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Schlettwein pays personal tribute to Geingob who he labelled as the ‘Otavi Coin’

Schlettwein pays personal tribute to Geingob who he labelled as the ‘Otavi Coin’

Staff Reporter

THE Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Calle Schlettwein was amongst the many Namibians and dignitaries who has shared his memories and condolences on the passing of the late President. Dr. Hage Geingob.

Schlettwein in parliament used the analogy, “the Otavi Coin” to describe Geingob who he had worked with together for years.

The full statement reads as follows:

Dear Madame Monica Geingos;
The Children and Family;
Your Excellency President Nangolo Mbumba and;
Madam, Sustjie Mbumba, First Lady;
Hon. Peter Katjavivi, Speaker of the National Assembly;
Hon Ministers;
Your Lordship Petrus Damaseb, Deputy Chief Justice;
Distinguished Fellow Mourners;

We are gathered here to say farewell to our beloved Late President Dr Hage Gottfried Geingob and much has been said already and more will be still said. I will share my feelings and thoughts with you by presenting an analogy, which is named “The Otavi Coin” “On a cool, windy day in 1941, it was the third day of August, a coin was found by a farm worker couple under a small Acacia tree on a farm near Otavi.

The couple immediately realised that they had acquired something very valuable. They kept it safe and, despite living in very desperate circumstances they found the means to refine and polish the coin so that all its features became visible and its full value could be developed and realised.

Subsequently the coin was treated in various treatment plants starting with the Augustineum in 1958. In 1960 that treatment plant rejected further work on the coin because they found the metal incompatible with their standards. Later however the treatment was continued and the initial minting process was concluded in 1961.

The currency to which this coin belonged was created in 1960 and fast gained popularity with the Namibian people. It became very well known as SWAPO. Unfortunately, and in spite of its acceptance by the vast majority, it was soon rejected by the authorities of the day and its use was prohibited.

The coin of Otavi was subsequently smuggled out of the country into neighbouring Botswana.

From there it was scheduled to be flown by chartered plane to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania together with other coins. Antagonistic forces wanted to destroy this consignment of coins by blowing up the plane. Fortunately, however, the time bomb went off prematurely and all the coins were saved. From there it was carried to the United States of America where it was subjected to further treatment in a long and complicated process of creating an immaculate coin for a strong and durable currency.

Internationally by then the SWAPO currency grew in popularity not only because of the quality and beauty of it coins, but also because of its universal acceptance by the international world. In fact, the United Nations in 1976 declared it the sole and authentic currency for Namibia.

Before the coin was returned to Namibia in 1989 it was kept in Zambia where it was extensively used with the purpose of getting young Namibians prepared for use of the currency, and related systems, institutions and processes once introduced into Namibia. Once back in Namibia, this coin together with all the other coins was accepted by the people of Namibia as legal tender.

Returning to the coin itself, it stood out amongst the many because it was beautifully crafted, it had style and its image is representing all and everything in Namibia. When you feel it, it gives you an inclusive feeling and owning it gives you a sense of security and stability. What became clear was that the inscription on the coin, that of inclusiveness, tolerance and unity, equality, liberty and justice became the anchor values of the democratic, free Namibian nation.

The coin is marvelled at by Namibians, Africans and internationally. Its design, its impact and the want to emulate its beauty and goodness is shared. As time went the value of the coin by now has far surpassed its metal value, it is the impact it had on the value and stability of the currency, which determines its value. The Otavi Coin to a significant extend carried the currency and that impact is the legacy of our beloved Late President Hage Gottfried Geingob.”

Dear Mourners, I am very grateful that I could share an intense professional and a warm personal relationship with our former President Hage Geingob. As Permanent Secretary in several portfolios, as Minister of Trade and Industry and as Deputy Minister and Minister of Finance. We had good and tough times together. I am very grateful that Cde. Hage allowed me into his house and I fondly remember the friendship that developed.

President Hage Geingob was an extraordinary personality with great intellectual ability and therefore an exceptional leader. On a personal level, he was a jovial, generous and sincere friend with a tremendous sense of humour. I already miss him dearly.

Dear mourners, we are benefitting from this tremendous legacy and must be grateful and happy, but we must make it our job to carry the flag and maintain what he has achieved for us.

My sincere condolences go to you, Madam Monica Geingos, the children and family. We all share the pain, may his soul rest in peace.

I thank you

Photo: MICT

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