Her career has spanned 33 years, across 3 continents and now seeking to develop and implement cybersecurity policies and procedures in Africa.
ICC picks Ghana’s Marietta Brew
June 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Papisdaff Abdullah.
Ghana’s former Attorney General Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong has been appointed as a member of the International Court of Arbitration.
Her appointment takes effect from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021, the appointment letter signed by Alexis Mourre, President of ICC International Court of Arbitration said.
“I am delighted that you have agreed to serve as part of the 1 July 2018 – 30 June 2021 term of office; the inauguration of this revitalized and fully gender-balanced Court opens a promising new chapter in the Court’s history with its largest, most regionally and generationally diverse network of members to date,” the letter read in part.
Below is the appointment letter:
Paris, 27 June 2018
I am writing to congratulate you upon your appointment as a member of the International Court of Arbitration following the ICC World Council meeting which took place in Paris on 21 June 2018.
I am delighted that you have agreed to serve as part of the 1 July 2018 – 30 June 2021 term of office; the inauguration of this revitalized and fully gender-balanced Court opens a promising new chapter in the Court’s history with its largest, most regionally and generationally diverse network of members to date.
In line with the Court’s decision not to permit members to serve for more than two consecutive full terms, close to half of the Court members are new entrants. The new Court is a unique group of outstanding professionals, and it will be a privilege and an honour for me to work with all of you over the next three years. We look to our renewed members to carry forward the Court’s unparalleled institutional knowledge and experience from the current term of office, as well as counting on incoming members to bring fresh enthusiasm and a broad range of new perspectives to the essential work of the Court.
The Court must continue on the path set by its outgoing members, to whom the Court is indebted for their invaluable expertise and input throughout the years, and continue striving to offer global excellence to users worldwide, in particular with respect to the Court’s signature service of award scrutiny. You will have ample opportunity throughout this term of office to contribute first-hand to this unique service by participating in the sessions of the Court and I look forward to counting on your active engagement in this regard. The Court’s success rests on the immense dedication of its members and I am confident that the Court will continue to provide users with a service of the highest quality, helping to secure ICC’s position as the parties’ preferred institution in every continent.
The ICC International Court of Arbitration is a unique organization. It is in fact the only truly global arbitral institution, administering arbitrations from its offices located in Paris, Hong Kong, New York, Sao Paolo and Singapore, with a Secretariat able to work in more than 20 different languages and Court members from over 110 different countries.
Before the next term begins, I would like to draw your attention to a change in ICC’s practice with regard to reimbursements for Court members. Up to and including the current term, reimbursements were made biannually to Court members. Please note that as of 1 July 2018 reimbursements will be discontinued due to internal operational reasons.
Court members remain responsible for making their own travel arrangements and any related expenses are not defrayed by ICC. A list of hotels with which ICC has negotiated rates for its members is attached for your reference. We do not offer video link participation for plenary sessions, however remote participation can be arranged for the weekly and special committee meetings of the Court, meaning that members need not systematically travel to Paris in order to be active in the role. Similarly, you are welcome to participate from the Hong Kong, New York, Sao Paolo and Singapore offices whenever convenient.
I attach the 2018 and 2019 Court schedules for your perusal and encourage you to attend regularly. In particular, I draw your attention to the importance of the Working Session which sees the full Court united in Paris once annually. Please mark your diaries as the Working Session provides a unique opportunity for the Court as a whole to discuss matters of ICC Court practice and policy.
In order to schedule your participation in any sessions of the Court, you are invited to contact Francesca Hill Caucat who will be delighted to provide you with all necessary information in relation to the organizational side of your new role and answer any questions you may have in this regard.
If you have not already done so, please verify that you have completed the administrative formalities requested at the stage of your nomination, in particular ensuring that your curriculum vitae and a signed copy of the non-disclosure agreement have been returned to the Secretariat before 1 July 2018.
I look forward to a fruitful collaboration in the coming three-year term and trust that you will make the most of this opportunity both to represent your region at ICC and also to promote ICC in your region.
Alexis Mourre , President, ICC International Court of Arbitration.
Chike Ukaegbu Announces Candidacy for Nigerian President
June 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
Today, Chike Ukaegbu announced his candidacy for President of Nigeria – a country with over 60% of the population between the ages of 18 and 35. At the age of 35, Chike aspires to become the youngest civilian president of the youthful African nation.
Chike said, “greatness is born of vision; of seeing the invisible and making it a reality. Nigeria needs a visionary leader now more than ever. This is our time and I am the right choice to lead our nation.”
Recently named one of the UN’s 100 most influential people of African descent under 40, Chike was born in Owerri, Imo State to now retired civil servants. He is a technology entrepreneur living in New York City. He went to school in Nigeria from kindergarten through his second year at University of Lagos before heading to the United States where he studied biomedical engineering at City College of New York, Executive Leadership and Management at Cornell University, took MBA courses at University of Pennsylvania, and studied Venture Capital and Investments at Stanford University. Chike taught Math for seven years at City College of New York and entrepreneurship for two, while also serving as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. As a second year student in college, Chike was named a Fellow to the prestigious Colin Powell Fellowship in Leadership and Public Policy, which sparked an interest that led to research in youth disconnection and engaging disenfranchised communities. As a Fellow, he developed the HEROES Model for effective youth engagement. HEROES is an acronym for Heritage, Education, Relationships, Opportunities, Entrepreneurship and Service; six pivotal areas crucial for effectively empowering children and youth. Disconnection is a term used to define youths who are out of school and out of work between the ages of 15 and 25. Nigeria has about 15 million disconnected youths.
Chike has spoken at several prestigious institutions and conferences including The US-Nigeria Investment Summit, Africa Trade Investment Global Summit, The White House, TEDx, Tech and Venture Capital conferences, Harvard, NYU, Columbia, CCNY, University of Rochester, the Africa Investment Summit in Marrakech, Morocco among others. His speeches covered Strategies on engaging untapped communities through technology, education and entrepreneurship, Building out tech ecosystems and investments in Nigeria and Africa, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Afrofuturism, Diversity and Inclusion, and more.
Before thirty, Chike’s passion to change and empower youth lives led him to become a certified foster parent as well as cofound Re:LIFE Inc, the first Harlem based non profit organization focused on empowering at-risk and disconnected youth through education, entrepreneurship and technology. In 2014, he established the Entrepreneurship and Education Leadership Fund, which provided academic grants, seed capital and training to Nigerian youths. In 2015, Chike also launched Startup52. Startup52 is NYC’s first and award-winning diversity focused startup accelerator with a mission to increase diversity in tech and entrepreneurship by creating better access to resources, support and capital to founders from untapped communities. In its first three years, Startup52’s portfolio boasts more than thirty startups as it plans to launch Startup52Nigeria. Startup52 has been recognized by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and also named one of America’s Best Entrepreneurial Businesses by Entrepreneur Magazine.
A strong and compassionate leader, Chike has been a champion for marginalized, underserved and untapped populations, staying at the forefront of disrupting tech and entrepreneurial spaces through inclusive diversity in technology, education and entrepreneurship.
As a lover of the Arts, Cultures and Humanities, Chike minored in musical theater and performed in plays and musicals across New York City. He is also using media and the arts to tell the brilliant stories of founders and talents from untapped communities as a way to create better exposure for them.
· Chike has been recognized by the UN as One of 100 Most Influential People of African Descent in the diaspora for his work with Re:LIFE and Startup52.
· He was invited to the White House to do a briefing on initiatives and strategies to empower underserved and underrepresented communities via technology, education and entrepreneurship.
· He was invited by the NY State governor to speak on increasing access to tech and entrepreneurship in underserved communities at the Minority and Women Business Enterprise Summit.
· He was recognized by NYC’s Mayor for increasing diversity and inclusion in the NYC tech ecosystem.
· He was awarded the highly coveted US Permanent Residency under the National Interest Waiver category for his work with Re:LIFE and Startup52.
Chike was named an honoree for the prestigious forty under 40 award by The Network Journal.
. Chike was recognized as One of Ten Nigerian-Americans Making Waves in Tech by UrbanGeekz
· He was an honoree of Black Enterprise’s 100 Modern Men of Distinction award, which referred to him as ‘The Tech Accelerator’.
· Chike was named a NYC Rising Star by Pave
· Named a Patron of Progress by CuriosityLab
· Called one of 20 African Americans Impacting The World Through Social Impact and Social Innovation by Causeartist
· Selected by US Department of State to represent the US in China and Zambia as an entrepreneurship evangelist
Chike has consulted with more than 15 foreign delegations on how to build diverse, inclusive and engaged tech and entrepreneurial communities in their respective cities or countries.
Lawyer Francis Ben Kaifala Is Sierra Leone’s New And Youngest Anti Corruption Commission Boss
June 22, 2018 | 0 Comments
On wednesday the 20th of June 2018 the Sierra Leone’s Government of Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio dismissed the head of the Anti Corruption commission Ady Macaulay. This dismissal came immediately after he was sent on leave.
