Yesterday morning, Thursday June 10th, I had an honor of having a private meeting with the U.K.'s former Prime Minister Tony Blair, together with another bank CEO (Ben Kalpman), the central bank Governor (Mr. Kanimba) and Vice Governor (Ambassador Gatete, a former ambassador to the U.K.).
What...? Jeffrey Lee having a private meeting with a former head of state? Even a former head of state like the U.K.? Wow... I know... This unbelievable honor was made possible only because I was in Rwanda and serving the rural poor.
Tony Blair's Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) is to help African countries establish or improve their governance ultimately to help eradicate the chronic poverty, particularly in the rural areas. There are only few African countries that show tangible evidence of showing willingness to change or actually changing their governance. Rwanda is one of them. So Mr. Blair is a fan of Rwanda's President Paul Kagame and working hard to assist Rwanda. I was invited to the private meeting to discuss how he can help improve the agricultural finance from the governance perspective. It was the same as having a meeting with the President himself because they are very close friends.
Former PM Blair was very gentle, pleasant but of course very sharp. I did not sense any authoritativeness that you could feel from people of his status or the conceivable British pride (sorry). But, I experienced the security guards of big body with earphone in their ears wearing dark glasses standing all around. I also saw the presidential suite where he was staying.
The meeting was not long and cut short because of his next meeting, but the conversation was sincere and informative.
Originally he was supposed to visit one of our branches, to listen to our presentation and to talk to our clients. But the schedule has been changed at the last minute because he has been called into an urgent meeting at Gaza (I suppose he is playing a role in the conflict at Gaza) and had to cut his visit to Rwanda short. But he said he would come back to Rwanda in October and he would call another meeting.
Tony Blair is one of few former heads of significant states, who are actively involved in various activities in the global affairs. (www.tonyblairoffice.org) Jimmy Carter is another. These people are making a big difference because they carry heavy weight but less political implication. Thus, they are usually effective mediators and peace-makers.
Thank you, Lord, for Mr. Blair's active and effective involvement in the global affairs even after his political career, particularly helping the needy, and for the wonderful opportunity to meet him! - Jeffrey