News Release

April 16, 2007

Contact: Jane Shaskan, 860-679-4777

Media Invitation

South African Ambassador to the U.S. to Speak at UConn Health Center

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Barbara Masekela, South African Ambassador to the United States, will speak at a special program, “Celebrating Blacks in History,” Thursday, April 19, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Keller Auditorium at UConn Health Center.

Ms. Masekela’s early education was in South Africa and Zambia. She graduated with honors from the University of Ohio, and then served as an assistant professor of English literature at Staten Island Community College and at Rutgers University. She served as the chief of staff to Nelson Mandela during which time she was elected to the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress and its National Working Committee. She founded the African National Congress Office of Arts and Culture and served as secretary. President Mandela appointed Ms. Masekela ambassador to France and to UNESCO in 1995. In 1999 she returned to South Africa where she held a number of leadership positions in the corporate world and was a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. She retired in 2003 as the executive director for public and corporate affairs of De Beers Consolidated Mines. President Mbeki appointed her U.S. ambassador later that same year. She was recently honored with the prestigious Johnny Makatine Award for her leadership in “building a global community for a new South Africa.”

Amii Omara-Otunnu, D. Phil. at UConn, Storrs, will take questions after Masekela’s presentation. In 2001, Dr. Omara-Otunnu was awarded the first UNESCO Chair in Human Rights in the United States, joining a network of 52 UNESCO chairs around the world committed to promoting human rights, peace, democracy, and tolerance.

The event is sponsored by the UConn School of Dental Medicine, the Office of Community and Outreach Programs, the Office of Diversity and Equity, and the UNESCO Chair and Institute of Comparative Human Rights at Storrs.

UConn Health includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Home to Bioscience Connecticut, UConn Health pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about UConn Health is available at

Note: News professionals are invited to visit the UConn Health Today news page ( for regularly updated news and feature stories, photos and media stories. News releases are archived at UConn Health news and information is also available on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.