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Thursday 24 Aug 2017 | 19:09 | SYDNEY
Thursday 24 Aug 2017 | 19:09 | SYDNEY

Quentin Bryce in Africa

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2 April 2009 13:33

At the Global Fund meeting in Caceres, Spain, I spoke to the Global Fund's Deputy Chair, Elizabeth Mataka from Zambia. Elizabeth is one of Africa's foremost leaders in the fight against AIDS and is the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy on AIDS in Africa. Elizabeth has devoted her life to saving and improving the lives of women and girls affected by the pandemic.

She told me how delighted she had been to host our Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, on her recent visit to Lusaka, the Zambian capital. Elizabeth had taken Ms Bryce to visit a support centre for women  and girls in the poorest section of Lusaka; and then to a school for children orphaned by the pandemic.

'It was a foul day, pouring with rain, mud everywhere and the streets almost impassable,' she said.  'I expected her to cancel the visit but was astonished that she and her party were eager to go ahead with it.'

Elizabeth told me that the Governor-General had impressed the children and staff with her warmth and generosity, and that she had stayed at both facilities far longer than planned. 'The day was a great success, and her visit was very well reported in the Zambian media.'

How good it is that our Governor-General got to see real life as it is lived by so many people in Africa, for better and for worse. The crankily pompous conservative commentators who criticised the Governor-General's African visit would learn a lot if they spoke to Elizabeth Mataka. But why let any facts spoil a good rant?

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