Otto’s attitude of gratitude, against all odds

08 October 2019 | People

Despite having to walk long distances to get to class and ploughing his neighbour’s field to raise funds for registration, Petrus Otto graduated at the top of his class with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.

Otto hails from a small village known as Ombundamuti in the Omusati Region. To be able to look after his parents, like many young Namibians in rural areas, he had to leave his village in pursuit of better opportunities in the city. This is how he ended up in the Okuryangava residential area, one of Windhoek’s high-density areas.

Otto was always interested in educating himself, so he enquired about the programmes offered at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust). That was when he developed a keen interest in marketing.

He enrolled for a Bachelor of Marketing degree, although at that point he had no idea how he would be able to afford tuition fees, but with help from family, he gradually paid the university.

Fortunately, he had applied for funding through the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), and in the second semester, his application was approved.

“I remember how relieved I was when I got the news that NSFAF was going to help me. I felt a very heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders. But then came the challenge of registration fees. NSFAF funding does not cover registration fees,” Otto said.

“I ploughed fields at my village to generate an income, but the money was still insufficient. My parents, Max Otto and Suama Nangolo, as well as my elder brother, Lucas Otto, and my aunt, Giselinde Kashindi, pooled their resources together for me to register,” he added.

During his studies, Otto would often walk 10 kilometres to save on taxi fares. He would wake up at 02:30 in order to make it in time for the 07:30 class.

“My slogan in life is, if it does not kill you, it should make you stronger. If you have to eat fat cakes with soup or drink Oros just to get energy to study, just do it. Your relatives and friends might even mock you for it, but trust me, it will all be worth it in the end. Also, seek financial assistance from companies through study loans. Let your academic record do the talking,” he says.

Otto went on to enrol for his second degree, an Honours in Marketing, which he paid for with a bursary from Shoprite-Checkers. He graduated in April this year.

As part of the bursary agreement, he was expected to work for the company for at least a year. He is currently a trainee manager at Checkers Maerua.

“I have settled in very well and I am really enjoying the experience. I am now able to put theory into practice. My responsibilities include managing the groceries, perishables and service department,” he says proudly.

Otto’s future plans are to further his studies and to become an entrepreneur. He says not everyone can be a jobseeker, “some need to be job creators to alleviate the country’s unemployment challenges.”