Cablegate: Remembering Dr. Ralph J. Bunche
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 LAGOS 001504
STATE PLS PASS TO AF/PD, AF/W, ECA/A/E/AF, AFSI/EX
ABUJA FOR CPAO,CAO
ACCRA PLS PASS TO REAC KETEKU
AID PLS PASS TO SARAH MOTEN AFR/SD
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OEXC SCUL NI
SUBJECT: REMEMBERING DR. RALPH J. BUNCHE
1. (U) SUMMARY: In a fitting tribute to the late Dr.
Ralph Johnson Bunche, Nobel Peace Prize winner and
distinguished African-American diplomat, the Public
Affairs Section of the U.S. Consulate General, Lagos,
recently concluded our yearlong program commemorating
the 100th anniversary of his birth. Initiated in 2003,
the program reached over 1,400 Nigerians in 4 states
We employed this program to advance two key Mission
Performance Plan (MPP) goals - promoting democratic
practices and institutions and encouraging peaceful
conflict resolution. Kudos for our colleagues in the
Graphics Department of the Shultz Center; they
provided an excellent Bunche exhibit which we
incorporated into our successful outreach efforts.
Please visit our website at
http://nigeria.usembassy.gov for additional program
coverage. END SUMMARY.
2. (U) Joining people the world over, our yearlong
Bunche tribute recognized the life and legacy of a
great American statesman. As part of this initiative,
PAS Lagos organized 4 events to pay homage to the life,
work, vision, and times of Bunche. These events took
place at the following locations:
A) IWO: at Bowen University (7/24/03)
B) LAGOS: at Nigerian Institute of International
C) ENUGU: at Community Resource Center (2/20/04)
D) ABEOKUTA: at Southwest Resource Center (6/30/04).
3. (U) A summary of the full program follows.
A) IWO: BOWEN UNIVERSITY, JULY 30, 2003
On Thursday July 24, 2003, the first PAS Lagos
centenary celebration of Bunche, drew an audience of
over 800 people to Bowen University, one of Nigeria's
crop of new private institutions. The audience included
a high-level delegation of Nigerian public officials,
Vice Chancellors, Rectors, faculty, students, from
surrounding institutions in southwest Nigeria, to the
semi-rural town of Iwo, Osun State. Held in a
predominantly Muslim area, the event also hosted the
traditional Muslim leader of the town, the Oluwo of
Iwo, and his council members.
The program included a screening of the documentary
film Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey. We commissioned
a paper by Professor Alaba Ogunsanwo of the Political
Science Department, University of Lagos. Ogunsanwo
focused on Bunche's exemplary life of public service;
the Lagos PAO offered remarks on Bunche's legacy from
the American perspective.
COMMENT: Within Nigeria's growing democracy, private
universities are seen as representing a renaissance of
quality education in the country. PAS Lagos is
enthusiastic about collaborative events with private
universities in Nigeria, which are a critical component
of our strategy to advance US interests in Nigeria
particularly in supporting the democratic dispensation.
B) LAGOS: NIGERIAN INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS,
OCTOBER 24, 2003
Held on United Nations Day at the prestigious Nigerian
Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), our second
program reached Nigerians from all walks of life - the
diplomatic corps, academics, civic and business
leaders, among others. The program also featured a
roundtable discussion Ambassador Hamzat Ahmadu chaired
the discussion and former Minister of Education,
Professor Babs Fafunwa, was our keynote speaker.
Professor Fafunwa served with Dr. Bunche at the United
Nations. In an effort to reach younger, wider
audiences in Nigeria, more than 100 students attended
the program from 7 Lagos area schools.
Underscoring the importance of the tribute, Dr. Joy U.
Ogwu, NIIA Director-General flew in from the UN General
Assembly to participate in the program. Mr. Finjap
Njinga, Director of the United Nations Information
Center, Lagos, read a statement commemorating the work
of Bunche by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi A.
The panel presentation paid tribute to the late Dr.
Bunche's legacy as an international diplomat and
statesman, and included first-hand stories of work with
Bunche while he was at the United Nations.
Specifically, Bunche was noted for his tireless work on
behalf of negotiating an armistice agreement between
Israel and four Arab neighbors, in addition to his
promotion of decolonization on the African continent in
the 1950s and 1960s.
