Oct. 20, 2005

African statesman and former president of Botswana will speak at Cornell, Oct. 31

Sir Quett Ketumile Masire, former president of Botswana, will visit the Cornell University campus Oct. 31 and give an evening address, free and open to the public. Masire's talk, at 6:30 p.m. in the Biotechnology Building conference hall, is titled "Development of Sustainable Leadership in Africa: The Botswana Example."

During his visit, sponsored by the Institute for African Development at Cornell, Masire also will meet with students and faculty to discuss his role in the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) investigation of the 1994 Rwanda genocide, his experience as the principal mediator in the 2001 and 2002 peace talks to end the civil war in Congo, and the importance of promoting sustainable development in Africa.

Says Muna Ndulo, director of the Institute for African Development: "Quett Masire is a leading African statesman and one of the architects of modern Botswana, a country whose economic achievements and governance record are examples to the rest of Africa as it struggles to establish good governance."

In the course of his political career, Masire helped transform Botswana from one of the least-developed countries in the world to a non-racial democracy. He was president of Botswana from 1980 to 1998, vice president from 1966 to 1980, deputy prime minister from 1965 to1966, and co-founder of the Botswana Democratic Party in 1962. He served as the party's first secretary until 1966, when Botswana gained its independence from Great Britain.

During his term as president, Masire also served as chair of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) from 1981 to 1984, first vice-chairman of the Organization for African Unity in 1991, and co-chair of the Global Coalition for Africa - a position he still holds. He was also an active participant in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. He retired voluntarily from the presidency two years before the end of his term of office in 1998 and moved on to become an active leader in continental humanitarian and peace-keeping efforts, promoting good governance and representative democracy in Africa. Masire served as chairman of the OAU's committee investigating the 1994 genocides in Rwanda between 1998 and 2000, a member of the Observer Group to the Nigerian assembly and presidential elections of 1999, and facilitator of the Inter-Congolese National Dialogue between 2000 and 2003.

For more information on Masire's visit, contact the Institute for African Development at (607) 255-5499/6849.