Tonderai Chikuhwa Receives Inaugural
Charles J. Turck Global Citizen Award
June 9, 2009 - Tonderai Chikuhwa of Brooklyn, N.Y., has received the inaugural Charles J. Turck Global Citizen Award from Macalester College. Chikuhwa graduated from Macalester in 1996.
The Charles J. Turck Global Citizen Award honors the legacy of Charles J. Turck, president of Macalester College from 1939 to 1958. Lawyer, educator, social activist, internationalist and churchman, President Turck was an inspiring presence to Macalester students and championed internationalism throughout his tenure. This award recognizes an alumnus who has advanced the cause of the internationalist spirit and lived up to the exhortation, “to be a worthy son or daughter of Macalester, you must listen to your hopes and not your fears.”
In a literal sense, Chikuhwa’s upbringing was global. His father, hailing from what was then called Rhodesia, met and married his mother in the Ukraine, and the family settled in Sweden. Chikuhwa attended the United World College in Swaziland, then majored in political science and international studies at Macalester, where he received the Internationalism Award for 1996. He subsequently earned a master’s degree in political science at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
In 1999, Chikuhwa accepted a position in the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict at the United Nations. He spent years in the field as a child protection advisor in Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, and Liberia, going into the bush to negotiate with commanders and persuade children to lay down their AK47s. He secured the release of nearly 3,000 children conscripted into the armed forces or rebel armies.
Chikuhwa is presently based in New York as senior program officer in the United Nations Office for Children and Armed Conflict. He advocates with the countries of the Security Council for stronger protection measures for children in such places as Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka, and Colombia, and is working to implement a global mechanism to monitor and report on grave child rights violations in these and other conflict zones. He is driven by his personal encounters with children ravaged by warfare. In May he brought his perspective on the world to Macalester’s graduates as the Commencement speaker. As he says, “Once you have been with the children, it is not possible to turn your back on them.”
In the words of Professors David Blaney, Ahmed Samatar, and David Chioni Moore and Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations Helen Warren, “Tonderai serves peace and justice each day, helping to insure that the best of human intentions are brought to bear on the worst of human depravity.”
Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,858 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism and civic engagement.