National Ambassador Habib Koite
Musician Habib Koité inaugurated as first-ever UNICEF Mali Ambassador
BAMAKO, Mali, 13 October 2010 – As the remains of a dreary, water-logged afternoon drew to a close, a large crowd congregated at the National Museum of Mali for a decidedly sunny purpose: to celebrate musician Habib Koité and his inauguration as the first-ever National Ambassador for UNICEF in Mali.
The internationally renowned musician has achieved many distinctions, including knighthood in the Order of Arts and Letters of France and the National Order of Mali, and an Ambassadorship to the Festivals in the Desert and the Niger. But for a man so devoted to the advancement of children’s rights, the position of UNICEF Ambassador is a special one.
Commitment to children
“Habib Koité is distinguished by his undisputed commitment, his interest and his generosity in the promotion of children's rights, including the promotion of handwashing with soap as a simple gesture to save lives," said UNICEF Representative in Mali Marcel Rudasingwa during Mr. Koité’s inauguration.
Amidst a group of government officials, artists and other UN Ambassadors – as well as Mr. Koité’s extended family, friends and many fans – Mali’s Minister of the Promotion of Women, Child and Family Affairs, Maiga Sina Damba, praised the new UNICEF Ambassador dedication to protecting children.
Ms. Damba went on to invite Mr. Koité to collaborate with her department, and other stakeholders and partners, on the key issues surrounding the protection of children’s rights. These include: the development of a national policy and framework for cooperation on child protection, as well as the establishment of a child-protection database and an effort to end traditional practices that are harmful to the health of girls and women.
Joining the UNICEF family
UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa Dr. Gianfranco Rotigliano welcomed Mr. Koité to his new role.