Skip to main content
Blog post

September's Last Word

Steve McDonald

I promised not to make this blog a personal outlet for my perceived insights on Africa, and I will try to abide by that promise.  But, we decided here at the Africa and LEAD programs that it might be good, on a monthly basis, to give me a little space for a wrap-up, a "last word," which could cover any subject I had on my mind at the time.  That is, I assume, the prerogative of the Mzee, which as you all know just means older person, although it normally is said with an air of respect.  Without pretending that I deserve respect, but knowing that I am far and away the oldest person here, I am taking advantage of that prerogative.  

This month, which has been our formal launch month of Africa Up Close, has been an exciting time.  I think the staff has done an exceptional job in design and in bringing it on line.  My congratulations go again to Mame Khady Diouf, Aly Lyons, Derek Langford and Elise Barry for their tireless efforts, creativity and good consul.  And, I would just like to say that we may be on to something good.  These first blog posts have featured some wonderful and insightful articles from David Zounmenou, Senior Researcher, and Dimpho Motsamai,  Researcher, both at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Division, in Pretoria; Francis Kornegay, Current Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar and Senior Researcher for the Institute for Global Dialogue in Pretoria; Liz McClintock, Partner in CMPartners and a greatly experienced conflict resolution facilitator with over two decades of work in Africa; and Ann Phillips, Current Wilson Center Fellow, and Former Professor of International Security Studies and Director, Program in Security, Stability, Transition and Reconstruction, George C. Marshall Center, Germany.  

We hope these, and our future posts, will give you some unique perspectives and plenty of useful information and analysis to round out your information flows from this great continent and help us all understand its past, present and future.  We also are doing a Students' Corner where we will post incoming comments and contributions, but also selected news items coming from non-main stream sources.  We will not regurgitate the Washington Post or New York Times for you, but rather hunt for alternate news sources which might not be so readily at your fingertips.   We will also post coming events, right now limited to Washington-based ones, including Congressional hearings, but in time we will try to pick up on the calendars of the UN, AU, ECOWAS, our African partner institutions, and others to highlight events that might be in your countries or region.  

In these first two weeks, even though we have been still working through the format and design, and despite the fact that we have not engaged in an advertising campaign, our blog has already been viewed over 400 times with viewers from in 16 different countries! We couldn't be happier with the result, and we hope that you are as well.  But, we are just beginning.  We are in the process of establishing ownership of our own web domain name for Africa UP Close, which is on track to be completed by the first week of October. This will allow us to upgrade the blog features, including the space for a discussion forum amongst followers from around the world. In particular we hope to make this a popular feature for the Southern Voices Network partners to share information, post opinion and research findings, and keep in contact with each other.  The Last Word column will tackle other issues in the future, including looking at U.S. African policy under a renewed Obama administration or a new Romney one.   I will also invite my staff members to contribute from time to time, and we will include news of them, the Wilson Center, and developments that might impact on our African colleagues and friends.   

So, once again, welcome.  We will meet you in the blogosphere!       

Steve McDonald, Director Africa Program, and The Project on Leadership and Building State Capacity

About the Author

Steve McDonald

Steve McDonald

Former Director, Africa Program, Woodrow Wilson Center
Read More

Africa Program

The Africa Program works to address the most critical issues facing Africa and U.S.-Africa relations, build mutually beneficial U.S.-Africa relations, and enhance knowledge and understanding about Africa in the United States. The Program achieves its mission through in-depth research and analyses, public discussion, working groups, and briefings that bring together policymakers, practitioners, and subject matter experts to analyze and offer practical options for tackling key challenges in Africa and in U.S.-Africa relations.    Read more