Geingob at 74: President speaks on family, farming and sport

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President Hage Geingob, 74 today, took a break from his busy schedule to talk to NEPC Managing Editor, Toivo Ndjebela about the lighter side of his life. Born in Otjiwarongo on August 3, 1941, Geingob became Namibia’s third democratically elected president on March 21, 2015.

Your Excellency, what does your typical day at the office look like?

As Head of State, I have a very full and hectic schedule on a typical day. The first activity I undertake is to read the daily newspapers at 6 am in order to get up to speed with regards to current affairs.

My executive secretary plans my daily appointments with various stakeholders within government, private sector and the wider local, regional and international community.

I also consult regularly with Cabinet Ministers and the government ‘Top Four’ on various critical matters related to government policy.

During the periods when I am not in meetings or consultations, I also do a lot of paperwork. There are numerous correspondences and documents, which I have to analyse thoroughly before I decide on a course of action and give directives to my assistants to take that particular action.

What do you do in your spare time?

I am an avid reader, especially of books related to my field of work. These days I usually read books on matters of governance, as it provides me with varying perspectives on the topic. I am not new to these issues, but as a leader and a scholar, one never stops learning so it is important to always refresh one’s mind by studying varying perspectives related to the issue of governance. I also enjoy watching TV, mostly news and sports.

What type of TV content does Your Excellency follow the most?

I like to watch talk shows, as well as news channels such as NBC, CNN, BBC, Aljazeera, SABC, E-News, CCTV, ANN and others. When it comes to sports, I am a big tennis and football fan. I like to watch the Grand Slams in tennis, as well as the Barclays Premier League and other football leagues around the world. However, I do not limit myself to those sports only. I also appreciate other sporting codes, such as rugby, boxing, basketball and the NFL, especially the Super Bowl, which I always look forward to.

Do you have any sporting heroes?

Yes, I admire the Brazilian footballing legend, Pele, and boxing great Muhammad Ali.

What is the last book you read?

The last book I read is a book on governance written by Robert Irwin Rotberg. It deals with government, what are its measures and its policy uses.

And what is your favourite dish?

Pap and Oshikandela.

What music do you listen to and who is your favourite local singer?

I listen to all kinds of music, depending on the mood that I am in. I also enjoy listening to music by all Namibian artists. I am a connoisseur of local tunes.

What do you do to keep fit – physically and even mentally?

I mentioned earlier that I enjoy reading. That is the way I keep mentally fit. I regularly attend church service every Sunday. That is how I maintain my spiritual fitness. And finally, for physical fitness, I gym three days a week and when I am at my farm, I go for long walks. That is how I take care of my mind, body and soul.

What is your favourite holiday destination?

I enjoy going to my farm or to Swakopmund. Last Christmas I went with my family on a vacation to China, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

What activities are going on at your farm (livestock, crops)?

You have often heard me refer to my farm as a bush. I do have some livestock there, but my farm is far from being the finished product that I envisage in the next several years.

I want to turn my farm into a source of income and employment and to do that I will look at the game aspect, the crop and livestock aspect, as well as the aspect of the football academy. Ultimately my farm will become a multi-faceted area for the benefit of my children, as well as other Namibians.

As you are aware, farming is a hands-on activity so the fact that I am based in Windhoek and have other larger responsibilities means that I will need to find competent people who can manage the projects that I have mentioned.

Do you do any chores at the farm or at home?

When at the farm, I like to drive around to inspect my livestock and also to look at the area on my farm. While doing this, many ideas creep through one’s mind as to how to transform the land on the farm to become productive. I do not wash dishes though.

How is family life affected by your becoming President?

I was a Prime Minister for 12 consecutive years after Independence. I became Prime Minister again in 2012. My children have grown up in these circumstances and they are used to certain things by now. So the family has adapted over the years and therefore it is not difficult for them to adapt to my life as a President.

And finally, where are your children currently?

Oshoveli is in the United States, where she is working in Washington. Nangi returned home two years ago and is unemployed. Dangos and Hage Junior are still schooling and are at home. Dangos may go to the United States for further studies next year if she is accepted.

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