Editor and founder of Namibia’s Windhoek Observer, the country’s oldest and largest circulating weekly, Hannes Smith, died Tuesday morning of alzheimer, drawing mixed emotions from government and media practitioners.
Smith, who was 75 at the time of his death, had battled alzheimer since June when he was diagnosed of the deadly disease, his daughter, Yanna Erasmus, who is also a journalist, confirmed.
Smith founded the weekly broadsheet in 1978 and has often stirred controversy and raised the ire of government and ruling party officials with his hard-line editorial stance against those in authority.
Media practitioners said Tuesday that the media industry had lost a legend, citing the Windhoek Observer’s fearless tackling of issues.
Smith, who criss-crossed the country unearthing rare gems of news articles, sometimes controversial, nicknamed himself ‘reporter-in-chief’ contrary to the widely acknowledged title editor-in-chief.
At a time, he ran the weekly as a one-man operation before his daughter, Yanna, joined him to bolster the editorial efforts.
Government, which has often fought running battles with Smith over his blistering attacks against officialdom, maintained that the late Smith’s writings were controversial.
“Although his writings were sometimes controversial, he was admired in government circles as a hard working and fearless individual with a deep-rooted love for Namibia and its people,” said Mbeuta Ua Ndjarakana, permanent secretary in the ministry of information.
To colleagues in the media, Smith would always be remembered as a legend. “Smith was a true journalistic legend, who remained true to his convictions and principles till his dying day.
“His legacy is one that was at times highly controversial, but one that was always colourful and endearing to us all.. He will be sorely missed,” said Media Institute of Southern Africa director for Namibian chapter Sandra Williams.
Smith’s daughter, Yanna, said she would be taking over the reins at the weekly, adding “it will be business as usual.”