Namibia: African and World Leaders Pay Tribute to President Hage Geingob without Kagame

On February 24, 2024, Namibia, along with numerous African heads of state, paid their final respects to President Hage Geingob. The beloved leader passed away on February 4, 2024, after a battle with cancer at the age of 82. His funeral, held at the Independence Stadium in Windhoek, was a poignant event, drawing a crowd that filled the venue to bid farewell to a figure synonymous with Namibia’s journey towards independence and progress.

Wrapped in the Namibian flag, Geingob’s coffin was solemnly carried by military personnel across the stadium, symbolizing the nation’s collective mourning and respect for the man who served as Namibia’s first Prime Minister in 1990 and then as President from 2015. His tenure was marked by significant contributions to the nation’s development and his vision for a united and prosperous Namibia.

Monica Geingos, the former first lady, remembered her husband as a man with an “old soul but a youthful spirit,” who made a lasting impact on everyone he encountered. President Nangolo Mbumba praised Geingob as more than a leader; to many, he was a father, uncle, friend, and grandfather, guiding the Namibian people towards hope.

The ceremony was attended by several African leaders who shared their sentiments and memories of Geingob. Angola’s João Lourenço expressed solidarity with the people of Namibia, while Burundi’s Évariste Ndayishimiye hailed him as one of Africa’s greatest statesmen. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa highlighted Geingob’s role in regional liberation efforts and his impact on African unity and development.

International figures also paid their respects, with Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier reaffirming the commitment to reconciliation with Namibia, a process initiated nearly a decade ago. Mauritanian President and African Union Chairperson Mohamed Ould Ghazouani lauded Geingob’s integrity and commitment to the continent’s welfare.

Kenyan President William Ruto and Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde underscored Geingob’s dedication to independence and freedom, not just for Namibia but for Africa as a whole. Botswana’s Mokgweetsi Masisi and Tanzania’s Samia Suluhu Hassan, among others, remembered him as a friend and a visionary leader who sought to bridge divides and foster harmony.

President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo lauded Geingob as a freedom fighter whose indelible mark on Namibia and his visionary leadership inspired many across Africa towards a vision of unity, prosperity, and a better representation on the global stage.

The tribute to President Hage Geingob saw the participation of other prominent African leaders, including former President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, former President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania. Notably, the absence of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame was filled by Prime Minister Dr. Edouard Ngirente, who represented Rwanda, while First Lady Jeannette Kagame had visited Namibia just weeks prior, extending condolences to Monica Geingos.

Geingob’s body lay in state at the Independence Stadium before his burial at Heroes Acre, a national monument, on February 25. The national funeral, attended by over 40,000 people, was not just a farewell to a leader but a testament to his enduring influence on Namibia and its people.