WINDHOEK – A state hero’s funeral has been conferred on liberation stalwart and revered diplomat Theo-Ben Gurirab, whose remains head to his home town of Usakos tomorrow for a memorial service. He passed away on Saturday afternoon in a Windhoek hospital after a lengthy ailment.
The former prime minister, who also served as Namibia’s first foreign affairs minister after independence, turned 80 years in January this year.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology Mbeuta Ua-Ndjarakana yesterday confirmed that President Hage Geingob, one of Gurirab’s closest friends, has conferred a hero’s funeral on the former speaker of the National Assembly.
After the memorial service in Usakos, where Gurirab was born in 1938, the main memorial service will be held in his honour in Windhoek on Friday, before burial on Saturday.
Survived by his American-born wife, Joan, and their two sons, Gurirab retired from active politics in 2015, after he did not secure a place on the Swapo parliamentary list at the 2014 Swapo Electoral College.
Tributes have been pouring in since news broke on Saturday that the former president of the United Nations General Assembly had passed on.
Although he belonged to the older generation of Namibian political leaders, Gurirab has been described as having had young people’s interests at heart.
Current speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi, credited Gurirab with the establishment of the Children’s Parliament in 2007.
“In this way, Dr Gurirab established a platform to empower and inculcate a democratic culture within the youth and young people so that they can partake in the national discourse at all levels,” Katjavivi said in a statement late yesterday.
“During his time in the House, he was very resourceful on topics of international relations and passionate about the debates on education and training, women and children’s rights, human rights, peace, democracy and national reconciliation.”
According to Katjavivi, the National Assembly will remember Gurirab as a thinker, dedicated democrat, a freedom fighter and diplomat par excellence.
“We will also remember him as a fair and impartial presiding officer and a national hero who led efforts to position the Namibian case on the international map during the difficult yeas of our liberation struggle,” said Katjavivi.