Ms Cecilia A.M. Adeng is a South Sudanese national. She is the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Sudan Mission to the United Nations. Before that she was in charge of the management of the Office of the President of the Government of Southern Sudan, a position she held until 2015. She is an avid Pan Africanist who believes in the purpose of life being to be of service to one’s community. She believes that the community is central to African life and that this belief should be nurtured in young people if Africa is to live up to its potential as a force to reckon with in global affairs. Accordingly, she takes time to inspire young people to always think about their community in all the endeavors they pursue, whether they are pursuing their studies, or in their daily lives, as responsible members of society. Cecilia was a long-distance running champion during her school days and believes in the power of sport to reconcile societies, especially those with the unfortunate experience of civil conflict, like the South Sudan and many others across the world. She has been working with different organizations involved in sports to mobilize the youth around national unity in her country. Cecilia holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Masters in Public Administration.
Boubacar Boris Diop
Boubacar Boris Diop is a Senegalese national. He is an award-winning author and one of today’s most prominent African novelists, short fiction writers, playwrights, and essayists. He is currently a columnist at the Senegalese Seneplus. His most celebrated novel Murambi, the Book of Bones (2006), originally published in French in 2000, is a fictional story inspired by Diop’s stay in Kigali, Rwanda, in 1998. In the years following the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, he and eight other Francophone African authors were invited by the literary festival “Fest’Africa” to take up residence at a writer’s house in Kigali to participate in the Duty of Memory Project. Deeply influenced by what he had learned of the genocide against the Tutsi of Rwanda, Diop’s novel blended the voices of genocide victims with those of the perpetrators. Murambi, The Book of Bones has since been listed by the Zimbabwe International Book Fair’s Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century and has won the 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Beyond his writing in French, however, Diop is also passionate about promoting literatures in Wolof. Now available in English and Spanish, Doomi Golo, was originally published in Wolof in Dakar in 2003 and translated six years later by the author himself into French. He also translated into Wolof Aimé Césaire’s A Season in the Congo. In 2016, Boubacar Boris Diop founded Ejo Editions, a publishing house specialized in literature written in Senegalese national languages, which published his most recent work, Malaanum lëndëm (2022) and Bàmmeelu Kocc Barma (2017) written in Wolof. Since 2016, Ejo Editions has also published novels, poetry and historical essays representing a turning point in the rise of a Senegalese national literature in African languages. As part of this historical event, Diop and Ejo Editions founded Lu defu waxu, the first and only online weekly newspaper in Wolof. Additionally, with a group of scholars, educators and cultural activists, Diop developed an online language school offering courses in Wolof to professors and students from the Cheikh Anta Diop Foundation, the Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire, the School of Librarians, Archivistes, as well as journalists.
Ms Elizabeth is a Rwandan national. She has been a Pan Africanist and an activist all her life. She was privileged to travel, live, study and work in different African countries, where she also learnt languages spoken in those countries. She speaks fluent Kiswahili and Sesotho, proficient in Xhosa and IsiZulu. Growing up in Tanzania, she was inspired by the Arusha Declaration, which emphasised unity and self- reliance among others. Later, as an adult, she lived in Swaziland (now Eswatini), and Lesotho at the height of apartheid in South Africa, which had engulfed the whole of Southern Africa as a source of cheap labour, raw materials, and a market. Lesotho took in refugees, political activists, guerrilla fighters and economic refugees from other African countries. While she was a student at the National University of Lesotho it was a centre of learning about Africa in a new way through political debates and activism. Students were active in the politics of the region and produced a journal entitled, “The Vanguard”, which she played a part in its circulation for a wide audience. Elizabeth also subscribed to the monthly “Southern African Political Economy (SAPEM)” journal, which kept everyone informed of the struggles for liberation and economic independence of the peoples of Southern Africa. These experiences strengthened Elizabeth’s sense of Pan-Africanism. She came to realise that Africans have more in common than what divides them, and that Pan Africanism doesn’t just happen; one has to be made conscious of what it entails. Learning each other’s languages is to acknowledge and respect the other and makes integration possible. Elizabeth’s article acknowledging Fidel Castro’s contribution to African liberation appeared in The New Times (Rwanda) at the time of his death. It is entitled “Fare thee well Castro, a true friend of Africa”. Elizabeth has worked in various international organisations, including the World Health Organization in Lesotho. In South Africa, she worked with the Desmond Tutu Educational Trust. In Rwanda, she worked with African Rights. She also started an initiative of greening less privileged schools in Kigali, planting trees and educating young people about the environment. She has degrees from the National University of Lesotho, and the University of Natal, South Africa, and a Master’s degree in International Development from Cornell University, USA.
Mbye Cham, Ph.D. is from The Gambia and is currently professor in the Department of African Studies and Research at Howard University in Washington, D. C. He served as Chairman of the department from 2006 to 2017 and was the founding Director of the US Title VI National Resource Center for African Studies from 2014 to 2019. His areas of research interest are literature and film and culture and development. In addition to numerous essays and chapters in books on African and Caribbean literature and film, he is the editor of EX-ILES: Essays on Caribbean Cinema, and co-editor of Blackframes: Critical Perspectives on Black Independent Cinema and African Experiences of Cinema. Dr. Cham has served on many film juries throughout the world, including as President of the Official Jury for Long Feature Films at FESPACO 2011 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.