NEW YORK, December 10 – In celebration of its 26th Annual Awards Gala, on December 10th The Africa-America Institute (AAI) paid tribute to African men and women who represent several generations of positive influence and leadership in Africa and across the world. On the occasion, AAI honored distinguished AAI Alumni of three flagship scholarship programs spanning 50 years, Vincent Mai, Chairman of AEA Investors LP, and the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Leadership Team—each for their meaningful contributions to their home countries and communities and by extension, the African continent. AAI is a leading New York-based international education and policy organization.
Several hundred distinguished U.S. and African business, philanthropic, academic, political and diplomatic leaders gathered to recognize African achievement under AAI’s theme of “Generations of Positive Leadership, Giving Back to Africa.” The annual AAI Awards Gala is the most high profile Africa-focused event in New York City.
This year’s major sponsors included Chevron, The Coca-Cola Company, Stephanie and Kofi Appenteng, Fulbright and Jaworski LLP, Anne and Vincent Mai, Shell International, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, and SNR Denton.
Since its establishment in 1953, AAI has stayed true to its mission—to strengthen human capacity in Africa through advanced academic and professional training, and this year marked the 50th Anniversary of the first graduating class of AAI’s African Scholarship Program of American Universities (ASPAU).
ASPAU, which was launched in 1960 in collaboration with African governments, U.S. Universities and the United States Government, was one of AAI’s most successful undergraduate education programs, and served as a prototype of nearly five decades of U.S.- sponsored higher education initiatives for Africa. AAI honored the very first graduating class of the ASPAU program with a Jubilee Tribute for their tremendous success and notable accomplishments in both the United States and abroad.
The AAI Distinguished Alumna Award was presented to Dr. Ousseina Alidou, Director of The Center for African Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick and National Chair of the Association of African Studies Programs (AASP) for her devoted teaching and mentoring of future scholars of Africa around the world, and her research and activism on behalf African women’s rights. The AAI Distinguished Alumna Award was also presented to Seipati Tlaka, 2010 FIFA World Cup Provincial Coordinator and Senior General Manager in the Office of the Premier in the Limpopo Province, for her contribution to the success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Games.
A highlight of the evening was the AAI’s recognition of the 2010 FIFA World Cup senior leadership team: Dr. Irvin Khoza, the Chairman of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Organizing Committee, and Mr. Daniel Jordaan, the Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Organizing Committee. This honor was in recognition of the team’s momentous success in transforming the long-term economic potential and global image of South Africa—and the African continent as a whole.
Mora McLean, AAI President and CEO gave ample praise to the Leadership Team for their efforts, noting that “By having the bold vision and fortitude to stage Africa’s first World Cup,” McLean said, “2010 FIFA South Africa helped to buoy the confidence and optimism of Africans around the world and laid the foundation for more tangible long-term economic benefits for the people of South Africa and the region.”
Accepting AAI Global Vision Award on behalf of the 2010 World Cup Leadership Team, Dr. Irvin Khoza, Chairman of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Organizing Committee, observed that FIFA’s decision to allow South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup represented “the people of the world voting for Africa’s renewal.” Khoza’s unwavering confidence in South Africa’s capacity to host the World Cup and the collective vision of the 2010 World Cup South Africa Leadership Team, has boosted revenue for the country’s tourism and television industries and entrepreneurs, and brought South Africans closer to a united identity.
AAI also honored Vincent Mai, Chairman of AEA Investors, LP, with the AAI Award for Visionary Corporate Leadership and Philanthropy for his longstanding and extensive philanthropic commitments to Africa-related causes and demonstrated social conscience, making him an exemplar of what it means to “do well and do good.”
Abi Ishola, a lead Producer for “Independent Sources,” the CUNY TV news series covering ethnic and immigrant community media, and creator, producer, and co-host of “Culture Shock: Nigerians in America,” a talk radio show targeting Nigerians on the Continent and in the Diaspora on Splash 105.5FM, served as the Masters of Ceremony. The Reverend Canon Dr. Sandye A. Wilson, Rector of The Episcopal Church of St. Andrew and Holy Communion in South Orange, New Jersey, offered the invocation for the event. Additionally, the evening’s festivities featured music from the Mandingo Ambassadors led by griot-guitarist Mamady Kouyaté.
ABOUT AAI: AAI is a New York-based international education and policy organization with offices in South Africa and Mozambique and an alumni presence throughout the African continent. Since 1953, AAI has worked to educate and train African leaders and professionals and foster understanding between Africa and the United States. Today, AAI counts more than 23,000 alumni, including Nobel Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai, and Namibian Prime Minister H.E. Nahas Angula.
For photos from the Awards Gala, and more information on AAI please visit www.aaionline.org.