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I-House Highlights Humanitarians in 2012: Joan Baez & Daniel Mouen-Makoua

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Daniel Mouen-Makoua
Joan BaezWorld-renowned vocalist and peace advocate, Joan Baez, was celebrated at a festive May Gala to a capacity crowd as she accepted the I-House Global Citizen of Peace award. Joined by I-House Alumnus of the Year, Daniel Mouen-Makoua, the achievements celebrated at the Gala underscore how efforts to bridge cultural divides are pivotal to advancing "a world of greater understanding."

Singer, songwriter, advocate and champion of human rights, Joan Baez has brought awareness to the circumstances, cultures and challenges of our globalized world. Ms. Baez walked in the civil rights movement alongside Martin Luther King, was a spokesperson for Amnesty International, founded the Institute for the Study of Non-Violence, the Humanitas International Human Rights Committee, and has traveled around the world to sing songs of peace and freedom in such places as Chile, Vietnam, Northern Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina. She has shared her distinctive voice with grassroots activists across the globe, singing for U.S. Presidents as well as Mikhail Gorbachev, Vaclav Havel and Nelson Mandela. Ms. Baez has said "I discovered early on that, in the words of Swedish Ambassador Harald Edelstam, "I cannot tolerate injustice." This inability to tolerate injustice has brought me to the roots of human misery, called me to engage in the fight for the rights, freedoms, and the dignity of others. And in so doing, has helped me to maintain my own dignity."

Ms. Baez's distinguished career and life work draws on music as a source for promoting the principles at the core of International House: intercultural respect, understanding, friendship and peace. No stranger to I-House, Ms. Baez was invited in 1967 by alumna Ida Rigby, representing the Resident Council, to address residents and to sing for them to promote the Non-Violence Institute. A photo from that historic visit appears below.

Joan Baez dining at I-House in 1967

Happily, Ms. Rigby was delighted more than four decades later to reunite with Ms. Baez at I-House on the occasion of the I-House Gala.

Originally from Cameroon and educated in Paris and at UC Berkeley, Daniel Mouen-Makoua ('84) is a London-based global investment executive, who in 2010 took a leap of faith to launch Bwamanga, a mission-driven public-private partnership and related investment fund. Through innovative collaboration across sectors, Bwamanga promotes sustainable agriculture, food security, and youth employment in Northern Nigeria. In just one year, this program has established more than 100 sustainable farming jobs in the Bauchi and Borno States of Nigeria, with plans to expand this workforce ten-fold by 2015. The collaborations Bwamanga has fostered are also advancing health care and education projects in the area. In 2008, Daniel established a scholarship at I-House that brought two doctoral students from Sub-Saharan Africa to Cal and I-House – students who otherwise would have been unable to benefit or contribute to these communities.

The I-House Gala on May 3, 2012 also featured the Beatles tribute band "The Sun Kings" who kicked off the night with a rousing rendition of "Come Together." Through celebrating humanitarians and fostering future leaders for global understanding, International House succeeds in echoing that call to our community around the world.