Forum Keynote Address: A Tribute to Juma Sulle

In recognition of thirty years of significant contributions towards sustainable development in Tanzania and the success of Global Partners, Juma Sulle was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Community-Driven Development Forum held in June 2019. Peter Verbiscar-Brown, Executive Director Emeritus for Global Partners, dedicated the majority of his keynote address towards honoring Mr. Sulle. Excerpts from his speech are included below.


Allow me to start with a bold statement that will provide a theme for this presentation, and that is:  None of us would be here in Arusha today talking about community development and sustainability, none of us would have this network of effective relationships, none of us would be friends and colleagues in quite the same way, and none of the tens of thousands of East African people would have improved lives via the work of Global Partners, without Mr. Juma Sulle.

I say this to commend Mr. Sulle for his decades-long dedication to the people of Tanzania and all of us who call ourselves Global Partners.  Mr. Sulle represents what I suggest is the most important factor when talking about community and organization sustainability, that is, the committed and generous individuals who populate this community and organization.


As Mr. Sulle related yesterday, thirty years ago, five members of an international running club, World Runners, came to East Africa to visit a few small projects and run the Mount Meru Marathon. We met Sulle and took an immediate liking to his community development style: direct, compassionate, well-managed, respectful, and results-oriented.  In beginning our Africa project work partnering with Mr. Sulle, we chose well.  In the ensuing decades across northern Tanzania, Mr. Sulle in turn chose well in finding community coordinators and leaders to create, promote, and manage worthy projects. Witness this room full of extraordinarily accomplished individuals who have positively affected the lives of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people. Many were enrolled by Mr. Sulle.


That leads me to a powerful value to enhance sustainability, and that is Leadership.  Historically, Global Partners has stood on the shoulders of highly capable, trustworthy individuals like Mr. Sulle and his colleague Mr. Malaki, the late Rev. Reuben Tusingwire and his wife Flavia of Uganda, John Malago, director of Matata Hospital in Western Kenya, Maasai community leaders Maanda Ngoitiko, Mary and Alais Morindat, and many others. These partners could be counted on as spokespersons and represent their communities and their needs, resources and dreams.

Our partners have been educators for their communities, nurturing and finding additional leaders, bearers of hope, yet realistic with expectations, and thus educating those of us serving in the US. Because in the early years of Global Partners, some of us were quite naive at what it would take to help accomplish lasting change in African communities.

Over time, we professionalized, but we would not be here today with the eyes, ears, hard work, insights, positive expectations, and can-do spirit of our Africa partners.


I will end this speech as I began, honoring Mr. Sulle. None of what we know today of the work of Global Partners in Tanzania would have been possible without his fierce yet humble dedication to his people and his nation.  Thank you, my colleague, my friend.  The lives of many, including mine through Global Partners, have been in your capable hands for a very long time, and I remain grateful for your care for our human condition. It is only fitting that in a speech about sustainability, mention of Mr. Sulle would both open and close the remarks.



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