Rest in Peace H.E. Hage Geingob (1941-2024)

Trbiute to HE Hage Geingob, obituary

We are saddened by the news about the passing of H.E. the President of Namibia, Cde Hage Geingob, just after midnight (Namibian time) on Sunday 4 February as he was reported to be about to start chemotherapy for cancer.

Tributes are flooding in from presidents, thought leaders and very many others around Africa for a hero of the liberation struggle, whose deft and skilful leadership during the independence period and dedicated public service for three decades since has helped Namibia advance to its present position and who has been a dedicated and visionary pan-African.

According to the official statement “The Namibian nation has lost a distinguished servant of the people, a liberation struggle icon, the chief architect of our constitution and the pillar of the Namibian house.”

Sincerest condolences to Monica Geingos, all the Geingob family and all his very many friends and all Namibians. It is a devastating loss which so many Namibians are feeling, and many others around the world.

In the UK, flags were flown at half-mast on all government buildings from 4 to 5 February. The Book of Condolences is available for signing at the Namibian High Commission in London until Friday, 16 February (10am-noon, 2pm-5pm).

Namibia already has a new President after a typically peaceful transition. H.E. Nangolo Mbumba has been sworn in as President and H.E. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah as Vice-President in the afternoon on Sunday 4 February. They will serve out the remaining term until 21 March 2025. Namibia expects elections in November 2024.

Key role in Namibia’s democracy

Cde Hage was a leading campaigner for Namibia’s independence from his school days, then in exile in Botswana and from 1964 as SWAPO representative to the United Nations and the Americas, during which time he qualified with BA and MA degrees at US universities. In 1975 he moved to Lusaka to initiate and head the United Nations Institute for Namibia, helping Namibians to study and prepare to be the future Government of their country.

After returning to Namibia in 1989 he was SWAPO’s Director of Elections. Later that year he had a decisive role as the Chair of the Constituent Assembly that brought the formerly warring parties together to craft the Constitution. This was unanimously adopted in February 1990 and has served Namibia well. He was appointed Prime Minister in 1990.

In the early years after independence, as the first Prime Minister, Cde Hage’s leadership was responsible for several key steps that helped set the tone of Namibia as a leading democracy in Africa and the world, with respect for rule of law and freedom of the press, and concern to help all Namibians advance. According to Reuters, he said later: “There were no textbooks to prepare us for accomplishing the task of development and shared prosperity after independence. We needed to build a Namibia in which the chains of the injustices of the past would be broken.”

In 2002 he left government to become Executive Secretary of the Global Coalition for Africa. In 2004 he studied for and was awarded a PhD at the University of Leeds for a thesis studying the evolution of Namibia’s democracy.

He served as Minister of Trade and Industry from 2008-2012 and then Prime Minister from 2012-2015. He was elected as Namibia’s President in 2014 to serve from 2015-2020 and then re-elected for a second five-year term. There were difficult times as scandals came to a head and former ministers went to prison.

On a personal level, Cde. Hage is well known for his warmth, friendship, lively interest and humour, and for his leadership. As President, he has built a strong leadership team and continued to build and strengthen democratic institutions and governance.

The new President, H.E. Nangolo Mbumba (the former Vice President), is a very experienced leader with a strong track record of diplomacy, leadership and achievement.

We wish the new leaders and all Namibians all the best for the months ahead, and wish encouragement and support for the Geingob family and all who are mourning at this very difficult time.

Extracts from tributes

UN Secretary General António Guterres: “He promoted gender equality, championed clean energy, and was a strong ally of international solidarity embodied here in the United Nations. The tributes from his fellow African leaders hail him as an icon of liberation, and a powerful voice for Africa, and African unity. Democracy, self-determination, and human rights for all, animated the life and work of President Geingob.”

