AFricaAlive Cultural Series: Bureau of African Affairs
Every day, Africans are creating music, films, and other forms of creative expression. The continent is pulsing with life. The Bureau of African Affairs would like to present examples of African culture, demonstrating that the continent is vibrant, that beauty is being created on a regular basis, and that there are good reasons to be optimistic about Africa's future.
An understanding of art and culture is also helpful for Americans representing this nation abroad; it complements knowledge of local customs and traditions. For may Washington-area residents - including State Department staff - their familiarity with Africa is limited to media accounts of hardship. While there has been suffering on the continent, that is an incomplete picture. Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer has a positive vision for the continent and regularly cites Africa's many encouraging developments, when she speaks to groups at home and abroad.
Secretary Condoleezza Rice is defining her time at the Department of State by introducing her guiding principle of Transformational Diplomacy. This philosophy of foreign affairs starts from the assumption that the realities of the international arena have been completely transformed since the end of the Cold War. It recognizes that ?we are living in an extraordinary time, one in which centuries of international precedent are being overturned.? New regions are rising in strategic importance, like Africa. For many Americans, including those in the State Department, Africa is largely an unknown, but that need not remain the case.
Transformational diplomacy relies on collaboration, as the best method for accomplishing shared goals with American allies. As the Secretary explained, "we seek to use America's diplomatic power to help foreign citizens better their own lives, to build their own nations, and to transform their own futures."
In order to support American foreign policy in the years ahead, the State Department will be engaged in global repositioning. Foreign Service officers will be redeployed to areas of increasing strategic importance, including the continent of Africa. In order to engage effectively with local populations, those officers will need to have an understanding of the local language.
As President Bush remarked while unveiling his Foreign Language Initiative, "When somebody comes to me and speaks Texan, I know they appreciate the Texas culture." Similarly, it is important for more Americans to be familiar not only with the languages, but also with the various cultures of the African continent. By showcasing African art and creative talent, the Bureau of African Affairs hopes to increase familiarity and facilitate additional opportunities for partnership with civil society groups and African citizens generally.
The African continent is vibrant and pulsing with possibility. Africa is alive. Come experience it for yourself.
African Affairs outreach program hosted students from the D.C. public schools in conjunction with the D.C. Mayor's Office.
Youthful Ambassadors in coordination with the D.C. Mayor's Office and the Bureau of African Affairs hosted students from the D.C. public schools.
Vital Voices Training - 20 African women came to the United States for some in depth training on ... as a result of the work of African Affairs Bureau.
April 18, 2008 - Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad Program - Deputy Assistant Secretary Carol Thompson delivers remarks at the National Geographic Society to promote the cultural bonds between the U.S. and Africa communities. Remarks | Performing Arts Program - Rhythm Road
November 14, 2007 - "Rwanda Rising" Documentary Screening featuring Ambassador Andrew Young and John Hope Bryant
October 23, 2007 - Sarah Jones, Tony Award Winning Playwright, Actor, Poet as well as UNICEF Spokesman performs her latest one-woman play focusing on violence against children at the State Department in the Loy Henderson. Photos | More on Sarah
May 11, 2007 - The Bureau of African Affairs hosted a screening of Aftertaste, an award-winning documentary by South African-native Ceridwen Dovey. Ms. Dovey tells the story of a South African winery's efforts to help their employees help themselves to improve their lives, focusing on the struggles and successes of several individuals on two farms. Following the film, participants were invited to sample wine produced in South Africa. Read more about the film here: http://www.der.org/films/aftertaste.html.
April 20, 2007 - Author Jared Cohen, who is part of Secretary Rice's policy planning staff, visited the Africa Bureau to discuss the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Jared discussed his trips to the region, his interviews with U.S. Government officials and regional leaders, the international response, and lessons learned from this humanitarian crisis. More Photos
March 23, 2007 - Greg Garland, Public Affairs Unit Chief, African Affairs, moderates a symposium on Sudan/Darfur for Bridgewater College students. This symposium represents the Bureau's ongoing efforts to engage American high schools and colleges in U.S. policy in Africa. This particular program centered on the situation in Sudan, an issue that ties into the student's current focus on conflict resolution.
February 1, 2007 - Africa Bureau staff visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to discuss the situation in Darfur with actress Mia Farrow and members of the Museum's Committee on Conscience. Ms. Farrow narrated a slide show of photographs she had taken while traveling in the region, as part of her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Following the slide show, attendees participated in a discussion with Ms. Farrow about Darfur, its regional implications, and the international response.
September 12, 2006 - Award-winning filmmaker Randy Bell visited the U.S. Department of State to screen his documentary, Orphans of Mathare, and participate in a post-screening discussion. Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer offered welcoming remarks, and Michele Moloney-Kitts offered thoughts about orphans and vulnerable children, on behalf of the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator. The film, which introducers viewers to former street children, many of whom have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS, is set in Nairobi, Kenya. It offers a window into the cultural dilemmas posed by a health crisis that is radically changing the demographic landscape of the continent. More photos
June 28, 2006- Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer hosted a reception in honor of Malian superstar, Salif Keita, often called "The Golden Voice of Mali." Two African musicians and a dancer performed, saluting Mr. Keita for his distinguished performance career. Dr. Frazer spoke to the crowd of African diplomats, State Department employees, and NGO guests about the importance of cultural exchange between the United States and the nations of Africa. In his remarks, Mr. Keita, spoke about the importance of targeting foreign assistance to those Africans who are most in need, which Dr. Frazer agreed is a foreign policy priority. This festive event was an important part of the cultural outreach that the Bureau of African Affairs believes is so integral to overall diplomatic efforts and strong diplomatic links. More photos
May 25, 2006 - NBA basketball star and philanthropist, Dikembe Mutumbo visited the U.S. Department of State. Mr. Mutumbo spoke about his foundation and the hospital that the foundation is financing in the city of Kinshasa, in his homeland of Congo. Mr. Mutumbo believes that Africa is facing a health crisis, and that it is imperative to galvanize Americans and others to work toward a solution, including better health services for the people of sub-Saharan Africa. Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer vissited Mr. Mutumbo's hospital during a trip to Congo earlier this spring. Read her remarks on that occasion.
March 10, 2006 - Beninese singer Angelique Kidjo visited the Department of State. Ms. Kidjo spoke with the Bureau of African Affairs about growing up in Benin, her musical career, and her work with UNICEF. As a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Ms. Kidjo is focused on improving and expanding education for girls in Africa; the Bureau hopes to partner with Ms. Kidjo in pursuing this important goal. Attendees also learned an interesting bit of trivia. Apparently, U2 front man Bono regularly wakes up to Angelique Kidjo's voice; Bono's wife, Ali Hewson, is a huge fan of Angelique's music.
March 9, 2006 - The Bureau of African Affairs hosted a screening of the Academy Award winning movie, Tsotsi. South African Ambassador Barbara Masekela introduced the film and spoke briefly about her home country. Deputy Assistant Secretary Carol Thompson, whose portfolio includes Southern Africa and public diplomacy, then offered welcoming remarks.
February 3, 2006 - Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer poses with U2 front man, Bono, and Sudanese official, Rebecca Garang.U2 lead singer, Bono, and members of the organization DATA, met with Bureau of African Affairs staff to discuss critical issues impacting sub-Saharan Africa, such as debt relief and HIV/AIDS, and our common efforts to bring about change and resolve those matters.