Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Greetings to Friends and Colleagues

I bring very warm greetings from Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, to you in Rome, Italy.

In the three years during which I have been privileged to serve as Ambassador in six capitals and three UN agencies in Mediterranean Europe, the biggest lesson that I have learnt is that of the mutual longing for cooperation and understanding that exists between these capitals and Kampala. This cooperation and understanding is all for the shared noble cause of promoting human welfare and prosperity. 

I have since learnt that the Commonwealth Island State of Malta and Cyprus, to which I am High Commissioner, have long been sanctuaries for humanities over centuries. In the long run, the human fabric of these island nations is a rich mosaic of peoples and cultures. Uganda's contribution to this mosaic is recent, especially in Malta which played host to homeless Ugandan Asians; thrown out en masse by Idi Amin on the fickle accusation of exploiting Uganda her citizens.

In Rome, which has been my home for these past three years, I have time and again watched the Italian Coastguard plucking helpless African souls from the yawning gap of waters separating their Continent from Europe. Dead or alive, Italians take them ashore: burying the dead and providing sanctuary to the living.

I have felt the spirit of the mutual human search for prosperity in Ljubljana, capital of one of Europe's smallest nation states. Here, every May, for three days, Slovenia opens her doors to Africa; calling out for development cooperation, for trade, for investment and for business ventures that will mutually benefit Slovenia and Africa. I have had the privilege to hear first hand, this message of cooperation and development from the mouths of this country's leaders. None states this message more succinctly than the President of the Republic himself.

Athens like the other capitals under my watch is attracted to Ugandan tourism. But her enterprising Chambers of Commerce are, additionally, on the look-out for investment prospects in many areas including low-to medium-cost housing and in the pharmaceutical industry using Uganda's vast natural resource ingredients. The Chambers are also interested in pursuing trade in Uganda's coffees, horticultural crops and in tons and tons of simsim (sesame seed).

From Nicosia to Valletta through Genova to Venice, not to mention Athens and Rome, Mediterranean waters constantly massage the greatest example of human settlement and development; passed through aeons of history. The human warmth in all these capitals is reflective of the great mixing of peoples and cultures across centuries of human growth and development. Mediterranean Europe has been home to Africans, Asians, Arabs and Europeans. This is what makes the warmth of the Mediterranean. In it, I am constantly reminded that all of Africa's peoples are to be found in Uganda. And that is what makes Uganda the Pearl of Africa.

Grace Akello