It is with much sadness that we announce the death of Shelvin Longmire, our longest-standing and most loyal collaborator, on April 14 in Washington, D.C., at the age of 71. Shelvin, as we all knew him, was more than a collaborator. Over the years, he had become a great friend and a precious ally in the United States.
As Groupe Afrique Expansion’s executive director for the USA for nearly 20 years and a member of Forum Afrique Expansion’s advisory committee, he was at the front line of all our battles. In truth, he was the brains and the architect behind all our activities and achievements in the United States. With his incomparable knowledge of American political, diplomatic and economic circles, and his impressive and enormous network of connections, he could open any door. He was our “eyes and ears” in the US. And so, every day, he would draw up a list of all the important events in the United States, retain those that required our attention and involvement, and personally play a role in expanding the visibility and influence of our organization. There comes to mind his crucial involvement in the stateside launch of one of our publications, Africa Trade Magazine, which went so far as to put together a US editorial committee comprised of renowned figures. How can we forget the press luncheon he organized at Washington’s prestigious Press Club for one of our important clients and for which, like the one-man band he was, he handled very single aspect, from logistics to security right down to the invitations? How could we fail to mention the work he did to promote Forum Afrique Expansion over many years, mobilizing numerous participants and prestigious American speakers?
These are but a few examples of the colossal work Shelvin did for Groupe Afrique Expansion, an organization with which he strongly identified. And for good reason! He shared the Group’s mission, namely to promote and defend Africa’s image and to convey just how much the continent can contribute to the rest of the world. Being an African American, Shelvin was highly sensitive to such issues. Believing his roots were in Africa, he did not hesitate to step up and admonish anyone who, often out of sheer ignorance, dared denigrate African countries. He held dear anything that could help to further the cause of Africa. Thus, Shelvin’s disappearance is also a great loss for Africa.
Discreet yet very effective, Shelvin was perceptive and skilled at reading people and situations. I would often tease him by telling him his analyses were interminable and that I could never quite make it to the end of his emails. He found a solution. From then on, his emails, while still touching at length on numerous topics, would promise a full development of each one of them in a future email! Good old Shelvin, I would mutter to myself. But that made him all the more endearing.
French statesman Georges Clemenceau said: “The graveyards are full of indispensable people, who have all been replaced.” Sincerely, I do not know whether we will be able to replace Shelvin, be it within the organization or in our hearts. One thing is certain: we shall miss him tremendously. May he rest in peace!
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Groupe Afrique Expansion
Publisher, Afrique Expansion Magazine