The new Anti Corruption Boss is a Young Sierra Leonean-British-American trained lawyer, Francis Ben Kaifala appointed by President Julius Maada Bio. Mr. Ben Mr. Kaifala is the youngest person to be appointed to this all important post. He is very strict and meticulous when it comes to legal matters. Crooks and rogues have to think 100 times before attempting to eat any haramu.
Kaifala returned to Sierra Leone recently after completing his second LLM degree in USA.
Lawyer Francis Kaifala is the youngest person to be appointed as head of the Anti Corruption commission ever since the commission came to existence. He is very strict and meticulous when it comes to legal matters. Crooks and rogues will definitely need to watch out as Lawyer Kaifala is a no nonsense man
With the announcement of his appointment the public is prepared for the great and challenging task ahead of him and the innate ability to deliver beyond expectation.
Priscilla Mutembwa joins USAFCG as Vice President, Cybersecurity Policy and Development
May 30, 2018 | 0 Comments
Ambassador Omar Arouna, Managing Partner of US-Africa Cybersecurity Group, has appointed Priscilla Mutembwa as Vice President, Cybersecurity Policy and Development.
Further to the appointment, Ambassador Arouna commented: “I’m delighted that Priscilla Mutembwa is joining the Group. Over the past years she has done an outstanding job in various capacity on the African continent. Her work as a member of the ITU Focus Group on Digital Financial Services for Financial Inclusion and her keen interest in the security issues surrounding mobile money in Africa will be essential to our growth.”
Priscilla Mutembwa holds a Master of Business Administration from University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg. She is currently enrolled in a Master in Cybersecurity, Management and Policy from University of Maryland University College. Before joining US-Africa Cybersecurity Group, she has held various management and financial roles at Unicef, British American Tobacco, Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group and Cargill. In 2006 she was appointed CEO at Cargill in Zimbabwe for seven years. Priscilla Mutembwa was named the 2011 CIMA Businesswoman of the Year.
In 2015 she joined the Corporate Council on Africa as Director ICT. She was responsible for the development and implementation of the ICT program of the association and was a member of the ITU Focus Group on Digital Financial Services for Financial Inclusion and developed interest in the security issues surrounding mobile money in Africa. She currently is a Commissioner on the Judicial Services Commission of Zimbabwe.
‘Spiderman’ of Paris: folk hero fresh off migrant trail
May 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Paris (AFP) – Mamoudou Gassama, the young Malian hailed as a hero in France for scaling a multi-storey building to rescue a child hanging from a balcony, is no stranger to danger.
The 22-year-old “Spiderman”, who was honoured by President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace and offered French citizenship, braved the Sahara desert, Libyan gangs and the Mediterranean Sea during his long odyssey to Europe.
In 2013, the shy youth from the southwestern Malian town of Yaguine hit the migrant trail which claims thousands of lives each year.
“I had no means to live and no-one to help me”, Gassama, who followed an older brother to France, explained to Macron.
He travelled through Burkina Faso and Niger north to Libya, the main launching pad for clandestine crossings to Europe.
He spent a year working in Libya, where armed gangs prey on migrants, routinely kidnapping them for ransom and even sometimes enslaving them.
“I suffered a lot,” he said. “We were caught and beaten but I did not lose hope.”
A year later, he sailed to Italy in one of the packed migrant boats that regularly sink. “It was terrible. There were a lot of people,” he told France’s BFM news channel.
From there he continued on last year to France, where he joined relatives in the eastern Paris suburb of Montreuil, nicknamed “Little Bamako” after its large Malian population.
His home, which he shares with relatives, is a cramped 15-square-metre room in a migrant workers’ hostel, with a mattress on the floor for a bed.
Gassama, who did not seek asylum in France, making him an economic migrant at risk of deportation, has been doing odd jobs in construction.
But his life changed dramatically Saturday, when he came to the rescue of a four-year-old boy who was spotted dangling from a balcony on the fourth-floor of a building in northern Paris.
“I did not think twice,” Gassama, who happened to be walking by, told Macron, adding “I went straight up.”
– An example for millions –
The video of him pulling himself up from balcony to balcony with supreme ease has been viewed millions of times on social media, propelling him to stardom.
On Monday morning he was ferried to the Elysee Palace for an audience with the president, who listened smiling to his account of the rescue and presented him with a medal for his bravery.
“I’m pleased because it’s the first time I’ve received a trophy like that,” Gassama said afterwards.
“We proud of him,” his older brother Birama, 54, told AFP, describing his sibling, a keen footballer, as someone who “likes to help others”.
Not only will Gassama receive a French passport, Macron offered the plucky youth with preternatural agility a job with the fire service.
“You have become an example because millions of people have seen you. It is only right that the nation be grateful,” Macron told him.
In a statement the fire department said Gassama embodied the values of the service, adding: “We are ready to welcome him on board!”
Liberian ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf dedicates $5M prize to women’s empowerment
April 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Bethlehem Feleke*
(CNN)Former Liberian President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Friday accepted a $5 million prize for excellence in African leadership — and said she’ll use it to establish a center for the empowerment of women.
Louis Vuitton names Ghanaian-American as new creative boss
March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments
“I feel elated,” the 37-year-old , saying the opportunity was “always a goal in my wildest dreams”.
The news site says Abloh is one of the few black designers at the helm of a major French fashion house.
Others include Olivier Rousteing – the creative director at Balmain, and British designer Ozwald Boateng who led Givenchy men’s wear from 2003 to 2007.
Abloh will present his first menswear collection for Louis Vuitton in June at Paris Fashion Week.
Louis Vuitton chief executive Michael Burke praised the designer’s “sensibility towards luxury and savoir-faire” adding he would be “instrumental in taking Louis Vuitton’s menswear into the future”.
Malema: The face of change in South African politics?
March 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati
Julius Malema, the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party in South Africa is a man who is equally loved and hated by South Africa. Malema’s rhetoric equally divides those who love him and those who hate him, there’s no middle ground, and its either you love or hate the guy.
Malema belongs to that group of feisty political entrepreneurs such as the late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela driven by the desire to harvest votes at any time.
South Africa’s political history in the past 10 to 15 years has been orchestrated by the youthful Malema who has managed to capitalise on his feistiness and popularity among the poor black to fundamentally change the nature of South African politics. To date, Malema’s influence in South African politics can be categorised before and after the birth of the EFF, Malema’s political party after which came into life after his ouster from the African National Congress (ANC).
Malema before the EFF
Media attention on Julius Malema started in early 2008 when he was elected as the leader of the ANC Youth League. It is during that time that the ANC Youth League got a voice, as before it was a movement that was only heard of when the ANC was heading to an election or Congress. That’s when the bigwigs would engage its leaders in desperate moves to ramp up and garner votes for the party during national elections or for them as individuals as they sought to attain positions of influence during the ANC Congress. However, all that changed when Malema was elected the Youth League leader, though still advancing the cause of individual politicians at election times and at Congress, the Youth League also became a voice for the disgruntled youths as they fought for recognition and respect from the party.
All went well during the first days of Malema’s term in office as the Youth League leader but things soon changed after the 52nd ANC Congress held in December 2008 which saw Jacob Zuma elected as the new President of the ANC. Malema who had been an admirer of Zuma quickly aligned with him and the Youth League quickly sought to oust Thabo Mbeki as the President of South Africa to replace him with Jacob Zuma.
In the struggle to force Mbeki to resign from the presidency, Malema and the Youth League became the ANC’s mouthpieces. Malema featured on national television a number of times calling Mbeki ‘a dictator’. When it looked clear that Mbeki was going to bow under pressure and resign, it’s reported that Zuma met Malema and instructed him not to waste energy beating, “a dead snake” to which Malema replied, “Fine…we are no longer beating it and we are burying this snake this weekend.” Mbeki resigned shortly afterwards with the ANC citing that his ouster was as a result of Mbeki using the country’s law enforcement system to undermine the chances of his successor (Jacob Zuma) to succeed him.
Malema and the birth of the EFF
The romance between Malema and Zuma did not last long, however, as Malema took the same path of labelling Zuma as a dictator. Malema’s reference to Zuma as a dictator in addition to other charges including the ‘Shoot the Boer’ slogan ultimately forced the hand of the ANC to expel him from the party in 2012.
After his expulsion from the ANC, for a brief period, he managed to use his popularity to gain much-needed media coverage as he was seen as a champion of the Marikana victims after 35 miners were shot by the police in a standoff between striking miners and the police.
However, Malema realised quickly that he was not receiving the same attention as he once was and decided to form a political party that would rival the ANC and put him back into the limelight. Mid-year in 2013, Malema formed the EFF, a party that challenged most of the ANC’s policies.
