Following the time-honored tradition of claiming ownership of every Nigerian-born foreigner doing well in their professions, congratulations are in order to NneNne Iwuji-Eme, who will become the first black female diplomat in Britain when she begins her role as the British High Commissioner to Mozambique.
The appointment has been reported and welcomed as a deserving and earned elevation to a career that has spanned 16 years in the Foreign Office. It is therefore not surprising that Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary, hailed her as having the “vision, experience and energy” for the appointment” for the appointment. Ms Iwuji-Eme’s time in the British civil service has seen her occupy several roles from economic adviser for Africa to chief press officer to the Africa minister, her most recent posting being to Brazil as first secretary prosperity and acting prosperity consul. Prior to her diplomatic journey, she worked for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and for Royal Dutch Shell, the Guardian (UK) reports.
“I hope my appointment[…]will inspire young talent, regardless of race or background, to pursue their ambitions”@OfficialUoM graduate NneNne Iwuji-Eme (BA Econ 1994) appointed high commissioner, making her the first black female UK career diplomat. https://t.co/8i0xBOrxdf pic.twitter.com/zGMekZiMwy
— University of Manchester Alumni (@alumniUoM) March 27, 2018
She will be immediately comfortable in Mozambique as Portuguese is one of five languages in which she is fluent, in addition to French and English, according to the BBC. The other two are Igbo and pidgin.
Despite being born in Cornwall, a southwestern county in England, to parents who were international civil servants, she has retained the grains that connect her to a Nigerian identity she probably will never have need of. As far as careers go, she’s only going up.
But her identity appears to mean something to her; observe the spelling of her first name, with a conscious emphasis on capitalizing the first alphabet of the second “nne”, as against the more common spelling of the name as “Nnenne”. Being a name that reflects motherhood and expounds love for origin, it gives an idea of the value which she associates to her heritage.
It can be rather opportunistic and cringy to tag on to the success of Nigerians taking advantage of working systems abroad to express the positive impact they can have on the world. But when such persons make it clear they are one of our own, there is no reason not to make that oh-so Nigerian claim: “she is our sister”.
And most importantly, she is doing well.
By Alexander O. Onukwue | Featured image ource: British Foreign Office
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