"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


2012 APSA Africa Workshop

Are you an African scholar studying politics at an African university? Apply for the 2012 APSA Africa Workshop. Here's the official announcement with application information:

2012 Africa Workshop: Deadline for Applications is March 30

It is with great pleasure that I write to inform you of the 2012 Africa Workshop, jointly convened by the American Political Science Association (APSA) and the University of Botswana. APSA is accepting applications for participation through March 30, 2012 and would appreciate your help in sharing news of this opportunity. Up to 22 Africa-based scholars will be selected, as well as four advanced PhD students from US-based universities.

The 2012 Africa Workshop, entitled “Local Communities and the State in Africa” will be led by Professors Parakh Hoon (Virginia Tech), Lauren MacLean (Indiana University), Joseph Mbaiwa (Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana, Maun Campus), Sethunya Mosime (University of Botswana, Gaborone Campus), and Lungisile Ntsebeza (University of Cape Town). The two-week workshop will be held from July 15 to 27 at the University of Botswana in Gaborone, and will include a special focus on field research methods.

This year's workshop is the fifth in APSA’s annual Africa Workshop program; previous workshops have been held in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and Tanzania. By bringing together up to 22 Africa-based scholars, as well as four advanced PhD students from US-based universities, the program aims to enhance the capacities of political scientists in Africa and build lasting networks between African scholars and their colleagues in the United States. While the event primarily caters to political scientists, it is also open to scholars from any social science discipline with research relevant to the workshop theme. Since 2008, approximately 100 African and US-based scholars have participated in the workshop series. APSA, with support from the Mellon Foundation, covers all costs associated with participation.

Participants at this year’s workshop will explore a series of interrelated theoretical and methodological themes related to the study of African states and sub-national actors. The primary goal of the workshop is to support participants in publishing their research.

Program information, eligibility requirements, and a link to the online 2012 Application Form can be found on the APSA Africa Workshop website. The application deadline is March 30, 2012.

If you meet the eligibility requirements and are engaged in work related to this workshop’s theme, I welcome you to submit an application. Please also feel free to forward this information and share news of this opportunity as appropriate. APSA is continuously seeking to attract promising scholars to the workshops. We would particularly like to increase the number of applications submitted by women who are based in Africa.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Andrew Stinson, APSA's Africa Workshops Coordinator, at africaworkshops@apsanet.org. To download a PDF version of the call for applications, click here.


In memoriam, Lyn Lusi

Terribly sad news tonight from Goma: HEAL Africa cofounder and program manager Lyn Lusi has died. Everyone who knew Lyn is heartbroken, and our thoughts and prayers go out to Dr. Jo, Nadine, Paluku, and the rest of the family.

To say what one is supposed to say in these circumstances - "She will be missed," "God rest her soul" - seems utterly inadequate to capture Lyn's life. She came to what was then Zaire as a young woman, sent by British Baptists as a missionary teacher. Lyn fell in love with Jo, and after that, she never really left. Yes, they left Congo for a time during the difficult years, as almost everyone did, but their strong sense of responsibility and calling brought them back to Goma to serve, first with Jo working in a local hospital, and eventually by building their own. It was not simply a health care facility, though; the original purpose of what is today HEAL was to train medical professionals to work under some of the most trying conditions on the planet. And that they did. Lyn once jokingly told me that the only reason they opened the hospital was that their students needed patients on which to learn.

And learn they did; as the traumas of war and poverty and the utter incapacity of the Congolese authorities to run a health care system, HEAL became one of the very best providers in the region. It is still the only place offering orthopedic surgery, and is one of about four hospitals in the Kivus that are able to offer high-quality care for fistula and other gynecological traumas. Lyn always viewed HEAL's mission as an holistic one, and insisted that its mission be broader than simply supporting physical health. To that end, she was integral in starting the Nehemiah Committees, which provide an interfaith platform for dispute resolution at the community level throughout the countryside. Under Lyn's management, HEAL also identified and trained a network of women to serve as rape crisis counselors in rural areas, helping victims of violence who might not otherwise have known help was available to access critical medial and psychosocial services.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Lyn's work saved thousands upon thousands of lives.

