Pohamba pays tribute to the late Gurirab
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17 July 2018 Author   TUTALENI PINEHAS

Former Head of State, Hifikepunye Pohamba, has paid tribute to the late top diplomat, Theo-Ben Gurirab, who died on Saturday at the age of 80 after a long illness. Former Head of State, Hifikepunye Pohamba, has paid tribute to the late top diplomat, Theo-Ben Gurirab, who died on Saturday at the age of 80 after a long illness. 

Speaking at the wake of the former National Assembly Speaker, Pohamba said on Monday that although the nation mourns the passing away of Gurirab, people should at the same time celebrate the wonderful life that he lived. 
Pohamba recalled how he met Gurirab in 1971 in New York, where the Namibian first Foreign Affairs Minister was serving at the SWAPO mission at the UN while also studying at Temple University.
“Gurirab and (Hidipo) Hamutenya supported the Chief Representative (Hage Geingob) in New York immensely. After Geingob was appointed as Director of United Nations Institute for Namibia (UNIN), Gurirab took over as the SWAPO Representative to the United Nations.
“It was around the same time that the work of the United Nations Council for Namibia was gaining momentum. The council under the chairmanship of Sean Mcbride was already preparing important documentation for Namibia’s self-governance,” he said.
The council worked closely with Gurirab, as the Chief Representative, who in turn provided regular updates and reports to SWAPO headquarters in Lusaka. 
He also travelled to Lusaka from time to time to brief the SWAPO leadership about events at the UN.
Pohamba said Gurirab’s skills were tested and stretched following the Cassinga massacre of 1978, 
He said the late diplomat proved to be tactful in putting out SWAPO’s message to the international community following the heinous act.
“Even when the South African regime became intransigent and tried every trick in the book to derail Namibia’s independence, Gurirab’s diplomatic acumen prevailed,” Pohamba said.
The late Gurirab served as a member of the Constituent Assembly which drafted the Namibian Constitution.
After independence, he was one of the leading figures that helped set Namibia’s foreign policy trajectory.
In recognition of his diplomatic skills, Gurirab was appointed as president of the UN General Assembly from 1999 to 2000. 
As prime minister, he contributed to the strengthening of public service administration and service delivery in and out of the country, and as speaker of the National Assembly, Gurirab contributed greatly to the work of the Namibian legislature for many years. 
“I am proud to call him a comrade-in-arms and a fellow revolutionary,” Pohamba said in his tribute speech. 
Meanwhile, President Hage Geingob has conferred a hero’s funeral on the former speaker of the National Assembly.
A memorial service will be held in Usakos on Wendesday, where Gurirab was born in 1938.
Another memorial service will be held in Windhoek on Friday, before burial on Saturday.

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