- March 3, 2023
The Ambassador of Rwanda to the United States, Mathilde Mukantabana, made an official visit to Los Angeles to explore potential areas of partnership between Rwanda and the city.
Over the course of a three-day visit, spanning from Thursday to Saturday, February 26th, 2023, Ambassador Mathilde and Commercial Attaché Ms. Setti Solomon held discussions with esteemed leaders in Los Angeles to foster potential partnerships across a range of sectors, including law enforcement, education, creative industry, trade, and Investment.
Ambassador Mathilde held discussions with the leadership of the Los Angeles Leadership Academy invitation of the Commanding Officer of LAPD’s training division, Christopher Zine. They explored the possibility of establishing a training partnership between the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Rwanda Police through the LAPD Interna
tional program. Ambassador Mathilde also attended the graduation ceremony of newly inducted LAPD officers as the VIP guest of Assistant Chief Director of Special Operations- Mr. Al Labrada.
The partnership aims to share best practices, particularly in policing, during significant events such as the 2028 Olympic Games that will be held in Los Angeles.
Alongside her meeting with LAPD, Ambassador Mathilde met with Congressman Curren Price, a Council Member of LA’s District 9. The district boasts several significant landmarks, such as the Los Angeles Convention Center, Crypto.com Arena, and the LA LIVE complex. As the chair of the economic development and jobs committee, Price advocates for projects that transform the lives of his constituents, with a particular focus on including minority- and women-owned businesses. During her meetings, the Ambassador noted her “enthusiasm in possibly paving the way for trade missions and or cultural exchange programs between Rwanda and the City of Los Angeles in the near future.”
The Councilman pledged to involve the Rwandan diaspora in civic duties within his jurisdiction and expressed his desire to visit Rwanda soon.
The collaboration between Rwanda and Los Angeles could expand into an academic partnership. This is after Ambassador met with senior management of Charles R Drew University, including its president Dr. David Carlisle- President.
They delved into potential exchange programs with medical school professors or students during the summer. In addition, they examined the potential to secure funding for these new programs through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), with whom they maintain close ties. Another avenue they considered was seeking funding support from other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the United States.
The Charles R. Drew University (CDU) has been making strides in promoting diversity and addressing health disparities since its founding in 1966. The university was established after the Watts Uprising to create a world without health inequalities.
During the visit, the commercial attaché, Ms. Setti Solomon, engaged with various top entertainment industry managers in Los Angeles. Among these managers was Jeff Geoffrey, the Managing Partner and Executive Producer of Story Warrior Media Capital and Rob O’Neill, Senior Vice President – Programming & Promotion Strategy for Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land.
The conversation revolved around the potential of Rwanda to become a “production hub” for filmmakers. The discussion also touched on the various incentives that Rwanda could provide, such as tax breaks.
In addition to meeting with entertainment industry leaders, Ms. Setti also had discussions with Mr. Kenneth Wengrod, the Vice President of Global Trade and Foreign Investment. Together, they brainstormed ways the embassy could collaborate with the chamber to create a clear path for trade and investment between Los Angeles and Rwanda.
On Friday, February 26, 2023, Mathilde Mukantabana was invited to attend th
e Los Angeles African Diplomatic Corps Certificate of Recognition Ceremony. She was presented with a certificate of appreciation by the Los Angeles City Council.
The event was organized in honor of black history month by the Office of the Los Angeles City Council, with participation from representatives of African and Caribbean countries to discuss the importance of diplomatic relationships in local governance.
In her remarks, Ambassador Mathilde, the only African Ambassador attending the event, expressed gratitude for the enduring friendship between Rwanda and Los Angeles’ new mayor, Karen Bass. The Ambassador also highlighted the need to “continue the new momentum and find ways to enhance a relationship that is mutually beneficial to the U.S. and Africa”.
It’s worth noting that the city recently elected its first female mayor after 241 years.
Los Angeles is the largest city in California, with a population size of 12.5 Million people; the second most populous city in the United States after New York City, and one of the world’s most populous megacities.