PRESIDENT Hage Geingob says he has fond memories of Queen Elizabeth II, since they have met five times.
“I am privileged because I met her. I can say I know her, that is the point,” Geingob said during a courtesy visit by British high commissioner Charles Moore yesterday at State House.
The president reflected on his encounters with Queen Elizabeth II, who died last week after ruling the United Kingdom (UK) and British overseas territories for 70 years.
“The amazing thing was her memory,” he said.
Geingob in 1991 took the queen to Katutura during her visit to Namibia, and during their car ride they discussed the newly independent country’s education system, he said.
“After that I was invited to a tea party. After everybody left, the two of us remained. She was recalling what I was telling her on our way, and I couldn’t even recall,” he said.
Geingob further described the queen as a good listener.
“The first time I shook her hand was in Lusaka when I was a director of the institute [Union] when she came for that visit. The Commonwealth conference was held there. We were drilled on how to do it [shake hands],” he said.
He said it was supposed to be a brief courtesy call, but their discussion went on for longer.
“Some people must have talked to her about possible problems with white and black situations, like property being taken from white people. So I said: ‘Your Majesty, do you want us to do like your friend Mugabe did?’ She said: ‘Gosh, Mugabe, my friend.’”
The visit was supposed to last five minutes only, but went on for 20 minutes, the president said.
“I feel my connection with her,” Geingob said.
He said she “really” did what she had to on earth.
Queen Elizabeth II is set to be buried in London on Monday, with over 110 heads of state expected to attend the funeral.
UN MEETING FOR FUNERAL
Geingob will miss out on the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Goals meeting to attend the funeral of the world’s longest-reigning monarch.
The UN meeting is part of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (Unga 77) set to take place in New York next week.
Geingob will also attend the ‘Transforming Education’ summit, but will miss the first few days thereof.
“I was going already, so I just diverted. I will be late for the Monday and Tuesday meeting,” he said.
Moore yesterday said education is an important issue which Geingob is concerned about, and it would be good to attend the summit.
“The staff and scholars are there, I am not the minister of education. We are not the processes and systems ourselves. I am not a one-man show.
“But I will miss it because I have to be at the funeral,” Geingob said.
NO EXECUTIVE POWERS
Moore yesterday said Queen Elizabeth II had no executive powers, unlike the UK government.
“So I think the queen cannot bear personal responsibility for what happened in the past. She was sovereign throughout that period,” he said.
Moore said one of the queen’s great successes was that she was non-partisan and apolitical.
“She doesn’t get involved in political issues or express opinions. She did that extremely well. She didn’t distance herself from that. She was above all of that in a way,” he said.