Namibia: inception

Namibia is a very young country -only 23 years old- and H.E. Hage Geingob is only the 3rd president in all its history. This meeting with H.E. Geingos and with Madame Geingos certainly was one of the highlights of the study tour because it allowed us to hear, first hand, what was the vision for Namibia at independence 23 years ago and what’s is the vision for the short term and the long term.

The entire process was a surreal experience. The meeting took place in the Namibian State House, we were not allowed to bring cellphones into the building or even USB drives. Understandably, security was very tight. The State House was developed by North Korean in a style that resembles some of the imposing government building in the communist country. It came as a surprise to know that Namibia, being as far away, is a “friendly” country to North Korea. Once we were in, we were directed to a large conference room (which seemed like a cabinet room) in which we meet with His Excellency, madame Geingos and two close advisors of the president.

On 21 March 2008, the Namibian President opened Hifikepunye Pohamba’s house in the presence of Kim Yong-nam, chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea, and the Cuban General Leopoldo Cintra Frias. (source:

H.E. Geingob shared with us his views on the most pressing challenges for the Namibian economy, the social issues and on leadership. The meeting was full of very interesting and enlightening moments but I have selected a few that I believe encloses much of the Namibian people and His Excellency’s personal leadership style.

“Any leader should be a servant leader, not a boss leader”

H. E. H. Geingob

This quote speaks a lot about the style and His Excellency’s vision on leadership. Based on the way in which he interacted with us and the (at least apparent candidness) of his answers, I understand why his team described him as a president who is perceived by the population as a strong, honest politician.

“Social justice is key and our actions to pursue it must be informed by Namibia’s past”

Madame Geingos

It was very interesting to witness and to understand how the countries leaders perceive the dynamics between the colonialist, the apartheid and the current periods. Specifically, Madame Geingos was very passionate about inequality, human rights and social issues. The fact that she mentioned how important Namibia’s historic contest is for the present policy making speaks of the level of self-awareness that she possesses and that she channels into social public policy.

Meeting with H.E. Geingog and Madame Geingos (source: Office of the Namibian presidency)

My personal favorite moment was one of the last questions during the Q&A. We asked H.E. Geingob what would be his most important piece of leadership advice for us and what he said made me realize that, at least on paper/discourse, Namibia is in the right track to become a more equal society and to keep the social and political stability that have enabled it for accelerated growth over the past years.

“If you want to be a leader, remember, inclusivity spells harmony while exclusivity spells conflict.

H. E. H. Geingob

P.S. We made it to the president’s official twitter account -he even cracked some jokes about how he manages social media, trolls and engagement with the Namibian people-. Also, H.E. stands for His Excellency which is the formal way to address the president.


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