She has visited Uganda twice and has lasting memories of the country
The latest is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) director general, Irina Bokova.
“People ask me what I will do when I retire, now I know; I will retire in Uganda and participate in the development of the precious heritage sites,” she said.
“I know the other ambassadors will forgive me but Uganda is the Pearl of Africa. It is so gifted by nature.”
She was speaking as a guest of honour at a farewell luncheon of the Ugandan ambassador in France, Nimisha Jayant Madhvani, who is also the permanent delegate of Uganda to UNESCO.
The event organized at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France on Tuesday attracted several ambassadors from different countries from across the globe.
Bokova, who has visited Uganda twice; before she became UNESCO director general and in 2010 as the director general, has lasting memories of the country.
“I recall very well my visit to Uganda, the Pearl of Africa’s crown, in June 2010, where I was honoured to meet with President Museveni and to discuss African languages in the context of the dictionary of African languages (Runyoro-Rutooro-English dictionary),” she said.
“I recall my 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, a guide recognized me and said, ‘you are here for the second time, you must be a good person’. I told him, ‘I don’t know but my visiting again will make me a better person’”.
Bokova said that since then, UNESCO has been working on the reconstruction of the tombs, with the generous support of Japan.
She further noted 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.
This is on top of six intangible heritages inscribed with UNESCO, for example Busoga Bigwala music.
She applauded 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.
Uganda has been benefitting from the UNESCO-China funds-in-trust project on teacher training.
“I know, just last month, the director of the UNESCO regional office for Eastern Africa in Nairobi met with 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,” she said.
“Together, we are working to empower and nurture the energy and commitment of young women and men, to strengthen Ugandan society as a whole.”
Madhvani, whose mission in Paris is accredited to France, Spain, Portugal, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has been moved to United Arab Emirates and replaced by Richard Nduhura, the former minister of Health and currently the ambassador at the United Nations in New York.
During her four year tenure, Madhvani said that 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.
Also, UNESCO 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.
“I go with a richer experience serving four years on the executive board of UNESCO as well as bilaterally with France, Spain and Portugal,” Madhvani said.
“This experience will certainly enrich me further in my new assignment.”