Global leaders bid Geingob farewell

EUROPE … Princess Anne, sister of Britain’s King Charles III. Photos: Selma Iyambo and Mitchelin Kangootui

As the world gathered at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium on Saturday, several heads of state and government sang president Hage Geingob’s praises.

Over 15 countries eulogised Geingob as a master of his craft in politics, mobilisation, education and unity at his national memorial service.

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology last week said about 28 heads of state and government were expected to attend the late president’s funeral and memorial.

Leaders of international organisations equally came out in numbers to pay Geingob their last respects.

European Union (EU) ambassador to Namibia Ana Martins this past weekend said the region was touched by his death.

“He was very decisive in taking our relations forward … and so we have very deep sentiments in Europe on his loss. He was a moderniser and a friend to Europe,” she said.

MIDDLE EAST ... Qatari head of state sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Martins said Geingob’s work during his tenure set the foundation for fostering a stronger relationship between Namibia and Europe.

Patricia Scotland, the secretary general of the Commonwealth, emphasised Geingob’s imprint on the Commonwealth, which comprises about 2,5 billion people.

“His determination to live by the principles of equality, his willingness to challenge injustice … his fidelity to the country enabled him to not only contribute to the nation he loved, but to shape it,” she said.

Jiang Zuojun, the special envoy of president Xi Jinping, over the weekend said: “Under his excellency’s leadership, Namibia held high the banner of pan-Africanism, actively promoted solidarity and integration of Africa, and maintained its firm position in safeguarding international justice and fairness.”

He also referenced the close relationship between Geingob and China.

“President Geingob was a good friend of the Chinese people,” he said.

Geingob defended Namibia’s relationship with China when it was questioned by the German ex-speaker of parliament in an official visit to State House a few years ago.

“Chinese are welcome here … I told the Chinese ambassador I am not his puppet,” he said at the time.

Princess Anne of the British Royal Family as well as German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, among other international guests, also came to pay their respects.

Former and current African leaders on Saturday extended their condolences to Namibia on behalf of their countries.
During his speech, Zambian president Hakainde Hichilema said Kasama Road in Lusaka will be renamed after Geingob.

Another road will be renamed after Namibia’s founding president, Sam Nujoma, he said.

Speaking at the official memorial service of Saturday, Botswana’s president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, reminisced about the conversations between him and Geingob.

AFRICA ... Democratic Republic of Congo president Felix Tshisekedi.

“I always admired his humble demeanour, his straight talk and his genuine appreciation of the contribution Botswana and the Batswana made to the liberation of his country …”

“President Geingob will be remembered for the 2023 bilateral agreement allowing citizens of Botswana and Namibia to use their national identity cards to cross the border between our countries,” he said.

Kenyan president William Ruto, who flew back to Kenya after his speech, reminded the world of the type of Africa Geingob wanted.

“We must work hard on this independent and freedom project to liberate our economies and our young people. These are principles president Geingob worked hard to achieve,” he said.

“I will miss my brother Geingob next month when we [the African Union] convene,” he said.

Other African heads of state who eulogised Geingob included Emmerson Mnangangwa of Zimbabwe, Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as Angola’s João Lourenço.

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