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African Society

African Society:
Dr Cheik Diarra

The African Society had to compete with the Incognitos Concert for attendance, which was a pity, as their speaker was well worth listening to. Dr Cheik Diarra had overseen five NASA missions as interplanetary navigator before he moved to Microsoft, where he is chairman for Microsoft Africa. He was able to give us unique insights into both organisations.

Dr Diarra’s brief overview of his work for NASA outlined the phases for expeditions to other planets, giving us a glimpse of the sheer scale of the work just to map our own solar system. Then he moved on to explain what he is currently working on with Microsoft. He talked good-naturedly about the problems he faces – such as endemic corruption and the fact that 88% of Nigeria’s copies of Microsoft software are pirated. But there was a definite sense that, as he builds the legacy that he is adamant on completing, he is helping nations across the continent become more connected to the twenty first century – and giving millions improved opportunities.

Dr Diarra said that his lifelong dream was to retire and become a farmer. In the meantime, he has been happy to put his considerable intellect to use for arguably the two organisations which have shaped the past half-century. Everybody who found the time to go would certainly have been thankful that they did.

 Ollie Randall (RJM)

DATE POSTED: 22 January 2010

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