Hello and goodbye …

PAYING HOMAGE … President Hage Geingob will be laid to rest on Sunday, with 18 heads of state in attendance. Photo: Namibian Presidency

… almost same number of presidents who came to Geingob’s 2015 inauguration to attend his funeral

Nearly the same number of heads of state who attended president Hage Geingob’s inauguration on 21 March 2015 will now say their final goodbyes to him this weekend.

On that historic day in 2015, when Geingob famously said “This is the day that the Lord has made”, 14 heads of state were present, while 18 will attend his memorial service and funeral on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Geingob died on 4 February and is expected to be buried on Sunday at Heroes’ Acre in Windhoek.

Some of the presidents who attended Geingob’s 2015 inauguration included then Botswana president Ian Khama, the late Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos, former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyetta, former Zambian president Edgar Lungu, then South African deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, former head of state Thabo Mbeki, and the late Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.

Some of the names of those who have confirmed attending Geingob’s funeral this weekend include Kenyan president William Ruto, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, former South African president Thabo Mbeki, Botswana president Mokgweetsi Masisi, Ghanaian president Nana Akufo-Addo and Angolan president João Lourenço.

A total of 27 countries have so far confirmed their attendance, and will be represented by vice presidents, special envoys, prime ministers, speakers of parliament or diplomats.

Minister of information and communication technology Emma Theofelus announced this during Geingob’s funeral planning update at the Government Information Centre yesterday.

“During this time, the government urges road users to adhere to the traffic rules and regulations regarding motorcades to ensure a smooth process for our international dignitaries,” she said.

Theofelus said Geingob’s body will lie in state, and details would be made available today.

She dismissed social media posts suggesting that roads around the capital would be closed from tomorrow, and that 650 police officers from Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries have been flown in to assist with the burial.

“Please be assured that this information is false,” she said.

Theofelus said the state memorial service is expected to take place at Independence Stadium as it can accommodate more people than Heroes’ Acre.

“We are hoping people will be able to attend the memorial service so that we will have an overflow into Hage Geingob Stadium, which is in close proximity to Independence Stadium.

Emma Theofelus

“We are also hoping those who cannot attend the burial at Heroes’ Acre would understand, because we do not want to cause citizens any harm as the numbers pour in on Sunday,” the minister said.

Vendors are encouraged to sell their goods at designated points at Independence Stadium during the memorial service.
The sale of alcohol is, however, prohibited.

The stadium’s gates will open at 10h00 on Saturday.

Geingob’s casket, Theofelus said, will be driven through the streets of the capital on Friday as part of a military procession for citizens to say their final goodbyes.

The routes will be announced today.

“In this regard, I call on the public to line up along the soon-to-be-announced routes to view the casket of the late president with great honour and respect,” she said.

Executive director of education, arts and culture Sanet Steenkamp has announced that Friday would be a school holiday, and requested that 15 to 20 pupils from each school be part of the procession in school uniform.

“School principals and teachers in Windhoek are kindly requested to identify representative groups of children to take part in the procession,” she said.


Although there a provisional budget allocated towards Geingob’s funeral, Theofelus could not provide an exact figure for how much the government would be spending on memorial and funeral activities.

“The expenditure keeps going back and forth. No amount has been put as a cap, and at this point in time we are not so sure how much has been spent so far, because we are constantly spending on the needs as they arise,” she said.

Theofelus said expenditure reconciliation will be done after Geingob’s burial.

Liberation struggle hero Andimba Toivo ya Toivo’s funeral cost the government N$3 million, followed by N$2 million being spent on former minister Rosalia Nghidinwa’s funeral at Rundu, and N$1,5 million on Kunene regional governor Angelika Muharukua’s funeral.

Theofelus on Monday said the government has allocated N$2,8 million to the regions to host regional memorial services.

The Ministry of Works and Transport on 6 February infomed the different government departments they would hire vehicles to be used by dignitaries attending the funeral.

The works ministry also advertised for 40 drivers to transport visitors, however, approved drivers would be rendering their service to the nation free of charge.

The vehicles were hired to be used between 8 and 22 February.

Daily live broadcasts of memorial services by NBC television are estimated to rank up a bill running into millions.
The NBC is mainly funded by the state.

The government has in the meantime also arranged a free concert as a musical tribute in the capital for residents, which will see performances by Gazza, King Tee-Dee, Big Ben, Tate Buti, TopCheri, Nam Gospel Choir, Female Donkie, Ugly Creatures and the Big Ks, among others.

Geingob’s relatives from the Otjozondjupa region are expected to travel to the capital tomorrow.

Martin Thomas, the eldest son of the late Ouma Hendrina Thomas, who was Geingob’s aunt, says the family will be travelling to Casa Rosalia after Geingob’s regional memorial service to prepare for his burial.

“We received invitations to the Rietfontein memorial service. But state protocol dictated that once the regional memorial service is completed on Wednesday, Geingob’s Otjiwarongo family should depart for Windhoek,” Thomas says.

The family has been holding daily memorial services since 10 February at Thomas’ home, where Geingob was raised.
Otjozondjupa Regional Council chairperson Marlayn Mbakera says the council was aware of the memorial service to be held at Rietfontein today, but his family members will not be attending that service.

Mbakera says it is a sectoral memorial service held by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, during which minister Calle Schlettwein will address the farming community.

Otjozondjupa governor James Uerikua on Friday wrote to the chief executive officers of Okahandja, Otjiwarongo and Grootfontein, asking the local authorities to contribute N$10 000 towards the Otjozondjupa regional memorial service.

The service will be held at Mokati Stadium at Otjiwarongo this afternoon.

Namibian Police inspector general Joseph Shikongo.


Namibian Police inspector general Joseph Shikongo says the police are ready to provide protection to all those attending the events on Saturday and Sunday.

“We are ready, and I just want to assure our people that they should really feel comfortable. Security will be provided.

We are in touch with our brothers and sisters from other security clusters,” Shikongo said yesterday.

He said the police are also ready to provide protection services to international dignitaries.

“The number we are looking at is about 50 000 at the memorial service,” he said.

Shikongo said the presence of foreign security officials in the country to reinforce security “is a normal thing”.

“The number of 600 that people are speculating is not the correct number,” he said.

“We did not receive such a number from any SADC member state, but should there be any collaboration between the security cluster of Namibia and other countries, I think that is a normal arrangement that we can work on,” he said.

Petrus Shilumbu


Meanwhile, Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs spokesperson Petrus Shilumbu yesterday confirmed that a contingent of Zambian soldiers arrived in Windhoek on 13 February to assist the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) with Geingob’s funeral.

Shilumbu acknowledged that the NDF has its own guidelines on how to bury the president, but lacks experience.

The delegation includes various military experts specialising in military drills, cultural protocols and customs.

“We have never before experienced the death of either a sitting or former president. It is the first time we are experiencing the death of a president, while our Zambian counterparts experienced the death of two sitting presidents and three former presidents,” he said.

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