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Letter from the President

 

Dear Members, greetings from Pretoria, South Africa. It is with great pleasure that I write these notes to inform you about the wonderful transformation that is taking place at our organization. After a long and difficult year our association is now on solid ground. After the very testing financial situation which we found ourselves last year the organization is now out of the woods, although there is still some way to go before we are fully in a sustainable state. The Secretariat has been fully re-established and we have three talented and wonderful staff at headquarters. The new structure and the team are appropriately aligned with the needs of our members and the objectives of the organization. Suzanne who helped guide the process of recovery last year as interim Executive Director is now at the helm, and Funmi and Kathryn have joined her to constitute our secretariat team.  I urge all members to welcome them and give them the support they need to help ASA shine. 

The new team is working on a series of things that will enhance the organization’s profile and visibility. First, the webpage is being redesigned to serve the membership better as well as make ASA the place to go on African issues. It will be launched at the end of March, however please be patient as the Secretariat works to build it to full capacity by the end of the summer. In addition, ASA is now on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter and we urge all members to use these tools to communicate with one another as much as possible. Our team at Rutgers is also actively engaged in developing long term strategic goals for the organization and we will be able to share some of these with you at the Annual Meeting in November. We have an exciting Annual Meeting shaping up and I urge all members to register for the meeting and plan to attend it.  

There is much to report on the African continent since our meeting in Philadelphia. Mali has attracted a lot of attention particularly in the aftermath of the UN/AU sanctioned intervention. Thank God, the world heritage and historic library in Timbuktu is secure with minimum damage. Somalia ever so slowly inches towards peace and political reconciliation, and Mogadishu has become significantly more peaceful. Nevertheless the population in the city and rest of the country are in desperate need. Elsewhere, conflict flared up in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and this has further tested the Congolese people. The Arab awakening in North Africa moves forward in fits and starts as countries such as Tunisia and Egypt find their way in uncharted political terrain.   Election in Kenya ended up in dead heat and it is reported that 4000 votes, in favor of Uhuru Kenyatta, out of nearly 14 million votes cast prevented a runoff between him and Raila Odinga. The latter has challenged the integrity of electoral process and has appealed the case to the Supreme Court.   Zimbabweans are expected to vote on a new constitution this spring while the country is projected to hold presidential election later in the year. These developments offer an opportunity to our specialist members to engage the public and help all of us understand the issues better.

Colleagues, active members are the life blood of ASA and I urge all of you to do your part to make 2013 an exciting and productive year. The ASA has turned the corner and should have smooth sailing for a while, unlike Alladin whose sojourns repeatedly encountered  rough seas and famously noted, “kulama najoona min musiibatin waqana ashara minha” (translated from Arabic to mean ‘every time we sail past one danger we are faced with a more challenging one’). The difference between endless crisis and a healthy future is the level of commitment and generosity of our members. Please be engaged and generous. 

Thank you for your commitment to the African Studies Association.  

Professor Abdi Samatar

Member Aid For Africa
African Studies Association is a participating member of Aid for Africa, a unique partnership of nonprofit organizations serving families and communities throughout Africa.
African Studies Association
Rutgers University - Livingston Campus
54 Joyce Kilmer Avenue
Piscataway, NJ 08854-8045
Tel: 848-445-8173
Fax: 732-445-6637