Former South African Ambassador to the United States To Deliver Commencement Address

Manchester, Conn., - (May 20, 2008)…The Honorable Barbara Masekela, former South African Ambassador to the United States, will deliver the commencement address at Manchester Community College’s 44th commencement ceremony.

“Ms. Masekela has been part of the history of South Africa for many years; in fact she helped shape it,” stated Jonathan M. Daube, president of Manchester Community College. “We are very fortunate to have her visit Connecticut.”

Masekela received her education in South Africa and Zambia, graduating cum laude with a bachelor of arts from Ohio University in 1971. She became assistant professor of English Literature at Staten Island Community College from 1971 to 1972 and then taught in the English department at Livingston College, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey until 1982.

During that period she also worked with the African National Congress Observer Mission to the United Nations, helping in building the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. In 1982, Masekela left the United States to work full-time at the ANC headquarters in Lusaka. She was one of the founding members of the ANC Department of Arts and Culture and was appointed ANC Secretary of Arts and Culture and served in that position for seven years. After the release of Nelson Mandela, she joined his office as Chief of Staff, a position she held until 1994. During that time she was elected to the National Executive Committee of the ANC, where she served on the National Working Committee and as Negotiations Commissioner.

President Mandela appointed Masekela Ambassador to the Republic of France, as well as Ambassador to UNESCO in 1995. On her return to South Africa in 1999, she joined the corporate world where she held a number of executive and non-executive directorships. She was director of the Standard Bank of South Africa, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the World Diamond Council, and the International Marketing Council. She retired in March 2003 as Executive Director of Public and Corporate Affairs for De Beers Consolidated Mines. President Mbeki appointed Masekela Ambassador to the United States in 2003, a position from which she recently retired.

A resident of South Africa, Masekela was recently awarded the Order of Luthuli: Silver by the President of the Republic of South Africa for her contributions to the eradication of apartheid and contributing to the development of the new South African values. She serves on various boards, including the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the MTN Foundation South Africa and Allied Electronics Corporation (ALTRON).

The commencement celebration will be held on Thursday, May 29 at 5:30 p.m. in the Bicentennial Band Shell at Manchester Community College. In the event of rain, two ceremonies will be held inside the SBM Charitable Foundation Auditorium in the AST building; one at 5:30 p.m. and the other at 7:30 p.m. The decision will be made by 11 a.m. on that day.

Students of any age who possess the desire to pursue higher education are welcome at Manchester Community College. MCC is proud of its academic excellence, new facilities, flexible schedules, small classes, low tuition and faculty with both academic and “real world” credentials. The College offers over 60 programs, transfer options, financial aid and scholarships, as well as access to baccalaureate degrees through guaranteed admissions programs with several universities. MCC is situated on a park-like campus and is easily accessible from I-84.

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News Item Posted On: May 20, 2008
For Additional Information Contact: Endia DeCordova-Murphy at (860) 512-2914