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VOA's 'Straight Talk Africa' Marks 10 Year Anniversary

Webcast discussion looks to Africa’s future

Washington, D.C., November 4, 2010 – VOA's popular Straight Talk Africa program has marked its 10 year anniversary with a lively panel discussion featuring experts who lamented the lack of progress toward democratic institutions in Africa while acknowledging the key role that civil society now plays on the continent. <!-- IMAGE -->

Thursday's discussion included George Ayittey, founder and president of the Free Africa Foundation, Emira Woods, Co-Director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies, and Sulayman Nyang, professor of African Studies at Howard University.

Dr. Ayittey and other panelists underscored the need for stronger opposition parties, independent electoral commissions, an independent judiciary and a free press if Africa is going to make progress toward democracy and good governance. Dr. Ayittey was sharply critical of what he called, "autocrats who have been beating back progress and grooming their sons to take power." Ms. Woods told the panel that despite the problems that exist in Africa, there has still been great progress and "civil society groups now have a seat at the table and a role in setting the agenda on the continent."

Thursday's webcast event from the VOA headquarters in Washington was a milestone for Straight Talk Africa host Shaka Ssali, a veteran VOA broadcaster and co-creator of the weekly call-in talk show, which is one of the most popular television programs in Africa.

Since the show first went on the air, the Ugandan-born Shaka Ssali has interviewed leaders from around the world, including former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Zambian President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Watch or listen to Thursday's event, "Celebrating Reflections of 10 Years of Straight Talk Africa and 'Keeping Africa's Hope Alive' into the Future,'' at Visit VOA online at

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages and are intended exclusively for audiences outside of the United States.

For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail