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Namibia mourns President Hage Geingob

2024-02-05  Edward Mumbuu

Namibia mourns President Hage Geingob

The nation was plunged into mourning yesterday following the announcement of the death of President Hage Geingob, Namibia’s third democratically-elected leader.

He was 82.

Now, grief grips the Land of the Brave. The mood is sombre. Geingob, an astute statesman, is no more.

“It is with utmost sadness and regret that I inform you that our beloved Hage Geingob, the President of the Republic of Namibia, has passed on today, Sunday 4 February 2024 at around 00h04 at Lady Pohamba Hospital, where he was receiving medical treatment from his medical team. At his side was his dear wife, madame Monica Geingos, and his children,” acting president Nangolo Mbumba announced on national television during the early hours of yesterday morning.

President Geingob is remembered as a unifier, an exceptional technocrat, and an unwavering Pan-Africanist. Many have hailed him as a distinguished servant of the people, an icon of the liberation struggle, and the visionary architect of Namibia’s constitution.

As the leader of Swapo until his untimely demise, President Geingob was regarded as an extraordinary, revolutionary figure whose selflessness and dedication to serving the people were unparalleled. “The Namibian nation has lost a distinguished servant of the people, a liberation struggle icon, the chief architect of our constitution, and the pillar of the Namibian house,” Mbumba described the now-departed Geingob.

Swapo remembered Geingob as an extraordinary, revolutionary, selfless and dedicated servant of the people. “[President Geingob was] an outstanding Pan-Africanist and world state leader… May his long history of commitment and unbreakable determination to fight injustice, inequality and restoring dignity and freedom to the people of our great country inspire us and unite us as one Namibia, one nation, and to keep building on the solid foundation that he has built over the full span of his life, Swapo vice president and Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said in a statement yesterday.

She continued: “In honour of this true son of the soil, may we come together, stand together, hold hands together and continue to push forward in the true spirit of solidarity, freedom and justice that will mark his legacy forever. May God grant the soul of our dear departed comrade President everlasting peace, and bless our nation and console his dear wife and the family at this moment of deep sorrow.”

The news also prompted an outpouring of tributes from political leaders across the divide. 

McHenry Venaani, the official opposition PDM leader, expressed deep admiration for Geingob’s wisdom and unwavering commitment.

He also described Geingob as a tower of strength. “His wisdom and commitment have left indelible footprints in the sands of time, a testament to his place in the pages of our nation’s chronicles. Indeed, President Geingob’s passing is a great loss not only to Namibia, but to the African continent as a whole,” Venaani said.

On his part, Landless People’s Movement leader Bernadus Swartbooi lauded Geingob for his service to the nation, which spanned across six decades.

“We mourn this man, who died serving,” he said, adding that it was a time for the nation to reflect on Geingob’s indelible legacy. “We have never been in this space as a country. We have to deal with what is important, and that is to give a unified and dignified celebration and homegoing of the president. Here is a man who was a politician. But he lived in his own way a flowery life. If President Geingob wanted to dance, he would do that. It was original. It was spontaneous. I think we must, in our politics, learn to be spontaneous and original,” Swartbooi reflected.

United People’s Movement president Jan van Wyk, on his part, said Geingob will be remembered as a political stalwart who helped shape Namibian politics.

“We stand united in profound sorrow, yet we also remember his remarkable life and enduring contributions to the Namibian nation. Today, we as a nation mourn, but we will also celebrate the life of Geingob in that despite our political
differences, we enjoyed peace and stability brought on through democracy, debate, and of course criticism, but all this in the spirit of unity and freedom, and the upliftment of the people of Namibia,” he noted.

Affirmative Repositioning movement leader Job Amupanda also had a message of condolence.

“Things end and so does life, sometimes easily, and other times painfully. The rises and sets. First breath and last breath. History will absorb you, grootman. Farewell President. Farewell grootman. We will continue where you left off,” he said on his social media platforms.  

President Geingob was Namibia’s first Prime Minister (PM) after independence from apartheid South Africa in 1990 until 2002. He was also the chairman of the Constituent Assembly which drafted the Namibian Constitution in 1990.

He served a second stint as PM from 2012 until he was elected president in 2015.

Geingob, who was also Namibia’s ruling party Swapo’s president, swept the presidential elections in 2014, garnering 87% of the vote. He then promised poverty eradication, transparency and a serious attempt at economic emancipation for Namibians.

In 2019, Geingob was re-elected, albeit with a significantly reduced majority of 56%.

He had joined Namibia’s liberation movement Swapo in the early 1960s, and went on to serve in the leadership structures of the organisation until his death. 

His second term will be remembered for several potentially lucrative offshore oil and gas discoveries, his flagship green hydrogen project which attracted massive interest internationally, as well as the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund.

Geingob was in the final year of his presidency, and has repeatedly stated that he was looking forward to retirement. He would also regularly encourage other African leaders to hand over power peacefully through democratic systems, processes and institutions. 

President Geingob leaves behind his wife, First Lady Monica Geingos, and three children. -

2024-02-05  Edward Mumbuu

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