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Nairobi -Kenya
5-9 February 2001


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NAIROBI, 6 February 2001 - Nigerian Nobel Prize laureate, Wole Soyinka, award-winning Japanese singer, Tokiko Kato and Emmy-award winning Malian blues guitarist, Ali Farka Toure will bring a new perspective to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council session/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF) on 8 and 9 February 2001.

Mr. Soyinka, the first person from sub-Saharan Africa to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and among the continent's greatest writers, will read excerpts from a poem written especially for the 1998 bomb blast victims of Kenya and Tanzania and the Governing Council session. This special reading will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, 8 February at the United Nations Headquarters Garden of Remembrance, which was established in 1999 to honour the memory of those who lost their lives on that fateful 8 August.

Following Soyinka's presentation, Ms. Kato, UNEP's Special Envoy for the Environment, will perform at the Plenary of the Ministerial Forum, which will be attended by the President of Kenya and some 100 Environment Ministers from around the world.

Ms. Kato's singing career spans more than 40 years. She has given concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York and is the recipient of numerous accolades, including the All Nippon Amateur Chanson Contest Award, the Japan Record Grand Prix for best new talent, Japan's Best Singing Artist Award, and the Chevalier Medal for Culture from the French Government.

That same evening, Mr. Soyinka, Ms. Kato and Mr. Farka Toure will take part in a special event, which will consider the environmental dimensions of a dialogue among civilizations, as a contribution to the United Nations International Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations.

Mr. Soyinka, one of Africa's most prolific writers and imaginative advocates of native culture and the humane social order it embodies, is well poised to address the issue of dialogue among the world's diverse cultures. His presentation will be made at the International Centre for Research in Agro Forestry (ICRAF) to the Ministers and Heads of delegations attending the meeting. Ms. Kato and Mr. Fakra Toure will perform individually and together during the same event.

On the evening of Friday, 9 February, immediately following the closing of the GC/GMEF, Fakra Toure, better known as the Bluesman of Africa, will perform his unique brand of African blues for the delegates, invited guests and United Nations Staff. Fakra Toure has toured the world with famous blues artists such as Ry Cooder and John Lee Hooker.

By inviting Soyinka, Kato and Fakra Toure to this first Governing Council of the new millennium, UNEP hopes to break through indifference and help raise awareness and spirits.

To complement the contributions of these international artists, an exhibit of the work of 15 Kenyan sculptors and painters has been put on display in the lobby of the United Nations Gigiri complex.

Note to journalists: The special reading by Soyinka at the Garden of Remembrance and the closing ceremony of the GC/GMEF are open to the media, however, the special event at ICRAF is a closed session.

For more information please contact: Tore J. Brevik, UNEP Spokesman/Director, Communications and Public Information, in Nairobi on tel: (254-2) 62 3292;

fax: (254-2) 62 3927; e-mail:


UNEP News Release 01/15