International diplomacy focuses on cooperation between countries rather than conflict. When trained diplomat Asanji Burnley first encountered the ideas of liberty at a 2013 event hosted by Atlas Network partner LibreAfrique.org, though, he realized that he wanted to build institutions that would promote freedom and cooperation between individuals. Burnley went on to co-found the Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action (CACLiTA) in Cameroon, along with Chofor Che Christian-Aimé. Burnley’s participation in Atlas Leadership Academy (ALA) training programs has helped bring new long-term strategic thinking to his work expanding liberty in Africa.
“My experience through the ALA has been great and very enriching, as I have strengthened my leadership and strategic planning skills by participating in webinars, online courses and other ALA programs in fundraisings, leadership, marketing, and operations, as well as research techniques,” Burnley said. “But the biggest takeaways were learning to think long-term and be strategic. The Think Tank Navigator and Think Tank Impact courses particularly have given us strategic directions and practical tips through real-world case studies of successful think tanks, and have greatly made a huge impact in running the centre as we are now working on a strategic plan. We thus hope to unite students, young people, policymakers, academia and anyone interested in freedom to discuss peace, social and economic liberties, and the future of freedom in the Central African subregion.”
As president of CACLiTA, Burnley is responsible for building organizational strategy, fundraising, managing the staff, and expanding the organization into new areas. He brings a great deal of prior administrative experience to his work, having served for several years as a secretary for the Ministry of Transportation, and administrative assistant and attache for the North West Development Authority.
It was during Burnley’s time studying for his master’s degree from the International Relations Institute of Cameroon that he was first introduced to the freedom movement, invited to a LibreAfrique.org Liberty School by Christian-Aimé, his future CACLiTA co-founder.
“This seminar opened my mind and convinced me that people everywhere want to be able to speak freely; choose who will govern them; educate their children, male and female; own property; and enjoy the benefits of their labour,” Burnley said. “I see it as a duty to protect these values, which is the common calling of freedom-loving people across the globe and across the ages.”
Burnley participated in ALA’s Africa Intermediate Think Tank Training in June, immediately following the inaugural Africa Liberty Forum, cohosted in Ghana by IMANI Center for Policy & Education. This program helps organization leaders who already have a few years of experience to reach a higher level of training, and learn more advanced techniques in how to grow their work.
“It was a thrilling experience, as I got to meet with like-minded individuals from all over Africa who have a passion for liberty like myself,” Burnley said. “We shared experiences, and it was inspiring learning from each other. Techniques on strategic project planning, impact assessment, effective communication strategies, successful fundraising strategies, improving on my vision and mission statements, organizational branding and leadership skills, amongst others. The learnings were very useful for my organisation and myself. I intend to organize a workshop to build the capacities of my team members who did not attend. This training has given me effective skills with which I will better my leadership.”