With the EFF, Malema has to date managed to effect two significant changes that have altered the history of South African politics. The first refers to the resignation of Jacob Zuma, a man that Malema was determined to destroy since the day he was kicked out of the ANC. With the help of another opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and also other ANC members, the EFF tabled a motion of no confidence against Zuma and when it dawned on Zuma that the end was nigh, he resigned on live TV.
The second change effected by the EFF refers to the controversial expropriation of land without compensation. The EFF tabled the motion before parliament and with help from the ANC, it passed. Expropriation of land without compensation seeks to redistribute land from the commercial white farmers to the poor blacks. The move by the EFF has been praised mostly by the poor black while commercial white farmers and economic institutions including banks have condemned the move saying it will lead South Africa on the same road that led to the destruction of Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
Malema and the EFF’s major achievement
While launching his party, Malema said that it would seek to address primarily white South African capital, land expropriation and the nationalisation of the country’s main institutions including the Reserve Bank. In the little time that the EFF has been in parliament, it has managed to raise all those issues in parliament. Most have been rejected but the land expropriation motion passed, however, it’s too early to tell if it’s a success or not but for the EFF it’s a positive as they are getting what they are agitating for.
The major achievement, however, the EFF has managed thus far is to broaden democracy. The EFF has added to the multiparty system in South Africa and it’s letting the views of the poor back to be aired at the highest level. This on its own is a major achievement. However, it’s also wise to note that in doing so, the EFF has created a side effect of racial intolerance and polarisation as most of its rhetoric seems to promote and advance the interests of one race while alienating the other races.
Ugandan author wins $165k prize
March 9, 2018 | 0 Comments
The Manchester-based author who’s won a life-changing $165k book prize
A Manchester-based author whose debut novel was initially rejected by British publishers has won one of the world’s richest literary prizes.
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi – who’s from Uganda and moved to the UK 17 years ago – has won one of the Windham Campbell Prizes from Yale University in the US.
She will receive $165,000 (£119,000). “I haven’t been earning for a long, long time,” she says.
“I really put everything into writing. So for this to happen is unbelievable.”
The prize money is more than double the amount that the Booker Prize winner gets, and organisers say it’s the richest award dedicated to literature after the Nobel Prize.
Makumbi is one of eight writers to receive Windham Campbell Prizes this year spanning fiction, non-fiction, drama and poetry – and is the only winner to have published just one full-length work.
The prizes were created by writer Donald Windham and also carry the name of his partner Sandy M Campbell. They were first awarded in 2013 to “provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns”.
Makumbi said news of the award came out of the blue. “It’s American, and normally it’s people who have got so many books [behind them],” she said. “So I’m surprised how I was one of them.”
Makumbi’s debut novel Kintu was first published in Kenya four years ago after British publishers rejected it for being “too African”. It was finally released in the UK this January.
The author said British publishers and readers like to have something they can relate to – be it Western characters or familiar settings and storylines – if they’re reading about Africa.
But she describes Kintu as “proper, proper Africa”.
The book conjures myths and legends to tell the story of a Ugandan family who believe they have been cursed over 250 years.
“I had really locked Europe out,” Makumbi says. “But it was a little bit too much – the language, the way I wrote it – they [Brits] were not used to that kind of writing. But they are beginning now to open up I think.
“Readers are realising, OK, if I want to explore Africa I’d rather be told from an African point of view rather than being told things that I’m expected to want to know.”
‘It’s about getting a paycheque’
Makumbi was a high school teacher before moving to the UK to pursue her dream of a writing career. She began by studying creative writing in Manchester, then wrote Kintu while doing a PhD in Lancaster.
The Windham Campbell Prize will help spread the word about the book – but for Makumbi, for now at least, the prize money will be the thing that changes her life.
“I would like to say it’s more about getting to be known and whatever, but mainly it’s about getting a paycheque,” she admits.
“It’s mainly about [doing] ordinary things that other people do that have a job. I have a partner but he’s not earning much and I’ve not been really pulling my weight.
“I’ve just been taking and taking, and we are a working class family, so it’s huge. And then, of course, now I can go and do research in different countries for my next project.”
‘Shocked’ by British life
She didn’t have to travel far to research a short story collection that will come out next January. It’s title is Love Made in Manchester.
“I write the stories as a way of writing back to Ugandans, informing them what happens to us,” she says. “I’m telling them, ‘You want to come to Britain? Hang on a minute. First read my story.'”
So what impression will Ugandans get of Britain if they do?
“It’s not the world that they’ve been told it is. When you’re in Uganda, Britain is the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, The Savoy, The Ritz – because this is how Britain markets itself.
“You never see the working class. That is what takes you by surprise. It’s just shocking.
“You come here and see the working class and you’re like, I should have paid attention to Dickens!”
Leila Ndiaye Joins the Initiative for Global Development as Executive Vice-President
March 1, 2018 | 0 Comments
Ndiaye brings 25 years of experience as an African affairs expert and accomplished senior policy and business strategist
WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 1, 2018 – The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) announced today the appointment of Leila Ndiaye to the position of Executive Vice-President of the Washington-based network of African and global business leaders who are committed to advancing sustainable development and inclusive growth through business investment.
Ndiaye, a native of Côte d’Ivoire and dual citizen of Senegal, will be responsible for driving the strategic direction for IGD’s programming and policy engagements, overseeing the growth of the Frontier Leader Network, and building strategic alliances with key stakeholders to advance organizational priorities.
With 25 years of experience as an African affairs expert and accomplished senior policy and business strategist, Ndiaye has a proven track record in policy design and implementation at the highest level of African governments and the private sector.
“Leila Ndiaye joins IGD at a time of when the organization is experiencing tremendous growth and impact in strengthening the private sector and boosting private investment on the African continent,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych. “Her vision and deep experience and connections will position IGD to be a leader in igniting innovation and action to fuel Africa’s economic progress.”
Prior to joining IGD, she served as the Senior Director of Policy for African Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In that position, she developed, promoted and executed the US-Africa Business Center’s program of work relating to trade policy and investment between the United States and African countries. She initiated and managed the US-ECOWAS Business Initiative and spearheaded the Chamber’s program in Western and Central Sub-Saharan Africa, from Angola to Mauritania.
Previously, she worked with the government of Côte d’Ivoire as special adviser to the former Head of State, where she advised the Head of State on a range of policy, national security and economic issues to ensure that all duties were carried out in the best interest of the country as a whole.
Ndiaye is an Advisor to McLarty Associates, where she advises clients on trade and investment in West Africa. McLarty Associates is an international strategic advisory firm headquartered in Washington, DC, that delivers diplomatic solutions and advises many emerging companies venturing abroad.
Earlier in her career, Ndiaye held positions in the lobbying arena with Bayh, Connaughton, Fernsteinhem and Malone, law firm of former Senator Birch Bayh, in Washington, D.C. where she developed and managed the Africa portfolio and at the World Bank as a consultant.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented Ms. Ndiaye with the “US-Africa Business Center Outstanding Leaders’ Award 2018” in recognition of her exemplary leadership in US-Africa relations.
She is a recipient of the 2016 Excellence Award by the Women Ambassadors Foundation in Washington DC and was nominated in 2008 as one of the 50 most influential people of Côte d’Ivoire by the magazine l’Intelligent d’Abidjan and received the same year the Women’s Private Sector Initiative Award in Côte d’Ivoire.
In 1990, she was the first Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar from Côte d’Ivoire to South Africa during apartheid. Leila Ndiaye is a member of the African Leadership Network, a membership community of the most dynamic and influential new-generation leaders in Africa.
Leila Ndiaye holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the School of International Service (SIS), at The American University in Washington DC, earned a Master of Arts in Diplomacy with merit from the Diplomatic Academy of London at the University of Westminster, and a PhD degree in International Relations and Diplomacy, from the Centre d’Etudes Diplomatiques et Stratégiques (CEDS), Paris.
The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization that harnesses the power of the private sector to create sustainable development and inclusive growth in Africa. We bring together CEOs and senior executives from leading African and global companies through our Frontier Leader Network to catalyze greater business investment and impact on the continent
Entrepreneurship is not a choice but a MUST for all Africans-Badou Kane
February 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
When dreams for a career in basketball were scuttled by injurious, Badou Kane found a calling in entrepreneurship, mentoring and empowering the next generation of African Youth. From his base in Senegal, Badou Kane is using a variety of programs, and initiatives to instill positive values, and hope in the African youth on how to turn adversity into opportunity. Pained by the travails of those who risk it all to leave Africa in quest of greener pastures; Badou is taking on the onerous task of helping young Africans to understand that with their potential, it is possible to make it big in Africa. Entrepreneurship is not a choice, but a must for all Africans, says Badou in an exclusive interview with PAV to shed light on his vision and projects.
Badou Kane is one of the most inspiring entrepreneurs in Africa, let’s start this interview by paraphrasing a quote we got from a talk you gave at the Cheick Anta Diop University in Senegal in July of 2014, having a positive impact on others is how Africans in all walks of life should measure leadership, in 2018, how much of this are you seeing in the continent?
