Dear ASRF community, Warm greetings from Ithaca, New York!
In October 2014, we will convene our annual ASRF meeting in the shadows of the Ebola health emergency and terrorist crises that continue to devastate several parts of Africa. Here in the USA, the unjustified killing of a young black man in Ferguson by police gave us an unwanted but much needed reminder of the continued violence and racialization of law enforcement. It certainly exposed the explosive social tensions and fractures simmering beneath the surface.
Like many of you, these issues have led me to engage actively in an expanding stream of protests, rallies, strategic and humanitarian activism including ‘Bring Back our Girls’ mobilizations, as well as humanitarian actions responding to the Ebola and other crises.
Consequently, this is not a traditional President’s message. I write as a fellow scholar, humbled by the failure of academe and the inadequacy of our theories; inspired by courageous activists, health workers, and survivors; and challenged to rethink by the escalating problems and needs on the continent.
My thoughts repeatedly travel to Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese poet who said, “And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered. For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly”. African leaders have been long on talk but short on thought and effective action. ASRF has to do better.
We have an opportunity to act like the courageous women of Liberia who forced former President Taylor and the warlords to remain at the table for peace talks. They saw the possibility of an alternative future for their children, and dreamed with hope of a nation free of rape, torture, war and pain. So they acted on that dream- intervening day after day, irrespective of the dangers they faced on the long road to peace.
Their courage and passion is in marked contrast to Nigeria’s first lady who chose to preside (without discernible qualification) over her own impromptu investigation into the abduction of almost 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram terrorists. The first lady’s emotional/political shenanigans were captured on camera and went globally viral as she hysterically proclaimed “there is God O…”, and remind us of the merit in Gibran’s works, “in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered”.
We will gather in October 2014 to share research findings and pursue our collective human security through our solidarity. I encourage you to invest more time, energy and resources to supporting those in the frontlines of the war against disease, war and terror.
The ASRF legacy is ultimately most profound in the lives of those we touch.
In appreciation: It has been a privilege to serve as the ASRF president (2012-14) and I thank you all for that honor. As I hand over to the next elected executive board, I wish to particularly recognize the hard work, commitment and collegiality of those who have served with me, Fredline McCormack-Hale (Secretary), Christine Mathenge (Treasurer), George Kieh (Director of Research) and William Ehwarieme (Vice-President).
My goal has been to ensure that as a team, we develop and execute specific substantive goals that establish a viable framework for the future growth of the association. These accomplishments include creating an ASRF website with online payment system; member newsletters (electronic and hardcopy); a first ever ASRF brochure (hardcopies available at the conference); a co-sponsored regional workshop on international educational collaboration at Ithaca College; planning for the first ASRF conference proposed for 2015; and the revitalization of the ASRF publications stables with two proposed forthcoming edited publications.
This indeed has been an outcome of collaborative work. I know that the incoming executive will move the association to even greater accomplishments and offer them our continued support and confidence.
ASRF President, 2012-14