Last month, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies welcomed 25 Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Mandela Washington Fellows to conduct a one-day simulation focused on solving some of Africa’s pressing security concerns.
The simulation portrayed an ongoing insurgency that suddenly undergoes a dramatic intensification of violence and threatens to spread the conflict not only throughout the country, but across borders. The insurgency and the national response expose not only the institutional weaknesses and governing failures that call into question the country’s ability to manage the crisis, but also the religious, historical, cultural, and social links with insurgent groups abroad, thereby internationalizing the conflict.
For the activity, the Mandela Fellows were divided into groups representing a regional economic community, a continental organization, and the international community. In their roles, the fellows briefed a panel of experts, which included Africa Center director Kate Almquist Knopf; the former senior vice-president of the National Defense University, Ambassador Wanda L. Nesbitt; and former official of UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ibrahim Wani. This structure allowed the Fellows to receive realistic feedback on their decisions and decision-making process, while also engaging in a discussion about the many threats to peace and stability in Africa.
YALI is a U.S. presidential initiative to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Hailing from 19 countries, the simulation participants were part of a group of 1,000 Fellows spending six weeks at universities and colleges across the United States. The group that visited the Africa Center is pursuing a course on civic leadership, one of four possible courses of study that also includes business and entrepreneurship, public management, and energy.