Prof Chinua Achebe
The Chinua Achebe Foundation is pleased to announce that on December 10, 2013, at Bard College, President John Dramani Mahama of the Republic of Ghana will deliver the first Chinua Achebe Leadership Forum Lecture. The Chinua Achebe Leadership Forum is being organized as a high profile international platform to discuss Africa’s challenges in keeping with Professor Chinua Achebe’s life’s work. The theme for the gathering this year is Africa’s Future: Hopes and impediments – inspired by Professor Achebe’s work. President John Dramani Mahama’s lecture is entitled: “Women in Africa: How the Other Half Lives.”
Immediately after the lecture there will be a round table discussion with the President, Honourable Nana Oye Lithur, who is the Republic of Ghana’s Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection; and three other panelists including the moderator. Title/Subject of the round table discussion is “The Role of Women in the Development and Democratization of Africa.”
We would be honored if you could attend this important event that will tackle clearly one of the great challenges facing the African continent.
President Mahama’s lecture is sponsored by Bard College President’s Office, Bard College Center for International Affairs and Civic Engagement, the Achebe Center at Bard and the Chinua Achebe Foundation
The Achebe Leadership Forum Organizing Committee
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Bard College in the next couple of days will send out information about the
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About Chinua Achebe and the Chinua Achebe Foundation
“One of the great literary voices of all time, Professor Chinua Achebe was also a beloved God-fearing husband, father, uncle and grandfather, whose wisdom and courage are an inspiration to all who knew him.”[i]
Professor Chinua Achebe was born in eastern Nigeria on November 16, 1930, to Isaiah Okafor Achebe and Janet Achebe. His father Isaiah Okafor Achebe was a catechist for the Church Missionary Society and along with his wife travelled throughout Eastern Nigeria to spread the gospel. That Christian upbringing would not only later mold Professor Achebe’s thinking and worldview, but would profoundly inspire this writings.[ii]
After an early education in British styled public schools and university in colonial Nigeria, Professor Chinua Achebe became an author of over twenty books – poetry, novels, children’s books, essays, and political as well as literary criticism. He is probably best known internationally for the trio of novels globally recognized as “the African Trilogy” – “Things Fall Apart, No Longer at ease and Arrow of God.”
Of the trio, “Arrow of God” is considered his magnum opus, and his first novel “Things Fall Apart” – the most widely read book in modern African literature – which depicts the collision between British rule and traditional Igbo culture in his native southeast Nigeria; is considered a world literary masterpiece and is studied across the globe in high schools and colleges. In 2012 he published his memoirs There was a country – which earned him a spot on Foreign Policy magazine’s list of Top 100 Global thinkers of 2012[iii] for “forcing Africans to examine their demons.”[iv]
Professor Achebe is credited as the major 20th Century Literary voice to bring African culture and literature to the rest of the world. A statement from the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South quoted Nelson Mandela as referring to Professor Chinua Achebe as a writer “in whose company the prison walls fell down.” Professor Achebe established the Chinua Achebe Foundation in the early ‘90s. Chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the foundation has worked tirelessly to promote peace through the arts; showcase Africa complex cultural heritage to the world while recapturing lost components of African fine art, literature and languages.
Through his work as the editor of the African Writers Series, published by England’s Heinemann publishers, “the series served as a vehicle for whole generation of African writers, ensuring an international voice to literary masters including Ayi Kwei Armah, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Steve Biko, Ama Ata Aidoo, Nadine Gordimer, Nuruddin Farah, Buchi Emecheta and Okot p’Bitek.”[v]
For intermittent periods, Professor Achebe lived and worked as a professor in the United States, lecturing widely and teaching in universities in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York – at Bard College for over fifteen years – and most recently at Brown University in Rhode Island.
During his long and distinguished career, “Achebe was the recipient of over 40 honorary degrees from universities in England, Scotland, Canada, South Africa, Nigeria and the United States, including Brown Univesity, Dartmouth College and Harvard University. He has been awarded the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, an Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1982), a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2002), the Nigerian National Order of Merit (Nigeria’s highest honor for academic work), the St. Louis literary award, and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade amongst others. The Man Booker International Prize and The Medal of Honor of The National Arts Club both in 2007 and the 2010 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize are three of the more recent accolades Achebe received.”[vi]
Professor Achebe also earned a powerful reputation as a leading critic of graft and misrule in his native Nigeria and twice refused one of that nation’s highest honors Commander of the Federal Republic, in 2004 and 2011 in protest. In addition, Professor Achebe wrote extensively about racial and ethnic bigotry and leaves behind a reputation as one who lived as a formidable advocate for the “least amongst us” – the down trodden, powerless and voiceless everywhere.
