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UGA delegation dominates SEMAU 2023

Alan Flurry

A delegation of six undergraduate students representing the University of Georgia at the 26th Annual Southeast Model African Union (SEMAU 2023) simulation in Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Nov. 8 – 11, 2023 won the “Most Outstanding Delegation Award” representing Kenya at the conference.   

A student-centered program, the SEMAU simulation is designed to assist students in gaining valuable knowledge of diplomatic codes of comportment as well as enhancing their leadership aptitude. Each student chooses a committee to participate in, research their selected country, draft, discuss, and vote on resolutions that address major problems in the selected country in particular, and the continent of Africa at large. The Ambassador of the Republic of Zambia to the United States, His Excellency, Mr. Chibamba Kanyama served as the African Union Diplomat in the conference Home Office.   

“SEMAU is an exceptional opportunity for students to study the role, structure and activities of the Africa Union as well capacities and constraints that shape the policies of AU member states in the arena of intra-African diplomacy. It also exposes students to a wide array of issues relating to Africa, including political, economic, socio-cultural, security as well as environmental matters,” said Akinloye Ojo, professor of comparative literature and intercultural studies in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and director of the African Studies Institute. 

"Students benefit immensely from learning how to use and apply parliamentary procedures using Robert’s Rules of Order. This experiential learning contributes to students’ understanding of the capabilities and limitations governments in Africa face in dealing with quotidian challenges on the continent. In addition to a prepared agenda in each of five committees, students in the Executive Council grapple with a contemporary crisis which, this year was the crisis in Sudan," he said. "The conference also provides students an opportunity to meet and make new friends, and share their college experiences 

The SEMAU Most Outstanding Delegation Award, presented to the best-performing delegation at the simulation, is based on the high number of outstanding leadership-in-committee awards received by individual members of each delegation. All the awards presented at the simulation are voted upon by the student delegates at the conference. This year’s conference featured institutions beyond the region with two institutions from New York and New Jersey in attendance. 

The UGA team featured six representatives including Quinn Phillips, International Affairs and African Studies, Athens, GA (Executive Council); Dabirichi Chukwuezi, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Austell, GA (Committee on Democracy, Governance, and Human Rights), Feben Teshome, International Affairs and African Studies, Norcross, GA (Technical Committee on Economic Matters), Ayotade Ojelabi, Business Management, Lagos, Nigeria (Technical Committee on Social Matters), Ogugua Nwaise, Biomedical Physiology, Grayson, GA (Technical Committee on Environment and Climate Change), and Adenike Owolabi, Biological Sciences, Marietta, GA (Peace and Security Committee).

In total, all six members of the UGA team won individual leadership-in-committee awards and/or honorable mention awards for their outstanding performances in the different committees in the educational model. In addition, Phillips received recognition from participating faculty advisors with the Honorable Mention Best Chair award and served as the Vice Chair for the closing General Assembly of Heads of State event on Saturday, November 11.

The faculty advisor for the UGA team was Ojo, supported by two graduate advisors, Godwin Nichesius (School of Social Work and African Studies), and Nabiem Fawe (Grady College of Journalism). The team received financial support from the African Studies Institute, and the Division of Student Affairs (team registration). The UGA winning team and other members of the UGA Model Africa Union club continue to prepare to represent UGA and the nation of Cabo Verde in the International Model African Union Conference in February 2024 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. The team is also working on fundraising plans to support their participation in the international conference.  

Students interested in being part of the UGA team, and units interested in supporting the team to make it to Washington, DC should contact the African Studies Institute at or call 706-542-5314.

Image: UGA SEMAU Delegation with His Excellency, Mr. Chibamba Kanyama, Ambassador of the Republic of Zambia to the United States of America 

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