The ideas and thoughts expressed within this blog are not the views or opinions of WorldTeach nor the Namibia Ministry of Education, but rather my personal views.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Meeting Namibia's Premier - The Right Honourable Nahas Angula

Nahas Angula is one of the first names I learned when researching the foreign land of Namibia where I’d be living, partnering, and working for at least one year. Angula’s name popped up in my Google searches, and stood out because he is a fellow alumnus of Teachers College, Columbia University, having earned his M.A. and M.Ed there in 1979. He is the current Prime Minister and was the first Minister of Education of the newly independent Republic of Namibia.

From the time of my arrival in the country, I’d been dropping little hints about wanting to meet him. I mentioned it to various government and education ministry officials, with whom I work and with whom I know he works, but no one really paid attention to my hints and no action resulted. Then, after receiving my admission offer to an EdD program at Teachers College and learning that he is the keynote speaker at a Teachers College Distinguished Alumni event next month, I decided to just go out on a limb and try to reach him directly. It would be good, I thought, to introduce myself and get his support for and guidance on future fieldwork I may wish to conduct in Namibia.

I found the fax number to the Office of the Prime Minister in the yellow pages (those books are effective pre-internet relics, by the way), and then faxed a brief letter of introduction requesting to meet him during my trip to Windhoek on Friday, 19 March. I followed up with a phone call, during which the secretary reported to not have received my fax; so, I confirmed the number, sent it again, and then left it alone. About an hour later, my cell phone rang and an unidentified cell phone number appeared on my caller ID. “You sent a fax to my office, wanting to meet with me?” inquired the caller. It was the Right Honourable Nahas Angula, Prime Minister of Namibia, himself.

Luckily, I am always ready for “unknown” callers because of my partnership work; however, I was indeed surprised by his direct outreach and personal response to my request. We spoke for a few minutes and established that I would arrive at his office at 1:50pm the next day, after he swore-in the new Members of Parliament.

During our meeting, the Prime Minister was very relaxed and welcoming; although, I didn’t really stick to my script or get any of my prepared questions answered. I wanted him to help me expand my current list of books and policies to read and review; I wanted to hear his opinion on the ideal roles of foreign partners in Namibian education; I wanted to get his recommendations for people I should contact regarding my studies; and I wanted his advice on approaches to my research.

Instead, it was a loose, comfortable, and honest discussion that ended up focusing more on my current work and constructive dialogue about the challenges associated with my volunteer project - computer-based learning centres. He actually switched the direction of charge to me, by requesting my formal involvement on a computer-based learning project he has in mind for a foundation he began in the North. Of course, I accepted. Since our meeting, we have spoken via e-mail on his project and I plan to join an exploration team he pulls together in mid-May.

My meeting with the Premier, a title used interchangeably with Prime Minister, was a success, was memorable, and hopefully opened the door to ongoing dialogue. Nahas Angula’s role in this country’s liberation struggle and rebuilding, especially in regards to education, places him in an invaluable position in my quest for knowledge and understanding and support of our global struggle for equality and equity.

On my departure from his private office, I had another memorable encounter, with the just retired Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Libertine Amathila. She was patiently waiting for Mr. Angula to head to her farewell celebration in Parliament Gardens nearby. The photo included in this post includes the three of us, outside the building, before they whisked off in their motorcade.
The following is a link to information about Nahas Angula, from the Teachers' College Press Room.
The Prime Minister of Namibia is appointed by the President in terms of the provisions of Article 32 of the Constitution. Further, Article 36 of the Constitution stipulates that "The Prime Minister shall be the leader of Government business in Parliament, shall co-ordinate the work of the Cabinet and shall advise and assist the President in the execution of the functions of Government" and Article 34 stipulates that where it is regarded as necessary or expedient that a person deputize for the President because of a temporary absence from the country, the President appoints the Prime Minister to deputize for him.

In terms of the provisions of the Public Service Act of 1995, the Prime Minister is also responsible for the overall management of the public service.

By virtue of his responsibilities of advising and assisting the President, as the leader of Government business in Parliament, as the co-coordinator of the work of the Cabinet, and as the political authority responsible for the public service, the Prime Minister's task involves co-coordinating the work of the government at inter-ministerial and inter-governmental levels and for projecting the good image of the government.


  1. Imagine if you could access OTHER world leaders just by sending a fax? I'm not quite sure if that's a good thing or not...

  2. LOL. You may be right in questioning this method, B. On the other hand, before some of the nonsense of attacks and advanced weaponry, many of our leaders wanted to allow greater more personalized access to their consituents. Even Obama thought he was cool traveling economy class on planes...for a while.

    It may be a cool experiment, though, to try my luck with introductory faxes and meeting requests with Heads of State every time I visit a country. I think the results may be amusing, either that or just extremely humbling (when no one replies).