On February 24, 2015, the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé welcomed to the James Baldwin Information Resource Center (IRC) over 40 students, teachers and civil society leaders for a discussion celebrating Black History Month and the life of Colin Powell. The session focused on a Nouveaux Horizons book titled “Un Enfant du Bronx” (My American Journey). In his opening remarks, Public Affairs Officer Roberto Quiroz II welcomed guests and thanked Mr. Jean-Francois Cheuwa for leading the book discussion. IRC Director Mathias Tientcheu also noted that Colin Powell’s achievements as a leader are exemplified by his record as the first African American to rise to the highest levels of American government: National Security Advisor under President Ronald Reagan (1986-1989), the senior General Officer in the U.S. Armed Forces as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton (1989-1993), and Secretary of State under President George W. Bush (2001-2005).
“Everything he did, he did with patriotism, faith in his nation, excellence, love and respect for his troops and subordinates who carried out the mission. He understood that effective leaders must maintain a certain level of humility, share credit, encourage creativity, and inspire loyalty to a cause greater than the individual who volunteers his or her service. Like Colin Powell, whatever you do, try to inspire people and remember one of his 13 rules that perpetual optimism is a force multiplier,” Mr. Quiroz told participants.
Mr. Cheuwa, a secondary school teacher, presented a thorough review of the book, which introduced members of the audience to the exceptional career of this legendary African American figure. In addition to being the first African American to hold senior positions, Mr. Cheuwa underscored that Colin Powell is a leader of extraordinary humility. He then presented General Powell’s thirteen leadership rules and asked the audience to describe what each meant to them and how to apply these to their daily lives. Participants commented that Powell’s journey offers a lesson of hope and determination: “whatever the challenges, hard work can take you the higher levels of the social ladder,” one said.
The Book Discussion is a monthly program of the U.S. Embassy’s James Baldwin Information Resource Center that provides French-speaking Cameroonians an opportunity to read and discuss the views of an American author published in the Nouveaux Horizons collection from ARS Paris. For additional information, please see Nouveaux Horizons’ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/usdos.nouveauxhorizons.
See Facebook album of program: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10155242868945716.1073741977.312546460715&type=3.