I would say not much… numbers don’t lie. The fact that we have over 500 million Africans living under $1.50 a day shows that there isn’t enough sharing among us. Two things are to be shared knowledge and money in order to have a positive impact on others.
You equally said Africa is the richest continent with the poorest with the poorest people, not because not because we are poor but because we are poor in minds, in this age and time, what needs to be done to change this mindset?
Wow! A good question with many solutions I will quote a few:
Let s start by stopping lies and getting rid of our complexes of inferiority and superiority. As long as you are on the right path do not worry about what people think of you or what you do. Then:
- We have to regain the control of our education. Our curriculum should be written by Africans that understand the realities of the continent.
- All Africans have to learn how to become entrepreneurs’ whether you went to school or not, whether you went far into your schooling or not. Entrepreneurship is not a choice but a MUST for all Africans.
- We have to all learn how to go from nothing to something. At least be able to earn 4 dollars a day.
- Every one of us has a hidden treasure but to find it we have to be willing to sweat cry and bleed. Through a strong will, endurance, and perseverance we will find our hidden treasures
- We have to all start some type of a business (small, medium. or big). Do not be afraid to start small. If you don t know how to go from nothing contact me I will show you how.
- Last but not least once you achieve success NEVER FORGET WHERE YOU COME FROM and share part of the knowledge and money you earned by teaching others your path to success. Find honest hard working people and show them the way to success that you know.
From your entrepreneurship and the mentorship that you have done, what difference have you succeeded in making, what are some of the positive stories that you can share with us?
Another good question. We have thousands of stories to tell. As a matter of fact we are preparing a book. You will already find lots of the testimonies on my social media pages. We have created multi-millionaires in CFA. We have kept people out of jails. We have saved families that were struggling to eat one decent meal a day today they are eating at least 2 meals a day. We have prevented people from risking their lives and dying at sea or in the desert through illegal migration (a major problem in Africa). I can go on; we have changed or impacted thousands and thousands of lives in Africa. We have saved relationships between fathers and sons, prevented people from blaming governments and environments in general. Some of the people we trained built houses for their mothers. Let me just say that thanks to the Almighty we have done a lot through our training centers, our conferences in schools and different institutions, our interventions on TV s and radios.
You literally grew up in America; you made it there, what motivated you to move back to Senegal and any regrets?
You know that old saying: “there is no place like home”. I had a mother and father that gave a lot to Africa their names were Madeleine Sidibe and Bocar Kane. I wanted to follow on their footsteps. I remember one day we were having lunch at the house; a neighbor walked in and said that he did not have something to feed his family and my mom asked us to stop eating. We were all eating in a big bowl; she took it poured more foods in it and gave it to the man to take to his house. Then she told us to eat ” shaï” (bread and butter + hot tea) I always wanted to help develop a larger middle class in Africa. I love the fact that I was given a chance to be able to change lives and I have zero regrets.
At a time when many young people are risking life crossing the Sahara, ending up as slaves in Libya, dying in overloaded boats that sink in the Mediterranean, just to get to Europe, how challenging is it to make a convincing case to them that in Africa, they can still make it and make it big?
It’s very challenging but with a very good argument they will stay. They just want better alternatives and concrete solutions. The youth of Africa has lost the last piece of hope that they had left in them. They have been betrayed by their respective country leaders. But today we give them hope again by showing them that yes it is possible to make it here in Africa. Once upon a time the Italians and the Irish were fleeing to America; today they are proud to stay in their countries. I have faith that one day the Almighty will give us the leaders that will finally save the Africans. And our people will stay. It’s always been about Africa but not about the Africans but I can feel in the air that it is about to be about the Africans themselves as they will gain a better hold of their environment.
And on the flipside, when you look at the economic and political realities of the continent, the corruption, the leaders in power for over three decades, do you actually fault them and some may even say oh if Badou Kane did not have the opportunities he had out of Senegal, he may not be as successful as he is ,what is your take on this?
Of course our leaders are to be blamed for some of it but not all. A bad head of state can’t stop a Badou Kane from washing cars to feed his family for example. We cannot spend the next 5 decades pointing the finger at them as it is a waste of time. Let us focus on ourselves on how we can do it ourselves. It is possible as I am showing the people in Senegal. Senegal gave me a peaceful environment, and people willing to do it themselves but as far as the rest is concerned we snatch what we want through discipline and hard work. We create opportunities NOTHING is handed to us.
Could you shed more ore light on your company LXG International Inc and your other programs that are used in helping to the build the next generation of entrepreneurs in Senegal, a young Senegalese told us that within five years you have turned atleast ten young Senegalese into millionaires, is this true and if so how have you done this?
The major program is called Risk Innovation Social Entrepreneurship. I started it in Senegal on December 12 2012 to fight unemployment and poverty in Africa. I don t believe in poverty in Africa and we have the solution. Every African should be at least able to cover his basic needs of having a place to live, food to eat, a decent education, and the capability to pay for basic medical bills.
The RISE program is an entrepreneurship and leadership program that teaches any individual how to go from nothing to something. It’s a very tough program and at the end of it the best candidates receive an investment of 4 to 18 thousand dollars. Directly linked to me, 6 have made millions the rest are on the way. Indirectly, meaning those that were trained by us but went on their own, quite a few.
Since 2012 we have trained thousands and thousands of people, hundreds have started their own small businesses and we have invested in at least 15.
Another program is called DSB which stands for ” Demal Suñu Bopp” meaning it lets do it ourselves. It is an economic movement that I created again to fight unemployment and poverty. It is a continuation of RISE, to help us raise awareness with a broader audience to teach them the same thing: how to go from nothing to something. The motto of the movement is “get richer to serve more”. There are thousands of members throughout Senegal with one thing in common, they are doing it themselves, and all we provide is the coaching through a system that allows them to get it done without the help of the government, or any form of entity.
The criteria are quite simple: discipline, a good heart, a willingness to learn and get better, and a capacity to grasp our teachings. The government has supported me by letting me do what I do without bothering me. I couldn’t t tell you what their views are.
One of the latest initiatives you are floating now is an entrepreneurship competition or program with the concept of people starting and growing a business with $3.50, can you shed more light on this?
We have 500 Million people living under $1.50 a day. To fight this and the illegal migration that you mentioned earlier we launched this challenge. The candidates have to start a business with $3.50 or less and a month later they will have to show their financial results and immediate social impact. There will be 3 rounds. The winner will take home about 2000 dollars and there will also be a special prize for the best female entrepreneur. The objective is to spread the fact it is possible to start with little or no money, and to help people understand that they can do it themselves.
Is this new initiative going to be limited just to Senegal or there are plans to expand the concept to other parts of the continent?
It is opened to all Africans. They can participate in Senegal. And anybody in any given country can run with the concept and we will assist him or her.
Africa has a very strong diaspora, how can this diaspora be turned into a solid force that can participate in a more significant and impactful way in transforming the continent ?
Our leaders have to create a healthy secure welcoming environment that will make them want to come back. In the meantime the diaspora cannot wait for our leaders. They have to at least share their experiences with the people that did not have a chance to leave the continent. For example they can try to at least share their knowledge with someone on the continent. Nowadays through social media “everyone far is close”. We need everyone in order to get this ship moving. Remember there are always two things to share knowledge and money.
You are also author of the book Fortress of a Leader, what is the message that you see to convey with the book?
Some characters that one might need to become a leader. It is more like a handy pocket guide to leadership.
A last question on how you view the future for young Africans and the continent as a whole, what are your hopes and fears?
Hopes: a new generation of very strong leaders with new foundations are on the RISE.
My fears are that our youth gets consumed by sports music dance or politics thinking that those are the only ways to make it in Africa.
Thanks for granting this interview Badou
Thanks for having me. Stay blessed Ajong.
Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu Bags award from Jesse Jackson’s Rain Bow Push Coalition
February 21, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition founded and led by revered US human rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson recently honoured the Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu. The honour bestowed on Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu is in recognition of the positive work he has been doing in the fight for social justice. The honour also paves the way for him to spread his message to a larger global audience.
Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu received the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition International Service Award at the Wall Street Economic Summit held at the Sheraton Hotel in New York. In his acceptance speech, Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu touched on many issues some of which explained below.
Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu firstly expressed his gratitude to the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Rev Jesse Jackson for recognising his work. He said he was encouraged by the gesture taken by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition but did acknowledge that a lot of work still needs to be done when it comes to issues of social justice and equal rights. He said he is saddened by the fact that some decade-long challenges are still contributing to the differences and division of humanity.
The problems of race and xenophobia which have been in existence since time immemorial are still a thorn in the flesh as many are subjected to xenophobic and racial discrimination. While drawing some lessons from Barack Obama’s inauguration as President of the US, Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu said that the occasion did proclaim a positive step in the nation’s cultural heritage. However, he was quick to point out that man’s social contract of selfishness is still evident and is causing a rift in the society.