RESULTS: The event drew 500 people, a large diverse
audience of diplomats, educators, local government
officials and students -- many of who had not heard of
Dr. Bunche prior to the event. Numerous local media
outlets were present, which resulted in coverage in
Lagos-area newspapers and on Lagos-area radio
stations.. The CG, PAO and CAO each received comments
from participants, inquiring about Bunche, his legacy,
and most importantly his role in shaping international
policy in Sub-Saharan Africa.
ENUGU: COMMUNITY RESOURCE CENTER, FEBRUARY 20, 2004
Representatives from the Lagos PAS provided a
presentation at the Enugu Community Resource Center
(CRC) celebrating the life and contributions of Dr.
Bunche. The program included a PowerPoint presentation
on prominent African Americans, a documentary on the
career and life of Dr. Bunche, a poster show of Dr.
Bunche, a robust question and answer session, and a
closing reception. Approximately 60 contacts, including
prominent Nigerian author Cyprian Ekwensi and former
governor of Enugu State Chief C. C. Onoh, were in
RESULTS: PAS used its convening power to draw prominent
individuals to the program. In so doing, we helped to
put the Enugu Community Resource Center on the map.
Several of our contacts marveled at the USG-supplied
technology center and promised to return to the Enugu
CRC. During a fascinating question and answer session,
issues discussed included the current state of
Nigeria's educational system, approaches to reversing
Nigeria's brain-drain, ways in which to strengthen the
Nigerian film industry, and how Enugu can benefit from
future U.S. programming. Participants were most
appreciative of our efforts and urged us to provide
additional programs to Enugu State.
D) ABEOKUTA: SOUTHWEST RESOURCE CENTER, JUNE 30, 2004
On Wednesday, June 30, the Abeokuta Southwest Resource
Center (SRC), in collaboration with PAS hosted the
final commemorative program to honor the life and times
of Dr. Bunche. Over 100 guests filled the center's
auditorium to participate in the program, the final PAS
tribute to this remarkable man. The program honored
Bunche with an educational poster show, the screening
of the documentary about his life and work. Center
Director Tunde Kuku and Lagos PAO offered brief
remarks. The Anthill Arts Foundation of Lagos provided
a colorful display of artwork to honor Bunche. This
artwork was also done to mark the recent observance of
the International Day of the African Child.
RESULTS: Guests commented on the educational nature of
the program, and requested additional programs be
hosted by the Abeokuta SRC. Program participants
included the Honorable Commissioner for Information,
Ogun State, Mr. Miran Malaolu, as well as assembled
dignitaries from local colleges and universities.
Media presence was also strong, and included reporters
from This Day, New Age, Punch, Vanguard, NTA, O.G.T.V,
Daily Independent, Comet, Champion Newspapers, Ogun
State Broadcasting, National Interest Newspapers,
Tribune, and Daily Times.
4. (U) COMMENT: The yearlong Bunche program reached
diverse Nigerian audiences, in a number of different
geographical locations and in unique settings:
A) We reached over 1,400 total participants including
Christians, Muslims and traditional practitioners.
B) Strong media coverage attained.
C) Target audiences included youth groups, secondary
and university students, school administrators, civic
leaders, local government officials and well-known
D) Events planned in 4 different cities across
Nigeria's south/east and south/west geopolitical zones.
E) The Enugu CRC and Abeokuta SRC are both planned to
become American Corners networks in Nigeria in FY 2005.
In addition, we have provided the CRC Enugu with a
collection of educational advising texts; we plan to
furnish the Southwest Resource Center in Abeokuta with
a set as well. Through working with both groups, PAS
Lagos established broad relationships that will in turn
enhance future programs.
5. (U) COMMENT: We are particularly appreciative of the
support we received from the Shultz Center's Graphics
Department; they developed a poster exhibit featuring
Dr. Bunche and readily shared their files with us. We
were able to incorporate their work into our outreach
6. (U) CONCLUSION: The PAS Lagos Ralph J. Bunche year-
long commemorative program was highly successful at
achieving its core objective of educating Nigerians
about he life and times, social and political impact of
the famous African-American statesman. In addition,
audience participation and interest was lively at each
event, and PAS Lagos was able to distribute a large
amount of information packets about Bunche. Moreover,
we advanced our MPP goals in the area of strengthening
democratic practices and institutions and supporting
peaceful conflict resolution through this innovative
program. The program underscored the positive role of
African-Americans in U.S. diplomacy, and also provided
Nigerians with vital information about U.S. efforts in
support of African independence.