For the first time, a Southern alumnus has ascended to the leadership of a country.
Nangolo Mbumba, ’71, has become Namibia’s fourth president, taking office on Sunday following the passing of President Hage Geingob. Mbumba is expected to serve out the rest of Geingob’s term, culminating in elections this November
“My aim was to be a school principal, which I achieved and now I have to thank the Namibian people for the honor they have bestowed on me to be their president, for a short period,” Mbumba, 82, told Reuters News Service, after being sworn into office. “I take on this heavy mantle cognisant of the weight of responsibility,” he said, adding, “I am not going to be around for the elections so don’t panic.”
Mbumba is a member of Namibia’s ruling party, South-West Africa’s Peoples Organization (SWAPO), with which he held the post of secretary general from 2012 to 2017. He served as Namibia’s second vice-president from 2018 to 2024 under President Geingob.
Mbumba pursued a biology degree at Southern. Following his graduation, he further advanced his studies, obtaining a master’s in biology from the University of Connecticut in 1973.
Following his academic pursuits, Mbumba embarked on a teaching career at Harlem Preparatory School in New York. He eventually returned to Africa, where he assumed the role of head of the Science Department at the Namibia Education Centre.
In the presidential succession, Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah was appointed as vice president, and is SWAPO’s chosen candidate for the presidential election. If she wins, she will be the country’s first female president since its independence from South Africa in 1990.
Before assuming the presidency, Mbumba held several leadership roles in Namibia, a mineral-rich country with abundant diamonds, uranium and also lithium needed for electric car batteries. His past roles have included serving as the Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Water and Rural Development, Minister of Finance, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Minister of Education, and Vice President of Namibia. Additionally, he has been the Chancellor of the University of Namibia.
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