Jill Biden made the first trip by a US first lady to Namibia on Wednesday, a country she chose, she said, for its vibrant democracy. Namibian President Hage Geingob and his wife welcomed her warmly.
Namibia is an arid and sparsely populated nation in southern Africa and the White House expressed that this first stopover by the first lady is a show of support and respect for the African continent.
“We wanted to come because… this is a young democracy and we want to support all the democracies in the world,” Biden said. “We already met in December and we are following up on the relationship. Mónica and I can assure you that we became good friends instantly.
That friend, Namibian First Lady Monica Geingob, nodded.
“There is a lot in Namibia that we want to show Dr. Biden. I know that it is her first visit to Namibia. I know that this is the first time that a first lady of the United States has come to the country and I believe that what she has said is true: it is a very vibrant democracy, ”she declared.
He added that the country has “a large young population that promotes democracy, very energetic and fully allowed by constitutional values and also by the personal values of its leadership.”
Jill Biden is also the first White House official to visit the country since President Joe Biden promised last year to send administration representatives to the mainland. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield have already visited Africa this year.
Like Biden, Thomas-Greenfield focused part of his visit on the food crisis in East Africa, something Biden plans to do when he visits Kenya this week. However, these high-level visits coincide with similar efforts by Russia and China to the mainland.
During a traditional dance ceremony for the first ladies, VOA asked President Geingob his impression of Biden’s visit.
“We are very happy and honored to receive the first lady of the United States. It is a great honor to have her here,” she said.
Although Namibia is a multi-party democracy, Geingob’s party, the West African People’s Organization, has ruled the country since its independence more than three decades ago.
Before ceremonies Wednesday, Biden laid a wreath at a monument dedicated to those who fought for the country’s independence. The sculpture is very similar to another in the Zimbabwean capital, both made by the same North Korean company.
Biden would visit a project in the capital financed by the US and focused on the empowerment of women and children this Thursday, and would have dinner with Geingob.
On Friday he leaves for Kenya, where he will also call attention to the empowerment of women and children, and the food insecurity crisis in the Horn of Africa, which is suffering from the worst drought the region has experienced in decades.
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