HE Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa: “President Geingob was a towering veteran of Namibia’s liberation from colonialism and apartheid. He was also greatly influential in the solidarity that the people of Namibia extended to the people of South Africa so that we could be free today. We are therefore filled with appreciation and sadness at the passing of a comrade in struggle and a close partner in our democratic dispensation.”

Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Namibia: “Hage Geingob was a determining factor in Namibia’s emergence as a human rights-based modern democracy. We simply would not be the nation we are without his hugely positive influence. He leaves Namibia as an open democracy where there is freedom of expression and where civil society activists can operate without hindrance.”

Help4Nam celebrated 2nd birthday

Check this video to celebrate the second birthday and two years of achievements by our member organization Help4Nam Food Bank. This amazing video is made by Claire Collins (age 12 years).

The organization’s birthday was on Human Rights Day, 10 December 2022. The organization is set up in UK with the aim to help stop hunger in children (and their families) who live within underprivileged communities in Namibia. It operates food banks within 3 communities in: Windhoek, Rehoboth and Okahandja. Families can access emergency food and toiletry supplies when they are in crisis, struggling to cope financially and unable to feed their children due to unemployment, ill health or other problems constraints.

For more, check out their website:

Friends of Namibia AGM and news roundup online 4 February

On the move together. Photo: Johan Swanepoel via DepositPhotos.

The Friends of Namibia Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held online (using Zoom) on 4 February 2023 at 10:30am. The meeting usually lasts between 1 and 2 hours, and includes a roundup of the activities and news of the member organizations, treasurers’ report, and election of the officers and Executive Committee team for the coming year.

The meeting will be held online using Zoom, please write to in advance if you would like a link to join the meeting.

Membership fees for 2023

Membership fees are now due for the 2023 calendar year. Membership costs £15 for an organization and £10 for an individual. Please pay using the “Donate” button on this link . Please check whether you have paid 2022 fees and, if not, kindly pay for two years.

Many thanks and looking forward to a good meeting with you!

News from members: Oshandi Aids Trust In Namibia (OATIN) 

As with many charities, OATIN has found it very challenging post-Covid. There have been less opportunities for fundraising and energy levels have slumped somewhat in our aging committee!

However, we did hold another successful sale of hanging baskets in May, which proved popular with the gardeners of Saddleworth. Also our standing orders continue each month from our faithful supporters.

We have restarted our quarterly funding for food parcels this year, but Ombome Oto have had distribution problems and communications have been difficult. Last month the mother of our coordinator died and subsequently our coordinator’s own personal ill health has meant further delays.

Next year it will be 25 years since our partnership with the Ombome Oto began and we are in the process of reviewing our situation.  No plans for any visits currently but we look forward to hearing news from those who are going. Good wishes to all for safe journeys.

News from members: Horwich and Rivington Namibia

Food aid

Our schools are reporting that the harvest has been very poor this year with the rainy season starting much later than usual. We are continuing to support all three schools with money for food. This enables the learners in each school to receive one meal per day:

  • Tjihozu Combined School
  • Onangholo Combined School
  • Okathitu Combined School

Bicycle workshop

The manager of the bicycle workshop project (which we have supported for many years) informs us that all businesses in Namibia are struggling considerably since Covid.

Namibia day at Horwich Parish School

We held a Namibia Awareness day at our local primary school. A presentation was given to the children in the morning, followed by a carousel of activities throughout the day with children raising money by paying £1 to attend school in their casual clothes. The day was enjoyed by all and we have been invited to hold a similar event at other local primary schools.

The following message was received in appreciation of our visit: “Friday was a lovely day and so special for everyone. I am so pleased we have rekindled our connection with you and our Namibia link. We will send our contribution just as soon as it has been counted. It would be lovely to put another date in the diary for you to visit school again as I feel we should keep the link strong and alive!”

