"This initiative will develop vibrant programs to promote a deeper understanding of the world’s cultural heritage and create a unique platform to foster learning, creativity, and innovation within the field," Ashamu says.
A component of the initiative is the launch of the Yale Directors Forum, a fellowship programme tailored for leaders of museums, cultural centres, libraries, archives, and heritage sites, all of which play an integral role in preserving cultural heritage for present and future generations in Africa.
The 18-month programme will give participants the opportunity to work with leading experts at Yale and across the globe and receive executive coaching and advisory services on the preservation and care of collections.
Yale University president, Peter Salovey, who established the Yale Africa Initiative in 2013, said the new programme underscores Yale’s commitment to prioritising and expanding its engagement with Africa through robust partnerships, scholarly activities, and contemporary dialogues. "I am honoured to welcome the first cohort of the Yale Directors Forum," Salovey says. "This programme will strengthen connections between members of the Yale community and exceptional leaders working in the culture and heritage sector across Africa."
The first cohort consists of 17 fellows from 12 African countries. This group includes Chao Tayiana Maina, an award-winning historian from Kenya; Michaella Rugwizangoga, Rwanda’s chief tourism officer; and Makhosi Mahlangu, a chef and specialist in indigenous foods from Zimbabwe.
"This fellowship is an exciting opportunity to learn and contribute to the contemporary discourse around the preservation of cultural heritage," says Seun Oduwole, co-founder and director of Living Objects, one of the selected fellows. "It is an honour to join a distinguished network of peers and practitioners in Africa and globally."