Speech by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the funeral of President Hage Gottfried Geingob on 24 February 2024

Today, we have gathered here to honor the legacy of President Hage Gottfried Geingob – a great Namibian, a great African, a remarkable statesman and citizen of the world.

President Geingob left a strong legacy. We came to know him as a determined statesman who dedicated his entire life to freedom and nation-building of Namibia. He also left a legacy of close friendship with Finland.

That friendship is built on a solid foundation of over 150 years of shared history. But it also rests on strong bonds between individuals. A notable example is the bond between President Geingob and the late Finnish President and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Martti Ahtisaari. Both were instrumental in the Namibian independence process. Both loved this country very deeply.

Over the past year, I had the privilege of getting to know Hage Geingob personally. At his invitation, I made a state visit to Namibia in April. That visit left a deep impression on me. The heartfelt hospitality and friendliness of the Namibian people. And the inspiring exchanges I had with Hage. We shared thoughts and ideas on peace, equality and the importance of multilateralism.

Physically, of course, our countries are thousands of miles apart. Still – maybe due to history, maybe something else – we connected. We consider it a good example for others, too.

The last beautiful manifestation of the friendship between our nations at the highest level was President Geingob’s and Madame Geingos’ attendance at the funeral of Martti Ahtisaari in November. Symbolically, at the service, Bible passages were read in the Ndonga language. I friend wanted to pay tribute to his friend for the last time. I now have the same honour.

As my term as President of Finland soon comes to a close, I promise to leave this legacy of friendship between Finland and Namibia to my successor.

With these remarks, let me once again express my deepest sympathy with Mrs Monica Geingos, the Geingob family, his community, and the Government and Nation of Namibia.

Rest in Peace our Friend, President Hage Geingob.