June 12, 2024

First Lady Jill Biden arrives in Namibia on official visit

First Lady Jill Biden hosts Ciara and Dr. Hina Talib Wednesday, November 17, 2021, at the White House in Washington. (Official White House Photo by Erin Scott)

United States First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, arrived in Windhoek, Namibia, on Wednesday, the first leg of her two-nation, six-day trip to Namibia and Kenya.

In a brief statement on Tuesday, the First Lady’s office said that her trip to Namibia and Kenya from Wednesday, February 22 to Sunday, February 26 is “to strengthen the United States’ partnerships on the African continent, and advance our shared priorities in the region.”

“Dr. Biden’s engagements will focus on the empowerment of women and youth, efforts to address food insecurity, and promoting our shared democratic values. The visit follows the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit late last year where Dr. Biden hosted a two-day spousal program. This will be Dr. Biden’s sixth visit to Africa, first visit to Namibia, and third visit to Kenya,” her office added.

Jill Biden, who departed Washington, D.C. from Joint-Base Andrews Airport on Tuesday evening, was greeted at Windhoek international airport by the First Lady of the Republic of Namibia Monica Geingos, Ms. Kayla Elago, Daughter of the First Lady of Namibia and Helena Neugola, Site Manager, Heroes’ Acre Monument, and welcomed by Namibian cultural performances.

In a chat with journalists on the tarmac at Joint-Base Andrews Airport, Dr. Biden said that she was excited about her trip and has spoken to President Biden a few times since he went to Ukraine. She said he told her about the Ukraine trip right before he left. 

“I spoke to him early yesterday. And then I spoke to him today twice,” she said, referring to President Biden. “He told me that well, he was glad that he went.”

She added, “I haven’t seen any of the press because I was in the classroom the whole time. But I’m gonna go upstairs. You know, watch some of it. But I heard the speech in Poland was amazing.”

She also disclosed that she taught a class on Tuesday afternoon and had gotten back to the White House about an hour before departure. 

On being the first White House official to go to Africa, she said, “Well, it’s exciting. I mean, I think the, you know, this whole trip will be exciting and we have a lot to accomplish.”

The First Lady’s Plane landed at Amilcar Cabral Intl. (GVAC) at Sal Island, Cabo Verde, at 2:52 am local time for the refuel stop before proceeding to Namibia.

Dr. Biden was scheduled to join Namibia’s First Lady Geingos to visit Heroes’ Acre, an official war memorial of the Republic of Namibia, before meeting with the President of the Republic of Namibia Hage Geingob and First Lady Geingos.

Heroes’ Acre is a national symbol of the Namibian War of Independence and an official war memorial cemetery of Namibia. The memorial was inaugurated on August 26, 2002, or Heroes’ Day, which marks the Namibian War of Independence beginning on August 26, 1966. It is open to visitors of the public, and is under the administration of the Namibia’s National Heritage Council. 
Namibia’s Heroes’ Acre was built to foster a spirit of patriotism and nationalism, and to pass on the legacy of independence to the future generations of Namibia. The Heroes’ Acre monument site centers on the tombs for 174 Namibian national heroes, whose names and pictures are engraved in black marble; some tombs are still vacant providing space for future heroes.

On Thursday, the U.S. First Lady will participate in a luncheon with President Geingob and First Lady Geingos and deliver remarks. She will also visit a local organization in Katutura to highlight U.S. government programming that supports young people, women, and families to improve access to economic opportunities and health services. 

On Friday, she will deliver keynote remarks to students in Namibia on the role of young people in shaping the future and strengthening democracy. She will then depart for Kenya.

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