The chairmen of welfare organisations representing Kenyans, Tanzanians and Ugandans living in Botswana signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Saturday to mark the formation of an umbrella forum.
The new body known as the Forum for the Associations of East African Communities in Botswana (FAEACB) incorporates the Kenya Friendship Association (KEFA), Association of Tanzanians in Botswana (ATB) and Association of Ugandans in Botswana (AUB). Maurice Nyamunga (Kenya), Bonaventure Mtei (Tanzania) and Sebastian Okello-Wengi (Uganda) signed the MoU at the Crystal Palace Hotel in Gaborone, accompanied by welfare officials from the three countries.
The forum is meant to promote the socio-economic interest and cultural heritage of East Africans living in Botswana. It intends to strengthen social support among the three East African communities in Botswana. The mission of the forum is to promote an environment of harmony, trust and friendship, by fostering solidarity and socio-economic and cultural cooperation among East Africans living in Botswana. The vision of FAEACB is to symbolise the patriotism, positive cultural image and quality life that is aspired by East African citizens living in Botswana.
Speaking at the signing ceremony Okello-Wengi said that the idea of forming the forum started in the 1990s but gained momentum from June 2004 after the Uganda association organised a fundraising dinner that brought the High Commissioners of Kenya and Uganda together. At the dinner, the chairman of the Tanzania association Salum Kabogota and the two envoys had informal discussions about the forum.
In August, Kabogota called the first meeting of the communities' leaders for further discussions. At the third meeting an ad hoc committee was chosen to drive the process. The committee has now completed its work with the signing of the MoU. Among others the MoU calls for strategic investments, promotion of the East African lingua franca Kiswahili in Botswana, joint socio-cultural activities, development and guidance of the region's youth. The forum will have a technical committee, a youth committee and a women committee and KEFA, ATB and AUB departments.
The technical committee will have two sub-committees, one for socio-cultural affairs and another for economic matters. The envoys of the three countries are scheduled to launch the FAEACB at a date to be decided.