The United Nations Secretary General, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon officially inaugurated the UN House in Windhoek, Namibia on 24 June 2014. This was a rare and joyous occasion, as the last time a secretary general came to Namibia was 17 years ago. During his speech at the UN house, Ban Ki-moon applauded Namibia on the progress it has made since independence and its transition to an upper-middle income status country. Ban Ki-moon further mentioned that “Namibia has also demonstrated its leadership in addressing HIV/AIDS, reducing poverty, protecting the environment and promoting gender equality. With your assistance, the refugee population here dropped from 20,000 persons in the early 1990s to fewer than 3,000 now.” Although Ban was impressed with the positive and rapid progression that Namibia has made as a nation, he also stated that one of the most important challenges remains inequality and unemployment in the youth.
The Secretary-General also had private and official talks with His Excellency Hifikepunye Pohamba where a plethora of issues pertaining to international peace and security were discussed. The Post 2015 Development Agenda was also a topic of interest, with Pohamba stating that “Given our historical apartheid colonialism, which enforced segregation and inequality in our society, the per capita income is not a true reflection of the socio-economic reality, as it does not take into account the skewed income distribution inherited from the past.” Pohamba further said that he is one of 10 African presidents who formed an African Union Committee which aims to promote the African Common Position on UN reforms.
Ban had a busy 2 days in Namibia, holding talks with senior government officials. A town hall meeting was also held addressing all staff at the UN house in Windhoek and providing feedback on questions by the staff association. The UN Staff in Windhoek were very excited to see the Secretary General in person and happily pulled out their mobile phones and cameras to capture this momentous occasion.
On Wednesday 25 June 2014, the Secretary General visited places of historical significance. He visited Heroes Acre, and participated in a wreath laying ceremony, which was a true moment of honour indeed. Thereafter, he visited the Independence Museum and took a walk down memory lane in understanding Namibia’s past.
The Secretary General was accompanied by his wife, Madam Yoo Soon-taek. During the Secretary General’s official briefings and talks she was accompanied by the Minister of Health, Dr Richard Kamwi to the Katutura State Hospital as well as the Windhoek Central Hospital where she vistited the Pediatric cancer ward and ARV ward.
The visit was certainly a highlight in Namibia and a very proud moment for UN staff who were exceptionally proud to be working for an international organization such as the United Nations. The visit was a resounding success and truly epitomized the UN’s “Delivering as One” work ethic.