost or simply help out a friend in need.
Their house would always be filled with family and friends, they would serve 18-20 plates of food every night and he loved the fact that they could cater for family and friends.
They have nine children together of whom Bertha Iilonga is the eldest daughter.
Speaking on behalf of all the children and grandchildren, she praised her father’s bravery, sharing that he put on a brave face on his deathbed.
“Although we saw your pain, you hid it from us and to us you’re a national hero,” she murmured with grief.