Bow Valley College President and CEO honoured with a Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal

Calgary, Sept. 02, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Bow Valley College is proud to announce its President and CEO, Dr. Misheck Mwaba, has been awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal. Dr. Mwaba graciously accepted the award from the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta and the Premier of Alberta at a ceremony in downtown Calgary.

“Receiving this medal in honour of Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is an honour and a privilege,” says Dr. Mwaba. “I am humbled by the distinguished meaning behind it and touched that it is in recognition of my service in post-secondary education, an industry I am passionate about and that continues to inspire me.”

Dr. Mwaba is one of 7,000 Albertans who will be awarded the commemorative medal celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the Throne. It is bestowed upon dedicated individuals who have contributed significantly to the province of Alberta.

Dr. Mwaba was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Bow Valley College in 2020, following his time as Vice President, Academic at the College. His contributions to the post-secondary system include finding innovative ways to make higher education more accessible. He has been recognized as a leader in implementing micro-credentials, including for his critical role in creating a national committee and a pan-Canadian College framework for micro-credentials.

In addition, Dr. Mwaba skillfully navigated Bow Valley College through the pandemic and was instrumental in developing cutting-edge virtual reality technology and a laboratory at the College. He has sat on many prestigious boards and committees at the federal and provincial levels.

“The Queen’s Jubilee Medal is acknowledgement of Dr. Mwaba’s dedication to post-secondary education, his enthusiasm for uncovering contemporary learning options, and removing barriers to students,” says Shannon Bowen-Smed, Chair of the Bow Valley College Board of Governors. “He continues to support economic development in the province of Alberta, helping thousands of students realize their skills and build successful careers.”

Dr. Mwaba is the first Black college president in Alberta history. Originally from Zambia, he is an inspiration to many, including the immigrant community.

About Bow Valley College  

Calgary and region’s largest Comprehensive Community College — with 14,000 full- and part-time students, Bow Valley College helps Open Doors – Open Minds to in-demand jobs in Calgary, Alberta, and Canada. Our graduates contribute to the digital economy, TV & film production, and serve on the frontlines for healthcare and social programs. One of Canada’s top 50 research colleges, Bow Valley College invests in virtual reality (VR), Work Integrated Learning (WIL), micro-credentials, and foundational opportunities.

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Shannon van Leenen
Bow Valley College
403-671-3274
shvanleenen@bowvalleycollege.ca

Mikhail Gorbachev’s death brings many tributes – but his legacy in Africa remains ambiguous

Mikhail Gorbachev was the last leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. He presided over the end of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States as well as the dissolution of the union of socialist republics. In the West, he is commonly seen as a towering historical figure who changed the course of history.

But Gorbachev’s legacy outside the West-Russia binary is more ambivalent. As the Soviets and Americans repaired their rift on Gorbachev’s watch, many of Africa’s political and intellectual elites were full of foreboding. As I’ve documented in past research, the Cold War was a period that provided African nations with considerable international leverage.

The superpower rivalry presented independent nations with unique opportunities to play one side against the other. For instance, Mengistu Haile Mariam, the leader of the Ethiopian Derg, declared himself Marxist-Leninist. This gave him Moscow’s backing in his war against neighbouring Somalia. And Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko successfully lobbied Western powers for military and financial assistance by showcasing his anti-Communist credentials.

In the late 1990s, I spent some time in Nigeria and was surprised to discover that the very same reforms that gave former Soviet citizens (like myself) the cherished opportunities of free speech and travel didn’t have a similarly positive appeal to all my African academic colleagues.

Gorbachev’s reforms of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (opening) – which brought an end to the Cold War – had a quick and devastating impact on the Soviet Union’s commitments in the developing world. Gorbachev overhauled the Soviet economy and opened up Soviet society. He was convinced that his nation was facing an inevitable decline. His ambition was to make the economy more efficient and the everyday existence of Soviet citizens less oppressive.

But by admitting openly to the Soviet Union’s internal problems he diverted attention away from its ideological battles. This diminished the significance of Moscow’s ties with developing nations, particularly those in Africa. Under Gorbachev, the focal point of Soviet foreign policy was a rapprochement with the west.

The global realignment triggered by the end of the Cold War and Gorbachev’s reforms ushered in a period of transition on the African continent. But the outcomes remained uneven. Some oppressive regimes fell; new conflicts arose.

Cold War in Africa

The Cold War was a political and economic rivalry that developed after the second world war between the US and the Soviet Union, and their respective allies. It overlapped with another important historical development – the collapse of the global system of European colonialism and the emergence of the postcolonial world.

In the battle for the hearts and minds (and resources) of the developing world, Africa loomed particularly large. In the words of a prominent Russian historian of Africa, Sergey Mazov, by the 1960s Africa had emerged as a “front of the Cold War”.

In most of the continent’s conflicts, the Soviets took the side of forces fighting for national liberation. This was against European colonialism and, in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), institutionalised racism.

The Soviets and their allies rendered crucial and often decisive support to a variety of liberation causes. Numerous affiliates of powerful independence political parties – such as the ANC in South Africa, MPLA in Angola and Frelimo in Mozambique – undertook political and military training behind the proverbial “Iron Curtain”.

Thousands of young Africans travelled to the Soviet Union on generous educational scholarships. They forged close personal, cultural and sentimental ties, which often endured.

Just like the Americans, who supported anti-Communist forces on the continent, the Soviets propped up African regimes sympathetic to their ideology. As a result, a number of independent African nations developed close political and economic connections with the Soviet Union.

