On Wednesday, April 18, 2018, NYU Africa House held its Biennial Africa House Gala Celebration at New York University’s Kimmel Center for University Life, Rosenthal Pavilion, from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. During the gala, we celebrated Africa House’s achievements, progress, and vision for the future.
The gala featured a cocktail reception and dinner with African cuisine, special musical entertainment, and the Africa House Awards Presentation. During the presentation, we honored individuals and organizations that embody the spirit and values of Africa House and inspire us in the pursuit of our mission.
Africa House Presidential Award
His Excellency Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Former President of the United Republic of Tanzania (2005 to 2015), Africa House Visiting Scholar in Residence (Spring 2018)
Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete is a Former President of the United Republic of Tanzania (2005 to 2015). He previously held various key positions as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Finance and Minister of Energy and Minerals from 1994 to 2005. During and after his presidency, he continued to be active and instrumental in championing a development agenda with a special focus on women and children. Dr. Kikwete has served as the Co-Chair of the UN Commission of Information and Accountability on Women’s and Children’s Health, Chairperson of the United Nations High Level Panel on the Global Response to Health Crisis, and Chairperson of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA).
After his retirement, Dr. Kikwete assumed leadership roles in different capacities as Co-Chair of the UN High Level Advisory Group on Every Woman Every Child; Member of the UN Lead Group on Scaling Up Nutrition, the Global Ambassador for Immunization, Member of the World Malaria Council; Commissioner of the International Education Commission for Financing Global Education Opportunity; Co-Chair of the World Refugee Council; African Union High Level Representative on Libya and; Chairman of the Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete Foundation.
Africa House Leadership Award
Dr. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export–Import Bank (Afreximbank)
Dr. Oramah assumed the position of President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export–Import Bank (Afreximbank) in September 2015. At the 2017 African Banker Awards Ceremony, Dr. Oramah was named the African Banker of the Year.
Prior to his current role, he was the Executive Vice President responsible for Business Development and Corporate Banking (BDCB), a position he occupied from October 2008 to September 2015. As Executive Vice President, Dr. Oramah supervised the Business Development functions, namely: Trade Finance, Project and Export Development Finance, Syndications and Specialized Finance (SSF), and Corporate Finance and Advisory Services (CFAS). He also supervised the Research and Knowledge Management Functions of the Bank. Further, he assisted the then President of the Bank in overseeing the Bank’s Strategic Planning and International Cooperation Functions. Dr. Oramah joined Afreximbank as Chief Analyst in 1994 and was promoted to the position of Senior Director, Planning and Business Development in 2007. Prior to joining Afreximbank, he held the position of Assistant Research Manager at the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) from 1992 to 1994.
Dr. Oramah holds an Advanced Management Certificate from Columbia University obtained in 2015, and M.Sc. and Ph.D. Degrees in Agricultural Economics obtained in 1987 and 1991, respectively, from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He obtained a B.Sc. degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria in 1983. He recently published a book titled Foundations of Structured Trade Finance and has written over 35 professional/scholarly articles on a wide range of African economic, trade and trade finance issues.
He is a regular speaker at several trade and trade finance conferences around the world. Dr. Oramah is a Member of the Emerging Markets Advisory Council of the Institute of International Finance (IIF), a Member of the Executive Committee of the Factors Chain International (FCI), a Member of the Consultative Board on the World Cocoa Economy of the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) and a Fellow of the Institute of Credit Administration (FICA). He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Trade and Forfaiting Review (TFR) and the Journal of African Trade (JAT). He is married and has three children.
Africa House Hero Award
Professor Deborah Willis, Ph.D., University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
Deborah Willis, Ph.D., is University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and has an affiliated appointment with the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Social & Cultural, Africana Studies, where she teaches courses on Photography & Imaging, iconicity, and cultural histories visualizing the black body, women, and gender. Her research examines photography’s multifaceted histories, visual culture, the photographic history of Slavery and Emancipation; contemporary women photographers and beauty.
She received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and was a Richard D. Cohen Fellow in African and African American Art, Hutchins Center, Harvard University; a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, and an Alphonse Fletcher, Jr. Fellow. She has pursued a dual professional career as an art photographer and as one of the nation’s leading historians of African American photography and curator of African American culture.
Willis is the author of Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present; Out [o] Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty; Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers – 1840 to the Present; Let Your Motto be Resistance – African American Portraits; Family History Memory: Photographs by Deborah Willis; VANDERZEE: The Portraits of James VanDerZee; and co-author of The Black Female Body A Photographic History with Carla Williams; Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery with Barbara Krauthamer; and Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs (both titles a NAACP Image Award Winner). She lectures widely and has authored many papers and articles on a range of subjects including The Image of the Black in Western Art, Gordon Parks Life Works, Steidl, Volume II; America’s Lens in Double Exposure: Through the African American Lens;“Photographing Between the Lines: Beauty, Politics and the Poetic Vision of Carrie Mae Weems,” in Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography & Video, and “Malick Sidibé: The Front of the Back View” in Self: Portraiture and Social Identity. Professor Willis is editor of Picturing Us: African American Identity in Photography; and Black Venus 2010: They Called Her “Hottentot”, which received the Susan Koppelman Award for the Best Edited Volume in Women’s Studies by the Popular Culture/American Culture Association in 2011.
Exhibitions of her art work include: A Sense of Place, Frick, University of Pittsburgh; Regarding Beauty, University of Wisconsin, Interventions in Printmaking: Three Generations of African-American Women, Allentown Museum of Art; A Family Affair, University of South Florida; I am Going to Eatonville, Zora Neale Hurston Museum; Afrique: See you, see me; Progeny: Deborah Willis +Hank Willis Thomas. Gantt Center.
