Professor Berhanu Abegaz speech on 15th NAPRECA symposium

Professor Ermias Dagne, Founding Executive Secretary of NAPRECA,
Professor Midiwo Current Executive Secretary,

Invited guests, dignitaries,
Fellow natural product scientists,
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am grateful to Professor Khalid for enabling me to convey this short message to the fraternity of natural product scientists who have gathered in the beautiful city of Khartoum. I wish to congratulate the Organizing Committee for the successful hosting the 15th NAPRECA symposium.
On a personal note, I want to recall how I met Prof Khalid at one of the first NAPRECA meetings held at Africa Hall in Addis Ababa in1986. It was from an earlier meeting with Tim Geary, whom I met during a visit to University of Michigan at East Lansing, who told me about you (Sami) and we invited you.
Likewise Prof Peter Waterman was nominated by the late Jeff Harborne, who could not come himself to give a lecture. Those meetings during the first few years brought all the important scientists in the field of natural products – and led to the establishment of solid professional foundation for developing the field of natural products and to train so many young people. I greatly admire the foresight and vision of Prof Dagne that has gotten us to where we are today.

As one of the founders of NAPRECA I am delighted to note where NAPRECA is today: An organization bigger than all of us, and more importantly serving the young generation of scientists in Africa. Let us also pay tribute to the last two successive generations of NAPRECA leadership – the Nkunya group, the Midiwo group and the new incoming third generation of leaders.
There are many scientists that I want to mention who are still around but are not able to come for one reason or another.
First Jack Cannon and John Kingston – who linked our Network with UNESCO. Jack lives in Perth (Australia). He is unable to travel because of ill health. But he still writes me long and thoughtful letters.
He invited me to represent NAPRECA in many annual ASOMPS meetings in Asia and paid for my participation. His advice and mentorship have helped me and my colleagues.
Second Prof Benjamin Noamesi, the Ghanaian Pharmacologist from Kumasi who was such a wonderful person, but who had to retire after his lost both eyesight in a serious car accident.
Thirdly, I wish to mention our friends and colleagues who have departed: Hailu Guade, First PO of NAPRECA – he who worked tirelessly under Dagne’s guidance and made great contributions.
Fourth: Professor N’Tamila (the late), probably the first natural product chemist from Tanzania, who was director of the basic Science Division of UNESCO when NAPRECA was launched as a UNESCO affiliated network in 1988.
Fifth our own African Chemists: Joseph Ogur from University of Nairobi, Johnson Ayafor, Zacharia Fomum from the University of Yaounde, Cameroon, and Jimmy Dury from the University of Zimbabwe. May their souls rest in peace.
Having joined the African Academy of Sciences nearly three years ago, my responsibilities have become my wider than natural products. This year 32 individuals became Fellows of AAS. Among these are Professors Gerhard Bringmann, Piet Steyn, Ermias Dagne, Barthelemy Nyasse, Ben erik van Wyk, Dominic Makawiti, Nelson Torto and Baldwin Torto. Let us all congratulate them for getting the highest continental recognition for excellence.

Finally please allow me to salute all my friends and colleagues, and wish you all a successful meeting.

Prof. Berhanu Abegaz,
Executive Director, African Academy of Sciences (AAS).