The award was bestowed to Pohamba for bolstering governance, media freedom and human rights in the southern African country of Malawi. Pohamba, who is now 79 years of age, is one of the founders of Namibia’s ruling party, South West Africa People’s Organisation (Swapo).
Swapo was involved in a bitter struggle for liberation with the colonial power of apartheid South Africa.
He was incarcerated with other political prisoners during South Africa’s bloody and colonial rule over Namibia.
According to The Guardian newspaper, Pohamba was lashed in public for advocating for an independent Namibia during the struggle days.
Pohamba’s win is the first time the prize has been awarded since 2011, when it was bestowed to Cape Verde’s former president Pedro Verona Pires.
The prize is said to be the world’s most valuable individual prize, with the winner pocketing $5 million over a decade and $200.000 a year for life.
“President Pohamba’s focus in forging national cohesion and reconciliation at a key stage of Namibia’s consolidation of democracy and social and economic development impressed the prize committee,” The Guardian quoted Salim Ahmed Salim, as having said.
Salim is the former prime minister of Tanzania and chairman of the prize committee, which announced the winner at a ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya.
Pohamba was elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2009. He is the first acting president to win the prize, but he has said he will hand power over to Prime Minister Hage Geingob, who won November’s presidential election, later this month. “During the decade of Hifikepunye Pohamba’s presidency, Namibia’s reputation has been cemented as a well-governed, stable and inclusive democracy with strong media freedom and respect for human rights,” Salim told The Guardian
culled from Venture Africa Magazine