Founded in 1953, AAI is a premier U.S.-based international organization dedicated to strengthening human capacity in Africa and promoting the continent’s development through higher education and skills training, convening activities, program implementation and management. In this interview, THANDISIZWE MGUDLWA got The president of AAI, Kofi Appenteng, to dwell more on AAI’s work in Africa.
1. As the President of AAI, what’s the significance of ‘Celebrating African Changemakers’?
There have been more than 15,000 scholarship recepients from AAI programs spanning more than six decades. Our alumni gatherings celebrate these individuals and allow them, in their own words to tell their fascinating stories. Collectively, their voices reveal how they have contributed to many of the positive achievements of Afro descendants. This is what we mean by ‘Celebrating African Changemakers’.
2. What can AAI show as proof of their effectiveness in Africa?
First we have been asking our over 15,000 Alumni, what role our education, training and enrichment programs played in enabling them to become leaders. We are capturing this in a Pan African video project. We believe that our impact is best assessed by understanding the role our Alumni believe their AAI experience played in their lives.
3. When did you become President of AAI? And why?
I offically took on the role of President and CEO in October of 2016 after the public announcement was made during our annual awards gala in September of 2016. Being Ghanaian born but having lived many of my formative experiences in American educational institutions, AAI’s mission feels more like a calling than a job. Being asked to serve by the board is my greatest professional honor.
4. Since you became President of AAI, what are the most notable experiences you have encountered?
First, I have a great team, board and partner institutions that make every day feel purposeful. The opportunities to engage directly and personally are the most rewarding. Meeting with writers and intellectuals like Ayi Kwei Armah, Ousseina Alidou, Claude Ribbe and Henry Louis Gates; meeting with creative talents like David Oyelowo, Amma Asante and Pierre Goudiaby Atepa; meeting principled leaders like Nana Akuffo-Addo, Hague Geingob, Jorge Ferrao and Joachim Chissano; and I could go on and on…..
5. Are there any obstacles standing in the way of AAI achieving its aims and objectives?
So long as we have the imagination and courage to be bold, the sky is the limit!
6. If yes, what are they?
7. How are you addressing them?
8. Overall, can you say that AAI is winning in achieving its goals?
AAI has achieved a great deal under the leadership of my predecessors. Time will tell whether our team can build on those accomplishments but, at the early stage in this new chapter, we feel good about the progress that we are making.
9. What’s next for AAI?
We have an extensive calendar lineup. Our 33rd Annual Awards gala will be held in New York during the UN General Assembly in September during which time we will make some key announcements.
10. Do you have any other additional information you would like to share with the public?
Get involved and get in touch!
We are on the web at www.aaionline.org