Director's Message: Welcome to Fall 2021

October 29, 2021

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It has been wonderful to be back on campus these first few months of the Fall semester since the closure in March 2020. I have returned this semester from a year-long sabbatical, and it is a joy to be able to teach in-person. The Harvard COVID-19 protocols including indoor mask requirements and frequent testing have been adopted very well by the Harvard community. This has allowed us to be able to have in-person classes, see students and colleagues on campus, and host in-person events that adhere to the University’s guidelines. While we disseminate a majority of our public events virtually, our community continues to produce Africa-related content across the University.

Inter-school collaboration across the University remains vibrant. In September, we co-sponsored the Harvard Defeating Malaria Initiative’s two-day webinar focused on "Rethinking Malaria in the Context of COVID–19.” Then in October, insights from this webinar informed a presentation by Professor Rose Gana Fomban Leke, the co-chair of the initiative, and Dean Michelle Williams of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health at the WHO’s 20th Meeting of the Malaria Policy Advisory Group.

As part of the Center’s Africa-Asia Initiative, we collaborated with the Harvard University Asia Center and the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies on The Future of Africa-China Engagement/Relations. I moderated a session with expert panelists, who offered in-depth explorations of the complex Africa-China relationship as we approach the 2021 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Dakar.

I am pleased to announce that fellows will be joining us this academic year from Ethiopia, Ghana, South Africa, and Uganda. During the Fall semester, the Postdoctoral Research Fellows will continue their independent research projects under the mentorship of CAS faculty affiliates. Harvard South Africa Fellows will join us on campus throughout the academic year as they begin their programs at Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Applications are now open for our second cycle of the Motsepe Presidential Research Accelerator Fund for Africa. The Fund was launched last year and attracted interest from faculty from across the University, demonstrating Harvard's interest in and commitment to faculty-led and student-driven research projects that focus on advancing key challenges and opportunities facing Africa. Thanks to the generosity of the Motsepe Foundation, funding for the next award cycle has been increased, and projects that bring the arts and humanities into the conversation with STEM are invited under the RFP. The deadline to apply is November 12, 2021.

I am encouraged that we were able to continue our efforts in a virtual format from recruiting fellows, to awarding grants to students and faculty to further their work on the African continent, as well as to connect with partners on successful virtual programming. I look forward to the rest of this academic year as we work to facilitate collaborations between Harvard and Africa, virtually and in person.

Kind Regards,




Emmanuel K. Akyeampong, Ph.D.

Ellen Gurney Professor of History

and of African and African American Studies

Oppenheimer Faculty Director

Harvard University Center for African Studies

1280 Massachusetts Ave., 3rd Floor

Cambridge, MA 02138

Office: 617-496-3684; Fax: 617-496-0621