Also present at the ceremony were Nigeria’s Ambassador to UNESCO, Mr Michael Omolewa, Mr David Hamadziripi, Ambassador of Zimbabwe to UNESCO and Chairperson of the Africa Group and the Ambassadors of several African Member States.
In expressing his gratitude to His Excellency President Umaru Musa Yar’Dua and his Government, as well as to Ambassador Omolewa and the Nigerian Permanent Delegation to UNESCO for their determined efforts to realize the Institute as a Category 2 Centre, Mr Matsuura spoke warmly of his participation in the “impressive inauguration ceremony” held during his official visit to Nigeria in January 2009 in the company of Minister Gada and former President Chief Olusegun.
Continuing, the Director-General recalled his discussions with President Umaru Musa Yar’Dua in which the President had underscored the importance his Government attached to the Institute and his determination that it should foster a network of similar institutions nationally, regionally and internationally to raise awareness about the importance of cultural diversity and its corollary intercultural dialogue. Mr Matsuura noted that “the presence of so many representatives of African countries at this ceremony attests to the significance of the Institute for the continent and represents a strong indication that such a network would be established.”
Speaking for the Government of Nigeria, Minister Gada thanked “UNESCO for granting Nigeria the right to host the first Category II Institute dedicated to culture in Africa….it has truly placed Nigeria as the home of cultural diversities and global understanding.” The Minister went on to reassure the Director-General of Nigeria’s commitment to continuing its fruitful cooperation with UNESCO in the service of the international community at large, adding that his country would do its utmost to uphold the aspirations and objectives underpinning the establishment of the International Institute.
For their part Ambassadors Omolewa and Hamadziripi expressed their great satisfaction for the creation of the Institute and characterized it as an achievement for Africa and a concrete example of what has emerged from the successful cooperation between Africa and UNESCO during Mr Matsuura’s mandate.
* The Decision to establish the Institute for African Culture and International Understanding in Abeokuta, Nigeria as a Category 2 Centre under the auspices of UNESCO was taken by the 180th session of the Executive Board. It is the first such centre in the field of culture to be established in sub-Saharan Africa.
Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 060-2009 - Publication Date: 09-04-2009