He gave examples of the citizens’ vs foreigners, the nationals’ vs migrants and the believers of one faith vs the believers of another faith. To Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu, the selfishness on man as he tries to cling to one construct while ignoring or being tolerant to the other is the root of today, societal challenges.
While acknowledging that age-old problems are causing distress and threatening to break up the social rubric of the society, Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu did warn that there are other emerging factors equally threatening to destroy society. To this end, he gave examples of scarce resources, limited opportunities, and lack of access, inequality, and isolation.
These emerging challenges though present in virtually all societies are much more pronounced in the developing nations were the gap between the haves and the have not’s is increasing year on year. Africa, for instance, is one prime example where these challenges are already destroying society. Sudan and South Sudan are at conflict over scarce resources, the same situation prevails in DRC over minerals and in South Africa, the water shortage challenge which has resulted in ‘Day Zero’ will probably lead to another resource upheaval if not curtailed quickly.
Corruption and nepotism which lead to limited opportunities for those without the requisite networking links are also taking centre stage from Cape to Cairo. The recent ouster of South Africa President, Jacob Zuma is one example of this as he was accused of being a puppet of the Gupta Family under the now infamous ‘State Capture’ banner in which government appointments were done in line with parallel lines. Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria are also some of the countries that are bedevilled by corruption and nepotism issues.
To Africa in particular and the world as a whole, Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu encourages the people to be guided by the African doctrine of Ubuntu. He says the spirit of Ubuntu can help the world to defeat the politics of difference and division. Ubuntu is guided by two principles which are, (1) I am what I am because of what we all are, and (2) My humanness is reflected back at me through you. By reverting back to Ubuntu, we are guided to do good not just because it the right thing to do but because we receive goodness back from our fellow countrymen if we do good.
In ending his acceptance speech, Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu gave three recommendations he thinks will bring sanity and an end to politics of difference and division.
Firstly, he implored the world to stand on the word of God. He says if we stand by the word of God, we are able to see God’s purpose for humanity and we are able to see each other as brothers and sisters regardless of race.
Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu also said that the world has to reject the philosophy of difference. He said that the first step is to acknowledge that we are one, there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’.
Last but not least, Hon Okwasi Opong Fosu said the world needs active citizens, citizens who are willing to play their role in the society.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wins 2017 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership
February 12, 2018 | 0 Comments
The 2017 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership has been awarded to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation announced today following a meeting of its independent Prize Committee.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who served two terms as President of Liberia from 2006 to 2017, is the fifth recipient of the Ibrahim Prize, which recognises and celebrates excellence in African leadership. The Ibrahim Prize aims to distinguish leaders who, during their time in office, have developed their countries, strengthened democracy and human rights for the shared benefit of their people, and advanced sustainable development.
In its citation, the Prize Committee praised her exceptional and transformative leadership, in the face of unprecedented and renewed challenges, to lead Liberia’s recovery following many years of devastating civil war.
Announcing the decision, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, Chair of the Prize Committee, said:
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became President of Liberia on 16 January 2006, after winning the 2005 national elections. She served her first term 2006-11 and was then successfully re-elected for a second term, serving in office 2012-17. Since 2006, Liberia was the only country out of 54 to improve in every category and sub-category of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. This led Liberia to move up ten places in the Index’s overall ranking during this period.
On hearing the outcome of the Prize Committee’s deliberations, Mo Ibrahim said:
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf joins Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014), Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde (2011), Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008) and Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007) as an Ibrahim Prize Laureate. Nelson Mandela was made the inaugural Honorary Laureate in 2007.
The Ibrahim Prize is a US$5 million award paid over ten years and US$200,000 annually for life thereafter. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation will consider granting a further US$200,000 per year for ten years towards public interest activities and good causes espoused by the Ibrahim Laureate.
The candidates for the Ibrahim Prize are all former African executive heads of state or government who have left office during the last three calendar years, having been democratically elected and served their constitutionally mandated term.
*Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Amnesty International Appoints Kumi Naidoo As Next Secretary General
December 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – Amnesty International has appointed Kumi Naidoo as the next Secretary General of the global human rights movement. From August 2018 Kumi will succeed Salil Shetty, who served two terms as Secretary General from 2010.
“We are delighted to be welcoming Kumi as our new Secretary General. His vision and passion for a just and peaceful world make him an outstanding leader for our global movement, as we strengthen our resolve for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all,” said Mwikali Muthiani, Chair of the Board of Amnesty International.
The Secretary General is the leader and main spokesperson for Amnesty International and the Chief Executive of its International Secretariat. Amnesty International is the largest human rights movement globally, with a global presence including offices in more than 70 countries, 2,600 staff and seven million members, volunteers and supporters worldwide.
Kumi is an activist and civil society leader. His previous leadership roles include Executive Director of Greenpeace International, Chair of the Global Call for Climate Action, Founding Chair of the Global Call to Action against Poverty and Secretary General and CEO of CIVICUS, the World Alliance for Citizen Participation. He currently chairs three start-up organizations in his home country South Africa: Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity; the Campaign for a Just Energy Future; and the Global Climate Finance Campaign. Naidoo holds a BA in Law and Political Science (University of KwaZulu-Natal) and a DPhil in Politics (University of Oxford).
“I have been an activist and campaigner all my life, so I am excited to be joining the world’s largest people movement for human rights at a time when we need to counter increasing attacks on basic freedoms and on civil society around the globe. This means adapting to a fluid fast-changing global environment with urgency, passion and with courage,” said Naidoo.
“Amnesty International’s campaigns for justice and equality today are more urgent than ever, and I am humbled and honored to be leading the organization in these challenging times.”
“The world is at an exciting moment when people are mobilizing in large numbers to fight against injustice and hold leaders in governments and corporations to account for human rights abuses. I can’t think of anybody better than Kumi Naidoo to build on Amnesty International’s mission to become a truly global people’s movement for human rights,” said Salil Shetty.
“I am delighted to hand over the reins when for the first time in Amnesty’s history, we have both the Secretary General and Board Chair from Africa.”
The Secretary General is appointed by the International Board of Amnesty International for an initial four year term. The appointment followed an extensive global search.
Ambassador Omar Arouna Appointed To Washington DC’s Mayor’s Commission On African Affairs
December 14, 2017 | 1 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Omar Arouna , immediate past Ambassador of Benin to the United States ,a 25 year Washington DC resident, and a well-known US Africa policy expert has been named by Mayor Muriel Bowser to the Washington, D.C., Mayor’s Commission on African Affairs.
The newly appointed commissioner, is a Managing Partner of the US-Africa Cybersecurity Group LLC. (https://usafcg.com); a District of Columbia legal liability collaborative organization designed to foster the development and implementation of cybersecurity strategies and initiatives in the public and private sectors in Africa and the Founder and CEO of Global Specialty LLC. (GSL) a District of Columbia leading international business development firm focused on developing business opportunities on the African continent.
Ambassador Arouna serves as Executive Vice President of Goodworks, International, a U.S. multi-national consulting firm founded by former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young. The firm at its height had seven offices in Africa and three U.S. based offices focused on promoting business in Africa and the Caribbean. Clients have included AECOM, Chevron, Delta Airlines, General Electric, Motorola, and Sumitomo Corporation, MGI Management, and Verizon. In addition, he also assisted African governments in improving their relations with U.S. government agencies and, helped governments to reach out to Members of Congress and the White House.
The Mayor’s commission on Africa Affairs is composed of fifteen (15) members appointed by the Mayor with consent of the Council. Members of the Commission on African Affairs who have shown dedication to, and knowledge of the African community, are appointed with due consideration for representation from established public, nonprofit and volunteer community organizations concerned with the African community, and members of the public.
The functions of the Commission on African Affairs are to:
- Serve as an advocate for African persons in the District;
- Review and submit to the Mayor, the Council, and the Office, and make available to the public, an annual report that includes an analysis of the needs of the African community in the District;
- Bring to the attention of the Mayor and the OAA cases of neglect, abuse and incidents of bias against members of the African community in the administration of District and federal laws;
- Review and comment on proposed District and federal legislation, regulations, policies, and programs and make policy recommendations on issues affecting the health, safety, and welfare of the African community;
Ambassador Arouna is expected to be sworn in on Saturday December 16,2017.
Egyptian young businessman Omar Sakr wins ‘elevator pitch’ at the Africa 2017
December 13, 2017 | 0 Comments
Hitachi Vantara appoints new East Africa Regional Director
December 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
Hitachi Vantara, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd, has appointed Wycliffe Selebwa as East Africa Regional Director.
As the Regional Director, Selebwa is tasked with working closely together with sales teams and other stakeholders to drive incremental revenue and market share in East Africa. He will also play an important part in helping clients to leverage Hitachi Vantara’s broad portfolio of solutions to influence business outcomes.
