Democracy in Africa: past, present and future

 Speaker: Ambassador Andebrhan Welde Giorgis

Date & time

Wednesday 12 April 2017

Brindabella Theatre, Level 2, JG Crawford Building 132, Lennox Crossing, ANU

“.. this lecture will discuss the basic causes of the democratic deficit in Africa today and its prospects. The discourse will focus on the concept of self-determination as a political right of: one, a nation to independence; two, a people to a government of their choice; and three, diverse groups to autonomy in the management of their day-to-day affairs.”

“Ambassador Andebrhan Welde Giorgis is President of Eri-Platform, an international civic association promoting inclusive dialogue on vital national, regional and international issues impacting Eritrea and the Horn of Africa. He has served in many roles, including as a Member of Parliament, ambassador to the EU, and Commissioner for Coordination with the UN Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia. His recent book is Eritrea at a Crossroads: A Narrative of Triumph, Betrayal and Hope.


Veteran Africanist Vet Wins Mitchell Award

Focusing on what is important

This  post is  based on extracts from a  transcript of the address given by Robyn Alders upon her acceptance of the inaugural Mitchell Humanitarian Award at the 2017 Australasian Aid Conference.  The full text of Robyn’s speech is on the Devpolicyblog  of  24 February,  2017.  See also

“About a month ago, I was sitting having breakfast in Dili, reading an Aussie paper online. The headline that jumped out at me was that Pistol and Boo – and yes, I can see that some of you know who I’m talking about – yes, the news in a major daily newspaper was that Amber Heard was to retain custody of Pistol and Boo after her divorce from Johnny Depp.

So, what can I say in a world where I know the names of two dogs who fly around the world in a private jet, and where I can be in a country where one in two nameless children receive inadequate nutrition and so never reach their potential?”

“I’d like to believe that by taking a systems approach we can put a spotlight on the drivers of the increasing wealth gap within Australia and the startling gap between high- and low-income countries.

Of course, when I’d finished my PhD here at the ANU in early 1989 and headed off to work at the University of Zambia, I didn’t understand any of this. I did, unfortunately, think that I knew a lot and had a lot to share. What my Zambian colleagues so kindly taught me was that I did know a lot, but I knew a lot about very little. So my list of thank yous continues, as I’d also like to thank my Zambian colleagues for uneducating me.

After three years of learning in Zambia I briefly returned to Australia but couldn’t settle.  In what my veterinary mentor described as a ‘career-ending move’, I left a university job in Australia to become a program officer for Community Aid Abroad (CAA), now Oxfam Australia, and it was this position that started my enduring relationship with Mozambique. As many of you know, the official language in Mozambique is Portuguese with 16 major linguistic groups within the country. When I arrived there in May 1993, Mozambique was, according to the UNDP Human Development Index, the poorest country in the world and it was just emerging from 16 years of war.

Once again I extend my thanks to my Mozambican colleagues and friends for expanding my horizons to understand that the financially poor can be rich in so many other ways. Thanks for coping with my atrocious attempts at Portuguese, and thanks for believing that it was possible to teach me how to dance.”

Robyn then offered offered  “one little anecdote to give you a glimpse of how difficult it must have been for my wonderful Mozambican colleagues”. She thought a colleague was  asking  if he could borrow one of the Honda motorbikes. In fact he was asking if she would give give him the ‘honour’ (‘honra’ in Portuguese) of attending his daughter’s birthday party.

.”Anyway, to me, this brief example served to highlight three important things:

Firstly, that I really needed to study Portuguese;

Secondly, that people in the countries where I was working worried about my wellbeing and took very good care of me; and

Thirdly, that having BSc(Vet), BVSc, DipVetClinStud and PhD after my name didn’t really qualify me for working in international development.

So now, 25 years later, I understand that development takes time. It takes time in Australia as it does everywhere else.

In 2012 I returned to Australia as I’d learned something else. On the food and nutrition security front, I felt that we were never going to achieve great outcomes in low- to middle-income countries while high-income countries set less than optimal examples.”


AFSAAP Annual Conference 2017

The African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific (AFSAAP) is a national network of academics, students, consultants, activists, diplomats, artists, community leaders, and others who share a mutual interest in the promotion of African Studies in Australasia and the Pacific region. AFSAAP was founded in 1978 and this will be the association’s 40th Annual Conference.

This conference aims to examine the future of African Studies in Australia and New Zealand, and discuss the possible ways forward. The direction of this discussion will be led by your research proposals showcasing African Studies in Australia.

This first call asks you to submit your 200 word paper abstracts or proposals for a panel discussion by June 1st 2017 – email to

This year we will celebrate AFSAAP’s 40th Annual Conference by gathering on the first day at the University of South Australia’s City Campus, and then on the 2nd day of the conference we will all gather at Monarto Zoo’s Waterhole Function Centre situated on the edge of the Africa precinct – that is, Australia’s conservation site re-creating the wild African Serengeti with stunning views of Monarto Zoo’s African animals, including a Giraffe viewing platform a few minutes walk from the venue. Buses will transport conference participants to and from this venue, located 50 minutes from the Adelaide CBD.

Participants will need to book their own accommodation in the centre of Adelaide. Options and Details forthcoming on the conference website

Adelaide – 2017

Presenters will be expected to prepare final papers for inclusion in the Final Conference Proceedings.

Key Dates 2017:
Call for Papers/Panels – Deadline June 1st
Advise of acceptance – June 30th
Registration Opens: July 1st
All Presenters to Register by October 1st
All Participants to register by October 23rd

Dr. Tanya Lyons
AFSAAP President
and on behalf of the
The AFSAAP team.