AMERICAN Corners are often the public face of the United States for the people of Zambia and around the world. American Corners are open facilities that welcome youth, academics, journalists, entrepreneurs, and members of the public every day, to build bridges between people of other countries and the United States.
The United States established the American Cultural Centre at central arcades in 1975. Over time, the space became too small and we moved twice more to eventually settle at the COMESA premises in the Central Business District.
The Centre housed the Martin Luther King Jr. Library named in honor of our prominent civil rights leader. The Center was destroyed by fire in 2011 and we went in search of a new partner for the new US program called American Corners.
At the opening of the American Corner Lusaka, the ambassador said he was grateful to the leadership and administration of the National Institute of Public Administration for partnering with us for this beautiful location and dedicated staff to bring our new American Corner to life.
“We are overjoyed with the entrepreneurship, democracy and governance, and health programs that have taken place here so far. Thanks to our partnership with NIPA, we have created a new platform for stronger US-Zambia ties to continue long into the future”.
“I am also pleased to announce that we are dedicating this American Corner to the legacy of a prominent American who we believe represents many of the values that both the United States and Zambia hold so dearly. It is my honor to pronounce this space to be the Maya Angelou American Corner, Ambassador Foote said.
Maya Angelou is an African American female poet, memoirist, playwright, director, and activist who is most celebrated for her literature and poetry. Most of us are familiar with her celebrated biography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Angelou was a promoter of literacy and inspired many to fall in love with reading as we hope that many Zambians do by coming to our American Corners.
As her novel “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” documents, Maya Angelou grew up in the American South during the Jim Crow era where segregation and discrimination were legal in some states.
We celebrate that Angelou was part of the American civil rights movement, who worked on behalf of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and helped to organize marches and fundraise so that the United States could be a better place for all of our citizens.
Maya Angelou’s work to record and celebrate the experience of being an African American woman in the United States was instrumental in helping document and tell the story of America.
Daniel Foote, the U.S. Ambassador to Zambia said: “Our choice in dedicating this American Corner to Angelou reflects our pride in her role in the civil rights struggle, her writing prowess, and her ability to empower, inspire self-confidence, and encourage all of us to dream big for a better future.
“Let me take this time to encourage all of us to get to know the inspiring story of Maya Angelou, other Americans, and of the United States itself here at this American Corner, and at our American Resource Center at the U.S. Embassy, and at our American Corner at Copperbelt University. These spaces are designed to create a better understanding between our two countries. They are free to access and open to the public, he said..
National Institute of Public Administration, as a partner was praised as well as the Government for being an open, collaborative, and positive partner of the United States.
“We are humbled by the presence of Her Honour the Vice President and the Honorable Minister of Higher Education, among other government officials, at our ceremony today.
“I also want to give a special thanks to our Embassy’s American Spaces Director Kathy Goins Mills for her coordination and efforts to make today possible. And to our outstanding Maya Angelou American Corner Coordinator here at NIPA, Mulinda Siamasuku,” he said.
Minister of Higher Educated Nkandu Luo graced the event and spoke on behalf of Vice President Inonge Wina.