29 Sep Bermuda Parliamentary Delegation Welcomed to Uganda
Ugandans currently working in Bermuda, those who have previously worked in Bermuda as well as the African Community in Bermuda got round to lay out a traditional welcome to Bermuda’s delegation to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Associations annual conference which was held in Uganda this year. This was a token in appreciation to the people of Bermuda for the welcome, hospitality over the years of association between the peoples of the two countries and to further strengthen that relationship. Judging from how well the African and Ugandan community has been received by Bermuda, it was a customary obligation in the spirit of friendship and community, to extend a gesture of a traditional welcome to the Bermudian delegation visiting the East African country.
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference is one of the largest gatherings of Commonwealth Parliamentarians and is a unique and valuable opportunity to network with legislators for shared-learning and to build diplomatic relations. The theme of this year’s conference was Adaption, engagement and evolution of parliaments in a rapidly changing Commonwealth. The Parliament of Bermuda was represented by the Speaker, The Hon. Dennis Lister, The Hon. Patricia Gordon Pamplin and The Hon. Hubert Swan.
The highlight of the activities set out for the Bermuda party within their very busy schedule was a dinner hosted by Ugandans and Africans who previously had or currently have associations with Bermuda as well as their families based in Uganda. Having an appreciation of how long and tiring the over 19hour travel to their beautiful country, they thought it fitting to host an informal relaxing dinner for the Bermuda delegation on the eve of the official commonwealth program. The dinner was held at Skyz Hotel in Kampala atop the Naguru Hill overlooking the skyline of Kampala.
The evening started with introductory remarks from the hosts who explained their connections to Bermuda and narrated some of their impressions as well as experiences of Bermuda during the time working here or when they visited as tourists. Some of the very engaging moments were when Ugandans who had worked in Bermuda recalled their own journeys and how they ended up on the “lovely rock of the Atlantic”. They talked about the cultural-variations they experienced as well as the serious corporate experience and orderly lifestyle that they experienced on the beautiful Island of Bermuda. Almost every experience was met with laughter and it became clear that the experiences were quite similar and all positive.
There was the submission that having returned to Uganda, it was the icing on the cake for some of the hosts to share their experiences of “reintegration” into Ugandan society pointing out the lessons they chose to “copy and paste” back home; and hoping for moments of when they’d be able to implement bigger plans and ideas which were inspired by Bermuda and its people. There was also an expression of disappointment in looking at the variations in the political history of the two countries; indicating that Uganda had something to learn from Bermuda from the structures of governance to free and fair elections and seamless leadership transitions.
On behalf of the Bermuda delegation, The Hon. Speaker expressed thanks for the reception and commented on the enviable warmth of the Uganda people who are acclaimed as one of the most hospitable in the world. He also touched on some of his own experiences in politics and gave his perspectives or how things could be improved or looked at when it came to politics and offering service to the people of the two nations.
The deliberations took a lighter turn when dinner was served. The mealtime no doubt continued to offer more opportunity for interaction to underscore the importance of the welcome dinner that night: togetherness and cementing of cordial relations between the two nations. It was with this backdrop and in an aura of enthusiasm that a Ugandan poet delivered a lovely poem on what leadership meant and what our roles in society meant for our destinies. Her piece was classic, and a standing ovation was resoundingly extended. As tradition demands, the hosts then made presentations of symbolic personal Ugandan gifts to the Bermuda delegation. The meanings and significance of the gifts were explained to the guests and they were very well received and appreciated.
The Hon. Hubert Swan had an opportunity to thank the hosts for a wonderful welcome and shared with utter joy, his experience of a church service he had been a part of that took his soul to great spiritual heights. He hoped that this was going to be a good start for the relationship between Bermuda and Uganda and by extension, the African continent.
The night ended with the hosts wishing the Bermuda delegation an enjoyable stay and productive deliberations at the conference. They extended an invitation for them to visit Uganda again and experience all it has to offer – its diverse people and culture, the wildlife experience, wide mountain trekking experiences, the source of the River Nile, and broad scenic views. It was a memorable, relaxing evening for all, the Bermuda spirit was alive and well and visible in Uganda!