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