Congratulations Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah! - Recipient of 2020 African Scholars Award

February 12, 2021 by Kendra Smith

Congratulations to Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah who is the recipient of a 2020 African Scholars Award! Professor Owusu-Bempah was recognized for his consistent engagement with both Canadian and international media outlets to share his research and insights on the intersections of race, crime, and criminal justice. The African Scholars Awards were created by the African Alumni Association founder and U of T alumnus Henry Ssali, and this year recognized 16 outstanding individuals for their contributions towards academic achievement, social innovation, community development, and volunteering. Professor Owusu-Bempah was awarded the Influencer's Award, one of 7 different awards granted during the 2020 African Scholars Awards ceremony.

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) campus. His research focuses on the intersection of race, policing, and social justice. Professor Owusu-Bempah frequently provides commentary to public and governmental agencies, community organizations, and media outlets regarding topics of race, policing, and social justice.

We've included a short excerpt from the article below. To read more about the recipients of the awards, click here.

‘Exceptional role models’: African Scholars Awards recognize contributions to university and society

As a child growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Michel Chikwanine endured unspeakable horrors of war. He witnessed the torture of his father – a human rights lawyer who was eventually murdered due to his political beliefs – and the rape of his mother. He was forced to become a child soldier at age five and a refugee at age 11.

Yet, Chikwanine retains hope for the future and a belief in positive change. He’s an activist, motivational speaker and leadership facilitator with organizations ranging from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative.

His inspiring journey and his tireless advocacy for peace and human rights were recently recognized with a Global Impact Award presented by the University of Toronto African Alumni Association during its annual African Scholars Awards ceremony. For Chikwanine, who earned a bachelor of arts specialist degree in African studies from U of T and co-authored a graphic novel, Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War, the award served as motivation to continue to work towards the betterment of society.

“As my father always said before he died – he always reminded me that great men and great women throughout history have never been praised for their money or their success, but rather for their heart and what they do for others,” Chikwanine said during the virtual event last last week.

“So I ask all of us – alumni and every part of this community – to be great, with great hearts to make this incredible life and incredible continent that we have be the best that it can be.”

Continue the article here...