Meeting His Excellency, the President of Namibia

On my flight back to Boston, a friend asked me what was my favorite moment of the tour. The memory that came to mind was when I told the President of Namibia that I’d move there if there was a better invitation!

We met the President on the afternoon of March 28. After the initial conversation with prepared questions, the floor was open for our group. I started that round of questions with a question that I knew was a sensitive topic but could be asked politely. Namibia is less than thirty years out of apartheid. Hence, equitable land allocation among whites and blacks remains an issue. I asked him what he plans to do for land reforms. He gave a long, considered response about the history of the issue and how it needs discussions and compromises to solve. He said he grew up on a farm with a white boy. They both belonged to the land. But when they grew up, the land went to the whites only. But is it right to snatch away land that they grew up on because they are white? If anyone wants to sell their land, the government is willing to buy it at fair recompense and then redistribute it. My thoughts went to India’s land reforms that took place over four decades after Independence and needed more than one civic movement.

After answering my question, he asked me where in India was I from. When I mentioned that I lived in Delhi, he said he’d studied there too. Then he asked if I would go back to India after graduation. I replied, ‘No, I want to work in global health, in Nairobi or Addis’. At that the President laughed and remarked that I wasn’t even being diplomatic! I joked back saying that I’m hoping that will lead to better invitations and opportunities in Namibia.

Devika

Devika is a first-year MBA student at MIT Sloan. She's passionate about improving healthcare access and quality of care for the underserved. She has implemented mobile health systems in Asia and Africa. She enjoys food photography and loves reading and cooking.

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