Administrator Samantha Power at the Swearing-in Ceremony of Dr. Monde Muyangwa as USAID Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Africa

Press Release Shim

Speeches Shim

Remarks

For Immediate Release

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Ronald Reagan Building

As Prepared

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Good morning, everyone. Thank you, Isobel, for kicking us off, and thank you all for joining us today. 

Before we get started, I’d like to welcome a few very special people here with us in-person today that I just had the pleasure of meeting. First, I’d like to welcome Monde’s husband, Dr. David Kaloustian. Also with us is David and Monde’s wonderful daughter, Inonge. Like her parents, she will soon have a few extra letters to her name when she earns a Master of Health Sciences in Epidemiology from Johns Hopkins next year. Good luck, Inonge, and welcome to you both!

We also have quite the crew joining us virtually. A special welcome to David’s father, and one of Monde’s biggest supporters, Ara Kaloustian. And tuning in from Zambia, is her mother, Namukulo. Namukulo and Monde’s late father, Mbaale are parents to twelve wonderful children – many of whom are watching today. We also have cousins, nieces, nephews, and brothers and sisters-in-law watching. I wish I could individually thank you all for watching, but we do need to swear-in Monde today! So, thank you all for joining us to celebrate your sister, your aunt, your cousin, or your sister-in-law, Dr. Monde Muyangwa, as she officially becomes our newest Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Africa.

Monde was Born in Zambia just before the country gained its independence in 1964. And around that time, her family wanted to contribute to the newly freed nation’s development, so, as Monde says: “education became the family business.” Her parents became teachers while others became principals and school administrators. 

Monde’s parents moved to rural Zambia to teach. There, it was uncommon for girls to go to school, but every Muyangwa was expected to attend. One of the biggest advocates of their schooling was Monde’s grandmother, who never had the chance at her own formal education.

And one of her grandmother’s closest allies in this crusade was Monde herself. As the second oldest and someone who quickly understood the great opportunities that education can provide, Monde didn’t tolerate any apathy from her siblings when it came to their schooling. 

Her brother, Mubiana, said: “Monde won’t let you sit on your laurels. If you can’t be accountable, she will make you.” And her sister, Masiliso, said: “She is a tough woman who won’t take unacceptable behavior from anyone.”

As Monde embarked on her own educational journey, it became clearer and clearer that she, like her family, wanted to give back to her country. Her passion for service kicked-off when she moved to the capital, Lusaka, to live with her Aunt and Uncle and attend secondary school.

In Lusaka, she experienced an entirely new world. Every night, Monde and her family gathered around the TV and watched the news together. Each broadcast exposed her to the deep need in her own country and the need around the world.

These nightly news updates cemented her passion for global affairs, and upon graduation from secondary school, she went on to study Public Administration and Economics at the University of Zambia. There, Monde was one of the University's top students, and also captain of the basketball team, the UNZA Honeys.

Instead of going pro, Monde stuck to her roots and pursued even more education. Knowing she wanted to do everything in her power to give back to Zambia and the African continent, she moved to Oxford, England where she earned another bachelors, became a Rhodes Scholar, and received a PhD in International Relations.

As fate would have it, her education led her to her husband David, who was working towards his doctorate at Oxford at the same time. Quickly after their graduation, Monde and David tied the knot and just last month celebrated their 27th anniversary.

After their wedding, they moved to David’s home here in the United States. Intent on supporting Africa from thousands of miles away, Monde began working for non-profits and eventually found herself at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, where she served as a professor then Academic Dean. 

As her colleague, Raymond Gilpin – who is here with us today – put it: “Monde was not an armchair dean. She routinely rolled up her sleeves to get the job done.” 

And as Raymond recalls, Monde’s hands-on approach came in handy when the Africa Center worked to broker the first-ever ministerial communique on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. The night of the final deadline, the parties were getting weary and the entire agreement was in jeopardy of falling apart. But undaunted, Monde shuttled between three different hotels throughout the night to pull the parties back to the table and work out the details. In Raymond’s words “because of Monde’s tirelessness and toughness, by the next morning they reached an agreement.”  

And that’s who Monde has always been – tough. Chidi Blyden, who worked with Monde at the Africa Center – and is also here with us today – put it best, saying: “Monde is the stuff that tough is made of.” 

Monde may be tough, but she is also renowned for her nurturing side. Her husband David said, “Monde is always there for others with helpful advice, encouragement, and her own glowing example of integrity, humility, and hard-earned wisdom.” 

