Namibia’s President Hage Geingob, a veteran of the country’s liberation struggle and its first post-independence prime minister, died on Sunday.
Tributes to the 82-year-old statesman poured in from African leaders who saw him as a hero of the anti-apartheid struggle.
And Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed regret that his country had lost “a partner who was committed to the process of coming to terms with Germany’s colonial history”.Recently, Geingob supported South Africa’s complaint against Israel under the Genocide Convention and condemned Namibia’s former colonial ruler Germany for opposing the case.
In a post on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, the Namibian presidency said Geingob’s medical team at Lady Pohamba Hospital did its best to help him, but Geingob died with his wife, Monica Geingos, and children by his side.
Geingob was undergoing treatment for cancer. The 82-year-old had a colonoscopy and a gastroscopy on Jan. 8, followed by a biopsy, his office said last month.
Angolo Mbumba, Namibia’s acting president, called for calm, saying in the same post that the “Cabinet will convene with immediate effect in order to make the necessary state arrangements in this regard.”
Geingob, who was president of the southern African nation since 2015, was set to finish his second and final term in office this year. In 2014, he said he had survived prostate cancer.
Namibia is set to hold elections to choose a new leader in November.
Born in a village in northern Namibia in 1941, Geingob was its first president outside the Ovambo ethnic group, which makes up more than half of the country’s population.
He took up activism against South Africa’s apartheid regime, which at the time ruled over Namibia, from his early schooling years before being driven into exile.
He spent almost three decades in Botswana and the US, leaving the former for the latter in 1964.
While in the US, he remained a vocal advocate for Namibia’s independence, representing the local liberation movement, Swapo, now the ruling party, at the UN and across the Americas.
He suffered a couple of health scares in his later years, having undergone brain surgery in 2013 and heart valve surgery in South Africa in June 2023.
An avid football fan, he played as a young man, which earned him the nickname Danger Point.
He was married three times, in 1967, 1993 and again in 2015 and had as many children.
Author: Mpheza Clara Manda