Rwandan envoy lauds Imo culture and hospitality, calls for bilateral relations

The Ag. High Commissioner of the Rwandan High Commission, Abuja, Mr. Vianney Rubagumya visited the Hon. Commissioner for Culture & Creative Arts, Imo State, Mazi Uche Ohia, (Ph.D) on Friday, June 23, 2023. The Colourful Reception held in the conference hall of the ministry was graced by other government functionaries. Photo shows (L to R) Dr. Barthie Okorochukwu, (Hon. Commissioner for Health Insurance), Barr. Kezie  Ogaziechi (Hon. Commissioner for Power and Rural Electrification), the host, Mazi Uche Ohia (Ph.D), the Ag. High Commissioner, Barr. Jerry Egemba (Hon. Commissioner for Tourism) and Chief Eke Ikechukwu Henry (SA Culture & Tourism)

The Ag. High Commissioner of Rwanda, Mr. Vianney Rubagumya, has lauded the fascinating culture of Imo State and the remarkable hospitality of Imo people.

 The Rwandan envoy was speaking over the weekend at Owerri during a courtesy visit to the Hon. Commissioner for Culture and Creative Arts, Mazi Uche Ohia. 

He thanked the commissioner for the colourful reception accorded him and expressed the hope that the high commission and the ministry would find common grounds for bilateral relations through the peer to peer platforms, financial management, e-governance and cultural exchanges.

 He said that Rwanda, known as the country of a thousand hills, was mainstreaming tourism development and branding itself as a conference tourism, eco tourism, and heritage tourism destination as well as an investment friendly location. 

Rubagumya explained that he was in Imo State for further discussions with an Imo investor who is partnering with the government of Rwanda in the provision of affordable housing. 

He noted that a common assumption people meeting him for the first time in Abuja usually make is that he must be an Igbo man. 

He said he does not mind the assumption having found that Igbo people are industrious, enterprising and very hospitable.

 He said that Rwanda went through a very dark period in 1994 when genocide resulted in the death of over one million people but Rwandans put the tragedy behind them and steady economic growth had become the hallmark of development of the country. 

The Rwandan envoy attributed the steady progress to leadership and particularly to the development strategy of the Rwandan president anchored on the three pillars of Accountability, Transparency and Thinking Big. 

Welcoming the envoy to Imo State, the Commissioner for Culture and Creative Arts, Mazi Ohia, said that it was a privilege to receive him. 

He said that Imo State shared many things in common with Rwanda. He listed the areas of similarity as resilience, patriotism, enterprise, resourcefulness and a penchant for thinking out of the box.

 He revealed that the Governor of Imo State, Sen. Hope Uzodinma is committed to providing adequate security as well as quality infrastructural development so as to create the needed environment for rapid economic transformation of the state.

Mazi Uche Ohia used the opportunity to further inform the visiting envoy about the innovative initiatives of Imo State Governor, Sen. Hope Uzodimma. 

He described the Governor as a visionary leader who has taken governance to a high frequency despite the enormous challenges that bedevilled his administration from the outset such as COVID-19, massive jail break, orchestrated insecurity and the menace of unknown gunmen. 

He said that Gov. Uzodimma has delivered tangible and intangible dividends of democracy to Imolites by quality road infrastructure development and rural electrification projects, the skill-up programme, dredging projects, health insurance, digitalisation of governance processes and other great economic policies that have upscaled governance, youth development and public welfare. 

He assured the visiting envoy of his ministry’s readiness to partner with the Rwandan High Commission to synergize by harnessing cultural and tourism values and programmes.

Adding his voice, the Commissioner for Power and Rural Electrification, Barr. Kezie Ogaziechi commended the envoy for the kind sentiments he expressed about Imo State. 

He said that the speed with which Rwanda overcame the trauma and destruction of the genocide years to build an enviable infrastructure profile is worthy of emulation. 

He hoped that the peer review platform to which the envoy referred would be speedily activated for mutually beneficial interaction and exchanges between Imo State and Rwanda. 

The Commissioner for Tourism, Barr. Jerry Egemba expressed pleasure with the visit. 

He said that he was glad to be present to interface with the envoy on tourism and other areas of mutual interest.

 He noted that Imo State and Rwanda shared a common interest in wildlife conservation and ecotourism. 

He said that the gorrila reserves of Rwanda and the monkey colonies of Imo State were potential areas for collaboration in ecotourism. 

He remarked that culture and tourism were like inseparable twins and hoped that the visit would lead to concrete bilateral relations in culture and tourism.

Property development guru, Dr. Victor Onukwugha, the President/CEO of Bauhaus International Inc thanked Mazi Uche Ohia and other commissioners for the colourful reception accorded the Rwandan Ag. High Commissioner. 

He said that his company which has made substantial investments in the housing and education sectors in Imo State was extending its tentacles to Rwanda hence the visit.

 He said that he found the government and people of Rwanda friendly and hospitable and that as a patriotic son of Imo State, he foresaw mutually beneficial opportunities in bilateral relations between Imo State and Rwanda. 

Other prominent persons that attended the reception of the envoy included the Hon. Commissioner for Social Insurance, Dr. Barthie Okorochukwu, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Arts and Culture, Chief Eke Ikechukwu Henry (JP), the Ag. Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Barr. Lady Franca Otuokere, the Director of Imo State Council for Arts and Culture, Assumpta Akujuobi, the Director of Culture, Josephine Oguike, and heads of various departments in the Ministry as well as management staff of the Imo State Cultural Centre.

 Rubagumya was greatly enthused by the cultural narratives given by the Commissioner for Culture about the colanuts and its presentation, palmwine and traditional beverages as well as the Igbo Language, Igbo attire and Igbo traditional salute which he made sincere efforts to demonstrate to the delight of all present. Mazi Ohia assured the visiting envoy that the Imo State Museum which he expressed interest to visit was under rehabilitation and would be ready for viewing by his next visit. 

What was initially planned to be a brief courtesy visit turned out to be a mini ceremony of acculturation and a celebration of Igbo heritage.

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