I’m here today because you are the keepers of democracy.
As the first generation to be born into a free Namibia, the legacy that your parents and grandparents created is now yours—yours to defend and protect. Yours to grow. And as we look forward, we must remember that the fight for democracy has no end.
As time passes and challenges arise, it’s easy to quietly slip into the waking-sleep of cynicism and apathy. It’s so much harder to bring millions of people together and find consensus.
And so, we must build on the foundation of democracy by lifting up those voices that have gone unheard, particularly women and girls, people living on the margins of society, or those vulnerable to abuse.
By exercising our right to disagree and dissent, speaking up when we see injustice, and supporting leaders who listen to our concerns. And, becoming those leaders when we hear the call.
In the United States, we are still defending and strengthening our democracy, almost 250 years after our founding. And I’m so proud of Americans—and especially young people—for continuing to use their voice and fight for a better future for us all.
It’s not easy. Democracy isn’t easy. It takes work.
But it’s worth it. Because democracy delivers.
Each generation inherits the world in their time. We often tell young people that you’re the future. And it’s true.
But sometimes, that message can sound like: “Wait.” Wait for some far-off finish line that makes you wiser or more powerful. Wait for your communities to listen to what you have to say. Wait, while others build the future for you.
I know, however, that there are things you want to change now. There are problems that you can solve now. And you have gifts to offer the world now.
Yesterday, I met Moses. At age 17, he’s full of confidence, insight, and charm. He spoke about his generation—your generation—and he summed it up with one word: potential. That is what he sees around him—diversity, drive, creativity, passion—things that can transform and bring new life, if only we can put them to work.
He said, “Potential is energy. It’s your choice to decide what to do with it.”
So let me ask you, what are you going to do with it?
The other evening, I was talking to my husband Joe about this trip, and he spoke of his admiration for all that you’ve achieved here—going back to your struggle against apartheid. As a young United States Senator, it inspired him to speak out forcefully, urging his country to do more.
He understood then—as he does now—that our futures are intertwined.
This past December, at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, President Biden announced a new approach—a much-needed shift. 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.
The United States is 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.
Yet diplomacy isn’t just government-to-government work. It’s people to people—heart to heart.
I’ve traveled to the continent six times—but this is my first trip as First Lady of the United States. I chose to come to Namibia because I was inspired by the way your First Lady talked about your country when we met in December. She told me about you, the people of Namibia. We spoke about all of the values that we share: liberty, democracy, and equality. And the work we might do together.
So, I was pleased to accept your first lady’s invitation to visit, and I will cherish the memories I’ve made here. Thank you to Chancellor Naomab and all who have welcomed me. You’ve shared the things that matter to you. What inspires you, what change you want to see. Thank you for your music, your poetry, your stories—like yours, Martha.
You—the young people of Namibia—are not only our future but our present.
And as our world grows smaller, the connections between us matter more. When people here are able to thrive, that success ripples beyond your borders.
Just look at the progress that has been made here for gender equality, clean energy, and slowing the spread of HIV. Namibia is setting an example for the world.
Yes, you are the keepers of democracy.
And when you speak up, when you decide to shape your nation into the place that you know it can be, you inspire others to do the same.
You show the world that change can happen—that young people can make it happen. You can inspire them to fight for the future that they need too.
We’re listening. Your President and First Lady, your country, and my country too. Because you matter to the United States.
The future is not a far-away finish line. We are building it every day. Raise your voice. Hold on to your dreams. And let’s create the world that you want and need.
May God bless the people of Namibia and the United States.