Model African Union comes to Savannah Nov. 2-4
Students from colleges and universities throughout the University System of Georgia will come to Savannah Nov. 2-4 to participate in the 10th Southeast Model African Union (SEMAU), co-hosted this year by Georgia Southern University, Savannah State University, and Armstrong Atlantic State University. All events will take place at the Coastal Georgia Center, 305 Fahm Street, Savannah. This event prepares students to move on to the national Model African Union, which takes place in March in Washington, D.C.
SEMAU, which first met in 1997, has grown from 12 delegations to 23 delegations. This year 15 Georgia Southern students will attend in delegations representing Sudan, South Africa, and Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. The student participants are formed into committees that simulate the committees of the actual African Union: Technical Committee on Economic Matters; Technical Committee on Social Matters; African Human Rights Committee; Peace and Security Committee; Assembly of Heads of State and Government; Secretariat; and the Executive Council. Student committee chairs are screened and selected prior to the meeting.
‘We begin to prepare students for this simulation many weeks before the actual event,” said Dr. Saba Jallow, associate professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for Africana Studies at Georgia Southern. ‘They become specialized on issues facing the nation they represent, they learn diplomatic and parliamentary procedure, and they craft resolutions and proposals to present when the nations gather. Their leadership skills grow through this experience.”
‘We don’t make this easy for the students,” says Jallow. ‘Each day we present the Executive Council, comprised of the foreign ministers of the countries represented, with a political, social, or economic crisis. They must mobilize the committees and resolve the crisis. Of course, that means committee work is interrupted as well.”
The SEMAU event is a colorful one, because some of the students choose to wear the native dress of the country they represent. Those who do not choose native dress wear professional business attire. This year the participants will be entertained on the first evening of the gathering by Soweto Street Beat, a traditional South African dance troupe.
SEMAU also provides an opportunity for students to learn the history of the African Union (formerly the Organization of African Unity), which was formed in the 1960s to help end colonization in Africa. The AU’s direction changed in the 1970s and 80s as the goal became ending apartheid. Today the AU works to resolve conflicts that stand in the way of economic integration across the continent and to build resources to protect its citizens.
On Saturday morning, Nov. 4, SEMAU student delegates will meet to receive the Executive Council’s report and adopt final resolutions. Participants will receive a certificate of recognition and participation at the noontime closing ceremony.