I first met Lyn and Jo as a young graduate student, desperate for contacts and needing a lot of help to navigate the vagaries of the intersection of state and civil society in Goma. This was just before HEAL Africa - then called DOCS - became a famous place, before the world was talking about the rape crisis and a parade of celebrities, researchers, and do-gooders started traipsing through the hospital on a weekly basis. Lyn handled the transition from small clinic to internationally-known hospital with aplomb. There were frustrations and challenges, to be sure, but Lyn's patience seemed to be infinite. She never rolled her eyes at yet another student coming through the doors to write the definitive master's thesis on "Rape in the Eastern Congo" and she leveraged the attention brought by the rape crisis to garner support for HEAL's many other critical programs.

On a more personal note, Lyn was one of the first people I met in Goma who really believed in the value of my dissertation project. She took my ideas seriously, believed they were worth exploring, and did all she could to help me get through. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that I wouldn't have finished without her; she made introductions and opened doors that made it possible to get the interviews and data I needed. I honestly don't know how I would have done it without her. Lyn believed in community-led and community-centered development. Her wisdom shaped much of my thinking about Congolese agency and the transformative power of community-based development.

It is a sad night in Goma, and it will be sad there for some time to come. I'm trying to think where they will hold the funeral, and how they will accommodate the thousands who will turn up to honor Mama Lyn with songs and dancing and talk of the deep, deep love that motivated her to care for so many. Lyn Lusi is irreplaceable. And, oh, she will be missed.

To make a donation in Lyn's memory, visit the HEAL Africa donation page.

Rift Valley Institute 2012

From friend of the blog Jason Stearns, news about this year's Rift Valley Institute Great Lakes Course. As always, it looks to be fantastic.
We are holding our annual Great Lakes course in Bujumbura from July 7-13. The deadline for applications is April 30.

The course will provide an intensive introduction to the politics and history of Rwanda, Burundi and the DR Congo through a series of presentations and workshops. Around 40 diplomats, aid officials and journalists usually attend, and we feature a dozen lecturers, most of whom stay the whole week. The course this year will inevitably be focusing a lot on the aftermath of elections in the DRC, as well as future challenges in Rwanda, and the risk of an escalation of violence in Burundi. As always, we will also spend several days exploring the deep history of the region and the roots of the conflict.

This year, our instructors include:
  • Filip Reyntjens (University of Antwerp)
  • Jean Omasombo (University of Kinshasa and Royal Africa Museum)
  • Koen Vlassenroot (University of Ghent)
  • Anneke van Woudenberg (Human Rights Watch)
  • Jean-Paul Kimonyo (Office of the President, Rwanda)
  • Séverin Mugangu (Official University of Bukavu)
  • Arsène Kirhero (OCHA)
  • Steve Hege (UN Group of Experts on Congo)
  • Greg Salter (Economist Intelligence Unit)
  • Willy Nindorera (International Crisis Group, Burundi)
  • Mvemba Dizolele (Johns Hopkins University)
The course directors are Jason Stearns (former coordinator, UN Group of Experts), Emily Paddon (Oxford University), and Philip Winter (former chief of staff, Inter-Congolese Dialogue)

I have attached a brochure, and more information can be found at www.riftvalley.net.


it's that time...

It's one of the best times of the year - the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament! Join the SWEDOW2012 group at ESPN.com to participate in the aid/development/foreign policy blogosphere's best bracket competition.

As usual, I have a host of fabulous SWEDOW* prizes for whoever wins the group, courtesy of fabulous aid, development, and security people sending me their junk all year long. Last year's winner somehow "forgot" to claim his prize, so that means you get twice the stuff this year. As you can see in the pic above, this year's prize pack includes a stuffed Ebola virus toy, dented ping-pong balls, and a super-classy "I (hammer/sickle) the 80's" t-shirt. Join today - brackets lock just before the tournament starts on Thursday.

*SWEDOW = Stuff WE DOn't Want = "Unnecessary or inappropriate items donated to a charity organization or relief effort."