“This is an important chapter in Hitachi Vantara’s development as it strategically aligns its operations and strengthens its technology and IoT offerings, and we are confident that Wycliffe will be a valuable addition to the business as it moves forward,” says Alexander Jenewein, General Manager and Managing Director for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Prior to joining Hitachi Vantara, Selebwa held a Business Development role at Oracle. Before this he headed up Oracle’s Cloud Infrastructure sales team for almost five years. His 15 years of experience in the technology industry also includes a seven-year stint as Managing Director and Enterprise Business Lead at Hewlett Packard as well as two years managing Distribution for Microsoft in Southern and Eastern Africa.
He currently holds a degree in Public Administration and Economics from the Moi University in Kenya as well as a post-graduate diploma in Sales and Marketing from the Institute of Chartered Marketing in the UK.
“I am extremely excited to take on this new role with Hitachi Vantara and look forward to driving consistent and sustainable growth and profitability within the region. By focusing on helping customers to reap the full benefits of Hitachi’s entire solutions portfolio, I believe we can help them to exceed the expectations of both their customers and stakeholders,” The East Africa market boasts of tremendous growth in the IT space with all the vendors fighting for significant market share and growing their customer bases. Hitachi will capitalize on its broad products and solution portfolio to stay ahead of the pack says Wycliffe.
Juliet Mbonu Targets Human Trafficking In Latest Movie
November 15, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
The fight against human trafficking will get a serious boast when “Break Out”, a movie produced by Juliet Mbonu premieres on Nov 17 at Bowie Performance Arts Center, in MD, USA.With a cast from Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, Gambia, Ethiopia, South Africa, Togo, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the movie paints a gory picture of human trafficking especially with young women who are lured from developing countries into prostitution.Shot in several locations across Nigeria and the USA,the movie sends a strong message of deterrence to young women who may become unwitting victims of human trafficking ,says Juliet Mbonu.
Your latest movie Break Out is set to premiere on Nov 17, what is the movie about?
Juliet Mbonu: The movie is about Human Trafficking on the international stage, particularly as it affects women in many developing countries, who are lured into prostitution in developed countries
What message do you seek to send to the public with the movie?
Juliet Mbonu: The movie conveys the many complicated and horrific aspects of being lured into prostitution, outside one’s home country, and delivers a powerful message to deter young women from being victims of human & sex trafficking
Where was the movie shot and how long did it take you get it to this level?
Juliet Mbonu: The movie was shot in multiple locations in Nigeria/Africa and the United States. It took about one year to complete the research, shooting, and editing of the movie. Technical crews were flown from the US to Nigeria to capture authentic rarely seen footages in Nigeria. High-end technology was used in the US to capture the latest cinematography.
As you Break Out gets set for its big release, could you introduce the cast for us?
Juliet Mbonu: Certainly, the most exciting aspect of the movie is that the cast was recruited from the US and at least ten different African countries, in order to capture the diversity of international sex & human trafficking. The cast countries of origin include: Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, Gambia, Ethiopia, South Africa, Togo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and others..
What are some of the challenges that you faced in the production of Break Out?
Juliet Mbonu. The Budget: Raising money for such a huge project was a big challenge, however, where there is a will, there is a way. My faith in God propelled the movie from a dream to a reality. 2. Moving a technical production team around the world from the US to Nigeria, and back to the US, represented serious logistical challenges, but it turned out to be a great and exotic adventure.
Any plans for distribution especially in Africa with its huge market and the relevance of the movie’s theme?
Juliet Mbonu: Absolutely, there are Theater Premieres coming up in DC (November 17th), then NY, LA, and other US Cities, after which the Movie moves to South Africa, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, and others
With regards the issue of child trafficking, how serious is this in Africa and what more could be done to get it under control?
Juliet Mbonu: Governments, institutions, and parents in Africa and other developing countries, all have a role to play. Parents must be restrained in their expectations from their children, and in becoming tacit enablers for child sexual trafficking. Even though we’ve seen reports of very poor people who give tacit approval to their daughters traveling abroad, with unclear perceptions of various employment opportunities; however a cursory look should alert people to dangers lurking in the horizon. Finally, young women should be extremely careful in their personal expectations…… there is no glamorous life waiting out there, for people who have not paid their dues in education, training, and other tutelage.
To those who do not know Juliet Mbonu, Producer of Break Out, who is she and how did she find herself in the movie industry?
Juliet Mbonu: Great question, I actually started out as a computer major in college, I then veered out into the Health Sciences & Nursing Informatics, ultimately getting a doctorate in Nursing Practice. I was consulting in the area of Healthcare Informatics before diverting my passion and zeal to Movie Productions. I have a great passion for women and children’s issues. I also run “Arise” a non-profit that focuses on women and girls issues.
What is your take on the African Movie Industry as it stands today?
Juliet: Africa has unbelievable talent in the Arts. The quality is gradually catching up with universal standards. Those of us who have recent roots in Africa, and are out here in the West, have a duty to move the industry to a world-class level
What next for you after Break Out, any other projects movie related or otherwise that Juliet Mbonu will be working on?
Juliet Mbonu: Absolutely, my Talk-Show, “Let’s Talk It Out with Juliet Mbonu” will debut in first quarter of 2018. Our Production Company (RFP) is also developing other relevant stories for a world-wide audience.
We end with more information on the movie premiere, venue, cost, and any special guests that people may run into, what will the premiere of Break Out reserve for its audience?
Juliet Mbonu: The DC area (DMV) Premiere, coming up on November 17th, 2017 at 7pm, will be at the full-size Theater “Bowie Performance Arts Center” just outside DC. The program starts at 7pm, a robust pre-show entertainment, featuring popular artists, and various entertainments. A guest list of dignitaries and the public are expected.
Tickets for the premiere of Break Out are available at the following link:
Chibok diaries: Chronicling a Boko Haram kidnapping
October 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
One of the Chibok girls freed in May has been telling journalist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani how a diary was kept of some of her three years in captivity with Boko Haram Islamist militants.
One of the oldest in her class, Naomi Adamu was 24 when she and more than 200 mainly Christian students were taken off into Boko Haram’s Sambisa forest hideout in north-eastern Nigeria in 2014, sparking global outrage.
While in captivity, the girls were given exercise books for the Koranic classes they were made to attend.
But some of the girls used these to keep secret diaries. When the militants found out, they were forced to burn the books.
Ms Adamu managed to hide hers. She and her close friend, Sarah Samuel, now 20, and three other girls used the books to chronicle some of their experiences.
The diary entries, written in passable English and poor Hausa, are undated and appear to be from their early months in captivity.
Here are 10 of the many disclosures. Some spelling and punctuation have been altered for clarity:
1) Kidnap was not the plan
The militants who attacked the Chibok school on 14 April 2014 had come with the intention of stealing an “engine block”, the diary notes. It is not clear what piece of machinery they wanted – there had been some construction work at the school a few weeks earlier, so it may have been the machine used for moulding cement blocks, which can also be used for constructing crude weapons, or they may have been after an engine block from a vehicle.
But when it could not be found, they argued over what to do with the students they had gathered in groups. After considering a number of gory options, they decided to take the girls with them.
“They started argument in their midst. So one small boy said that they should burn us all and they said, ‘No let us take them with us to Sambisa.’ Another person said, ‘No let’s not do that. Let’s lead them… to their parent homes.’ As they were in argument, then one of them said, ‘No, I can’t come with empty car and go back with empty car… If we take them to [Abubakar] Shekau [Boko Haram’s leader], he will know what to do.'”
2) A telltale prevented escape
Some girls were loaded into the militants’ vehicle at the school while the majority were made to walk at gunpoint for miles, until several trucks arrived to ferry them away.
Who wrote the diaries?
- Main diarists: Naomi Adamu and Sarah Samuel
- Rhoda Peter, Saratu Ayuba and Margaret Yama made smaller contributions
- Four of them were freed in May 2017, after negotiations
- Sarah Samuel agreed to marry a militant last year and remains in captivity
On their way to Boko Haram’s forest hideout, when some students began escaping by jumping off the trucks, one of the kidnapped girls alerted their abductors – perhaps out of fear of being left alone, or a propensity to obey whoever is in authority, or the desire to have company in misery.
“Then one girl in the car said, ‘Driver, some girls are jumping to escape.’ Then the driver opened the door of the car then searched for them with the torch but didn’t find anyone. So they said to them that they should stay [in] one place, that if they jump down again, if they saw her or any they will shoot her.”
3) Cruel tricks
The militants played a number of cruel tricks on the kidnapped girls, including pretending that their parents had been captured by Boko Haram. On one occasion, they separated the Christian girls from those who were Muslim and threatened to burn those who would not convert to Islam with petrol.
