Currently Ambassador of the Republic of Zambia to the U.S.A. since February 26th, 2003, Dr. Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika was also given “Ambassador of the Year Award” in April of 2006 for her outstanding work on behalf of the people of Zambia. In that same month, she was presented with an International Award “for outstanding leadership service that improves the lives of others” by Athena International and became one of a small group of amazing women. Dr. Lewanika was also chosen as one of Washington’s power diplomats, and has often been described as the “heroine of all African women”.
Dr. Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika was Ambassador and Special Envoy for the Zambian President during his term as Chairman of the African Union (2001-2002). Her association with the previous Organization of African Union (OAU) began in the ‘70’s, and she was active with the African Women Peace Movement, and served as President of the Federation of African Women Peace Networks (FERFAP). Dr. Lewanika chaired the OAU workshop on genderizing the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa in 2002. She worked tirelessly and successfully to ensure gender balance within the leadership roles of the AU.
Her involvement with the UN includes serving with various departments and committees in UNICEF from 1980 to 1990. She worked for over 35 years with agencies such as UNDP, UNESCO, WHO, UNFPA and UNIFEM. Areas of expertise include “Women and development” and “Child development”. Dr. Lewanika has been deeply involved in peace making. She led a peace mission to Burundi and Rwanda in 1995, the FERFAP peace missions to the Horn of Africa and The Hague Peace Appeal in 1999, and in the late 1990’s, was a founding member of AMANI Forum, Parliamentarians for Peace in Eastern and southern Africa.
While a member of the Zambian parliament (1991-2001), she served on the Foreign Affairs Parliamentary Committee. Dr. Lewanika was a candidate for President of Zambia in the 2001 multi-party elections. Dr. Lewanika’s name was put forth as one of six candidates to become chair of the African Union this past January of 2008. Dr. Graca Machel was one of those who endorsed her. Although Dr, Lewanika was not elected to the position, her call for “African hands, sharp African minds, and strong African self-determination to solve all their challenges” speaks strongly to her understanding of the root causes of the continent’s problems, and to her great love of Africa.
Born in Senanga, Western Province, Zambia, in 1943, Dr. Lewanika is a Princess of the Barotse Royal Family and served as Queen Mother of the Barotse Royal Establishment from 1968 to 1977. Dr. Lewanika holds a Ph.D. in Early Childhood and Primary Education from New York U, an M.A. (Education and Psychology), a B.Sc (Home Economics and Education), a Diploma in Peace and Conflict Resolution, and Certificates in French, and Advanced Leadership Training. She speaks eight languages, taught at the University of Zambia, and lectured at Evelyn Hone College of Further Education, and Mongu Teacher Training College. She is a mother of two grown daughters, a grandmother to four boys and one grand daughter. Her late husband, Mr. Kabuka Nyirenda, had served in the Government of Zambia in several posts, and as a senior diplomat at the UN.
Embassy of the Republic of Zambia,
Zambian High Commission to Canada,
Inonge for Africa,
various newspaper clippings.
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