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Tuesday, 2nd May 2017

On 26th April 2017 H.E Nimisha Madhvani Uganda's ambassador to France also accredited to Spain, Portugal, and permanent delegate to UNESCO, OECD and BIE hosted a lunch at UNESCO headquarters to bid her farewell to her colleagues and friends as she prepares to take her new appointment as Uganda's ambassador to UAE. 

The farewell turned out to be one of the best well attended farewells by the top echelons of UNESCO, and what you would term the "a creme de la creme of UNESCO and who's who in France both in the diplomatic circles and corporate world. The list of those attending included her Excellency Irina Bokova, the Director General  UNESCO, President of the General Conference UNESCO Excellency Stanley Mutumba Simataa, The Chair of the UNESCO Executive Board H.E Ambassador Michael Worbs. 

There were also over 80 Ambassadors accredited as permanent delegates to UNESCO and other bilateral ambassadors to France, who included; USA, UK, Panama, Guatemala, Germany, China, India, Morocco, Spain, Russia, France, UAE, Japan, Nicaragua, to name but a few and many people from the government and private sector in France.

Amb Sophie Makame Former France's ambassador to Uganda and now France's Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region in Africa gave a speech commending strong bilateral relations between France and Uganda during Amb. Nimisha's tenure in Paris and her in Uganda.  

In this era where Economic and commercial diplomacy is the phrase and focus for Uganda, this farewell party turned out to be a major promotional event highlighting and promoting Uganda as a major cultural tourism, heritage, natural tourism and promoting and projecting Uganda as the ultimate investment destination. One could rightly say that the Uganda Mission correctly utilized and optimized the occasion and is what one could call value for money and seizing every available opportunity to promote Ugandan's image and the country as a preferred destination. Given that this Mission is not among those given the money for promoting economic and commercial diplomacy, the mission designed its clear work plan and with or without money they do their best to implement the Mission Charter. Ultimately, many guests during and after the lunch were heard saying they had not known Uganda had so much to offers in terms of her cultural tourism, heritage and overall tourism. The venue was ideal and Uganda did not miss the chance of screening all Tourism video clips on Uganda. With the master of ceremony Ambassador Kamahungye who kept encouraging the guests to entertain themselves as they socialized and dinned. From their speeches it becomes clear the Video clips created impacts on the guests.

Director General Mrs Irina Bokova, who has visited Uganda twice; before she became UNESCO director general and in 2010 when she was the Director General, noted both visits had created lasting memories of the country. she recalled very well her visit to Uganda, the Pearl of Africa's crown, in June 2010, where she said she was honoured to meet with President Museveni and discussed African languages in the context of the dictionary of African languages (Runyoro-Rutooro-English dictionary)," UNESCO eventually sponsored this dictionary.

She narrated her visit to the outstanding tombs of Buganda kings, at the Kasubi world heritage site, following fire that ravaged the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga tomb in 2010.

On this visit, she recalled a guide recognized her and said, 'you are here for the second time, you must be a good person'. she informed that she told him, 'I don't know but my visiting again will make me a better person'". Director General Bokova said that since then, UNESCO has been working on the reconstruction of the tombs, with the generous support of Japan. Apparently the Japanese permanent delegate to UNESCO was in front of the DG as she spoke and she nodded in approval. One could see growing and keen interest in Uganda from all the gusts. All became glued to the pictures on Uganda's touristic beauty as the pictures kept moving on the large white screen. The video's were complimented by the many pictures on cultural and heritage sites in Uganda such as Kasubi tombs, protected national parks etc.    There is no doubt in any body's mind and imagination the impact this created in people that were present representing the rest of the world. This promotional event no doubt might help to contribute in several people choosing to either visit or recommend their friends to visit or invest in Uganda.

The Director  General observed that UNESCO is committed to protecting and promoting Uganda's rich cultural and natural heritage, embodied in three sites inscribed on the world heritage list: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Rwenzori Mountains National Park, and Kasubi Tombs. She observed this is on top of six intangible heritages inscribed with UNESCO, for example Busoga Bigwala music

DG UNESCO, applauded Ambassador Madhvani for helping Uganda engage in taking forward Sustainable Development Goal 4, with the development of a national road map to support the implementation of the National Education Strategic Plan and noted this approach has made Uganda to benefit from many initiatives under UNESCO including  UNESCO China funds-in-trust project on teacher training including Uganda being chosen to be among the six (6) pilot countries to implement the 20 million euro grant project. She informed that last month, March 2017, the director of the UNESCO regional office for Eastern Africa in Nairobi met with  Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni, the First Lady and minister of Education and Sports, when they discussed UNESCO's action to harnessing teacher training, including through information and communication technologies,"

The DG UNESCO  said working together with people like Ambassador Madhvani , UNESCO is an example of Uganda  working to empower and nurture the energy and commitment of young women and men, to strengthen Ugandan society as a whole."