“Then they came to us and said, ‘Those who are Muslim, it is time for prayer.’ After they had prayed, [they said], ‘Those who are Muslim, let them be on one side and those who are Christian let them too be on one side.’
“Then we saw jerrycan in the car so we thought it was petrol. Then they said, ‘Who and how many of you will turn to Muslim.’ So many of us, because of fear, some of us stand up and went inside… So [they said], ‘The rest that remain you want to die, is that why you don’t want to be Muslim? We are going to burn you…’ Then they give us that jerrycan which we thought it was petrol. It is not petrol, it is water.”
4) Militant anger over rape claims
Some of the Chibok girls have stated in previous interviews that they were not sexually abused or forced into marriage – although they were sometimes whipped to persuade them to marry. Some girls were also taken as official concubines.
The diaries show that the militants were livid about insinuations in the media that they were raping the girls. The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, ranted about this a number of times, first in a recorded message that was played to the girls.
“Then in the night, they gathered us and preached to us and put [on] a cassette. They said that cassette is from their master Mr Abubakar Shekau…. So he said that just because of they kidnapped us to come and teach us the way of God, then your parents and the government and your principal are crying to us and saying that we are raping you and are doing bad, bad things to you… We brought you to teach you the way of Allah.”
5) Hijabs against temptation
The militants pleaded with the girls to not lead them into temptation, encouraging them to always keep their bodies covered in a hijab.
“He opened the Koran and started reading it, then he read one place that said anybody which they kidnap on the fight of jihad, it is your own, whatever you like, you will do with that person… But we that they give us hijab is that they don’t want to see our body, which will make them to sin and do what is very bad.”
6) Marriage proposals
The marriage proposals from militants were frequent and forceful.
“One girl wanted to go inside the room and pick something, then Malam Ahmed [one of the militants] went and met her and asked her about marriage. Then she said, ‘No.’ He asked her, ‘And so what is your own decision about this marriage?’
“Then she said that no, they kidnapped her from GGSS [Government Girls Secondary School] Chibok and brought her to Sambisa and now they are talking to her about marriage. How will she get married – after all her mother and her father and her aunties and the rest of her colleagues, they don’t even know… Then she asked him, if she says no – that she will not get married, she will only stay and follow her God alone, is it not good? Then he said, ‘No, it is bad.'”
Some were pressured to change their mind.
“We saw the people come in two Hilux [vans]. Then they came asking for those who want to get married. They asked us and said anybody who accepts Muslim religion… must get married if truly she holds the religion with two hands. They gave us 30 minutes to give them their answer but we kept quiet. Then we stayed for an hour but nobody answered them.”
Naomi Adamu told me that those who refused to get married were treated as slaves: “Every day, they beat us. They tell us to marry and if you refuse, they will beat you. We will wash cloth, fetch water, do everything for their wives. We were slaves.”
7) Escapees returned by villagers
Despite the global Bring Back Our Girls campaign, which saw the involvement of celebrities like former US First Lady Michelle Obama, some people in surrounding communities wanted no part in bringing back the girls, and returned some of the girls when they managed to escape.
“There is another day that some girls ran. They tried to escape but they couldn’t. So those people arrested them. The way they arrested them was they entered into a shop and asked them to help them and give them water and biscuit. So, the people asked them, ‘Who are you and where did you come from?’ The girls said, ‘We are those that the BH kidnapped from GGSS [Government Girls Secondary School], Chibok.’ So, one of the people said, ‘Are these not Shekau’s children?’
“So they gave them good food to eat and a place to sleep and the next day, they returned them to our place… As they brought them to Sambisa at night, they whipped them and said that they are going to cut off their necks.”
8) Conversion blame game
The girls were told that they would be allowed to go home to their families if they all, with no exception, agreed to convert to Islam. Those who agreed to convert then blamed the girls who refused for their continued captivity.
“They said that those that do not accept Muslim religion are [like] sheep and cows and goat… they will kill them… Then Malam Abba [one of the militants] said those that who did not accept Muslim religion, they should be on one side, let them not enter into those who have become Muslim. So he told us to stay aside – that they are going to arrange another place for them. Another person said no, that let us stay together. As they left, one week later, the rest of us said that we that did not become Muslim, we are those who are stopping ourselves from going home.”
9) How videos were filmed
Boko Haram released several videos about the Chibok girls. This is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of one of them.
“Then there is a day before this, they came and… [filmed] about 10 girls under the Tamarind tree. They called them one by one and asked them about their name and the name of their parents and then they [film us] and said, ‘Did we hurt you in any way.’ We said, ‘No.’ They told us to tell our parents and the government what they are doing to us. The government and our parents are saying that they are raping us and disturbing us.
“So they called out one of us and asked her, ‘Since we kidnapped you and brought you to this place, have we ever slept with or raped you?’ She answered, ‘No.’ He asked her again… ‘I will like you to let you show to your parents and the government what we have offered you and how we are taking good care of you.'”
10) Militants followed the news closely
The videos were sometimes filmed straight after the militants listened to the news.
“They stayed a little while and listened to the BBC [Hausa service]. As they finished listening to the radio, they called us one by one. They told some to stand and some to kneel and some to sit so they [filmed] us and told us to read. Then we read from [Islamic text].”
What’s happened to the diarists?
Naomi Adamu and three other diarists – Rhoda Peter, Saratu Ayuba and Margaret Yama – were released in May.
In September, the government sent them to study at the American University of Nigeria in the north-eastern town of Yola.
Ms Adamu, the second of seven children, said she kept the diaries with only her family in mind, and seems baffled by my interest.
“I wrote it because of remembrance,” she said.
“For my brothers to see it, my sisters to see it, my parents to see it.”
But her friend Sarah Samuel, who wrote many of the entries, is yet to return, which is a source of sadness for her.
“I feel pained. I feel so pained. Up till now, I’m still thinking about her.”
About two years into their captivity, at a time when a military crackdown led to Boko Haram’s supplies being cut off, she succumbed to pressure and married, a decision that entitled her to leave the camp with her Boko Haram husband, hopefully for a better life elsewhere with access to food. None of those who got married have been released so far.
Her father, Samuel Yaga, told me that he was not surprised to learn that his oldest child wrote while in captivity.
“She was always reading. Sometimes, she fell asleep with a book in her lap,” he said.
On the last page of one notebook, she had listed the names of her five siblings, ending with: “My father’s name is Samuel and my mother’s name is Rebecca.”
It was almost as if she did not want to forget.
Congo Opposition Leader Katumbi Will Return to Congo in December
October 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader and presidential hopeful Moise Katumbi said he will return to his homeland in December after more than a year abroad to participate in the country’s delayed elections.
“The only man Kabila is scared about in the country is me,” Katumbi said. “Congo is losing every day, every minute, every second Mr. Kabila is in office. His mandate is finished.”
Kabila, who’s ruled since 2001, was supposed to step down at the end of his constitutionally limited second term in December 2016, but the vote for his replacement has been delayed, sparking protests in which dozens of people have died. Under a political agreement struck Dec. 31, opposition parties accepted that he could remain in office if the vote was held this year. Congo, Africa’s largest copper producer, has never had a peaceful transfer of power.
Nigeria’s Boko Haram crisis: Zannah Mustapha wins UN award
September 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
A teacher who takes in orphans of both Islamist fighters and Nigerian army soldiers has won this year’s UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award.
“They are the best of friends,” Zannah Mustapha says of his pupils. “This should be a template for world peace.”
Mr Mustapha is the founder of one of the few remaining primary schools in Nigeria’s troubled city of Maiduguri.
He also negotiated the release of 82 so-called Chibok girls, kidnapped by Boko Haram.
A former barrister, Mr Mustapha played a crucial role mediating between the Nigerian government and the Islamists for the release of the abducted schoolgirls.
More than 100 of the 276 girls kidnapped from their school in Chibok in 2014 are still unaccounted for, and are presumed to still be in the custody of Boko Haram.
At Future Prowess Islamic Foundation School, the volunteer teacher provides the students with a free education, as well as free meals, uniforms and healthcare.
“We have the largest number of girls in school in the whole of region,” Mr Mustapha told the BBC’s Newsday programme.
He added that the children of a “senior member of the insurgents” were studying there.
The UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award honours those who give “extraordinary service to the forcibly displaced”.
Previous winners include Graça Machel, Luciano Pavarotti and Eleanor Roosevelt.
“Education is one of the most powerful tools for helping refugee children overcome the horrors of violence and forced displacement,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
“The work [Mr] Mustapha and his team are doing is of the utmost importance.”
Mr Mustapha will be presented with his award at ceremony in the Swiss city of Geneva on 2 October.
David Maraga: The brave judge who made Kenyan history
September 1, 2017 | 0 Comments
Kenya’s Chief Justice David Maraga, and three of his colleagues, have created history by annulling the August presidential election.
It is unprecedented in Africa for an opposition court challenge against a presidential election to succeed.
