The presence of Cameroon’s First Lady, Chantal Biya could not be overlooked at the just- ended Francophone summit in Montreux, Switzerland. Not only was Mrs Chantal Biya significantly present next to President Paul Biya for the opening session marking the 13th Francophonie summit but she was happily seen amongst other First Ladies participating in other activities organised within the sidelines of the summit. At each point, Cameroon’s First Lady almost stole the unfolding of events as camera men, photographers as well as owners with mobile telephone with inbuilt cameras reached out to take snapshots of her. Chantal Biya’s presence in Montreux was certainly a forum to expand her links especially in the humanitarian sphere, a domain which is dear to her heart. There is certainly no doubt as to why after the opening ceremony of the 13th Francophone summit, Chantal Biya who is also UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassador for Education and Social Inclusion, was seen having an informal one-on-one talk with other delegates attending the summit.
The over-four-hour excursion Mrs Biya had over Lake Geneva, in the “Le Suisse”, boat alongside a host of other First Ladies such as that of Senegal, Gabon, Republic of Congo was not only another opportunities for her to discover new horizons in the Swiss land but also to be abreast with cultural landscapes inscribed on the World Heritage list of UNESCO. While passing through the vineyard terraces of Lavaux, the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Education and Social Inclusion came face-to-face with the wonders the hand of man can do. There is no doubt as to why UNESCO inscribed the site as a cultural landscape in 2007. According to UNESCO, the site is an exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition. An outstanding example of a landscape which illustrates significant stages in human history and of human interaction with its environment especially as the site has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change. Lavaux is referred to as the “hand of man” and a place of inspiration and haven for may artists, from William Turner to Oskar Kokoschka, passing by Ferdinand Hodler and Charlie Chaplin. Chantal Biya too has definitely gained inspiration in the humanitarian crusade she is spearheading in Africa and beyond.
Mrs Biya also had another interesting time at a wine factory at “Domain des Faverges” at Chexbres which is also part of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in the Lavaux Region. It was interesting for the First Ladies present at the site to directly witness the production of wine from the farm until when it is being put at sales points. Participating at a summit were leaders vowing amongst other things, to respect and promote human rights, Cameroon’s First lady was certainly at the right place to grasp more ways and knowledge on how to ensure that women and children are greatly protected as they are the most vulnerable with their rights usually violated.