Last week, the Malawi Washington Association (MWA), held the three-round celebrations festivities marking Malawi’s 53rd Independence Anniversary. Maravi Post Senior Editor Janet Karim was in attendance. She had the rare opportunity of speaking with Malawi’s envoy to the United States of America, Ambassador Edward Sawerengera. The following is the Exclusive Interview Karim had with Ambassador Sawerengera:
1. Maravi Post: How have you settled down to your new posting here in Washington D.C., the Capital of the USA?
Ambassador Sawerengera: I am pleased to say that I have settled down very well as a new Ambassador for the Republic of Malawi to the United States (US).
2. Maravi Post: What are some of the priorities you have set in your post? What, if any, projects, and programs have you already participated in?
ANSWER: The following are some of the priorities I would want to see being achieved during my tour of duty here in the US:
i. Attract more investors from the US to go and invest in Malawi, promote trade for Malawian products in the US, and make Malawi an attractive tourist destination for most Americans. For Malawi to experience sustainable economic development, we need to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).
ii. Promote technical cooperation between Malawi and the US, especially in the areas of agriculture, education, science, and technology. My recent visit to the State of Nebraska, towards the end of May 2017, enabled me to meet with the President and Board members of North East Community College (NECC) in Norfolk, to discuss the possibility of partnership between NECC and the Public Universities, Conventional Technical Colleges, and Community Technical Colleges in Malawi. During the same trip, I was also privileged to meet and discuss with high level public officials of the State of Nebraska; Senator Jim Scheer, Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, Mr. Pete Rickets, Governor of Nebraska State, and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, to look for possible investment and trade opportunities.
iii. To see that the good and cordial friendship and cooperation that has existed between Malawi and the United States for a very longtime, is brought to new heights.
3. Maravi Post: Over the weekend, you attended one of the three events that the Malawi Washington Association (MWA) organized to mark the 53 years of Malawi’s Independent status from British colonial rule; how do you rate the preparations?
Ambassador Sawerengera: I attended one of the three events that the Malawi Washington Association (MWA) organized as part of the celebrations to mark 53 years of our Independence. On the evening of 1st July 2017, I attended the evening function which was a Fashion Show and Dinner Dance. What was exciting about this event is that the Malawian community in the US came together to have time to share their fond memories of Malawi and experiences in the United States. It was also time to relax and enjoying the night as a family. The climax of the evening came when talented Malawians in the US displayed their cultural heritage through their skills in design and production of diverse national apparels. Other nationals also attended the event; I remember chatting with people from Nigeria, Kenya, and the host country, United States, who were all very impressed with the event. I congratulate the organizers of this event for excellent planning and implementation of the program.
4. Maravi Post: Does the Embassy have any plans to have any other events?
Ambassador Sawerengera: Yes, the Embassy has several invents in the pipeline and the immediate one is the “Malawi Diaspora Conference” that will be held between 29th September and 1st October 2017 in Washington D.C. The Conference will be graced by the presence of His Excellency Arthur Peter Mutharika, the President of the Republic of Malawi, who is going to give the keynote address. Our plan is to have about than 200+ Malawian Diaspora from across the US. Planning of the event is in an advanced stage, and I am happy to report that so far, Malawian associations in Washington and Texas, are assisting the Embassy in the planning process of the conference. We are looking for sponsors for donations to cover for the cost of hiring the venue, food, and coordination.
5. Maravi Post: Are you planning to formally meet with the Malawi Washington Associations and other Malawi Associations within the US?
Ambassador Sawerengera: I am planning to meet the Malawians starting with those in Washington D.C. before the Diaspora Conference during the last weekend of July or first weekend of August 2017, at Malawi House in Potomac, Maryland.
6. Maravi Post: In what ways do you envisage working with the Malawi Diaspora and connecting them with Malawi?
Ambassador Sawerengera: It is necessary that I must ensure that there is good relationship between the Embassy and the Malawi Diaspora. I commend the work done by my predecessors for laying a solid foundation for a conducive and vibrant relationship with the Diaspora. My role therefore, will be to build upon the foundation, a platform for empowering Malawians in Diaspora to effectively make significant and effective contribution to the social economic development of Mother Malawi. The underlying goal behind this is to see that the Diaspora initiatives are being integrated into the development strategies of our country.