It is with mixed emotions and genuine respect for you and all of those who have dedicated their careers to a more secure, stable, and prosperous Africa, that I write to inform you that after almost 13 years at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, I am leaving my position as Academic Dean on March 8, 2013. It has been a deep honor and privilege for me to work with all of you on our shared goal of enhancing security, development, and good governance in Africa.
I attended my first Africa Center programs (the Program Review Conference and the Senior Leadership Seminar) in 2000. I was immediately captivated by the mission of the organization which spoke to my heart and by the organization’s approach to engagement with Africa based on respect, trust and partnership.
As I look back on my time at the Africa Center, especially my tenure as Academic Dean for the last 11 years, I am very proud of and thankful for what we, the Africa Center, and you, its partners, have accomplished together. African governments, the African Union and its regional economic communities, civil society organizations, international organizations, academics, US ambassadors and embassies in Africa, as well as African ambassadors and embassies in the United States, United States Africa Command, European partners and the participants, speakers, facilitators, note-takers, translators and interpreters have all been key to our accomplishments and success.
Together, we have tackled head-on a variety of pressing as well as emerging security and governance challenges in Africa and, more importantly, we have worked together to find solutions to more effectively address those challenges.
Together, we have worked to strengthen cooperation, within and across countries in Africa and beyond, to tackle African and global security challenges.
Together, we have worked to build and strengthen mutually beneficial relations among African countries, and between Africa and the United States.
Together, we have built a network of security sector and governance professionals spanning the African continent and consisting of more than 6000 people who share the same vision for Africa, who share the same values, and who are dedicated and committed to enhancing security and governance on the continent.
Together, we share an unshakeable belief in Africa and in the bright prospects for its future.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Africa Center could not have succeeded without your very active embrace, engagement and participation. And so, I thank you for the support, guidance and encouragement you have provided not only to me but, most importantly, to this institution since it was founded in 1999. With your help and the help of all of our stakeholders, the Africa Center has become the pre-eminent Department of Defense institution for strategic security studies, research, and outreach in Africa. Together, we have built an institution that is widely respected for its vision of inclusiveness, dialogue, and partnership in addressing security challenges that affect the well-being of Africans, Americans, and the global community: Thank you.
Yet even with these successes I am sure you will agree with me that still much more remains to be done to address the security and governance challenges that persist and which continue to undermine the security of millions of ordinary Africans across the continent. The challenges facing the continent are immense, but, as has been demonstrated over and over again, not insurmountable. Addressing the issues of governance and nation-building, resource flight, corruption and resource underutilization, insecurity and instability requires dedication and commitment from all of us. Accordingly, the Africa Center and its community at large remains poised to help develop the strategic capacity and foster the long-term, collaborative relationships needed to address the many challenges that lay ahead. It is my sincere hope that you will continue to engage and partner with the Africa Center in this quest.
As I leave, I would also like to thank my colleagues, both past and present, at the Africa Center. As many of you have heard me say before, the success of any organization depends on its people – and the Africa Center has been incredibly fortunate in that regard. For while I have been the public face of the Africa Center for many years, the Africa Center’s dedicated staff has been the life-blood of the organization. During my time as Academic Dean, I have been inspired by their commitment to and passion for the Africa Center mission and to the values and principles underpinning the mission, and I have observed with pride this unique and talented team’s capacity to develop, plan, and execute the Center’s rigorous academic, outreach and research programs. And so, I offer my deepest gratitude and respect to my current and past friends and colleagues at the Africa Center.
I want also to thank all successive leaders of the Africa Center for affording me the opportunity to work as Academic Dean. I have had the best job in the US government for the past 11 years; a job that has allowed me to serve my country while at the same time bringing together Africa, the continent of my birth, and the United States, my adoptive country. Both have given me so much, and I could not have asked for a higher honor and privilege, nor a better job. I will be forever deeply grateful for this opportunity.
I thank you again for the confidence and trust placed in me, in the Africa Center and the United States as a partner. I will treasure forever the many relationships and friendships that we have developed over the years. Even as I leave the Africa Center, the issues that underpin its mission remain near and dear to my heart and I remain as captivated by and committed to the Africa Center’s mission today as I was back in 2000. I very much hope that we will have opportunities to work together in the future. In the meantime, I encourage you to continue to support the Africa Center and the ACSS Community as it works to strengthen the strategic capacity of African states to identify and resolve governance and security challenges in ways that respect democratic values, enhance civil-military cooperation and safeguard human rights. I urge all of us to be vigilant in safeguarding the gains that have been made while re-doubling our commitment and efforts in support of this mission that we all so strongly believe in. I urge all of us to continue to build on what has already been accomplished and to continue deepening and expanding the partnerships that have been established in support of enhanced security, development and good governance in Africa. Together we will continue make a positive difference!