Kenyan Ambassador to the U.S. to Speak at U.Va. Dinner

October 27, 2010 — Elkanah Odembo, ambassador to the U.S. from the Republic of Kenya, will visit the University of Virginia on Oct. 30 to deliver the keynote address at the "Taste of Africa" student-faculty dinner, an event the Organization of African Students holds each year.

His talk, "Knowledge is Power: Translating Academics Into Development, The Role of the African Diaspora," will take place at 7 p.m. in Newcomb Hall's South Meeting Room. It is open to the public, with the purchase of tickets that are $4 in advance and $8 at the door.

A reception will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. in Newcomb Hall's Kaleidescope Room prior to the dinner.

U.Va. President Teresa Sullivan will attend, along with invited faculty members.

The dinner brings together students and faculty interested in and studying African affairs to share ideas. The group also meets periodically to give presentations on research and topics relevant to Africa.

"The keynote speech, delivered to the largest single gathering of Africanists on Grounds, provides impetus for Africa-related action and thinking, particularly on the student front," said Lolan Sagoe-Moses, vice president of the Organization of African Students and co-chair of the African Studies Initiative.

Odembo was the founding director of Ufadhili Trust [link to:], the Centre for Philanthropy and Social Responsibility, a Kenyan institution that seeks to promote the spirit of giving, philanthropy and the use of local resources to improve people's lives through corporate social responsibility, cross-sector partnership, technical assistance and policy research.

The former ambassador to France, Odembo has held other roles in non-governmental organizations, as well as in government. Committed to bringing development to the rural and underprivileged, he works with businesses to become involved in social development through corporate social responsibility policies and programs.

In addition, Odembo is a senior fellow of the Synergos Institute, a non-profit organization based in New York with a mission of reducing global poverty through partnerships that bring together government, business, civil society and local communities. He is also a fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative, a program of the Aspen Institute's Global Leadership Network.

— By Anne Bromley