Honorable Peya Mushelenga, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, officially representing the government of the Republic of Namibia;
Your Excellencies, members of the diplomatic corps;
Distinguished invited guests, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen:
Good evening and thank you all for joining us — the U.S. Embassy family — to celebrate the 239th anniversary of American independence. My wife, Mindy, and I are particularly pleased to have this opportunity to begin to return the warm welcome that has been shown to us since we arrived in Namibia eight months ago.
Before continuing, I’d like to give a shout-out to General Manager John Mcaree and the outstanding staff of the Hilton Windhoek for providing us such a wonderful venue this evening. Thank you, Hilton!
The eight months since Mindy and I arrived in Windhoek have been eventful ones in Namibia. We had the great honor and good fortune to be here in March to join the people of this country as you celebrated the 25th anniversary of Namibia’s independence. This weekend, Americans will celebrate our independence with parades, picnics and fireworks, in back yards, community halls and parks all across the United States. In joining us for our own celebration here this evening, you not only honor us with your presence: you also join us in honoring the values and the aspirations that Namibians and Americans share as partners and friends.
On Independence Day, we celebrate our history and we reaffirm our commitment to the fundamental rights we value most: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We also reaffirm our commitment to the self-evident truth that all people are created equal. As President Obama often reminds us: What binds our nation together is not the colors of our skin, the tenets of our faith, or the origins of our names. What binds us as Americans is the certainty that all people, everywhere, are created equal.
These commitments – these values – call us to action.
As Americans, we have a strong desire to share with others around the world the opportunities that our values and our democracy have offered to us. That desire is reflected in many of the U.S. government’s activities and programs abroad. Even in my relatively brief time here, I have found that this is a desire we share with Namibians. That’s why we are proud to stand with Namibia, united by a common desire for a better world, for greater economic opportunity, and for the chance to enjoy a peaceful and healthy life.
In Namibia, we support leaders – whether in government, civil society or the private sector – who are seeking Namibian solutions to Namibian challenges.
You saw this in action in the compact between Namibia and the United States through the U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation. Defined and led by Namibians, the compact aimed to alleviate poverty through economic growth by advancing education, agriculture and tourism. The compact represented the highest trust between partners, based on confidence in a nation’s willingness to make the right choices for its people. All of the projects under the compact were led by Namibians to a strong and uniquely successful conclusion in the past year.
American support for Namibian solutions is seen in our support for young people and women leading innovation.
Next week, the U.S. government will host Namibian entrepreneurs – many of them young women – at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya, and President Obama will attend to listen to what they have to say. This Summit – the sixth since President Obama launched it in 2009 – will connect entrepreneurs with prospective investors from across Africa and the world. We believe successful young Namibian entrepreneurs can propel Namibia forward by discovering new solutions and building the Namibian economy, just as American entrepreneurs have built America.
American support for Namibian solutions is leading to poverty alleviation through job creation.
Through groundbreaking projects made possible by the Millennium Challenge Corporation, USAID, and the Peace Corps, Namibians — from learners and handicraft artists to chefs, gamekeepers, and nurses – have greater access to education and training, can improve their skills at the new and renovated COSDECs, and can access the world through the Regional Study and Resource Centers. This means that Namibians now have more opportunity to improve their skills and contribute directly to growing Namibia’s economy. In my travels across the length and breadth of this vast country, I have already met many Namibians who have seized the opportunities opened up by this American support to alleviate poverty through getting or creating jobs.
American empowerment of Namibian solutions is perhaps nowhere clearer than in our support for Namibia’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
For more than a decade, Namibian and American healthcare providers have worked side-by-side across this country to contain the HIV epidemic, put infected Namibians on life-sustaining treatment, and prevent the transmission of the disease from pregnant mothers to their newborn children. Together we have made significant progress — so much progress, in fact, that we now can talk in realistic terms about achieving our shared goal of an AIDS-free generation in Namibia.
In the coming year, we want to build on our successes.
My Embassy team and I will explore opportunities for us to collaborate on power generation, particularly the opportunities presented by Power Africa, President Obama’s private sector-led initiative aimed at doubling electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa. We will build on our many years of cooperation in wildlife conservation by seeking to reinforce Namibia’s efforts to stem illegal poaching. We will also intensify our work with the Namibian government, civil society and private sector to accelerate our collective effort to control HIV/AIDS and ensure long, prosperous lives for Namibia’s most precious resource – its people.
My promise to you is that we will maintain our dialogue as equal partners working together in pursuit of our shared values.
In that spirit, I would like to propose a toast on behalf of the people of the United States of America and President Barack Obama: To the continued good health and success of His Excellency Dr. Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia, and the governments and people of our two great nations.