Emory Report
November 14, 2005
Volume 58, Number 11


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November 14, 2005

Panel discusses enlightened aid to Africa

BY michael terrazas

If attendance at a Nov. 9 panel discussion devoted to the subject is any indication, Emory’s involvement in things African is about to grow—in a big way.

People lined both stairways last week and filled the back aisle of 206 White Hall, as President Jim Wagner headlined a slate of speakers who talked about Western efforts to help Africa and what will—and won’t—work in “Emory and the Future of Africa: Potentials, Possibilities, Partnerships,” co-sponsored by the Center for Health, Culture and Society (CHCS) and the Institute of African Studies.

Following his introduction by moderator Peter Brown, professor of anthropology and CHCS co-director, Wagner described his recent trip to three African nations with former President Jimmy Carter and John Moores, chair of The Carter Center’s board of trustees. The three visited Mali, Nigeria and Ethiopia and talked with both government and university leaders.

Wagner confessed he was nowhere near as knowledgeable about Africa as the seven other panelists with whom he shared the crowded dais, but said he agreed to speak “in the spirit that every now and then we can learn something from the mouths of babes.”

Voicing a sentiment the other speakers would echo, Wagner said any assistance to Africa must be undertaken with a sense of humility, leaving behind the paternalism of the past. Wagner described Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as an “enlightened leader,” adding that the country spends 23 percent of its national budget on education. Wagner said one of the first things Zenawi did upon taking office was kick all nongovernmental organizations out of Ethiopia, vowing to let back in only those programs that contained a sustainable education component, rather than simply offering a handout. “‘I don’t want NGOs in Ethiopia who are going to keep my country on welfare,’” Wagner paraphrased Zenawi as saying.

The speakers who followed Wagner were:
• Deborah McFarland, associate professor of global health in the Rollins School of Public Health and director of the Foege Fellowship Program, the Peace Corps Masters International Program and Rollins’ Global Field Experience program;
• Moses Katabarwa, an Ugandan epidemiologist for The Carter Center’s Global 2000 program;
• Jojo Mulunda, a fourth-year undergraduate in Emory College double-majoring in international studies and French, and a national of the Democratic Republic of Congo;
• Martha Carey, a doctoral student in the Institute of Liberal Arts (ILA) and a master’s of public health student in Rollins;
• Dieudonne Sankara, a physician and medical entomologist from Burkina Faso who is spending two years at Emory as a Foege Fellow in Global Health;
• Landry Tsague, a physician from Cameroon who also is a Foege Fellow at Emory; and
• Edna Bay, associate professor in the ILA and director of the Institute of African Studies.

Nearly all the speakers brought up the “teach a man to fish” adage, with Bay providing the most imaginative take on it (see First Person), but Sankara perhaps summed it up best. “The help that can prevent the need for future help,” he said, “is the kind of help that Africa needs.”