News from members: Namibia Project

Oliver is studying for a Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Power at Namibia University of Science and Technology. Irmgard is completing an honours degree in Education, majoring in accounting and economics, at the University of Namibia. We are very proud that Oliver has passed 3 modules with distinction, 1 with merit and 2 with credit. He is in the process of applying for a Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Placement. Irmgard has completed her teaching practice at Dr Alpo Mauno Mbamba JS School in Rundu and has started preparing her CV to apply for teaching vacancies .

The Namibia Project recognises the important part that the ACS International School students, families, and friends have played in enabling the trustees to support these two bright Namibian students. We also recognise the wonderful contribution which Dr Andreas Elombo has made to the personal development of our students in his “Student Mentor” trustee role.

Andreas has done a superb job keeping in touch with our scholarship students, advising them on preparing their CVs and writing letters of recommendation for them, despite being heavily committed to his own career development in the UK. In January 2022, Andreas moved to the UK to work as a Research Associate at the University of Bristol. In June he was then seconded to the University of Strathclyde to work on a tripartite collaboration research link with Bristol, Strathclyde and Namibia. He returned to Bristol University at the end of July to continue his position as a Research Associate in Future Energy Networks.

Namibia trip consultancy Alistair Cole (CEO Adventure Lifesigns)

ACS plans to resume student expeditions to Namibia in the summer of 2023. The school has appointed Adventure Lifesigns to fulfil this role, whose CEO, Alistair Cole, has been working with the ACS Namibia Project school sponsors. They want the student trip to Namibia to last approximately 14 days. The emphasis should be on environmental sustainability and activities should be organised to involve the ACS students in hands-on activities with the Namibian learners.

Rijn and I have been working with Alistair on a draft itinerary for the student expedition and for a fact-finding visit for Alistair to visit Namibia at the end of August to llKhuta!hoas Primary School and NaDEET (Namib Desert Environmental Trust).

NADEET newsletter plus ideas for the ACS expedition to Namibia

We suggested that if ACS wants to meet the criteria of “hands-on” sustainability activities for the students, they should visit NaDEET first to “Learn about Living for a Sustainable Future” before they visit llKhuta!hoas Primary School then The NaDEET newsletter (latest NaDEET Newsletter linked) covers a number of exciting ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) programmes which could give the school team ideas to implement when visiting llKhuta!hoas Primary School.

The involvement of the Adventure Lifesigns company to organize the ACS Namibia Trip will be very beneficial to all parties as:

  • ACS is very keen to promote ‘net zero’ and to be seen to be implementing this
  • NaDEET has a vision for integration to ESD (Education for Sustainable Development). If ACS students could receive both formal training and hands-on practical experience in an ESD Lesson Plan they could implement this and additional activities on addressing food security by involving the learners in the school garden at llKhuta!hoas Primary School.

Ann and Rijn Brandse, Namibia Project, 31 July 2022

News from members: Help4Nam

We are immensely proud and very excited to announce that Help4Nam has been selected to be part of the Anglo-American and De Beers Group employee volunteering programme, Ambassadors for Good (AfG), for the second consecutive year. The programme gives employees the chance to use their skills to help their communities and good causes that they really care about, backed by funding of £5,000 from the Anglo American Foundation. We are grateful to three employees at DeBeers that chose Help4Nam as the charity they wish to support.

We continue to help vulnerable communities in need in Namibia. One such community is in the “informal” settlement area of 7de Laan, Otjomuise, Windhoek. Smiley’s Kindergarten is run by Smiley and two assistants whom she often cannot pay due to lack of funds. Smiley aims to feed the young children (aged 1-5 years) with at least one meal a day but she rarely manages that. Help4Nam provides food supplies as often as we can to the kindergarten. We have recently also sponsored a large portable gas cooker, which they were in desperate need of.

In our efforts to support and help develop our beneficiaries so they could learn the basics of gardening and grow their own vegetables at home, Help4Nam were proud to sponsor four delegates from KF Foundation and HFN Charity Organisation who volunteered to attend Foundations for Farming Training organized by the Adonai Trust in Namibia in August.

