8 June 2018

Namibia: I Don't Know How to Retire - Sirleaf

Photo: Nick Seebeh/Daily Observer
(File photo).

After 62 years of public service, of which 10 were spent as Liberia's president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said she could not retire as long as there are poor, downtrodden and uneducated people.

The 79-year-old Sirleaf said she still has more to offer, despite efforts by her family and friends to lure her into retirement.

She made the comments during her acceptance speech of the Order of the Most Ancient Welwitschia Mirabilis conferred on her by President Hage Geingob in Windhoek on Tuesday.

"The advice I received from my family and friends was that it was time to rest, and I now have the means to bring to an end almost 60 years of work and the many times they feared for my life," she said.

Sirleaf said their advice was premised on the fact that she recently received the 2017 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership from the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. The prize comes with US$5 million (about N$63,6 million).

The former leader said she does not know how to retire.

"For as long as there is another child who needs education, another woman who aspires to go to the office, another elderly person to provide medical support for, another family who needs shelter, I have yet to be followed by a second sister president."

She then heaped praise on Namibia for the progress it has made in promoting women in political leadership positions and active participation in decision-making.

At present, Namibia ranks 11th in the world for the number of women in parliament with 46%.

The former Liberian leader noted that ending all forms of inequality requires a nation's entire will and effort.

The former Nobel Prize laureate and Africa's first democratically elected woman president then lamented the loneliness she felt among male African heads of state during her time as president.

"Africa must do better. We need a second, third, fourth [female president] until equality is reached," she stated.

At the same occasion, Namibia was presented with the African Excellence Award on Gender 2017 by the 'Gender Is My Agenda Campaign' network.

Namdeb, LifeLine/ChildLine Namibia, the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, Women's Action for Development and the Republikein newspaper all received awards for women's representation in key positions.

- Nampa

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