Ambassador to Swaziland: Who Is Makila James?

Saturday, March 24, 2012
The new U.S. ambassador to Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, has specialized in relations with Africa and the Caribbean. Makila Z. James was nominated by President Obama on February 17, 2012, subject to Senate confirmation, to replace Ambassador Earl M. Irving. She appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 22. Of Africa, James once wrote: “Africa is no easy place to love or know. But if you love her, you will come to know her.”
 
One of ten children born to Albert and Eddie Mae James, Makila James was born in July 1957. She earned a B.A. from Cornell University in 1979, where she was a member of the Quill and Dagger honor society, a J.D. from Columbia University Law School, and a Masters in National Security Studies from the National Defense University in 2010.
 
After joining the Foreign Service in 1988, James’ early career foreign postings included service as consular officer in Jamaica; political/economics officer at the embassy in Kaduna, Nigeria (1993-1995); and political officer at the embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe. Early positions at State Department headquarters in Washington, DC, included watch officer at the Operations Center; desk officer for Sierra Leone and Gambia in the Office of West African Affairs; international relations officer in the Office of International Organization Affairs; and research fellow at the Georgetown University Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. She has also served as international relations officer for Africa at the United Nations Security Council.
 
From 2003 to 2006, James served as a member of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff. Back in Africa from 2006 to 2007, she was the principal officer at the Consulate General in Juba, South Sudan. James served as the deputy director of the Office of Southern African Affairs from 2007 to 2009, and from 2009 to early 2012, she served as director of the Office of Caribbean Affairs.
 
James and her husband, Louis Wells, have one son, Mandela.
-Matt Bewig
 

Celebrating the Deep Ties Between the United States and Caribbean (by Makila James, DipNote) 

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