Manasseh Awuni writes: Samira Bawumia excels beyond politics

A Ghanaian student who had known her but had never listened to her outside the arena of politics marveled at her brilliance

Last week, Mrs Samira Bawumia, the wife of Ghana’s Vice President, was here at Harvard. She had three separate speaking engagements, including the Students Forum at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The Africa Women and Children Women and Children Conference, of which Mrs. Bawumia is the chair and convener, is partnering with UNDP to sponsor 100 youth from 50 African countries to this year’s COP 28 in Dubai.

The forum sought to highlight the important role the youth, especially those in Africa, need to play in the climate change conversation.

Under the auspices of the Africa Caucus at the Harvard Kennedy School, she met African students and some non-African friends of Africa. Ghanaian students, including those from Harvard’s “overseas”– the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Medical School–were well represented.

After she delivered her speech, the students fielded questions. An Indian student—or so she appeared—wanted to know about the possibility of collaboration since she does similar work elsewhere.

A Ghanaian PhD student wanted to know what Africa brought to the negotiating table and how the continent’s voice could be stronger in climate change meetings such as COP 28. An Egyptian student wanted to know about the management of the climate fund and how policies on climate change could impact health policies.

Drawing experiences from the work her non-profit does in some selected districts in the Northern Region that have high maternal mortality and the various studies on the devastating impact of climate change on women and children, Samira Bawumia explained how women and children were among the worst victims of climate change.
Her responses–crispy and relatable–were engaging. Her eloquence and intelligence sounded like music to the intellectual ear.

When the final applause died down and we headed for the photographs, the audience hummed what a cardio surgeon had said before asking his question earlier—praises for an evening well spent.

A Ghanaian student who had known her but had never listened to her outside the arena of politics marveled at her brilliance.


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