HOUSTON / ATLANTA / MONROVIA

Southeast Model African Union (SEMAU) 26th Annual Conference

At the invitation of Dr. Nuri Akinyemi, Professor at Kennesaw University and Co-Director, of the Southeast Model African Union (SEMAU), On November 8, 2023, I had the pleasure of attending the 26th Annual SEMAU Conference reception where the distinguished guest of honor for the occasion was His Excellency, Mr. Chibamba Kanyama, Ambassador of the Republic of Zambia to the United States of America. The SEMAU conference took place from November 9th-11, 2023. I also attended the Opening Ceremony on August 9th. 

SEMAU topics of discussion include Social Matters, Democracy, Governance & Human Rights, Economic Matters, Environment & Climate Change, Peace & Security and other matters. 

The annual event, organized by the University System of Georgia’s African Council, is known as a beacon of diplomacy, cooperation, and youth leadership. SEMU is to help fosterer a deeper understanding of African affairs, promoting dialogue, and nurturing the leadership skills of future diplomats, policymakers, and global citizens. 

History of The Southeast Model African Union (SEMAU)

The Southeast Model African Union (SEMAU) was included as an agenda item at one of the University System of Georgia Council on International Education’s (SCIE) Regents Advisory Council on Africa (RACA) meetings in the mid-1990s. The main idea was to bring Africa as close to the students as possible by simulating the activities of the African Union, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The SEMAU simulation will be the closest most of our students will come to studying abroad in Africa. Students will role-play as ambassadors of African countries and they will be charged with debating African issues and exploring solutions to those issues. 

RACA is the forerunner of the University System Africa Council (USAC). The first SEMAU simulation was held in November 1997 in Macon with Professor Mary Mears, Macon State College, as the first SEMAU Director, under the guidance of Professors Saba Jallow and Alfred Young, of Georgia Southern University, who had served as faculty advisors at the National Model African Union simulation, created and hosted by Professor Michael Nwanze at Howard University, Washington, D.C. Macon was selected as the first venue for SEMAU because of its central location and the fact that all SCIE meetings were held in Macon. A consensus was reached earlier by RACA to have the simulation held in Macon for at least five years in order to have a sense of history and establish a tradition. Once that objective was achieved and SEMAU received name recognition and significance, USAC, under the able chairmanship of Professor Lovett Elango of Kennesaw State University, decided that other schools should be given the opportunity to submit bids in order to host SEMAU. Thus, many universities were able to host SEMAU by providing conference venues, and subsidizing the costs of the simulation. Overall, this experiential model of learning has benefited hundreds of students since the inception of SEMAU in 1997. 

The University System of Georgia professors who have served as SEMAU Directors include Professors Mary Mears (Macon State College), Saba Jallow (Georgia Southern University), Mundia J. Kahiga (Georgia Perimeter College), Florence Wakoko and John Studstill (Columbus State University) , Eustace Palmer and Funke Fontenot (Georgia College and State University), Chester Fontenot (Mercer University), Nuru Akinyemi (Kennesaw State University), Akinloye Ojo (University of Georgia), Angela R. Bratton and Augustine Hammond (Augusta State University), Emmanuel Naniuzeyi (Savannah State University), Augustine Ayuk (Clayton State University), Co-directors Nneka Nora Osakwe and Annalease Gibson (Albany State University). Some of the SEMAU Directors served as hosts twice. This year we are fortunate to have Professors Nurudeen Akinyemi and Ikechukwu Ukeje of Kennesaw State University as the SEMAU Directors. This 26th Annual SEMAU graciously welcomes two universities outside of the state of Georgia, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York, and Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey. 

The Southeast Model African Union would not have been the successful teaching tool that it is without the commitment and dedication of USG faculty and administrators, past and present, in nurturing the program and preparing their students for this simulation exercise every year. Our gratitude and appreciation go to all of them. 

Welcome Messages were provided by SEMAU leadership welcoming delegations representing African Nations to the KSU campus, including Tammy Rosner, EdD, University System of Georgia, Director of International Education and from the Associate Vice Provost for Global Engagement from Dr. Sheb True.

Message from the Chair, University System of Georgia Africa Council (USAC) 

Dear Honorable Guests, Delegates, and Faculty Advisors: 

As Chair of the University System of Georgia Africa Council (a consortium of 26 public universities and colleges, including some private institutions), it gives me the greatest pleasure and honor to welcome you to the 26th annual Southeast Model African Union Conference at Kennesaw State University, Georgia. SEMAU Conference provides a unique experience because the University System Africa Council (USAC) is the only one of the four World Regional Councils set up by the Board of Regents’ System Council on International Education (SCIE) that engages students in this experiential exercise to practice the art of diplomacy, while, at the same time, learn about a particular continent-Africa and the issues facing it, and also to explore possible solutions to its problems. SEMAU itself is a simulation of the annual meeting of Heads of State of the African Union (AU), and it is really a big Conference on African affairs that gives students an unprecedented opportunity to learn about all facets of African life. 