Professor Willis’s curated exhibitions include: “Convergence”, Joan Mitchell Center, New Orleans; “Out [o] Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty,” Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, “Visualizing Emancipation,” Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, “Gordon Parks: 100 Moments,” Schomburg Center; “Posing Beauty Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits” at the International Center of Photography and, “Social in Practice: The Art of Collaboration”, Nathan Cummings Foundation.
In addition to making art, writing and teaching, she has served as a consultant to museums, archives, and educational centers. She has appeared and consulted on media projects including the documentary films such as Through A Lens Darkly, Question Bridge: Black Males, a transmedia project, which received the ICP Infinity Award 2015, and American Photography, PBS Documentary. Since 2006 she has co-organized thematic conferences exploring imaging the black body in the West. Professor Willis has been elected to the board of the Society for Photographic Education, where she was Chair of the Board and received the Honored Educator Award in 2012 and the College Art Association. She holds honorary degrees from Pratt Institute and the Maryland Institute, College of Art. She is currently researching a book on an early 20th century portraitist and educator.
Africa House Vision Award
Kehinde Wiley, Artist
Kehinde Wiley has firmly situated himself within art history’s portrait painting tradition. As a contemporary descendent of a long line of portraitists, including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, and Ingres, among others, Wiley engages the signs and visual rhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic and the sublime in his representation of urban, black and brown men and women found throughout the world. By applying the visual vocabulary and conventions of glorification, history, wealth and prestige to the subject matter drawn from the urban fabric, the subjects and stylistic references for his paintings are juxtaposed inversions of each other, forcing ambiguity and provocative perplexity to pervade his imagery.
Kehinde Wiley holds a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute; an MFA from Yale University; and an honorary PhD from Rhode Island School of Design. His paintings are in the collections of over forty museums including the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Brooklyn Museum. Selected museum exhibitions include The National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Phoenix Art Museum; Jewish Museum, New York; the Brooklyn Museum; the Petit Palais, Paris; BOZAR, Brussels; the Phoenix Museum of Art; the Toledo Museum of Art; and the Modern, Fort Worth, among others. His work has been the subject of ten monographs to date. Wiley was recently the subject of the documentary, An Economy of Grace (2014, Show of Force).
Wiley was honored in 2015 by the U.S. Department of State with the Medal of Arts award, celebrating his commitment to cultural diplomacy through the visual arts. In February 2018, his portrait of Barack Obama was added to the permanent installation of presidential portraits in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. He lives and works in New York.
Africa House Vision Award
J. Max Bond, Jr., Architect and Educator
The late J. Max Bond, Jr. was recognized internationally as one of the United States’ leading architects and educators. Mr. Bond won early recognition for the design of the Bolgatanga Library in Ghana, and followed that with such projects as the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, and major research laboratories at Harvard, Columbia and Northwestern Universities. In addition to recognition for award-winning architecture, Mr. Bond established a reputation as a designer who worked closely with his clients and their local communities to understand their needs and project goals. His technical ability, wisdom and insight were resources that served his clients and staff.
Early in his career, Mr. Bond, who was fluent in French, lived in France as a Fulbright Scholar, later working in the office of André Wogenscky. After returning to New York, Mr. Bond ventured to Ghana, where he taught and practiced. Upon his return to the United States, Mr. Bond helped establish and became executive director of the Architects Renewal Committee of Harlem (ARCH), one of the early community design centers that developed during the late 1960s and early 1970s. After two years with ARCH, he cofounded Bond Ryder and Associates, which quickly became one of the leading African-American architecture firms in New York and the East Coast. As a Commissioner of the New York City Planning commission from 1980-1986, Mr. Bond was actively involved in the city’s approvals and planning process. Mr. Bond merged his firm with Davis Brody & Associates in 1990 and served as Partner-in-Charge of many of the firm’s significant academic and institutional projects.
Yacouba Sissoko, Musician
Yacouba Sissoko was born in Kita, Mali, to a well-known djely family. Djelys for centuries have been the traditional musicians and keepers of the factual history and fables of past rulers, nobles, social groups and families. The kora was the traditional instrument that djelys played.
At the age of 9, Yacouba started learning the kora and the oral traditions associated with it from his grandfather until he moved to Bamako, Mali’s capital, to attend the National Institute of the Arts. Based in the capital, he caught the attention of the music world and began touring with noted international African artists which eventually led him to settle in the United States in 1998.
With an intention to introduce and share the stories of his people but also to learn from other musicians and cultures, Yacouba incorporates a variety of musical influences into his repertoire, and as such has developed his own unique style of kora.
He has performed, toured and recorded with well-known African musicians such as Baaba Maal, Sekou (Bambino) Diabate and Kerfala Kante. Yacouba, not limited to African music, has also recorded and performed with a variety of artists including Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, and Lauren Hill. He has recorded tracks on over 15 CDs.
Rooted to give back to the community, Yacouba regularly performs for cultural programs and benefit concerts. In 2007, in recognition of his commitment to educating others, he was selected as a Teaching Artist by the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall and returned again to Carnegie Hall in 2016, as a featured artists in the Musical Explorers Program in New York, NY and Savannah, GA. He also received a Sunshine Award for Performing Arts, African Music in 2016.
Yacouba continues to blend effortlessly with other musical styles, whether it is performing Indian ragas or Appalachian tunes. Yacouba can be seen regularly touring with Regina Carter, Rachel Brown, Jordana de Lovely, Oran Etkin, Kavita Shah, Benyoro and his own band SIYA. His first solo CD SIYA was released in 2017.
Photo Credit: ©Goldman: Courtesy of NYU Photo Bureau