The Late Hage Geingob
The Late Hage Geingob

World leaders gather for Namibian President’s final farewell

Leaders from at least 27 countries are set to converge on Windhoek, Namibia, for the state funeral of President and founding Prime Minister, Hage Geingob, who died aged 82, while receiving treatment for cancer.


The burial ceremony will see an unprecedented gathering of more than 18 Heads of State, Prime Ministers, Speakers and Ambassadors at Large,thus reflecting the global impact of President Geingob’s legacy.

Notable figures include the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres; WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, who are expected to join the leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and other African nations to pay their respects to the man described by many as the founding father of Namibia.

Stable democracy

Geingob played a central role in what is now one of Africa’s most stable democracies after returning from a long exile as an anti-apartheid activist. He was the country’s third President since it gained independence in 1990 following more than a century of German and then apartheid South African rule.

He was the long-serving member of the South West Africa People’s Organisation (Swapo) party. It led the movement against apartheid South Africa, which had effectively annexed the country, then known as South West Africa, and introduced its system of legalised racism that excluded black people from political and economic power.

President in exile

The late President lived in exile for 27 years, spending time in Botswana, the US and the UK, where he studied for a PhD in politics. He came back to Namibia in 1989, a year before the country gained independence. 

Geingob had been President since 2015 and was set to finish his second and final term this year but following his demise, his deputy, Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba, was sworn in as acting President in the capital, Windhoek, to complete the term as allowed by the Constitution. Elections are set for November. A government statement said Mbumba will lead Namibia until March 2, 2025, when the winner takes office.

Display of casket

The official memorial service, scheduled for today at the Independence Stadium and the subsequent burial at the Heroes Acre, will not only serve as a platform for international tributes but also as a communal space for Namibians to remember their leader’s dedication to the nation’s liberation and independence.

More than 2,000 members of the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) are ready to participate in the memorial proceedings, including a military procession through Windhoek that will display the casket of the late President.

The procession will provide a moment for Namibians to bid a final farewell to their leader, whose remains will be escorted along a specially designated route for the public to pay their respects.

Advancing Africa’s agenda

Soft-spoken but firm on advancing Africa’s agenda as an important stakeholder in world affairs, “the exclusion of Africa from the Security Council is an injustice,” he once said in a United Nations address. Geingob maintained close relations with the US and other Western countries but also, like many African leaders, forged a warm relationship with China and other powers.

Geingob hosted US First Lady, Jill Biden, last year as she visited ahead of what had been an expected trip to Africa by her husband in 2023, which didn’t take place.

Namibia, with just over 2.5 million people, is rich in minerals such as diamonds, gold and uranium. Despite being classified as an upper-middle-income country, socioeconomic inequalities are still widespread, according to the World Bank.


The nation on the southwestern coast of Africa enjoys political and economic stability in a region that has long seen conflict and disputed elections. Namibia’s opposition criticised Geingob last year for endorsing disputed elections in Zimbabwe.

But opposition leader McHenry Venaani paid tribute last Sunday. “Indeed, President Geingob’s passing is a great loss not only to Namibia but to the African continent as a whole,” Venaani said. “Such was the calibre of this master negotiator and statesman, a lighthouse of steadfast leadership in turbulent times.”

Geingob, who was Namibia’s first Prime Minister from 1990 to 2002 and served in the same capacity from 2008 to 2012, could be outspoken on issues at home and abroad. In January, he criticised former colonial master Germany, for supporting Israel after South Africa filed a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice accusing it of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

“Germany cannot morally express commitment to the United Nations convention against genocide, including atonement for the genocide in Namibia, whilst supporting the equivalent of a holocaust and genocide in Gaza,” Geingob said.

He was referring to events between 1904 and 1908 when colonial security forces in Namibia killed tens of thousands of people while putting down an uprising. Germany, in 2021, acknowledged that the actions amounted to genocide and pledged more than $1 billion for infrastructure projects in the country.

Condolences from leaders 

Leaders from around the world have been sending condolence messages with many talking about Mr Geingob's efforts to ensure his country's freedom.

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, described Geingob as “a towering veteran of Namibia’s liberation from colonialism and apartheid.”

Kenyan President, William Ruto, said Geingob “strongly promoted the continent’s voice and visibility at the global arena.”

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa posted on X that Geingob’s “leadership and resilience will be remembered.”

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, was among the leaders who sent condolences last Sunday, saying he would “forever cherish” his memories of meeting Geingob. “It is difficult to overestimate his contribution to developing friendly relations between Namibia and Russia,” a statement said.

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