Alumni Stories: 20 years NISC. Where are they now?
Can you briefly introduce yourself and your work?
My name is Dr Njoki Wamai and I am currently an Assistant Professor at the United States International University Africa in Nairobi - Kenya’s oldest private university. Previously, I was a post-doctoral Research Associate at the Centre for Governance and Human Rights (CGHR) at the Cambridge’s Politics and International Studies Department. In 2012 I was awarded the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship whereby I pursued a PhD in Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge.
While a Gates Scholar, I was awarded the 4th Bill Gates Senior Prize, in recognition of my role as founding President of the Cambridge Eastern African Society (CamEAS), co-founder of the African Society of Cambridge University (ASCU) and of the Black Cantabs project, which aims to curate the achievements of black Cambridge Alumni. I was also recognized for my research on the politics of justice during the transnational period in Kenyan politics after the 2007-2008 post-election violence. In 2012 I was appointed to the United Nations Resolution 1325 Committee in Kenya, a committee that advises on the implementation of peace and security.
What marked you the most during your NISC experience?
The aspect that marked me the most during the NISC is definitely the diversity in terms geographical and professional backgrounds. Learning from such a multicultural group was truly an amazing experience and we still keep in touch to date, after 10 years!
How has your time at the GCSP influenced your professional career? (examples/specific projects implemented, situations you managed differently, opened doors to new opportunities etc.)
The knowledge, skills and network the NISC has provided me have influenced my career in improving my abilities to analyze security policies, both in consulting roles within the United Nations Resolution 1325 Committee in Kenya and as a lecturer in peace and conflict studies at the United States International University Africa.
What are the new and re-emerging issues in international security that you are grappling with in your work today?
I believe one of the biggest issues in international security nowadays, especially in Central and Western Africa, is youth violent extremism and the lack of a clear strategy to tackle the phenomenon in order to mitigate radicalization and its causes.
Is there something you wish to share with the GCSP community?
The NISC and the time spent in Geneva during the spring of 2009 are some of my dearest memories and I remember those days with gratitude and nostalgia. I believe such opportunities would be highly beneficial for African civil servants and academics, in order to deepen their understanding of the security policy environment and consequently build further capacities in their respective national governments.