What is the past, present, and future of U.S. policy towards sub-Saharan Africa? Judd Devermont, Director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and Nicole Wilett, Chief of Staff at the Open Society Foundations, sit down with diplomats, journalists, civil society activists, and academics to discuss policy recommendations for the Biden Administration. In 15 minutes or less, these episodes deliver the goods on U.S. relations with African countries, as well as share the best of African music, food, dance, film, and travel.
Benin with Mathias Hounkpe
Judd and Nicole are joined by Mathias Hounkpe (OSIWA) to discuss U.S.-Benin relations. Mathias shares his vision for the Biden strategy toward the coastal West African state, including a shift of resources toward human rights and democratization as well as support on health, electrification, and seaport security. Mathias also stresses the critical need for Washington to protect its democratic identity at home, particularly as it engages on democratization issues in Africa. Plus, they discuss two prominent Beninese figures: singer-songwriter and feminist Angélique Kidjo, nicknamed “Africa’s premier diva” by Time Magazine, and the late Isidore de Souza, a priest who helped bring democracy to Benin in the late 20th century.
Cabo Verde with Ambassador Jorge Tolentino
Judd and Nicole are joined by Ambassador Jorge Tolentino, former Foreign Minister of Cabo Verde, to discuss U.S. relations with the West African island-country. Ambassador Tolentino explains how the Biden administration can work with Cabo Verde to modernize its defense and national security model, which has remained unchanged since Cabo Verde’s independence in 1975. Plus, we hear about some of the rich connections between Cabo Verde and its vast diaspora in the United States and Europe.
The Cape Verdean Blues (album), Horace Silver – Spotify
Paul Gonsalves (artist page) – Spotify
The Tavares Brothers (artist page) - Spotify
Sierra Leone with Ade Daramy
Ade Daramy (Promota Africa Magazine) joins Judd and Nicole to discuss U.S.-Sierra Leone relations and how the Biden administration can prioritize a true partnership based on shared values, particularly the commitment to democracy. Plus, why the U.S. should provide athletic scholarships to Sierra Leoneans and how Sierra Leone—as a key site of the Atlantic slave trade—can better connect with its diaspora in the United States.
Senegal with Dr. Ibrahima Aidara
Judd and Nicole are joined by Dr. Ibrahima Aidara (OSIWA) to discuss U.S.-Senegalese relations, the perception of many Senegalese that Washington has been less vocal on democratic backsliding, corruption, and human rights abuses in the country, and what the Biden administration can focus on going forward (hint: health systems, education infrastructure, and renewable energy). Plus, Dr. Aidara describes the solemn significance of Senegal’s Gorée Island, the largest slave-trading site on the African coast between the 15th and 19th centuries.
The Gambia with Ade Daramy
Judd and Nicole are joined by Ade Daramy to discuss U.S.-Gambian relations, including the role of the Peace Corps and the importance of agriculture-focused partnerships. They also discuss next steps for the Biden administration, including supporting the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, helping to rebuild the military, and directly supporting democracy-focused civil society organizations. Plus, Ade shares the story of how Gambia became The Gambia.
Burkina Faso with Kamissa Camara
Judd and Nicole are joined by Kamissa Camara (Tony Blair Institute & USIP) to talk through the history of U.S. policy toward Burkina Faso, how the Biden administration can grow economic opportunities in the country, and why you should travel to Ouagadougou to attend Fespaco, the largest African film festival in the world.
Love the format and size of the episodes!
Short digestible episodes
This is an awesome resource. I will be able to use it everyday to inform my work and enrich my meetings. Thank you 49!