Ambassador Barbara Masekela To Speak On Human Rights In South Africa

Fayetteville, Ark. - Barbara Masekela, ambassador to the United States from South Africa, will speak on "Meeting the Challenges of Human Rights and Globalization: A South African Perspective" at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 19, in the Helen Walton Reading Room in Mullins Library on the University of Arkansas campus. The public is invited.

"We're honored to have Ambassador Masekela join us as the Chancellor's Distinguished Lecturer," said Chancellor John White. "She has been a powerful voice in the movement to end apartheid and create a free, democratic South Africa."

Her visit is also being sponsored by the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

Ambassador Masekela earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in English from the University of Ohio in 1971. After an academic career in which she was assistant professor of English literature at Staten Island Community College, N.Y., and at Rutgers University, N.J., she founded the African National Congress Office of Arts and Culture, serving as its secretary for seven years.

When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, she joined his office as Chief of Staff, a position she held until 1994. During that time, she was elected to the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress and to its National Working Committee.

President Mandela appointed her ambassador to the Republic of France and ambassador to UNESCO in 1995. As ambassador, Masekela successfully increased France's trade with South Africa and established relationships with French-speaking African nations with whom South Africa had little previous contact.

After she returned to South Africa in 1999, she joined the corporate world, serving as a director of the Standard Bank of South Africa, the South African Broadcasting Corporation and the International Marketing Council. She also became a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

She retired in March 2003 as executive director for Public and Corporate Affairs for De Beers Consolidated Mines. President Mbeki appointed Masekela ambassador to the United States in June 2003.

Paul Simon collaborated with her brother, Hugh Masekela, jazz trumpeter for Ladysmith Black Mambazo, to produce the album "Graceland" in 1986. A published poet and lover of fine art, Her Excellency Masekela enjoys gardening and reading. She has two sons, Mabusha and Selema.

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