On April 20, for this year’s Bishop John T. Walker Memorial Dinner Gala, Africare will celebrate leadership. Fittingly, numerous leaders will be present to share in the evening. I have written previously about the importance of leadership in all sectors and at all levels in Africa. For the 2013 Bishop Walker Dinner we are privileged by the participation of leading Africans from the highest levels of policy, business and civil-society.
President Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the United States, will be celebrated for his commitment to Africa’s future at the dinner this year. After winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, President Obama provided generous support to Africare to allow implementation of a water, sanitation and health initiative in Ghana. His second term holds great potential for further engagement with African nations. In the summer of 2012, President Obama released his U.S. Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa, which articulates a plan to strengthen democratic institutions and facilitate sustainable, inclusive economic growth in the region. Last November, as part of this strategy President Obama launched the Doing Business in Africa Campaign to communicate the enormous potential Africa holds for trade and investment and to support American companies seeking business relationships on the continent. President Obama’s promotion of commercial ties is a key to expanding economic opportunity in the United States as well as Africa.
Dr. Mo Ibrahim, who awards his Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership only to African heads of state of true merit, will be Africare’s honored guest at the dinner. Born in Sudan, Dr. Ibrahim conceived one of the most successful commercial ventures in the history of Africa, Celtel, which led a communications revolution on the continent. He has transitioned from this success to become one of the world’s most irreproachable thought-leaders in the arenas of business ethics, governance and the fight against corruption in Africa.
Africare is also thrilled that several African luminaries will be in attendance to salute President Obama and Dr. Ibrahim. The African Development Bank Group is one of the premier financial institutions on the continent, and one distinguished Bishop Walker Dinner guest is Donald Kaberuka, who has served as president of the Bank Group since 2005 where he directs billions in investments to promote economic and social development in Africa.
In recent years, countries across Africa have achieved remarkable successes that have amazed both those unfamiliar with the region and those deeply devoted to it. However, the continent is still not where we at Africare or our guests believe it should be. It is leaders like our guests, people dedicating their lives to improving the lives of others, acting in ways never envisioned by their predecessors and adhering to their principles, who have brought Africa to where it is today and who will continue inspiring change.
It is Africare’s mission to nurture and support Africans to be agents of change in their communities. Feedback from our beneficiaries and encouragement from people such as our distinguished guests motivate our work, and support from our donors enables it. The major contributors to the 2013 Bishop Walker Dinner to date include Chevron, our partner for more than 30 years who most recently invested in community health programs in Angola; Coca-Cola, our partner in a comprehensive South African HIV & AIDS project and a groundbreaking water initiative; the Government of Nigeria; the African Development Bank; Stephen and Richard Cashin; ExxonMobil and JPMorgan Chase.
Africare is grateful for the partnership of our guests and donors, and we grow more excited every day as the 2013 Bishop John T. Walker Memorial Dinner takes shape. We hope you are as eager as we are to take part.