About Bard College
Bard College, founded in 1860 as St. Stephen’s College, is a private liberal arts college in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. The College President is Leon Botstein, who is a world renown educator, American conductor and scholar. Bard’s rural main campus is located near the town of Red Hook in the Hudson valley of New York State.
Building on a 150-year history as a competitive and innovative undergraduate institution, Bard College’s mission has expanded across the country, around the world, and to meet broader student needs.
Now, more than 1,900 undergraduates study in Annandale and 600 graduate students study in Bard programs, plus nearly 1,000 students in our high schools and early colleges. Total enrollment for Bard College and its global affiliates is approximately 5,000 students. The undergraduate program at our main campus in the Hudson River Valley of upstate New York retains a reputation for scholarly excellence and civic engagement. Bard College is committed to enriching culture, public life, and democratic discourse by training tomorrow’s thought leaders.
Profile of H.E. President John Dramani Mahama of the Republic of Ghana
President John Dramani Mahama was born in Damongo, in the Damango-Daboya constituency of Ghana. His father Emmanuel Adama Mahama was the first Member of Parliament for the West Gonja Constituency and the first Regional Commissioner of the Northern Region (Ghana) during Ghana’s First Republic.President Mahama attended Achimota School, Primary Department, Ghana Secondary School, Tamale in the Northern Region for his Ordinary and Advance level GCE certificates and the University of Ghana, Legon, receiving a bachelor’s degree in history in 1981 and a postgraduate degree in communication studies in 1986. Following this, he travelled to the Institute of Social Sciences in Moscow, Soviet Union for further studies.
After completing his education, President Mahama returned to Ghana and, from 1991 to 1996, worked as the Information, Culture and Research Officer at the Embassy of Japan in Accra.
From there he moved to the non-governmental agency (NGO) PLAN International’s Ghana Country Office, where he worked as International Relations, Sponsorship Communications and Grants Manager.
As Member of Parliament
An eloquent champion of the underprivileged, President Mahama was first elected to the Parliament of Ghana in 1996 to represent the Bole/Bamboi Constituency for a four-year term. In April 1997, he was then appointed as Deputy Minister of Communications. He rose to become the substantive Minister of Communications by November 1998; it was a position he held until January 2001 when the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which was the current ruling party, handed over power to the newly-elected New Patriotic Party’s government.
In 2000, Mahama was re-elected for another four-year term as the Member of Parliament for the Bole/Bamboi Constituency. He was again re-elected in 2004 for a third term. From 2001 to 2004, President Mahama served as the Minority Parliamentary Spokesman for Communications. In 2002, he was appointed the Director of Communications for the NDC. That same year, he served as a member of the team of international observers selected to monitor Zimbabwe’s Parliamentary Elections.
During his tenure as Minister of Communications, President Mahama also served as the Chairman of the National Communications Authority, in which capacity he played a key role in stabilising Ghana’s telecommunications sector after it was deregulated in 1997. He also served as a member of the National Economic Management Team, a founding member of the Ghana AIDS Commission, a member of the implementation committee of the 2000 National Population Census and a deputy chairman of the Publicity Committee for the re-introduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT).
Continuing to expand his interest and involvement in international affairs, in 2003 President Mahama became a member of the Pan-African Parliament, serving as the Chairperson of the West African Caucus. In 2005 he was, additionally, appointed the Minority Spokesman for Foreign Affairs.
On 7 January 2009, President Mahama became the Vice-President of Ghana.
In line with Ghana’s constitution, President Mahama became President of Ghana on 24 July 2012 on the death of his predecessor, President Prof. John Atta Mills.
Personal life and interests
He is married to Mrs. Lordina Mahama, with whom he has seven children. He is a Christian. His family is multi-faith consisting of Christians and Muslims. He has a keen interest in environmental affairs, particularly the problem of plastic pollution in Africa, which he committed himself to addressing during his tenure as Vice President.
President Mahama’s first book, a memoir called My First Coup d’État and Other True Stories From the Lost Decades of Africa, was published by Bloomsbury on 3 July 2012. He recalls in its first chapter the day in 1966 when he learned of the ousting of Ghana’s founding president, Kwame Nkrumah, in a military coup: “When I look back on my life it’s clear to me that this moment marked the awakening of my consciousness. It changed my life and influenced a
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