Thursday, April 10, 2008

Southern Center for International Studies presents an evening on


Tuesday, April 22

This month’s briefing will take us to Zimbabwe, a country that just recently experienced a historic – yet still unresolved – election on March 29th. Robert Mugabe, the country’s 84-year-old liberation hero - turned - autocrat, and his ZANU-PF party is refusing to yield to the claims of the opposition that its candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the presidential election. Besides the current political crisis, the country is also in the midst of a troubling economic, social and hunger crisis. Unemployment is reported to have risen to 80%, annual inflation to 100,000%, and food shortages are affecting four million people.

Our panel of speakers will include Elizabeth Bara, Tom Arsenault, Francis Musoni, and Boniface Hlabano. Elizabeth and Tom are co-founders of the nonprofit organization ASAP that works to promote community development in rural communities in Zimbabwe and other parts of Southern Africa. They will address their philosophy, approaches and problems with development work in the context of Zimbabwe from their hands-on perspective. Francis and Boniface will discuss the recent election, current stalemate, and the possible future scenarios for the country.

Elizabeth Bara grew up in Oregon, where she lived and worked until age 30 after earning a BS in Biology from Portland State University. In the Peace Corps (‘88-‘90) she taught science and math at Masiphula High School in Swaziland, and met and married Tom Arsenault, also a Peace Corps volunteer, who was teaching business, technical drawing and woodworking. In 1991, Elizabeth and Tom moved to Sacramento and co-founded the nonprofit organization A Self-help Assistance Program - ASAP. They returned to Africa, this time to Zimbabwe where they lived and worked for eleven years, from May 1994 until May 2005. Since returning to the U.S., Tom started a gourmet coffee roasting center called On Safari Coffee in Peachtree City, Georgia to help fund ASAP’s projects and Elizabeth continues to direct ASAP’s projects in Zimbabwe.

Francis Musoni is a PhD student in African History at Emory University. His research focuses on “Forced Displacements and the Politics of Belonging/Exclusion in Zimbabwe.” He holds a Masters Degree in History and a Graduate Certificate in Education from the University of Zimbabwe. Before joining Emory University in 2006, Francis taught history to High School teachers in the Curriculum and Arts Education Department of the University of Zimbabwe. In 2005 he was a visiting scholar in the Five College African Scholars Program at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. In January 2006 he participated in the Cape Town Democracy and Diversity Graduate Institute jointly organized by the Trans-regional Center for Democratic Studies at the New School for Social Research (New York), in partnership with the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA). In February 2007 he attended the Georgia International Leadership Conference in Eatonton, Georgia.

Boniface Hlabano is a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow at Emory University. He is studying HIV Prevention and Health Program Management in the Rollins School of Public Health. Back in Zimbabwe, Mr. Hlabano is the Executive Director of Matabeleland AIDS Council, one of very few local NGOs working in the HIV/AIDS field. He is a graduate of both The Zimbabwe Open University and the University of South Africa where he received his BA English and Communication Studies and Social Behavior Studies in HIV/AIDS, respectively. Mr. Hlabano has deep-rooted interests in Social Justice and Human Rights and is involved in several efforts to make Zimbabwe a highly democratic country.

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