A Letter from the Center for African Studies Interim Oppenheimer Faculty Director

July 2, 2020


We are pleased to announce that Professor Wafaie Fawzi has been appointed the Interim Oppenheimer Faculty Director at the Center for this upcoming academic year while Professor Emmanuel Akyeampong is on sabbatical. Please find his introductory letter below and join us in welcoming him to the Center!


Dear Friends of the Center,


I hope this message finds you and all of your families in good health. I am delighted to write to you today as I assume the role of Interim Oppenheimer Faculty Director for the Harvard University Center for African Studies for the next year. I am honored to serve in this capacity and would like to thank Provost Alan Garber and Dean Claudine Gay for affording me this opportunity to contribute to the University’s Africa-wide efforts at this time.


CAS has been a special place for me throughout the years that I have been at Harvard. I have benefited from the resources it provided to me as a graduate student, and from the richness of its engagement across Africa as I joined the faculty and sought to develop stronger links with partners on the continent. Over the past four years, it has been a privilege to serve as a member of the Executive Committee of CAS.


The Center’s contributions are more critical today than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the global inequities that exist, with heavier health and economic consequences in Africa given prevailing challenges in healthcare, education, and other sectors. The pandemic has also disproportionately affected communities of color and vulnerable groups worldwide. The recent violent deaths of African Americans expose not only the brutality of chronic interpersonal racism, but also the long-standing systemic racism and structural violence ingrained in many institutions in the United States, and in other parts of the world.


Situated within a great university, CAS has access to talents in almost every domain of knowledge, providing us with an opportunity to contribute to addressing these global challenges. It offers Harvard a platform to learn from and further develop our strong collaborations with many partners in Africa and around the world. The pandemic underscores our interdependence as a global community as we jointly seek to advance knowledge and its application for improving the human condition and promoting human rights.


I am delighted to have been involved with CAS’ achievements in the past few years under Professor Emmanuel Akyeampong’s leadership. I wish Emmanuel a productive sabbatical and look forward to working with all of you to advance our vision for the Center during the coming year. I know that especially during a time of great uncertainty we are facing many challenges. However, this context can also shed light on opportunities to work together to broaden our African collaborations and experiences from this platform that we have built together.


I look forward to updating you about our plans for the different, but exciting, year ahead - a time to consider how to counteract the grave inequalities that pervade our world and a time to promote research and education that foster sustainable development in Africa and beyond. Until then, I welcome you to reach out with any input you may have.


Best wishes,





Interim Oppenheimer Faculty Director, Harvard University Center for African Studies

Richard Saltonstall Professor of Population Sciences
Professor of Epidemiology, Nutrition and Global Health
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


Tel : 617-432-2086

Email: mina@hsph.harvard.edu

Twitter: @wafaie_fawzi