Soviet foreign policy had a major impact in southern Africa. The conclusion of the Cold War facilitated the independence of Namibia from South Africa and the end of South Africa’s direct military involvement in Angola’s civil war. And it ultimately led to the end of apartheid in South Africa. The Soviet Union – which supported the Angolan government and the liberation fighters in Namibia and South Africa – played no small part in these events.

Elsewhere in Africa, the end of the Cold War led to the eventual collapse of the bloody Mengistu Haile Mariam rule in Ethiopia and the termination of the kleptocratic reign of Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire. With the disappearance of the East-West rivalry in the developing world, these regimes lost their ideological and geopolitical significance. This meant that they also lost the support of their former superpower sponsors, the Soviet Union and the US.

Unleashed instability

But the end of the Cold War also unleashed new instability on the continent. This included the implosion of the Somali state, the Rwandan genocide and civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

For a number of observers, these tragedies happened because the global balance had shifted. And that was the outcome of Gorbachev’s reforms.

The Cold War left parts of Africa inundated with weaponry and simmering with unresolved inter-ethnic conflicts. The disintegration of Somalia into conflict during this period had a lot to do with the aftershocks of the 1977-78 Ogaden war. This was a war between the Soviet-supported communist Ethiopia and Somalia.

Under the weight of its own economic troubles the Soviet Union cut down dramatically on foreign aid and withdrew from the continent. For instance, scholarships previously distributed to African students largely dried up as the Soviets discovered “for-profit” education. At the time, Africans residing in the USSR began to complain about the worsening climate of xenophobia and racism in the country.

Putin as an anti-Gorbachev

These memories have lingered among some ruling African elites. The older ANC cadres or Soviet-educated Africans, for instance, now active in political and economic life of their countries. Some of them probably feel that they have few reasons to mourn Gorbachev’s passing. And such sentiments are well understood by Kremlin’s new rulers.

There is probably no politician more committed to this negative vision of Gorbachev’s legacy than the current president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. In a speech in 2005, he famously referred to the Soviet collapse as a “major geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” In the context of Russia’s growing international isolation, Putin has once again made Africa one of the primary objects of Kremlin’s global outreach.“

Source: The Conversation Media Group Ltd

At Least 33 Killed in Eastern DR Congo Clashes, Monitor Says

KINSHASA, DR CONGO — At least 33 people were killed following a militia attack on a town in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a respected monitor said Saturday, raising an earlier reported death toll.

Kivu Security Tracker, the monitor, tweeted that at least 33 people, including militia members and civilians, had died following an attack by the notorious CODECO militia on Mongbwalu in Ituri province.

It did not specify how many of the dead were civilians, however.

The death toll raises an earlier reported death toll of 22 people killed during the attack on Mongbwalu town.

Town mayor Jean-Pierre Bikilisende earlier this week told AFP that 22 bodies were discovered following clashes between the militants and Congolese troops.

Fourteen civilians and eight militants were killed, he said, explaining that CODECO members had been staging attacks since Tuesday in a bid to free fellow fighters captured by Congolese security forces.

AFP was unable to independently confirm the death toll from this week’s attack.

The CODECO — the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo — is a political-religious sect that claims to represent the interests of the Lendu ethnic group.

It is considered one of the deadliest of the more than 120 militias operating in the troubled eastern part of the country and has been blamed for a number of ethnic massacres in Ituri.

Last year, Congo’s government put security officials in charge of Ituri and neighboring North Kivu province in a bid to curb violence, but the attacks continue.

Source: Voice of America

FAO: Lower Food Prices Not Helping Consumers

GENEVA — The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says consumers are not yet feeling the benefits of declining food prices. The FAO says world food commodity prices dipped for the fifth consecutive month in August.

Lower world food prices generally reflect better availability at the global level. However, FAO says, this time, lower wholesale prices have not led to better food access or lower prices for consumers.

FAO Director of the Markets and Trade Division Boubaker Ben-Belhassen said availability has improved, while access to food commodities has not. This, despite declining prices five months in a row.

“This is due to several factors including the persistent high cost of processing and transportation, logistics, and the exchange rate also of currencies of countries as against the U.S. dollar,” he said. “Also, the cost-of-living crisis has affected access. So, that is why we have not seen this decline in prices at the world level translating into lower prices for consumers or at the retail level.”

Ben-Belhassen cautioned that a drop in world prices does not necessarily result in market stability. He said that is subject to the uncertainties and volatility surrounding developments in the energy market and the price of fertilizer.

He said continued high energy and gas prices reduce profitability and increase production costs for farmers. He added that will pose a serious challenge for farmers in the coming year.

He noted the U.N.-brokered Black Sea grain initiative allowing Ukraine to export its grain and other foodstuffs has improved the availability of food on the world market. Prior to the July agreement, Russia had blockaded Ukraine’s three key ports triggering a global food crisis.

Ben-Belhassen said the better availability of food on the global level has not translated into greater access at the consumer level. He said the increased shipment of goods from Ukraine has not alleviated food scarcity in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing countries. He noted that is because most grain exports go to middle-income countries.

“So, it does not really go to those countries that are most affected or are most in need for better domestic supplies,” he said. “We hope the situation will improve with time. We hope that the shipment also will go to these countries.… We are still concerned about access, about the cost-of-living crisis.”

The FAO official says families in low- and middle-income countries tend to spend 50% to 60% of their monthly income on food. He warned the implication for food security could be very serious if consumer food prices do not drop significantly.

Source: Voice of America