Our application for registration as a Section21/NGO at the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA) in Namibia is still in progress and we hope to be registered within the next few weeks, albeit in the name of HFN Charity Organisation as the name “Help4Nam” was not recognised or accepted by the authority. As a UK charity, having registered status in Namibia will help us to better access funding and support within Namibia itself, allow us to get tax exemption on our food purchases and hopefully give us eligibility to access social security benefits for our unemployed volunteers.

Namibian Narratives project at the Powell Cotton Museum, Kent

The Powell Cotton Museum in Birchington, Kent, holds important collections of objects from northern Namibia and southern Angola. The Museum acquired about 4,500 items in 1936–7 in Oukwanyama (the Kwanyama kingdom that straddles the Namibia–Angola boundary). These include clothes, cooking utensils, jewellery and dolls.

On 29 June I was invited to the Museum for a talk on their recent acquisition of newly made items from northern Namibia. Through its ‘Namibian Narratives’ project, the Museum has committed to ‘foregrounding the communities and individuals who made, used and cared for our collections’. Dr Napandulwe Shiweda (University of Namibia) and Dr Nicola Stylianou (University of Sussex) have worked with craftswomen in northern Namibia to commission new items, asking the makers what they would like to produce for the Museum in order to represent their lives and lived experiences in northern Namibia today. The result is a beautiful collection of new beadwork, clothing and dolls, created through collaboration with local partners.

The Powell Cotton Museum’s initiative takes place at a time of ongoing, broader debates on decolonising museum collections, given that many objects in UK museums were collected in the colonial period under conditions of coercion and violence. The Namibian Narratives project aims to use a different, more just model. It is based on a previous research project, ‘Making African Connections’ (2019–2021), which, partnering with African experts, focused on the collections of three museums in Kent and Sussex.

The Powell Cotton Museum project also builds on the work of a small team of Namibia activists (Arne Sjogren, Gerrit Swanepoel, Lorna Richardson and myself) who visited the Museum in 2005–6 and photographed part of the Kwanyama collections. Our project took place in response to a request from Dr Jeremy Silvester, Director of the Museums Association of Namibia, who sadly died of Covid in Namibia last year, and it was kindly funded by Friends of Namibia.

We created a CD-Rom with our photographs of the collection items, together with their catalogue descriptions, and sent it to institutions in Namibia and Angola. At the Powell Cotton Museum talk in June, Dr Shiweda mentioned that this CD had first made her aware of these collections. We were also able to make the photographs and digitised catalogue entries available to the Making African Connections project. It’s good to see that our small project (supported by Friends of Namibia) has contributed to long-term efforts to publicise these collections and make them more accessible to Namibians.

For more information, see:

(Dr) Marion Wallace, 15 August 22

News from members: Catherine Bullen Foundation

After two years in exile from Namibia due to Covid-19 we finally returned last March with a little fear and trepidation, not knowing what we would find in relation to our projects and the effects of Covid-19. However, our fears were unfounded. It was now time to revive our current projects which had lain dormant for two years.

For the full newsletter with lots of photos, please check here.

Borehole for Donkerbos Primary School and Hostel

First on the list was the borehole for Eiseb Primary School and Hostel. However in the intervening two years, events had overtaken us. Two weeks into our visit this time, we discovered on social media that the Government were drilling two boreholes at Eiseb. Obviously, ours was no longer required. A few days into our visit, the Governor of the Omaheke region rang us and confirmed this was the case, but he had an alternative plan. He told us about Donkerbos Primary School and Hostel which was two hours’ drive away from Otjimanangombe in a south easterly direction towards the Botswana border. It had no water supply and the nearest borehole was 6 kms away with the children collecting water on a rota basis. They were rationed to two glasses of water a day and they bathed in rain water in a plastic tub. Currently there were about 30 children from the school isolating in Gobabis Hospital with scabies.