Amb Sophie Makame - Former France's ambassador to Uganda and now Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region in Africa  applauded the excellent bilateral relations existing between Uganda and France. She hailed Amb. Madhvani  for  being a hard working head of mission and an achiever. she said under her leadership, Uganda /France relations moved from good to excellent relations. she applauded  French Foreign Direct  investment  that today stands at over 12 billion Euros. she hoped the forthcoming MEDEF International trade and investment promotion would be an added impetus in these efforts.  The forth coming  Diplomatic  Garden Party  in July 14th 2017, is hoped by Uganda embassy if well  supported  by the  relevant ministries  responsible for Tourism  and the Private sector in Uganda will work towards promoting Uganda as an ultimate Tourism destination  for French citizens as well as those visiting  France. 

H.E Madhvani, while delivering her farewell speech thanked all for honoring Uganda and her personal invitation despite  their very heavy schedule more so that the top leadership had been presenting papers and continuing that afternoon. She assured all that  Uganda was committed to the implementation of  the charter and mandates  of UNESCO , education, science , heritage culture  gender equality , and priority Africa in all  aspects. she told that from available studies  like Havard Uganda is one of the  most ethnically diverse nation in the world. she informed that the current government restored   culture and kingdoms  and explained government was committed to restoration  and protection of  cultural and world heritage sites and thanked UNESCO for the  good  work done on  Kasubi tombs  as outlined by the DG UNESCO . She noted her experience had been enriched further on culture and heritage issues during her tenure of four years  and being on the executive  Board. she said during her four year tenure, she was able to host President Museveni twice. This is amidst the fact that President Museveni had not been to Paris for 15 years before 2013.

Amb. Nimisha said together with UNESCO and working with French film director Pascal Plisson, filmed the first ever positive French film in Uganda titled Le Grand Jour, depicting the culture, education and heritage of the young generation in Uganda, India, Cuba and Mongolia.

Madhvani also noted that the number of tourists has increased from the three countries she has been in charge due to Uganda's good image, unique beauty and peaceful environment. Spain alone has increased their tourists to Uganda to over 450 per annum from about 100 in 2012.

This is on top of embassy playing a major role in the oil pipeline negotiations that was recently approved and will see Total and CNOOC invest 8 million Euros in the project, the largest investment in Uganda so far. She said she now goes with a richer experience serving four years on the executive board of UNESCO as well as bilaterally with France, Spain and Portugal. she noted this experience will certainly enrich her further in her new assignment. She thanked her guests for coming to give her a warm send off.

Ambassador Madhvani could not however forget to express her disappointment with the UNESCO Heritage Committee that passed Decision 40 COM 7A .41 condemning Uganda oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the Albertine Graben region particularly Lake Edward Basin. she clarified that no environmental damage had taken place and more over clear environmental impact studies had been carried out. She wanted this corrected to enable Uganda explore and exploit her oil and gas resources for the development of Uganda and her people. The Director general was in agreement that the incoming head of Mission takes it as priority to discuss with the secretariat  and find a solution. 

Ambassador Nimisha continued, inviting all the guests and their friends to visit our ancestors the Gorillas in the Bwindi rain forests, the UNESCO protected Heritage site, the Murchison falls, the Kasubi Tombs, the source of River Nile and to enjoy the delicious Uganda tilapia from the Fresh water lake. She further conveyed that Uganda the Pearl of Africa is one of the top five safest countries in the world and that Visas can be issued on arrival. She also observed that there was increased numbers of tourist from France, Spain and Portugal during her tour of duty.

Overall this farewell turned out to be an event that the Mission turned out to promote Economic and commercial diplomacy as well as political and public diplomacy. The Mission will continue to miss Ambassador Nimisha's abilities of branding and promoting  Uganda, the Pearl of Africa as the safe tourist and investment designation but will continue to draw from her experiences of sharing of her knowledge which we are sure will be taken to the UAE for the continued process of nation building-Uganda.