Former UNRISD Director, Thandika Mkandawire, last week received the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Africa-America Institute, a New York-based international education and policy organization. Held on 22 September, during the opening week of the United Nations General Assembly, and hosted by CNN International anchor Isha Sesay, the ceremony took place in the sumptuous Gotham Hall on Broadway, where Mkandawire was in illustrious company. The three further honorees were:
- AAI Lifetime Achievement Award: H.E. Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire;
- AAI 2014 Business Leader Award: Vivienne Yeda, Director-General of the East African Development Bank (EADB);
- AAI 2014 Corporate Responsibility Award: General Electric received by Jay Ireland, President and CEO of General Electric Africa on behalf of the corporation.
UNRISD’s former Director (1998-2009), Thandika Mkandawire is currently Chair of African Development at the London School of Economics (LSE), and was eligible for the Alumnus Award having received a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Ohio State University with an AAI-administered scholarship.
On receiving his award, Mkandawire thanked the the AAI for giving him a chance as a young person to come to the United States to study, and also applauded the organization for continuing to support higher education in Africa in recent decades, a time when others were pulling out in favour of primary education.
Following the awards, the nearly 400 US and African leaders and top diplomats present heard a Conversation on Africa
, moderated by Voice of America’s "Straight Talk Africa” host Shaka Ssali, on the gala theme, "Powering Africa's Future through Regional and Global Partnerships" with honorees Yeda, Mkandawire and Ireland.
A detailed write-up of the ceremony by Amini Kajunju, President and CEO of the AAI, is available in her Huffington Post blog entry
Videos of the award ceremony
(Thandika Mkandawire is at about minute 8) and of the Conversation on Africa
are available on YouTube.