Namibia has been plunged into mourning after President Hage Geingob, 82, passed away earlier today on Sunday, succumbing to cancer, according to an official statement from the presidency.
Geingob, who had been at the helm of the sparsely populated southern African country since 2015, faced his first bout with cancer in the same year but successfully overcame prostate cancer.
The reins of leadership now pass to Vice President Nangolo Mbumba, who will steer Namibia, known for its significant diamond deposits and lithium reserves crucial for electric car batteries, until the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections at the end of the year.
The official announcement on social media did not disclose the specific cause of Geingob’s demise. However, in the previous month, the presidency had revealed that the president had undertaken a novel cancer treatment in the United States after a routine medical check-up detected cancerous cells.
Born in 1941, Geingob played a pivotal role in Namibian politics, serving as a prominent figure even before the country gained independence from white minority-ruled South Africa in 1990. He chaired the drafting committee for Namibia’s constitution and subsequently became its first prime minister upon independence.
Geingob’s political journey continued as he assumed the vice presidency of the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) in 2007, the party he had been part of as an advocate for independence during Namibia’s South West Africa era. SWAPO has held uninterrupted power in Namibia since independence, though the country, a former German colony, grapples with substantial wealth disparities despite its technically upper middle-income status.
Reflecting on the challenges faced by the nation in his 2018 speech, Geingob emphasized the need to build a Namibia that breaks free from the injustices of the past, striving for development and shared prosperity. Namibia now faces a transitional period as it bids farewell to a leader who played a crucial role in shaping its post-independence trajectory.