[Mansa-l] Some suggestions
martin.klein at utoronto.ca
Thu Dec 4 11:21:02 CST 2008
I would like to congratulate Kassim and Barbara on their election. I
would also like make some suggestions about process. David Conrad has
functioned brilliantly for 22 years as a democratically elected monarch.
We all appreciate his devoted leadership. Nevertheless, when a king
yields to a republican form of government, we have to ask what rules we
want. The present rules are inadequate.
First, there should be a secret ballot. To vote, I had to write three
members of the electoral committee, all of whom know how I voted.
Second, there should be an automatic succession from vice-president to
president. There should be an election every two years for
vice-president. The vice-president should then automatically succeed to
the presidency. Power in academic organizations is evanescent. Whatever
program the candidate has, it is over before he or she can do anything.
The automatic success guarantees that the incoming president is
experienced and that there is an orderly process of succession. This is
how most academic organizations function.
Third, there is a problem of our different constituencies. We consist of
three groups. Mansa sometimes functions as an American organization. It
meets annually at the ASA meeting and Americans dominate the planning
for our international meetings. The second group is European. Some
attend the ASA and many attend our international meetings. There should
be someone, perhaps Jan, who can coordinate events within Europe. Are
there Mansa panels at the Aegis meeting? Two years ago, I heard Petr
Skolnik plead with Russian colleagues at a Moscow conference to get
involved with Aegis. Perhaps, European members of Mansa should do
likewise. Maybe, they should have an information network on events in
Europe dealing with Mande history and culture. The third constituency is
those who come from the areas we study. We all know the problems they
have funding research and travel, but there are organizations and
meetings within Africa. Perhaps, through WARA or CODESRIA, they can
become a more autonomous group functioning within the MAnde homelands.
This relates to a larger question that should be of concern to all of
us, that agendas within all scholarly disciplines are determined by
people outside Africa. We have tried to facilitate participation by our
African brethren in our international meetings, but this is probably not
enough. There are organizations that can articulate African agendas. The
recognition of a group within Mansa could contribute to that goal.
These ideas are to stimulate discussion. I hope that others pick up on them.
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