I gave a brief summary of my trip to Namibia on the World Christian
Broadcasting home page. I hope to tell some of the “rest of the story”
in this article.
There wasn’t space on the home page to tell a little about why
Namibia is different. The information I am about to share is not from a
religious proponent but is from a government source. It was stated that
the reason Namibia is more fiscally responsible and less likely to boast
about its accomplishments is its conservative Lutheran background.
Namibia was formerly a German colony and has deep Lutheran roots.
From the standpoint of fiscal responsibility, they are reluctant to
take big risks and go into debt. They have the old fashioned ethic that
if you buy something, you should have the money to pay for it. Now, even
if they wanted to get a good deal on an international loan, they can’t
get one. Why? Because their responsible outlook has caused the country
to be upgraded to the upper middle class status among African nations.
Their Christian perspective has resulted in their not being poor enough
to get a loan from the World Bank at a reduced rate.
You would think a nation that is doing things right would want
everyone to know about it. Well, evidently Lutherans in Namibia frown on
bragging about their accomplishments. Some of the members of our
delegation encouraged leaders in the country to publicize more about
Namibia’s strengths to attract more business. You can kind of understand
a country hiding its faults, but isn’t it interesting that there is
still a country in this world that is reluctant to brag on itself?
I had an opportunity to talk with one of the wealthiest people in
Namibia, Dr. Martha Namundjebo-Tilahum. The fact that she is female in a
male dominated society is remarkable. She owns the Hilton Hotel I stayed
in, sits on the boards of seven Namibian companies and is chairperson of
United Africa Group, which has fifty subsidiary companies. In 2013 she
was named Africa Business Leader of the Year by the Corporate Council on
Africa (Washington, DC) which organized my trip to Namibia.
Dr. Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun
It was refreshing to hear her tell about the central place God has in
her life. She gives Him the praise for all her successes. She takes time
for her family: her husband and three children. After my interview with
her, she took me to visit her mother and enjoy lunch and a performance
by blind or otherwise disabled visitors who came there to say thank you
for the family’s donations to their home. Dr. Martha also has a
foundation with the stated goal of “nurturing the African girl child to
be a key architect of society.” She wants to give to others because God
has given to her.
Toward the end of my week in Namibia, I had the privilege of speaking
with Namibia’s President, Dr. Hage Geingob. I knew he was educated in
the U.S. and Britain. His doctoral thesis at the University of Leeds in
Britain was titled, “State Formation in Namibia: Promoting Democracy and
Good Governance.” His preparation for office reminded me of the prophet
Daniel, who was educated by King Nebuchadnezzar for his service in
government but who also was determined to do what is right according to
President Geingob -
eNews Channel Africa
When President Geingob was elected, he went straight to his hometown
to worship at the church where he grew up. It would have been a better
public spectacle if he were to have attended a large church in the
capital city, but as he told me later, he considers that group his
family and wanted them to join in his thanksgiving to God.
I heard that he met with bishops the day before I spoke with him. He
encouraged them to do more to improve morality in the nation. I asked
him about the meeting. He told me he considers himself a lay preacher
and believes he should use his influence for good. Perhaps there is more
than one reason to compare him to Daniel.
Our conversation was followed by lunch with sixty to seventy people.
The President told me he was leaving immediately after lunch to go to
his farm and spend time with his family. He said he likes to drive
himself. (Typically heads of state are chauffeured wherever they go.) He
referenced his visit to George Bush’s ranch in Texas where the former
U.S. President drove himself around. He went there to thank President
Bush for PEPFAR (U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief),
created by Bush in 2003, which according to the USAID website is “the
largest and most diverse HIV and AIDS prevention, care and treatment
initiative in the world.” In April of 2017, President Bush and his wife,
Laura, returned the favor and visited President Geingob in Namibia.
President Geingob made a point of once again thanking President Bush on
behalf of the millions of Africans served by his initiative.
Presidents Bush and
Geingob - Africa World News
Namibia and the U.S. have more in common than Presidents who like to
drive themselves around. The strength of both countries is a result of
having roots in Christianity. We must do all in our power to spread the
good news of Jesus so other nations will be blessed.