It is a privilege and daunting responsibility to pay tribute to the remarkable life of the late president Hage Geingob.
On my own behalf and on behalf of the entire membership of the National Assembly and the secretariat, it is with heavy hearts that I express our profound sorrow on his passing on 4 February.
Geingob was not only a statesman of the highest order, but also a beacon of hope and unity for the Namibian people and the entire Southern African Development Community region.
His dedication to the principles of democracy, justice, and equality paved the way for significant progress and unity within our nation and region at large.
His unwavering dedication and tireless work towards Namibian growth and prosperity will forever be remembered by the nation.
We honour the extraordinary legacy of this great man, even as we lament his passing and celebrate his life.
Geingob’s dedication to creating a united society in which each individual has the chance to prosper has had a lasting impact on our country.
His dream of a united Namibia where people cohabitate in harmony and peace will serve as an inspiration to future generations.
Geingob can be applauded for having given birth to the Constituent Assembly, which gave birth to the first National Assembly of an independent Namibia. Therefore, not only are we honouring his legacy as one of Namibia’s presidents, but as a founding member of this honourable august house.
Geingob was a team player.
I recall when we would sit down from time to time during the liberation struggle.
We would sit and think about what we needed to do and who should be assigned to carry out that particular task, and then we would identify some of our comrades.
We were attending a major international conference in Brussels and we decided to ask comrade Theo-Ben Gurirab to do a presentation on behalf of Namibia.
We decided that Theo-Ben would be best fit for the task at hand. This is how we used to identify the comrades we knew would do a good job. This is how you utilise the skills and competencies that are available among comrades.
We also learned how to take notes about events we used to cover. We always had to ensure we are prepared when confronted by the media when they wished to know what was discussed.
One should already be prepared to have a position that would express the aspirations of our people accurately.
I also remember how he managed the drafting committee of the Constitution.
He dealt with some of the key milestones that were reflected at the time of writing the Constitution.
I remember one particular item. We had been having intense discussions around the issue of capital punishment. While different opinions were shared in the room, we eventually asked ourselves where do we derive the mandate from to do away with capital punishment.
In the end, being a Christian country, Hage turned to the leadership of our churches from all denominations for consultation.
They were called in and briefed on the impasse we were facing, and we formally asked for them to make submissions. The churches requested that they be given a few days, after which they returned and told us: “Have courage! Do it!”
And that is how the abolition of capital punishment found its way into the Constitution of an independent Namibia.
In my capacity as the speaker of the National Assembly, I appeal to each one of us as citizens of this great country to embrace humanity and the principles of caring for each other which Geingob stood for during his entire life.
Let’s continue to make his dream of a thriving, diverse and united Namibia a reality.
He is remembered by many people he interacted with throughout his life.
A friend of mine, Keto Msigeni, a leading African academic who served as my deputy vice chancellor at the University of Namibia, had the following to say about Geingob: In short, let me just say Geingob was a kind, caring, generous person and visionary scholar, an open-minded, sharp, and pragmatic leader, a diligent, well-organised, committed patriotic son of Namibia and of Africa, and a daring, enlightened, respected, African and world statesman.
At this time of great bereavement our thoughts and prayers are with first lady Monica Geingos, the children and the entire extended family as we celebrate the life of a leader who gave everything for the betterment of Namibia and its people.
May Geingob’s soul find comfort and continue to rest in peace.
*Peter Katjavivi is the speaker of the National Assembly.
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