These qualities were evident at the Woodrow Wilson Center, where she was Director of the Africa Program. 

According to Robert Litwak, the Center’s Senior Vice President for Scholars, “Monde brought Africa to Washington.” She oversaw the Center’s ‘Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding’ that awarded fellowships to young specialists from academia and non-governmental organizations from across Africa to come and share their perspectives while gaining familiarity with the U.S. policy on African related issues.

Monde worked closely with those young professionals, serving as a strong mentor and an inspiration of African leadership.  

And now, after a long confirmation process, Monde joins us at USAID, where I know she will have that same energy.

Monde’s appointment comes at a crucial time for the continent. The Horn of Africa has become the epicenter of the global food crisis. Nearly 20 million people are on the brink of starvation in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia due to a historic drought caused by an unprecedented four consecutive failed rainy seasons, with a high degree of certainty that a fifth failed season will follow.

And the crisis intensified earlier this year when Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine and blocked nearly 20 million tons of grain from leaving Ukrainian ports –a vital source of food for the globe and the already devastated Horn.

Fortunately, after concerted international pressure and diplomacy, grain is once again moving out of Ukrainian ports. Thanks to our partners on the ground – especially those at the UN – in the month of August, Ukraine exported over four million metric tons of grain. While this progress is welcome, millions in the Horn, and across the continent, still need immediate help. So, USAID is stepping up.

Earlier this summer, I announced a contribution of nearly $1.3 billion dollars in humanitarian and development assistance to the Horn. This assistance is aimed at addressing emergency food needs by providing families with readily available grain like sorghum, and with yellow split peas, and vegetable oil. And in areas where markets are functioning, families are receiving direct cash assistance to help them buy food. These funds are also meant to slow growing rates of malnutrition among children, provide farmers with the resources they need to keep livestock from dying of thirst and starvation, and prevent the spread of waterborne diseases that are often a leading cause of death during droughts.

As we work to end this food crisis, our attention remains on other climate related disasters that are hitting Africa particularly hard, like flash flooding that killed almost 90 people in Sudan last month, or record breaking heat waves that are rendering farmland useless all over the continent. 

Countries are also contending with significant debt incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, as millions of citizens who were thrown into poverty are still working to recover. And the threat of autocracy looms large in Africa as it does throughout the world, especially in the Sahel and West Africa, which witnessed five separate coups over the last two years.

But despite these daunting challenges, make no mistake: Africa offers a wellspring of potential. As advanced economies age, Africa remains the world’s youngest continent, with a young population able to power the continent’s recovery from the pandemic. Together with several countries, we’ve helped distribute over 176 million vaccine doses throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and invested in Africa’s own vaccine manufacturing potential, brought electricity to over 148 million individuals in just under a decade, and supported the continent’s burgeoning tech sector. 

And despite democratic setbacks, African citizens are demanding governments that respect their rights and dignity. The recently elected presidents of Malawi and Zambia are leading the way, unseating autocratic incumbents by running on platforms promising to fight corruption, spur economic growth, and strengthen transparency and accountability. 

And Monde’s arrival comes as the Biden Administration released the U.S. Strategy Toward sub-Saharan Africa last month. This strategy marks an important milestone for the administration, underscoring something Monde has fiercely advocated throughout her career – a recognition that our nation’s future and the continent’s future are inextricably linked. Our government’s partnership with Africa will be critical to addressing shared global challenges – something we will discuss at the African Leaders Summit this December. 

I know Monde, as a globally respected thought leader on U.S.-Africa relations with unmatched credentials, will tap into the opportunities throughout sub-Saharan Africa and will help create many more. 

When Monde was confirmed for this position, in her testimony, she recounted her first interaction with USAID. It was not through academia or during her tenure at the Wilson Center, rather, it was as a young girl in Zambia. In the midst of a food shortage, Monde remembers trucks pulling up to her boarding school and workers unloading bags of maize meal embroidered with the USAID logo – one hand outstretched to another in partnership. A unique first impression that made Monde keenly aware of the important work we do here.

Now, after years of devotion to her education, after moving across the ocean and never backing down, Monde will continue to fulfill the commitment she made as a young girl, to give back to Zambia and to give back Africa. 

As Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Africa, Monde will take her turn outstretching her hand to others on behalf of the United States. 

Congratulations, Monde. It is now my pleasure to administer the oath of office. 

 

Last updated: September 28, 2022

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