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Year of Global Africa: Distinguished African Leaders to receive Honorary Degrees
Friday, 04 May 2018
1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Breslin Center, Michigan State University
Event Details:

Distinguished African Leaders to receive Honorary Degrees

Two prominent African Leaders will be on campus to receive Honorary Degrees during the 2018 Spring Commencement. Michigan State University's commencement ceremonies will be held on May 4th at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center, 534 Birch Road.

Undergraduate Convocation: May 4th - 1:00 p.m.

Justice Albert "Albie" Louis Sachs, activist and former judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa, will receive an honorary doctorate of law. Sachs' career in human rights started at 17, when, as a second-year law student at the University of Cape Town, he participated in the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign, which was the first large-scale, multi-racial political mobilization against apartheid laws under a common leadership. At the age of 21, he started practicing law, working to defend people charged under racist statutes and security laws. After being placed in solitary confinement, Sachs went into exile in 1966 in England. He spent 11 years studying and teaching law there, followed by another 11 years teaching in Mozambique, South Africa.

In 1988, he lost his right arm and sight in one eye after a bomb placed in his car detonated, which inspired him to devote his attention to a new democratic Constitution for South Africa. In 1990, Sachs became a member of the Constitutional Committee and the Africa National Congress in South Africa. Nelson Mandela appointed Sachs to South Africa's new Constitutional Court in 1994. While serving as a justice on the court, Sachs adjudicated the landmark case Prinsloo vs. Van der Linde, which established the connection between the right to equality and dignity. He's written many books, including "The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs."

Advanced degree ceremony: May 4th - 3:30 p.m.

Akinwumi "Akin" Adesina, president of the African Development Bank Group will receive an honorary doctorate of agriculture. Adesina was elected president of the African Development Bank Group in 2015.

He previously served as Nigeria's minister of agriculture and rural development. During his tenure, he established transformative agriculture policies and empowered millions of rural farmers through the introduction of an electronic wallet system that provided seeds and fertilizers to farmers. Adesina has received a number of global awards for his work in agriculture, including the 2017 World Food Prize and the Outstanding Black Agricultural Economist from the American Association of Agricultural Economists.

A respected economist and agricultural development expert, he has served as vice president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and as associate director of the Rockefeller Foundation. Adesina also was principal economist for three organizations: The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, the West Africa Rice Development Association and the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. In addition, he is a former president of the African Association of Agricultural Economics. Adesina has written more than 70 publications, and he has sat on the editorial boards of several academic journals.

Commencements are free and open to the public. The convocation will also be live streamed and can be watched at

Additional details regarding public activities are forthcoming.