The former President of Finland and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Martti Ahtisaari, was buried at the Hietaniemi Cemetery at the Lutheran Cathedral in Helsinki on Friday.

The Namibian delegation led by President Hage Geingob, First Lady Monica Geingos, Speaker of the National Assembly Prof. Peter Katjavivi, and Director-General of the National Planning Commission, Obeth Kandjoze, were among the mourners.

Others include the King of Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf, the President of Kosovo's Vjosa Osmani, the former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, and Jakaya Kikwete, the former President of Tanzania.

It was rainy weather in the Finnish capital, where more than 800 invited guests braved the cold temperatures to pay their last respects to the 10th President of Finland and an international civil servant.

National flags were flown at half mast, and the bells of the cathedral tolled for 45 minutes as other members of the public also joined from across the streets in hundreds to bid farewell to the mediator noted for his international peace work.

The President of Finland, Sauli Niinisto, says for the late Ahtisaari, peace was a verb, a matter of will; it meant full commitment to one's work but also challenging those who had the power to influence things.

''The work former President Ahtisaari did in Namibia, Indonesia, Kosovo, and many other places has left marks on the lives of numerous people.

His work has also inspired and continues to inspire new generations of Finnish diplomats. His example showed that hard work and strong convictions bear fruit.

It showed that in the world of diplomacy, even a small nation can have great achievements'', Niinisto said in a commemorative speech.

President Geingob, in his initial message of condolence, paid tribute to the late Ahtisaari, stating that not only are Namibians mourning, but they are also reaffirming the rich legacy of peace and the outstanding international public service of the former President with an indelible association with Namibia.

Ahtisaari served as UN Special Representative to Namibia in 1989 to, among others, oversee the country's first democratic elections and peaceful transition as head of UNTAG.

Dr. Geingob said Ahtisaari understood fully Namibia's quest for freedom and justice and served the Namibian people who were seeking self-determination and justice with flying colours.

Among the honours that Namibia bestowed on the late Finnish statesman is the honorary citizenship award.

Ahtisaari, aged 86, died on October 16th.

After having served as President of Finland from 1994 to 2000, he continued work at the Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation, a crisis-management initiative, before ultimately retiring from public life in 2021.


Blanche Goreses