Geingob: A friend of Botswana

Brothers in arms: Masisi and Geingob’s close friendship grew tighter over the years
Brothers in arms: Masisi and Geingob’s close friendship grew tighter over the years

“In my wildest dreams I could not imagine that one day a refugee in a white house in Francistown would become the President of his country and address the people of Botswana in this August House.” The late Namibian leader, Hage Geingob, was addressing Parliament in July 2016, earning his place as only the second Head of State to have had the privilege of addressing the National Assembly.

Geingob passed away last week and is profoundly mourned beyond his home-soil, no more so than in Botswana, a country he had a particularly close relationship with, stemming back decades to the days of the struggle against apartheid. In 2016, on his first State visit to Botswana after becoming Namibian president the previous year, Geingob regaled local legislators with an account of how he and a few of his compatriots, walked, ran and hitchhiked their way out of apartheid Namibia, across the border and all the way to Francistown. The plan was for Geingob to travel from Francistown to the regional freedom fighters’ hub of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on a flight chartered by South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC). However, as detailed by local historian and former presidential spokesperson, Jeff Ramsay, last week, apartheid agents bombed Geingob’s plane at the Francistown Airport.

“He was scheduled to join other ANC and SWAPO members on a flight to Dar es Salaam,” Ramsay wrote on his social media, in a short profile on the late leader. “Early in the morning of August 29, 1963, the very day of the plane’s scheduled take off for Tanganyika, there was a massive explosion at the Francistown Airport.

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