Namibia’s president laid to rest

Henry

Hage Geingob, Namibia’s president who died on February 4, was laid to rest on Sunday at the Heldeakker in Windhoek. A memorial service was held at Independence Stadium on Saturday.

RNews earlier reported that Geingob died early on Sunday morning in the Lady Pohamba Hospital in Windhoek. Geingob, who was serving his second term as president at the time of his death, revealed last month that he was being treated for cancer. This announcement came after “cancer cells” were found in the president during a routine medical examination, after which he went for a biopsy.

A total of 18 heads of state will attend Geingob’s funeral, including the presidents of Tanzania, Germany, Finland, South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Kenya and Ghana.

A total of 27 countries sent delegations, including the United States of America, China and Algeria.

During the memorial service on Saturday, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was urged to speed up talks on reparations for colonial-era genocide.

Steinmeier was reminded that Germany has yet to agree on compensation for the massacre of the Herero and Nama between 1904 and 1908.

Germany admitted in May 2021 that killings by its soldiers amounted to genocide and offered to finance development projects amounting to €1.1 billion (almost R23 billion) over a period of 30 years.

For many Namibians, including senior officers, the offer was not good enough and did not amount to formal compensation. The negotiations continue.

Germany has also been condemned by Namibia for its support for Israel, despite the enormous civilian death toll from its continued operations in Gaza.

Before Geingob’s death at the age of 82, he also lamented “Germany’s inability to learn lessons from its terrible history”.

McHenry Venaani, leader of Namibia’s official political opposition, the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), addressed Steinmeier directly. “Our people expect the Namibian-German case of genocide to be settled,” he said. “Our plea is that, when you return, that what is put on the negotiating table will be a decent agreement on behalf of our people. Make a decent deal so we can close this chapter.”

Germany’s head of state, unlike Namibia’s, is not an executive president and will not be directly involved in setting a compensation amount. However, Steinmeier said Germany was committed to improving relations.

“The road to mediation that we embarked on almost 10 years ago is not easy, but together we have come a long way and we want to go further,” he said.

According to Steinmeier, Geingob told him last year that he wanted to sign a joint German-Namibian declaration to end the genocide.

“And you know, reconciliation is not about closing the past; it is to accept responsibility for our past and it is a commitment to a better future,” he said during his tribute to the late president. “I hope that I will soon be able to return to this country under different circumstances. I am convinced that it is high time to offer an apology to the people of Namibia.