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Recent Distinguished Africanist Scholars

Mwandumba Photo

Fall 2015

The Fall 2015 Distinguished Africanist Scholar was Dr. Charles MidegaSenior Research Scientist, International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Kenya. A distinguished international agricultural scientist who is responsible for the day-to-day management of biological science research in the highly effective push-pull technology for advancing food security in Africa, Dr. Midega was nominated and hosted by the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell. 

While on campus, Dr. Midega  offered a public lecture titled Push-Pull: Addressing Hunger, Gender, and Climate Change Through Agricultural Science in G08 Uris Hall. 

Dr. Midega and his group at ICIPE have had significant positive impacts on the livelihoods of thousands in East Africa. The group was charged with developing a technology that would allow smallholder farmers in Kenya to control major insect pests such as the stem-boring moth in maize, the most important food staple in the region. The group developed a highly efficient and ecologically sustainable technology that utilizes native plants repellant to moths planted among crop rows, together with plants attractive to the moths in rows surrounding the fields. The resultant “push-pull” effect has been highly effective in controlling pests and thus dramatically increasing crop yields.

Spring 2015

The Distinguished Africanist Scholar for Spring 2015 was Dr. Henry Mwandumba, Senior Research Fellow and Clinical Senior Lecturer in Infectious Diseases, Tropical and General Medicine at the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Program (MLW), University of Malawi. Dr. Mwandumba studies the effect of HIV on lung immunity and explores the impact of HIV infection in individuals also infected with tuberculosis. With his broad experience, Dr. Mwandumba brings a unique on-the-ground perspective to the discussion that is highly informative about infectious disease issues in Malawi and sub-Saharan Africa.


Dr. Mwandumba was nominated and hosted by the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, at Cornell. During his visit he offered a public lecture titled “Biomedical Research and Healthcare Delivery in Malawi: Opportunities and Challenges,” a microbiology symposium, meetings with students from the Division of Nutritional Sciences, an infection and patho-biology seminar at the Vet School, and discussions with local physicians studying global infectious disease.


Fall 2012

Godisang Mookodi is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Botswana and Chair of the Proposal Development Committee to establish a Gender Research Centre at the University. From 2007–2010 she was the Liaison Office for the Botswana Chapter of the Organisation of Social Science Research in Southern and Eastern Africa (OSSREA). Her research focuses on development, gender and sexuality, and the family. Her current research has to do with the roles of gender and politics in strengthening research capacity in Africa, with a strategic focus on the lives of women (a project coordinated by the Africa Gender Institute). She is the author (with S. Kapunda) of The HIV/AIDS Challenge in Africa: An Impact Assessment (OSSREA, 2007); and she is co-editor of HIV/AIDS, Vulnerable Groups, Human Rights and Development in Botswana (OSSREA, 2009). In addition, she has published numerous articles in refereed journals including The Botswana Review of Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS, the Botswana Journal of African Studies, and African Sociological Review. She has a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Toronto.

Fall 2011

Sandra Liebenberg currently holds the H.F. Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law in the Law Faculty of the University of Stellenbosch. She is academic director of the Faculty’s post-graduate research project on Combating Poverty, Homelessness and Socio-Economic Vulnerability Under the Constitution. She is one of a handful of recipients of the degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of the Witwatersrand conferred on 18 July 2011. She previously served as a member of the Technical Committee advising the Constitutional Assembly on the Bill of Rights in the 1996 Constitution of South Africa.

In 1997, she founded and directed the Socio-Economic Rights Project based at the Community Law Centre (University of the Western Cape) where she was involved in research, advocacy and supporting litigation in the area of socio-economic rights. In this capacity she was involved in the Centre’s amicus curiae interventions in the groundbreaking cases of Government of South Africa v Grootboom and Minister of Health and Others v Treatment Action Campaign and Others. Since taking up her current position at Stellenbosch University, she has acted as expert advisor and assisted in drafting heads of argument and amici submissions for various NGOs involved in a range of significant socio-economic rights cases.She serves on the editorial board of the South African Journal on Human Rights, the African Human Rights Law Journal, the Human Rights Law Journal and Speculum Juris. She is also Chairperson of the Board of the NGO, SERI (Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa) and a member of the Advisory Board of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC).  

 Professor Liebenberg has published widely in the field of socio-economic rights, and is the author of the recently published book entitledSocio-Economic Rights: Adjudication under a Transformative Constitution (2010, Juta & Co).