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How art birthed Uganda-Azerbaijan relationship

by Editorial Team
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By Hussein Kiganda

Situated at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, Azerbaijan forged a significant partnership with Uganda dating back to 1995, established through a diplomatic protocol. However, this relationship remained relatively dormant until 2014, when Azerbaijan extended an invitation to the renowned batik artist, Nuwa Wamala Nnyanzi, to represent Uganda at the fifth Maiden Tower International Art Festival in Baku.

Representing Uganda, Nnyanzi ensured he donned a Uganda Cranes jersey and skillfully crafted an exquisite Uganda kob, which he adorned with the colours of the Ugandan flag. This artwork conveyed the beauty of Uganda through the medium of art.

In an interview with New Vision, Nnyanzi expressed how his art piece was warmly received at the event. Notably, Leyla Aliyeva, the first daughter of Azerbaijan, took a keen interest in both the artist and his work.

“When I received the invitation, I made sure to wear a Uganda Cranes T-shirt prominently displaying my country’s name. Upon my arrival, it was immediately apparent that I hailed from Uganda, ” Nnyanzi recounted. 

Nnyanzi’s art piece displayed at the fifth Maiden Tower International Art Festival in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2014

He went on to elaborate on his creative process, stating, “I pondered over what to create for the festival, but ultimately conceived the idea of crafting something that would vividly showcase Uganda’s beauty to the world. I am thrilled that the first daughter appreciated my work and honoured me with a photograph.”

Nnyanzi passionately emphasised the transformative potential of art in fostering international relations.

He urged the Ugandan Government to explore the realm of soft power diplomacy, which leans heavily on culture, arts, and science.

The following year, 2015, the Uganda kob was prominently displayed at the Azerbaijani pavilion at the Expo Milano 2015  in Italy, a sign that the art piece had taken the hearts of many in the country.

Subsequently, the collaboration between the two nations burgeoned, paving the way for numerous diplomatic initiatives. In July 2023, a delegation specialising in investment and business affairs from the Republic of Azerbaijan paid a visit to the Uganda Investment Authority to acquire firsthand insights into investment prospects and business opportunities within Uganda.

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