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RIP: Namibian President Hage Geingob broke cultural norms spoke about cancer battle

Namibia’s President, Hage Geingob, disclosed his struggle with cancer several weeks before his passing on February 4, 2024, challenging cultural conventions.

The announcement sparked discussions on health, masculinity, and the importance of open dialogue regarding illnesses, particularly in African societies where such matters are often considered private.

The President’s openness about his cancer diagnosis sparked discussions about health, masculinity, and societal attitudes toward illnesses.

He said that the medical scientists and professionals who invited him to undertake treatment for his cancer have committed to rolling out the technology they used in Namibia for the benefit of other Namibians after final approvals have been obtained.

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In a 2020 study, 801,392 new cancer cases and 520,158 cancer deaths were estimated to have occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. Cancers of the breast (129 400 female cases) and cervix (110 300 cases) were responsible for three in ten of the cancers diagnosed in both sexes.

As the nation observes World Cancer Day on February 4, 2024, under the theme “Close the Care Gap,” President Geingob’s public acknowledgement of his health condition contributes to breaking down stigmas and encouraging others to prioritize health.

In a post on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, the Namibian presidency said Geingob’s medical team at Lady Pohamba Hospital did its best to help him, but Geingob died with his wife, Monica Geingos, and children by his side.

Geingob was undergoing treatment for cancer. The 82-year-old had a colonoscopy and a gastroscopy on January 8, followed by a biopsy, his office said last month.

Angolo Mbumba, Namibia’s acting president, called for calm, saying in the same post that the Cabinet will convene with immediate effect in order to make the necessary state arrangements in this regard.

Geingob, who was president of the southern African nation since 2015, was set to finish his second and final term in office this year.

In 2014, he said he had survived prostate cancer. Namibia is set to hold elections to choose a new leader in November.

“His medical team, as I informed the nation only yesterday has been trying its utmost best to ensure that our President recovers. Regrettably,notwithstanding the team’s spirited effort to save his life, sadly, fellow Namibians, President Geingob passed on,” Mbumba announced on X.

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Adding, “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. At this moment of deepest sorrow, I appeal to the nation to remain calm and collected while the Government attends to all necessary state arrangements, preparations and other protocols.”

Here are 10 facts about President Hage Geingob, the leader who courageously shared his health journey with the nation:

1. Birth: Hage Geingob was born on August 3, 1941, in Otavi, Namibia.
2. Educational Achievements: He held a Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.
3. Political Career: Geingob served as Namibia’s first Prime Minister from 1990 to 2002.
4. Trade and Industry: Following his term as Prime Minister, he later became the Minister of Trade and Industry from 2008 to 2012.
5. Presidential Inauguration: Hage Geingob was inaugurated as the third President of Namibia on March 21, 2015.
6. Re-election: He secured a second term in November 2019.
7. Independence Advocate: President Geingob played a pivotal role in Namibia’s fight for independence from South African rule.
8. International Engagement: Actively involved in various international organizations, he advocated for Africa’s interests on the global stage.
9. Social Justice Advocate: Known for his commitment to social justice, Geingob worked towards poverty eradication in Namibia.
10. Regional Integration: A prominent advocate for regional integration and cooperation in Southern Africa.

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President William Ruto of Kenya has sent condolences to the Namibian people following President Geingob’s passing. Geingob’s legacy extends beyond politics, leaving an indelible mark on discussions surrounding health, diplomacy, and societal norms.

“It is with utmost sadness and regret that I inform you that our beloved Dr. Hage G. Geingob, the President of the Republic of Namibia has passed on today, Sunday 4 February 2024 at around 00h04 at Lady Pohamba Hospital where he was receiving medical treatment from his medical team.” Read the statement.

President Ruto has mourned the late Geingob as a distinguished leader who served the people of Namibia with focus and dedication.

On his X handle, he noted that the 82-year-old leader was a believer in a unified Africa and strongly promoted the continent’s voice and visibility in the global arena.

“President Geingob was a distinguished leader who served the people of Namibia with focus and dedication. He was a believer of a unified Africa and strongly promoted the continent’s voice and visibility at the global arena.” President Ruto said.

“May God give the people of Namibia strength and courage during this difficult period.” Added Ruto.