An Irish man in Westminster (@African Business Group)
…which somehow ended 4 hours later than scheduled in St. Stephens Tavern, under the watchful eye of Big Ben
I arrived at the Palace of Westminster almost an hour before I was scheduled to be there. I generally don’t like rushing for meetings and I hate being late for appointments. I’ve been told on more than one occasion that being Irish I should have a (stereotypically) flexible relationship with time. Time is a fluid concept… Not when it comes to travel or work. I’m guessing I’ve inherited that from my father who’d rather sit at an airport for half a day rather than stress about having to rush to the gate.
I produced my invitation and passport to the police at the Cromwell’s Green entrance (the visitors entrance). The rather imposing (and heavily armed) police officer looked at my papers and paused for a split second. He stared me in the eyes and without flinching said “you’re not getting in here with that passport!” I barely had time to register what he had said before he burst out laughing. “Have a great day sir” and with that he stepped aside. Still beaming at his joke. Oh, how times have changed. I then wandered the hallowed halls of Westminster trying not to defy the Police who kept reminding me that “photography is not allowed”.
I was invited to the Palace of Westminster for a reception hosted by the Westminster African Business Group. I got to know one or two of the board members through my work with Africa House. Over the past year, Euro-Com International has been a partner in the Africa House (Africa for Growth) platform. The platform seeks to improve trade between the UK and Sub Saharan Africa. Africa House London is a social enterprise established to promote bilateral trade between the UK and Africa. It aims to add value to new and existing trade and business relationships. Euro-Com provides translation and localisation advice and services to members on the platform.
I was invited to the WABG reception as a guest of John Mulryan FCA. John is the secretary for the group as well as being director of Africa House London and a man I’ve had the pleasure of talking to on a number of occasion in recent times. With a background in finance, a deep connection with Africa and experience living and working in the Netherlands our most regular topic of conversation, is obviously, Manchester United. To say he is a fan would do him a disservice. He is definitely not part of the ‘prawn sandwich brigade’.
The Westminster Africa Business Group continues to bring together politicians and businesses in the interests of the UK and Africa – and has done since 1947. We include companies and individuals with interests in Africa , commercial, political or social. The group meets at the House of Commons at Westminster and is chaired by Laurence Robertson MP
Over the course of the evening I had the pleasure of meeting many people from various walks of life. From Lords and High Commissioners to travel writers and MP’s, the group was open, and varied. I had the opportunity to discuss the term of appointment and role of High Commissioner with Her Excellency Prof. Joyce Kakuramatsi Kikafunda from Uganda. Indeed a wide variety of topics were covered, from Brexit to football and from tax evasion to anti-corruption laws over the course a most enjoyable evening… even the importance of translation and localisation was duly appreciated, although the fact that I used to have a bar seemed as alien and exciting to some people as standing in the Palace of Westminster seemed to me. Somehow our 2 hour reception ended 4 hours later than scheduled in St. Stephen’s Tavern, under the watchful eye of Big Ben. I look forward to participating fully in the Westminster African Business Group, and to continuing the conversations started earlier this week.
(…and next time I get a tip on a horse from Paul Sanchez I will not forget it!)