Law Society Director takes leave of her cherished office after 25 years
The Law Society of Namibia took leave of its incumbent Director, Mrs Retha Steinmann, on Wednesday evening at a glamorous farewell hosted in the large foyer of the Supreme Court.
Director of Ceremonies, Dr Meyer van der Berg raised the curtain on a series of proceedings that culminated in the main contribution from the Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Shivute. The evening turned out to be a Who’s Who of the Namibian legal fraternity.
The farewell reception paid tribute to Retha’s 25-year career as the Director of the Law Society. The function also doubled as the welcoming reception for the incoming Director, Mrs Neliswa Tjahikika.
Acting Law Society President, Mr Clive Kavendji, who has served several terms as a council member, took care of the welcoming remarks, conveying a picture of a Director who is relentless in her pursuit of high standards and excellence for all Namibian legal practitioners.
Contributions from friends and colleagues all painted a picture of a dedicated, competent career woman who has taken the Society from a fledgling organisation with two employees (the director and a receptionist) operating from a single office and a small boardroom for council meetings, to the empowered national regulator of today with a small army of staff members.
To the amusement of the audience, the Director’s close friend and also a lawyer, Mrs Henriette Garbers Kirsten sketched the role Retha played over a career that spans a lifetime, as she husbanded the growing stature of the Society as regulator, especially after promulgation of the fused profession Legal Practitioners Act. As is well-known, Retha is a keen hobby photographer who is always seen with notes in the one hand to manage the society’s affairs, and a camera in the other to capture a visual record of meetings and conferences. These she regularly publishes as condensed photobooks, a trait that prompted Hettie to publish more than 20 congratulatory messages from past Presidents and colleagues, in an impromptu publication, just as the Director is so fond of doing. The wish-you-well booklet was presented to Retha as a dear gift from her admiring colleagues.
During her own speech, Retha was solid and steady as a warship, listing the highlights of her quarter century career systematically with short anecdotes of the most important milestones. For instance, she was elected the President of the International Law Association Chief Executives in 2018, the first and to date only African to lead this prestigious international law organisation. But when she got to the point where life tested her mettle through serious health issues, she was visibly emotional when she acknowledged her family who supported her through this trying time.
The Thank Yous were conveyed by Pius Iikwambi followed by an unscheduled from-the-heart message by Doris Hans-Kaumbi on behalf of the Namibian Women Lawyers Association.
(Phtograph of Retha Steinmann by Theunis Duvenhage.)