NneNne Iwuji-Eme joins the league of women to shatter glass ceilings as she becomes the United Kingdom’s first black female ambassador in history.
In a reaction to the news on her appointment, Iwuje-Eme who is to take up the role of British high commissioner to Mozambique in July told The Guardian UK that she sees the promotion as “a privilege’ and “an honor” to serve.
“I look forward to forging even stronger connections between Britain and Mozambique, two close members of the Commonwealth family.”
The history making career diplomat hopes the promotion would encourage millennials to aspire for greater heights “regardless of race or background, to pursue their ambitions in the Foreign Office.”
While endorsing the emissary’s appointment, Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson said “as a continent with some of the world’s fastest growing economies, Africa is an important partner post-Brexit. NneNne has the vision, experience, and energy to take our relationship with Mozambique to the next level, and I congratulate her on her appointment.”
With the aim to step up efforts to change the overwhelmingly white male face of the diplomatic service, Johnson noted that “as the country heads in a new and exciting direction, it’s important that we have the brightest and the best batting for Britain.”
Women now head up 32% of missions, up 200% since 2008, while 13.4% of Foreign Office staff are from ethnic minorities.
In making “huge strides” in improving diversity, the Foreign Office has done some work to improve career prospects including tailored training and mentoring programmes that aims to highlight the diplomatic service as an attractive career prospect to those who wouldn’t otherwise consider it.
Things you should know about NneNne Iwuji-Eme
Born in Truro, Cornwall in England, NneNne Iwuji-Eme’s parents worked for the UN and from a very young age she had the opportunity to live in different countries.
Due to the nature of her parents work that gave room for the constant presence of international relations professionals in her childhood home, Iwuji-Eme was able “to see some of the people shaping policy from a young age.”
With a burning flame for history and politics, little Iwuji-Eme went to boarding school in Suffolk England before studying economics at University in Manchester. She speaks five languages including English, Igbo, Portuguese, Pidgin and French.
The black woman of Nigerian descent has spent 16 years in the British Foreign Office where she served in different capacities including economic adviser and chief press officer. Iwuji-Eme had previously worked as an economist in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and for Royal Dutch Shell.
“Wherever my son is, I’m at home,” Iwuji-Eme noted in an interview, where she revealed that she would be accompanied to Mozambique by her nine-year-old son who is already trilingual.
“He’s going to experience things you can’t learn in a textbook. I want him to lap it all up,” she said.
Speaking about her love for Shreddies and salted caramel Green and Blacks chocolate, she noted that nothing would make her forget to store up her lovelies before heading to Mozambique, as she affirmed “I’ve got to have some in my cupboard.”
Prior to her appointment as the British high commissioner to Mozambique, she was posted to Brazil as first secretary and acting prosperity consul. Having spent the last four years in Brazil where she was to shape policy, the cereal lover was learning the Afro-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira.
While speaking on her experience in the African country with BBC, She said, “I love it. When I went to Brazil, that was on my bucket list to do. It was amazing to be in the land of Capoeira doing it.”
Though it will be the British Nigerian’s first time in the African country-Mozambique, that is set to become her home, she looks forward to going to the country that has always been a fascination to her.
“It’s a really exciting time to be going out there,” Iwuji Eme said.
She is to resume the office occupied by Joanna Kuenssberg by July in order to strengthen ties between the United Kingdom and Mozambique.