Sorting by


Ambassador to DRC’s message for the 2023 King’s birthday party

Honorable Senators and Deputies,

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, members of the Government,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Distinguished Guests,

Fellow British citizens,


Good Evening, Mbote na Bino Banso,

You’ll be pleased to learn that I have only 400 things to say this evening. Oh, there’s a decimal point. I mean 4 things.

Firstly, is thank you. Thank you for being here, honouring me and us with your presence, on this very special occasion (the King’s Birthday Party).

We are here to celebrate the birthday of our new King, King Charles III. In the UK, we have not had a King for over seventy years. This is therefore the first King’s Birthday Party in an independent DRC!

Thank you to our friends who have generously sponsored this evening – Socimex, Rawbank, Vodacom, G4S, Diageo, Helios Towers, and Médecins de Nuit. This event would not have been so special without your support.

Thank you to the excellent musicians of the Kimbanguist Orchestra and our band Vox Disposa. Thank you to the wonderful team at the British Embassy, who have worked unceasingly to prepare every detail.

I do believe that if the King were to walk in this evening, he’d feel right at home! This must surely be the first time that Buckingham Palace has come to Gombe.

And thank you to all of you, and the many other Congolese and international partners, who have already made me feel so welcome in this wonderful country!

Secondly, is to recall why we gather tonight. In celebrating the birthday of our monarch, we also celebrate the many rich and diverse links between our two countries and our peoples.

These links go right to the top – indeed His Excellency President Tshisekedi was one of the very first heads of state received by His Majesty last year.

As you will know, His Majesty cares deeply for our natural environment, and this meeting reflected our shared interest in leadership on climate and conservation.

Our ties go far back in time, and far beyond our leaders. It is not as well-known as it should be that the Congolese diaspora in the UK is the third largest in Europe, after Belgium and France.

In London, last week, in addition to meeting your excellent Ambassador, I was gently challenged by a PhD student of Congolese heritage on decolonisation, and met senior Congolese involved in finance, entrepreneurship, education and community work.

Our ties extend the length and breadth of our two countries – from the Congo boys educated in Bangor, Wales, to the children of British missionaries raised speaking Lingala.

Just yesterday, Dr Deborah Kayembe, born here, was installed as rector in Edinburgh University in Scotland, the first African woman to be elected to this ancient post.

And when I tweeted about the delicious malangwa I enjoyed in London, the Congolese community in the northern city of Leeds reached out to invite me to join them.

In Goma, it is a Brit who serves as Anglican Bishop. And here in Kinshasa, I have been impressed by the talented members of the diaspora who are returning to support DRC, creating social enterprises, working in environmental projects – and working in our embassy.

I am absolutely convinced that the diaspora will be a growing force multiplier, bringing about positive impact.

Thirdly, is the serious part. While tonight is a happy occasion, as a friend of the DRC, I must recognise the serious security and humanitarian challenges faced here by so many people.

Currently record numbers of people are displaced from their homes, going to bed hungry, and living with the aftermath of unimaginable trauma, rape and violence.

The UK has for very many years now worked in partnership with Congolese and international partners to address these challenges.

I am proud of the support we continue to provide, including the new $26m humanitarian assistance programme we have just announced for the DRC.

We welcome the UN’s recent decision to scale-up its response. It is vital that both our countries do what we can to support its delivery, including granting humanitarian access.

We are working to improve the health of 1.6 million women, girls and children, and ending preventable deaths through basic maternal, child health, nutrition and family planning services.

For example, our support to IMA World Health helped a young family in Kasai-Central access family planning support and try the contraceptive implant which helped them space out their children’s births, improving both the mother’s health, and the family’s financial stability.

We are committed to supporting the sustainable economic development of the DRC. Everyday, I see the innovative, the determined and entrepreneurial spirit of the people of the DRC.

We speak to companies working in mining, finance, telecoms and even beer – to understand the challenges and opportunities!

And we are learning from our previous projects, Elan and Essor, to understand how the UK and our partners can provide the tools companies need, here in DRC, to grow.

As a committed partner, the UK is here for the DRC in the long term. True friends can have differences, but I am confident that our friendship is strong enough to weather any storms and grow through these challenges.

Fourthly and finally, ahead of DRC’s Independence Day next week, on behalf of His Majesty I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to His Excellency President Tshisekedi, and the people of the DRC.

I look forward to the continuing warm friendship and the strong partnership between our two countries, and to getting to know better this wonderful country, and its daughters and sons.

May I invite you to join me in raising a glass to His Majesty. “The King”.

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button