I stumbled out of bed early on Saturday morning to head over to the annual pan-African conference of the African Society of Georgetown, a 2 day event with a heavy flavor of local DC representation. I didn’t make the Friday evenings events, but they seem to have had more of a distinct Georgetown flavor with faculty and students moderating several breakout discussion sessions.
The keynote speaker was Mathilde Mukantabana, Rwanda’s Ambassador to the US, I’ll aim to have a separate post on her remarks up Monday.
I arrived a bit late, in the middle of remarks by a board member of Books for Africa, Asratie Teferra, a native of Ethiopia, who is now with Verizon following a career with the United Nations. In the 1990s he had apparently intended to start a non-profit focusing on delivering books to Ethiopia until he learned that there was a preexisting organization with a continental focus (for once, a great example of folks not duplicating efforts in the international development sphere).
Teferra noted that Books for Africa, which only ships textbooks, is able to get a book to Africa for 40 cents, a cost lower than shipping a letter in the US. Each container shipped contains roughly 20,000 books. He concluded on a more political note and less a representative of books for Africa, speaking on the power of Education. He sounded a note of caution, stating, ‘if Africa is not treated fairly by the western powers….than we are going to have a problem.’
He was followed by Jackson M’vunganyi, a native of Rwanda who is a presenter on a Voice of America show. I gave my thoughts on him yesterday.
After lunch, we were addressed by Aisha Audu, who internet research tells me was the wife of the Governor of Kogi State, Nigeria, Abubakar Audu. Further research tells of their recent matrimonial discord in Maryland.
Ms. Audu used a Prezi (a slide presentation) to argue that terror organizations, such as Boko Haram, arise when the state does not provide common social services. She suggested that Boko Haram’s position on western education would only serve to further hinder the development of the areas where they operate.
She was followed by the second of three straight Nigerian speakers, Ify Nwabukwu, Director of the Silver Spring based African Women’s Cancer Awareness Association. She was spectacularly awesome and I’ll aim to publish a separate post focusing just on her remarks later in the week.
The last speaker was Ndu David Ifudu. Ifudu (the last Nigerian) is the Vice President of Africa Action, a NGO with headquarters in NE DC which seems to support local African immigrants as well as development work in Africa (primarily in Nigerian and Sierra Leone).
Kudos to ASG for a great event, well worth getting me out of bed early on a Saturday morning. The group picture at the end of all attendees and speakers was a particularly nice touch.