Who is Wanjiru?
I am an assistant professor in the Politics department at the University of San Francisco. Holding a Masters and Ph.D. in Political Science, my academic interests center around the politics of philanthropy, gender, Africa, ethnic politics, democratization, and the role of technology in social activism.
I am also the founder and Executive Director of Akili Dada, a leadership incubator investing in the next generation of African women leaders. Currently operating in my native Kenya, Akili Dada offers comprehensive scholarships, personalized mentoring, and rigorous leadership training to high-potential adolescent girls from poor families.
Akili Dada’s young leaders are selected for their strong leadership potential, academic achievements and a demonstrated desire to address social inequities. Akili Dada leverages this desire with a comprehensive set of interventions to produce highly educated, deeply experienced, and well-connected young African women leaders with an enduring commitment to justice and equality.
On the whole, I am passionate about the synergy between rigorous academic analysis and committed social activism. I believe that we should not just describe the world as it is and should be, we should also act to change the world in which we live. I’m working hard to live my talk!
Why this Blog?
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step said Lao-tzu way back when in 604bc.
The journey towards what will hopefully end up a published book starts with this blog. Well, it started a few months ago actually.
In August 2009 I was ranting to my girl friends about the crazy things I was seeing as I worked on the Non-Profit that I head. I kept running into well-meaning but completely off the mark efforts to ‘save’ Africa. This blog and eventual book are all their fault. They are the ones who egged me on to write something and not just hold my frustrations on the inside.
So one night, after I put the baby to bed, I sat at my computer.
I started off with a page, then two, then five. More conversations. Then an invitation to present my ideas at a brown bag at the Global Fund for Women. I was shocked that the room was packed and thats when I knew I was on to something. Over lunch after the presentation my friend Natalie convinced me to hurry up and write a book.
The final goal: something short, sweet, and to the point. A quick non-academic read. Then I’ll go back to working on my dissertation and turning it into a book. That, after all, is what professors at my stage in their careers are supposed
Problem is, I HATE WRITING. writing my dissertation was the most lonely, painful, and isolating experience of my life. And it took forever! (3 years to be exact! (O.k. I spend the first two years dreading the prospect then mostly wrote in the last year))
Still, I can’t imagine putting myself through the same misery again. Hence this blog.
This blog is just a crutch to get me through the book writing process. For me writing needs to be an interactive process. I get and refine my ideas through conversation with others. So, instead of emailing my busy friends with random questions, opinions and ideas and asking for their reactions, I’ll post them all here and see if anyone reads this thing and what they have to say. Should be easy enough……
so, if you’ve got things to say about philanthropy, and particularly philanthropy in Africa, talk to me!