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Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama to Deliver Inaugural Chinua Achebe Leadership Forum Lecture at Bard College on Monday, December 9

In the Wake of the Death of Nelson Mandela, the Achebe Leadership Forum Will Examine “Africa’s Future: Mandela, Achebe, and Empowerment in Africa”

Mark Primoff
President John Dramani Mahama of the Republic of Ghana  Image Credit: Photo courtesy of the Republic of Ghana
Click Here to Watch Video of the Forum

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—President John Dramani Mahama of the Republic of Ghana delivered the inaugural Chinua Achebe Leadership Forum Lecture on Monday, December 92013. The forum took place in the Sosnoff Theater at The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, beginning at 4:00 p.m. In light of the recent passing of Nelson "Madiba" Mandela, the forum explored "Africa's Future: Mandela, Achebe, and Empowerment in Africa." The Chinua Achebe Leadership Forum brings together international leaders and thinkers to discuss Africa’s challenges, in keeping with Professor Chinua Achebe’s life and work.

The Forum opened with a performance by the Ghanaian music group Sankofa. Attendees were then welcomed with a talk on the legacy of Chinua Achebe, who taught at Bard for nearly 20 years. Noted Ghanaian poet Abena Busia gave a reading, and Professor Christie Achebe spoke on “Professor Achebe's Life in Perspective: The Writer and the Quest for Exemplary Leadership and Good Governance in Africa.” President Mahama gave a lecture entitled “Women in Africa: How the Other Half Lives.” Following the lecture there was a discussion with President Mahama; the Honorable Nana Oye Lithur (the Republic of Ghana’s Minister for Gender, Children, and Social Protection); Amini Kajunju, president of the Africa-America Institute; and professors Myra Young Armstead and Peter Rosenblum of Bard College. The subject of the discussion was “The Role of Women in the Development and Democratization of Africa.”


Achebe Leadership Forum, Sosnoff Theater, The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College

Introduction of Performers | 3:55
Drew Thompson Assistant Professor of Africana and Historical Studies, Bard College

AfroPulse Dance Performance | 4:00
Bard College Dance Ensemble

Sankofa Drum and Dance Ensemble | 4:05


Welcome on Behalf of Bard President Leon Botstein | 4:25
Jonathan Becker, Vice President for International Affairs and Civic Engagement, Bard College

Birthday Tribute from Nelson Mandela to Chinua Achebe | 4:30
Delivered on 3 November 2000 via video on the occasion of the 70th Birthday

The Legacy of Chinua Achebe | 4:40
Professor Myra Young Armstead, Professor of History, Bard College

Poetry Reading: "A Song in Seven Stanzas" and "Still Morning Yet: A Poet Daughter's Farewell" | 4:45
Abena Busia, Professor and Chair of the Department of Women's and Gender Studies, Rutgers University

Professor Achebe's Life in Perspective: The Writer and the Quest for Exemplary Leadership and Good Governance in Africa | 4:55
Professor Christie Achebe last taught as Professor of Counseling in the Department of Psychology at Bard College

Introduction of H.E. John Dramani Mahama | 5:05
Jonathan Becker, Vice President for International Affairs and Civic Engagement, Bard College

“Women in Africa: How the Other Half Lives” | 5:10
H.E. John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana

Roundtable Discussion: The Role of Women in the Development and Democratization of Africa | 5:30
Honourable Nana Oye Lithur, Ghana's Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection
H.E. Jeremiah C. Sulunteh, Ambassador of Liberia to the United States
Amini Kajunju President, Africa-America Institute
Peter Rosenblum, Professor of International Law and Human Rights, Bard College
Moderator, Nwando Achebe, Professor of African History, Michigan State University

Closing Remarks | 6:10
Chidi Achebe, MD, MPH, MBA President and CEO AIDE (African Integrated Development Enterprise)


President John Dramani Mahama was popularly elected on December 7, 2012. This is his first full term as president; he also served the remaining five months of the late President J. E. A. Mills’s term. 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. Mahama completed his bachelor of arts degree in history in 1981 and postgraduate degree in communication studies in 1986 from the University of Ghana, Legon. He also received postgraduate diploma in social psychology from the Institute of Social Sciences in Moscow. An eloquent champion of the underprivileged, President Mahama was first elected to the Parliament of Ghana in 1996 to represent the Bole/Bamboi Constituency. He was twice re-elected to Parliament, in 2000 and 2004, prior to becoming the vice-presidential candidate for the Party in 2008. He is married to Lordina Mahama, with whom he has eight children.

Mahama has a keen interest in technology and agriculture, being a farmer himself. He is particularly interested in finding the most effective ways to improve agricultural productivity and works to encourage more young people to see farming as a viable business rather than a subsistence activity. This has translated into a passion to see the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) create new opportunities for people living in the Savanna areas of the country, which includes the three Northern Regions, and Ghana’s northern parts of the Brong-Ahafo and Volta Regions. An avid reader, author, and historian, Mahama has written for several newspapers and other publications, and recently published his first book, a memoir entitled My First Coup D’etat and Other True Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa.

President Mahama’s lecture is sponsored by Bard College President’s Office, Bard College Center for Civic Engagement, the Achebe Center at Bard, and the Chinua Achebe Foundation.


About the Chinua Achebe Foundation
The Foundation, established by the novelist Chinua Achebe (1930-2013) in the early 1990s and chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has, from its inception, worked tirelessly to promote peace in Africa through the arts. It has showcased the continent’s complex cultural heritage to the world while making efforts to recapture the lost components of fine African art, literature, and languages.

Apart from his literary exploits, Achebe earned a reputation as a leading critic of corruption and bad leadership in Nigeria. He wrote extensively about racial and ethnic bigotry and left behind a reputation as one who lived as a formidable advocate for the poor and less privileged, as well as the voiceless in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. While he was the editor of the Heinemann African Writers Series, it served as a vehicle for the promotion of a body of African literature produced by a whole generation of African writers, including Wole Soyinka, J.P Clark- Bekederemo, Christopher Okigbo, Ayi Kwei Armah, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Steve Biko, Ama Ata Aidoo, Nadine Gordimer, Nuruddin Farah, Buchi Emecheta and Okot p’Bitek, among others. Achebe taught at Bard College from 1990 to 2011.

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CAPTION INFO: President John Dramani Mahama of the Republic of Ghana
PHOTO CREDIT: Photo courtesy of the Republic of Ghana

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December 11, 2013.

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This event was last updated on 12-11-2013