Onesmus Shithigona is Debmarines geo-gem

16 October 2020 | People


Onesmus Shithigona is a soft-spoken introvert who enjoys travelling, a sports fanatic and a lover of Namibian music. Shithigona joined Debmarine Namibia in 2007 as a geological observer working offshore.

In 2011 he was promoted to senior geological observer, and in 2012 to production geologist. During that period he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in geosciences from the University of Witwatersrand (RSA).

In 2016 he was seconded to the role of project geologist focusing on grade control sampling.

He then was promoted in 2017 to his current role of senior project geologist, focusing on mineral resource management support on the portfolio of long-term capital projects.

“My attraction to the profession is borne from my intrigue by nature while growing up and how the earth came to be. At one career fair while I was in Grade 9 or 10, I was introduced to the geology profession and at that point made up my mind that I wanted to venture in the field and indulge my curiosity,” Shithigona says.

He furthered his studies from September 2018 to September 2019, pursuing a Master of Research qualification in marine geology and geophysics at the University of Southampton, UK.

When he returned from his studies, it helped him bridge an existing gap in the handling of geophysical data.

“This new knowledge will help streamline Debmarine Namibia’s involvement in some of the processes involved and allow us to better outline our requirements to the service provider. I look forward to better involvement in the shared responsibility of making Debmarine Namibia more brilliant.” Shithigona says.

What is geophysics?

Geophysics is an interdisciplinary physical science concerned with the nature of the earth and its environment, to apply the knowledge and techniques of physics, mathematics and chemistry to understand the structure and dynamic behavior of the earth and its environment.

Geophysical investigations of the interior of the earth involve taking measurements at or near the earth’s surface that are influenced by the internal distribution of physical properties. Analysis of these measurements can reveal how the physical properties of the earth’s interior vary vertically and laterally. Geophysics is applied to the search for resources such as minerals, fossil fuels or water.

One of his memorable moments at Debmarine Namibia was watching the MV SS Nujoma sampling vessel being inaugurated in the port of Walvis Bay.

“Not only was it a proud moment for Debmarine Namibia and the country at large, but I was also involved in the project especially during its commissioning phase,” he says.

Giving back to the youth

Shithigona also mentors a number of university students and a few learners who are seeking direction in their careers.

“Mentorship for me is a way to share my skills, knowledge and expertise with the youth and that’s how I contribute in a small way to the Namibian child.”

If you would like to become a marine geologist, you should have emotional strength because it can be challenging at times, and you should always be flexible as you can stay at sea for a long time, away from loved ones.

“One should also need to have that social aspect as one shares common spaces with quite a significant number of colleagues,” he says.

Next up on his study list is a course in economics to improve his knowledge of the economic dynamics of mining.

When asked who he admires and would love to have dinner with, he said Professor Musa Manzi, a professor in geophysics at the University of Witwatersrand who is a pioneering figure in the field of seismic reflection, a winner of numerous international accolades, a motivational speaker and considered as one of the top 40 most influential South Africans under 40.

“The conversation would most likely be on new techniques in the field, especially on enhancing legacy geophysical datasets. He would most likely also be attempting to convince me to pursue a PhD,” Shithigona says.

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