Mr. President, Madame First Lady; Vice President and Mrs. Mbumba; Madame Pohamba; Distinguished leaders of Namibia’s government, businesses, and civil society: It’s my great honor to join you this afternoon. I’ve been overwhelmed by the warmth, kindness, and care that has welcomed me. It’s been such a special experience for me.
So, on behalf of President Joe Biden, Vice President Harris, the Second Gentleman, and the American people, thank you for your hospitality and friendship.
I’d also like to recognize our U.S. Ambassador, Randy Berry. My husband, Joe, selected him for his three decades of experience, steadiness, and lifelong commitment to advancing equality for all. We are both so proud of the work he’s done. And I know that he looks forward to getting to know all of you better.
This is my sixth trip to the continent of Africa, and my first as the First Lady of the United States. And I chose to visit Namibia after meeting your First Lady in December.
You know, sometimes you meet someone and just instantly know that you’ll be friends. That’s how I felt about you, Monica. The conversation and laughter came so easily. I could hear your passion when you talked about your work—and I’m excited to learn more about the One Economy Foundation. And I was inspired by the love you have for your people and the values that we share: liberty, democracy, building a better world for the next generation. So I was glad to accept the invitation, and it’s my honor to be with all of you today.
Mr. President, as we discussed yesterday, you’ve spent your life fighting for liberty, democracy, and peace. As a fellow teacher, you not only helped lead the movement for independence, but you also helped to educate the world about the justice of your cause. Today, you continue to lead Namibia forward—and though, as you said, your time in office is coming to a close, I can tell that your service to this country and this continent won’t end soon. You have so much more to teach and to give.
Connections—the relationships we are building—are what brings me here today. Because the people of your nation are your greatest strength.
The other evening, I was talking to Joe about this trip, and he spoke of his admiration for all that you have achieved here. How seeing your struggle against apartheid inspired him to speak out when he was Senator.
He understood then—as he does now—that our futures are intertwined.
We face many of the same challenges, from climate change, to economic inequality, to strengthening democracy.
Which is why the US-Africa Leaders Summit we held in Washington, DC in December was so important to him. It’s why I’m proud to be here, standing with a strong democracy—and as Monica said yesterday, a young democracy—working together.
As Joe said at the summit, African voices, African leadership, and African innovation all are critical to addressing the most pressing global challenges and realizing the vision we all share: a world that is free.
So we’re committed to making sure that African countries not only have a voice in organizations like the UN Security Council and G20, but that those voices are valued as equal partners, working side by side to advance our shared priorities like empowering women and youth, strengthening global health, and building economic prosperity.
I’ve already seen how you are leading here in Namibia. Like gender equality. Mr. President—you and your government, which is full of strong women—are setting an example for the world.
You’ve slowed the spread of HIV, making breakthroughs and supporting communities, so that the disease is no longer a death sentence. Through PEPFAR, we’ve been a proud partner with you in that progress for almost twenty years.
And you’re pushing the world forward on hydrogen and green energy, showing us all what’s possible.
As our world grows smaller, our connections matter more. Hunger and violence. Poverty and natural disasters. They aren’t contained by borders.
None of us can heal the world’s wounds alone.
But when we join as partners, we see that liberty and wisdom—hope and compassion—they can cross borders too. We can work against injustice together. We can be the arms of welcome, the hands of kindness. We can stand shoulder to shoulder, and lift each other if we fall.
Yesterday, Monica and I visited Heroes’ Acre to lay a wreath in honor of all that was sacrificed for Namibia’s independence. Standing before that breathtaking monument, I felt the dire cost of freedom—as well as the good that can grow from it. I felt the legacy of valor and hope that lives on here in the “land of the brave.”
As you know, the heroes of your revolution are buried there, and I’d like to end with the thoughts of one of them. I know his wife is with us, today. Mrs. Ya Toivo, thank you for being here and for continuing to keep his memory alive. On his 90th birthday, he published a letter to the Namibian people, sharing his vision for the future.
He wrote, “I am confident that the succeeding generations will have the courage to dedicate themselves to the next phase of our struggle. We must hold hands with our brothers and sisters not only in Namibia, but across the globe, to reach this goal.”
The spirit that inspired him—to fight, to hope, to build this country—lives on. It flows into each subsequent generation—each young man who puts his shoulders back and stands a little taller. Each young woman who finds the courage to run for office.
I can feel it here, reaching through all of you as well, a light that shines on our shared path forward—through the darkness of distance and divides—illuminating a brighter world for us all.