To the student delegates, this conference is student-focused, therefore you are at the center of gravity. As such, it is indeed a pleasure to have you at the 2023 SEMAU Conference. You have selected a particular African country to represent. As ambassadors of the countries you are representing, you must take on the character of your selected countries, and that requires that you understand very intimately the position of your country on the issues being debated in your various committees. Under the guidance of your esteemed faculty advisors, you have spent the last few months in intense preparation, attending lectures, researching your individual countries and agenda topics, practicing the rules, and honing your debate skills. Through your semester practice, you have diligently informed yourselves, not only about African affairs in general, but also about the nature, policies, and attitudes of the individual country you are representing at this Conference. I have no doubts that you are now ready with the required knowledge and skills for effective deliberation in your various committees in the three days of the Conference. In the most African spirit, your task is to work collaboratively as a team with your fellow delegates, as ambassadors and policy makers representing African countries, to find African solutions to African problems. At the end of your deliberations, the resolutions you passed will be sent to the African Union Mission in Washington, DC, for consideration and they may end up at the African Union 

Headquarters at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Thus, your work here is not just theoretical exercise, but one with practical implications that may impact the work of the African Union. 

This simulation of the proceedings of heads of state and government of the African Union (AU) is a splendid exercise. The exercise is designed not only to enrich your understanding of African affairs, but also to hone your diplomatic, leadership and conflict resolution skills. It also constitutes hands-on experiential learning or learning beyond the classroom experience, which are very much in line with the features of two educational pillars that the University System of Georgia increasingly emphasizes: the acquisition of global or international competence and hands-on experiential learning. These are defining skills of the twenty-first century that give competitive advantage in virtually all walks of life. Therefore, USAC congratulate you so highly for being very much in step with some of the urgent drives that the University System of Georgia in particular and world in general values immensely. 

Beyond providing great opportunity for high-impact learning and well-established global competitive advantage skills, the SEMAU Conference also creates opportunity for fraternization and lifelong friendships. Therefore, take the time to have fun and socialize especially during the African Night on Friday and make new friends and rekindle old friendships. 

To the faculty advisors, there is no amount of thanks that is enough for your dedication for your students and to the cause. Year after year for 26 years, you spent countless hours outside your normal course load to recruit, prepare, and coach your students for this model. There is no iota of doubt whatsoever, that you are a true believer to the cause and no question among the best that the University System of Georgia has to offer. For this labor of love, I am immensely grateful and lucky to serve as your Chair. 

We must extend our utmost gratitude to our host institution, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, its extended communities, and to the SEMAU Director, Dr. Nuru Akinyemi, Co-Director, Dr. Ike Ukeje, International Project Development & Compliance Manager, Ms. Saundra Rogers, and the Conference Organizing Committee for the planning and preparation for this year’s Conference. 

On behalf of the University System of Georgia Africa Council, again, welcome to the 26th Southeast Model African Union Conference. We wish you a highly successful Conference. 

Thank you and may God Almighty continue to bless you. 

Sincerely, 
Dr. Charles Ubah, University System of Georgia Africa Council 
Email: charles.ubah@gcsu.edu

The guest speaker for the occasion was His Excellency, Mr. Chibamba Kanyama, Ambassador of the Republic of Zambia to the United States of America.

Letter from Dr. Nuru

Dear Honorable Delegates

It is our pleasure to welcome you to Kennesaw State University, and to the 26th Annual Southeast Model African Union conference. You have spent the last few months researching your individual countries and agenda topics, practicing the rules and honing your debating skills. You are now prepared to put those skills and knowledge to use today and in the next two days. Your task is to work collaboratively with your fellow delegates, as ambassadors and policy makers representing African countries, to find African solutions to African problems and challenges. 

Through this simulation exercise, you will come to understand the challenges of policy making in complex and interrelated issue areas, such as, sustainable food supply, refugee movement and migration, gender and reproductive rights, global climate change and global terrorism, economic development and political stability, peace and security. While you must represent your individual countries’ interests, you must also work with fellow member states to find sustainable and practical solutions, in the spirit of cooperation instead of competition, pan Africanism instead of nationalism, and collective consensus driven instead of unilateral pursuit of selfish self-interest. We urge you to take this exercise very seriously because these are issues of critical importance to real people’s lives, in real countries, not just on the African continent, but across our interconnected and interdependent world.

If you approach your deliberations in this spirit, you would have contributed to an exciting and productive learning experience for everyone. If you should need any assistance in the next two days, please do not hesitate to contact us or any of the faculty advisors. 

We wish you pleasant, vibrant and productive deliberations.

Dr. Nuru Akinyemi
Co-Director, SEMAU 2023

Dr. Ikechukwu Ukeje
Co-Director, SEMAU 2023

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