Cape Town — “Watch how your political allies fight their enemies. Be careful of your allies, who use dirty tactics and de-campaign others. One day, when they disagree with you, they will use those same dirty tactics against you.” So said Monica Geingos, Namibia’s First Lady, speaking at the African Leadership Institute’s virtual conference for International Youth Day, which coincided with the launch of the Institute’s new report, Greater Inclusion of African Youth in Public Service and Governance.
Her comments on youth and power and the “10 quick lessons” she shared have now reached tens of thousands of people, thanks to an excerpt being shared on Twitter.
An accomplished entrepreneur, lawyer, and economist, Geingos’ career took a back seat when she married the then-President-elect of Namibia, Hage Geingob, in February 2015, shortly before he was sworn into office.
“When I married my husband I resigned all these roles and changed from being a participant to being an observer and as a First Lady people tend to assume you don’t know much and I’m okay with that, as I’m not always in the mood to talk and it gives me time to observe people and power,” she said.
Her proximity to power, however, has given her a unique insider’s understanding of how power and politics work.
“It’s always a lesson to see how power is used by those who have it and how people who don’t have it behave around it. It’s fascinating to watch,” she said.
This isn’t the first time a first lady has spoken about youth inclusion. However, what seems to distinguish Geingos from others is her conversational style, which has provoked a lively discussion on power, influence, and leadership.
Her message, which encourages more youth participation in governance issues, caused a stir on Twitter, with most users describing it as inspiring.
“Always inspiring to listen to the wisdom of @KalondoMonica thank you for honouring our invitation and bringing 10 critical takeaways for African youth during our Report launch,” tweeted Aya Chebbi, an award-winning Pan-African feminist and the first African Union Special Envoy on Youth and the youngest diplomat at the African Union Commission Chairperson’s Cabinet, who was also part of the virtual conference.
“We have first ladies with this kind of wisdom and intelligence in Africa! Ohh I have one good reason to smile today. She is also very confident and eloquent in speech. I hope those with ears have heard,” wrote The Watchman.
Geingos even got an invitation to Zimbabwe.
“That’s a smart woman. She surely is a good observer. I hope she gets a chance to come and “observe” Zimbabwe’s elections,” said @SunThe3rd.
Others were making comparisons with their own first ladies.
Despite all of this adulation that she’s getting, Geingos says she’s not interested in running for public office.
“The feedback to this clip has been stronger than I imagined. My pre-emptive response to the question I know will come is – no, I don’t have political ambition and I have no intention of ever standing, or accepting an appointment, for any public office.”