We agreed to meet the Governor at the school in two days’ time and we saw for ourselves how much a borehole was needed. Events moved at pace. Arrangements were made by the Governor to enlist a government hydrologist to site the boreholes and on Monday 4 April we returned to the school with Mr Booysen, the driller. The hydrologist checked his co-ordinates and commenced to site the boreholes with his instruments. He was accompanied by four San men from the community eager to see what was happening and to show off their expertise with the metal rod. Two sites were identified, one by the road near the school and the other 450 metres into the bush and these were both confirmed by the San with their traditional methods.

Drilling commenced a few days later. While drilling was taking place near the school, the community would clear the bush around the second site. We were told that the school children were very excited when the drilling rig arrived. On Saturday 9 April, we learned that the borehole had reached a depth of 219 metres producing 800 litres of water per hour, so it was a big relief all round. Although sufficient for the school needs it would have been better if it had been more. The following Monday, the drilling of the second borehole began and at the end of the day we got a call to say they had reached 160 metres and it was still dry. The next day we had a message from the driller saying that they had drilled to 255 metres producing a yield of 15,000 litres per hour, a fantastic result. The driller was very pleased and said it was the best result he had ever had in the area. This was a huge relief for us as it was always in the back of our minds that the boreholes could be dry.

It was hard to describe our feelings knowing that we had brought water to this school and community when before that had none and changed their lives forever. Also that we had seen this project through from start to finish within the timescale of a month.

Good Hope Primary School and St Mary’s Senior School for Girls

While we were staying in Otjimanangombe we visited Good Hope Primary School in the village of Okovimburu to view the donations that had been made by St Marys Senior School for Girls in Colchester. Firstly, we went to the hostel kitchen to inspect the two large electric cooking pots which had been donated and were spotlessly clean. They have now been nicknamed “Linda” and “Roger”!

We then visited the classrooms to see the children in their new uniforms which had now been embroidered with the school badge on the shirts and blouses and the initials of the school on the boys’ trousers. St Mary’s school in Colchester now have a programme of fund-raising events to buy socks and shoes for the children.

Order placed for 4×4 ambulance for Otjimanangombe Primary Healthcare Clinic

During our first week in Windhoek we visited Mr Ben Nangombe, the Executive Director in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, accompanied by the British High Commissioner, Mr Charles Moore. He advised that the ambulance staff would be appointed in Gobabis, but would be stationed in Otjimanangombe which was a satisfactory outcome. (Unfortunately, since our visit, due to the economic situation, it looks as the ambulance will not be based at Otjimanangombe due to lack of money to pay for the driver’s subsistence allowance).

We visited Pupkewitz Toyota to discuss the ambulance and said we would be back at the end of our trip to place an order. Accordingly, at the end of our trip when we returned to Windhoek, we went back, accompanied by Gehas from Komeho, our Namibian partner non-governmental organisation, as they would place the order on our behalf. After a brief discussion, we formally placed the order. We will commission the vehicle and hand it over to the Ministry of Health and Social Services during our next visit to Namibia in September.

Multi-purpose hall for Omuhaturua Primary School and Hostel, Otjimanangombe

This is the only project of ours that has been seriously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced the original contractor to leave the project with only a minimal amount of work done. Since 2019, when the project began, costs have increased. We have redesigned the hall and we have sourced another builder. Construction should start at the end of September.

Installation of solar on a borehole at Otjimanangombe

While we were staying at Otjimanangombe we agreed to part-fund the installation of solar panels and a pump onto an existing borehole to provide water for Omuhaturua Primary School and hostel and State clinic. This was to replace an old diesel engine. Both the school and the clinic will no longer have to pay for the fuel to pump the water.

Volunteering in the clinics

During our visit we spent four weeks each in Otjimanangombe Primary Health Clinic and the Catherine Bullen Primary Healthcare Clinic at Oshivelo. Both are functioning well but, as usual, maintenance is an issue.

We are returning to Namibia on 11 September until 25 November.

Roger and Linda Bullen, The Catherine Bullen Foundation

Rest in Peace, Jane Katjavivi

1 September 1952 – 9 August 2022

Many friends of Namibia are mourning the passing of Jane Katjavivi, solidarity activist, publisher and writer, who made a huge contribution to independent Namibia. Jane was a pillar of support for her husband Peter Katjavivi and the Katjavivi extended family as well as her many dear friends. She was travelling home from Heathrow with Peter when she passed away suddenly on the flight.

Tributes to her have been pouring in from so many Namibians and others worldwide: politicians, writers, publishers and friends. According to President HE Hage Geingob “…she became one of us in advancing our fight for freedom and independence. After independence in 1990, as an accomplished author and passionate editor, Jane was instrumental in building Namibian literature and assisted many with editing manuscripts and documents.”

Jane Coles was born in Leeds, studied English Literature at the University of Sussex and studied for an MA in African Politics at the University of Birmingham. She joined the World University Service (UK) in 1975 as a Scholarship Officer.

She met Peter Katjavivi in 1975 and went on to work with him as Information Officer for SWAPO in London (1976-78), also attending meetings, pickets and demos of the Namibia Support Committee. Many UK-based former campaigners for Namibian independence will remember her fondly as a personal friend and fellow activist.

After a stint as editorial assistant at AFRICA Magazine, Jane moved in 1980 with Peter to Oxford, where she joined a book publisher and he completed a doctorate. They married in 1981 and their son Perivi was born in 1984, while their daughter Isabel was born in 1988 in the USA, where Peter had taken up a fellowship at Yale University. The family moved fully to Namibia in March 1990, just a few weeks before Independence.

Once in Windhoek, Jane set up publishing house New Namibia Books (NNB). “The worst desert in Namibia is the book desert,” she told friends and family. And she did not accept what she was told – that “Namibians don’t read”.

Over 10 years NNB published 63 books encompassing Namibian history, anthologies, fiction, poetry, life stories, democracy and gender. There were children’s books and science textbooks too. She opened a bookshop, later named Onganda y’Omambo, specializing in books about Namibia and Africa. She also set up a Namibian imprint, Tigereye Publishing, and was founding publisher of the University of Namibia Press from 2011 to 2016, establishing it as a leading academic publisher. She was also a proactive leader in publishing organisations including the Association of Namibian Publishers and the African Publishers Network.

Her memoir Undisciplined Heart was published by Modjaji Books in 2010. It charts her life, her sustaining close friendships, her health struggles which meant she was fitted with a heart pacemaker, her long road to recovery, and finding a renewed understanding of the Christian faith and spirituality. Writer Margie Orford commented: “Jane Katjavivi’s frank and intimate memoir of love and politics, of survival and finding way to make a home, shows that history is also what heals when it is filtered through a loving heart and an open mind.”

An important part of Jane’s life was bringing up the family and supporting relatives. She was uprooted several times, moving home from the UK to the USA, Namibia, Brussels and Berlin as she supported Peter, whose varied posts after independence included those of founding Vice-Chancellor of the University of Namibia, Namibian ambassador to the EU and then Germany – which meant long periods away from Namibia for Jane – and most recently Speaker of the National Assembly.

Jane’s memorial service was held on Thursday18 August at Parliament Gardens and later St George’s Cathedral, and her burial service is on Saturday 20 August at St George’s Cathedral (from 09h00) and Pioneerspark Cemetery.

Friends of Namibia sends sincere condolences to Hon. Peter Katjavivi, Perivi, Isabel and all the family and friends as they mourn Jane.
Many tribute articles and obituaries are already published, including by friend Werner Hillebrecht in The Namibian, 14 August, from which much of this information is drawn:–with-a-great-legacy

Undisciplined Heart is available from the African Books Collective at
Obituary by Tom Minney, with additional thanks to Jo Morris and Marion Wallace.