Kenyans have praised Justice Maraga for having the courage to rule against the man who appointed him, President Uhuru Kenyatta, and for restoring their faith in the independence of the judiciary.
Several Kenyan papers have referred to Justice Maraga as a person of integrity, which they attribute to his being a devout Seventh-day Adventist.
He reportedly told an interview panel that if appointed Chief Justice, he would never preside over a case on a Saturday, a day of rest and worship for members of the Adventist faith.
Some have speculated that this may have been the reason the first sitting of the presidential election petition was held on a Saturday night, after the Sabbath had ended.
It is reported that while being vetted for his job, he was confronted with allegations that he had taken bribes.
He surprised the public by standing before TV cameras and swearing on a Bible that he had never taken a bribe in his life.
‘Not a government project’
Justice Maraga, 66, graduated as a lawyer 40 years ago from the University of Nairobi, before going into private practice.
He was appointed a judge in 2003 and rose to join the Court of Appeal in 2012.
He is married and has three children.
Last year, following the early retirement of former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, he beat off stiff competition from 10 other prominent judges, legal practitioners and academics to be nominated by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) to become chief justice.
However, earlier this year he is reported to have rebuked the man who appointed him – President Kenyatta.
Mr Kenyatta, while campaigning for re-election in Justice Maraga’s home area, had told people that they should vote for him because his government had given “their son” a job.
The chief justice, through the JSC, stated that he was not a government project.
The president initially said he would accept the Supreme Court’s ruling, although he did question why “six people [the judges] have decided that they will go against the will of the people”.
However, he later said that the judges had been “paid by foreigners and other fools”.
“[Chief Justice] Maraga and his thugs have decided to cancel the election. Now I am no longer the president-elect. I am the serving president… Maraga should know that he is now dealing with the serving president.”
Despite the implied threat, the president does not have the power to sack the chief justice, whose single term expires when he turns 70.
Kevin-Prince Boateng returns to Germany with Eintracht Frankfurt
August 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
Former Ghana international Kevin-Prince Boateng has signed a two-year deal with German side Eintracht Frankfurt.
The move comes two days after the 30-year-old ended his contract with Spain’s Las Palmas by mutual consent.
Boateng, who was born in Germany, played for Hertha Berlin, Borussia Dormtmund and Schalke in the past.
“We know Kevin’s strengths in midfield and are convinced that he can play a key role in our team,” Frankfurt sports director Fredi Bobic said.
“Kevin is a winner with endless will.”
The season kicks off on Friday with champions Bayern Munich taking on Bayer Leverkusen. Eintracht are in action in Freiburg on
— Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, plans to invest $20 billion to $50 billion in the U.S. and Europe by 2025, in industries including renewable energy and petrochemicals.
August 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
The 60-year-old Nigerian cement tycoon aims to move into these territories for the first time in 2020 after completing almost $5 billion of agricultural projects and an $11 billion oil refinery in his home country, he said in an interview with Bloomberg Markets Magazine this month.
“Beginning in 2020, 60 percent of our future investments will be outside Africa, so we can have a balance,” said Dangote, who’s worth $11.1 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. Dangote Group will consider investments in Asia and Mexico, but will focus mainly on the U.S. and Europe, he said. “I think renewables is the way to go forward, and the future. We are looking at petrochemicals but can also invest in other companies.”
Dangote has diversified rapidly in the last five years, both geographically and into new industries. He’s expanded Dangote Cement Plc, which accounts for almost 80 percent of his wealth, into nine African countries aside from Nigeria. In 2015, he began building a 650,000 barrel-a-day refinery near Lagos, Nigeria’s main commercial hub, and he’s constructing gas pipelines to the city from Nigeria’s oil region with U.S. private equity firms Carlyle Group LP and Blackstone Group LP. He said in July he’d invest $4.6 billion in the next three years in sugar, rice and dairy production.
Shares in Dangote Cement rose 2.7 percent to 219.80 naira in Lagos Thursday, extending their advance this year to 26 percent.
“When you look at it — not just in Nigeria but in the rest of Africa — the majority of countries here depend on imported food,” he said. “There is no way you can have a population of 320 million in West Africa and no self-sufficiency. So the first thing to do is food security. I believe Dangote Group is in the right position to drive this trajectory.”
Dangote, who mostly lives in Lagos and counts Bill Gates among his friends, said he was a passionate industrialist and ruled out moving into newer sectors such as telecommunications or technology.
“When I look at telecoms, for instance, I think that would be very tough for us,” he said. “Some players have been in this market for 17 years already. There’s no way you can go and jump over somebody after 17 years of their hard work. So I think we would pass when it comes to telecoms today. There are other businesses that we understand better.”
Dangote also said he has no plans to enter Nigerian politics.
Rigobert Song resumes coaching role with local Cameroon team
August 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Leocadia Bongben*
Former Cameroon captain, Rigobert Song, who suffered a brain aneurysm ten months ago, is preparing for his first coaching mission with the home-based national Cameroon side.
The local Indomitable Lions are away to Sao Tome and Principe on Saturday in the first leg of the latest round of qualifiers for the African Nations Championship (CHAN) – a tournament which is contested by footballers playing in their own domestic league.
Song has called up 20 players for the two-legged tie.
“Initially I had no idea about Sao Tome and Principe, but I have done my homework to know their playing style,” Song told BBC Sport.
“I have prepared my team to help them give their best performance and put our opponents in difficulty”.
Song resumed his coaching job just months after suffering the brain aneurysm which almost claimed his life.
The legendary defender took ill in October 2016 and was hospitalised in Yaoundé where his condition stabilised before he was taken to Paris.
He returned home in April and after some months, resumed duty as head coach of the local based squad.
He insists he has recovered and says he is fit enough to resume his coaching duties.
“My situation today is ok, I can say I am 80 percent fit already,” said Song.
“People should stop thinking that cheating death means I no longer have a normal life.
“I feel good and with my staff we are working for better results,” he added.
As he now embarks on the weekend’s CHAN qualifier, he does admit to being a novice in the coaching arena.
“It is my first time, but I have worked hard with my assistant coaches and we will try our best.
“We have confidence our players will put up their best performance” Song said.
Song played 137 times for his country and had spells with English clubs Liverpool and West Ham.
Before taking up his present role, Song signed up as the national coach of Chad in 2015 but his stay was short-lived.
South Africa: Trevor Noah Reaching the Pinnacle of Success
July 29, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Admire Kudita*
When South African stand up comedian Trevor took over John Stewart’s gig on American television’s the Daily Show, it was really the beginning of an improbable journey for the young Mzansi creative. But the odds were highly staked against an African outsider to succeed as anchor on a popular television property such as the Daily Show
To begin with, Noah started out at age 18 with a cameo role in Isidingo in 2002. Other roles were as a presenter on SABC Sports (Siyadlala), hosting The Real Goboza in 2007 and his own radio show Noah’s Ark on Gauteng’s leading youth radio station, YFM. Other television credits are hosting the South African Music and Film and Television Awards.Noah’s career is now in the same coveted league with Jay Leno and The David Letterman Show in America.
When Noah assumed the host position on the Daily Show the ratings took a knock which, of course, translated into a dip in advertising support for the television networks with the most compelling programming. When John Stewart left the show, 1.7million viewers were watching the show nightly. Trevor has recently hit a high of 1.045million. His 2015 debut was viewed by 1.019 million viewers. Ratings are all that matter in this business. According to Pew Research Center, 74 % of the viewership belongs in the well educated 18-49 age demographic.
The Daily Show is a news satire and late night talk which tackles the most trending socio- political topics in America and is produced by Comedy Central. Since February 2017, the show is now simulcasts on Black Entertainment Television and industry watchers attribute the development to Trevor Noah’s race as a man of colour.
More recently, Noah, riding a wave of popularity as the host of The Daily Show in the US, earned $3 million (R49m) for the deal with publishers, Spiegel & Grau in 2016. The book is “a collection of personal stories about growing up in South Africa during the last gasps of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that came with its demise”.
The book has been New York Times bestseller! The book’s audio version has garnered the number two position on Audible which is part of Amazon the online selling platform. Trevor Noah has also won the favourite African Star trophy at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards in Los Angeles. He was named one of Time Magazine’s top ten Next Generation Leaders with the magazine calling him “the master of the eloquent Trump-takedown”.
Amongst his many accolades, the now A-list Trevor Noah has won the Outstanding Literary Work (Debut Author) and Outstanding Literary Work – (Biography/ Autobiography) to cap a meteoric rise in showbiz. ” (It is)Such an honour to receive two NAACP Image Awards for my book “Born a Crime”. Thank you to every single person who has shared in my story,”
Trevor commented upon receiving the award in the aftermath of the awards. Trevor Noah may well be Africa’s biggest entertainment export.
To Ben and Fatmata, a long and loving life, wherever it may take you!
July 10, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Banning Eyre*
The marriage of Ben Bangoura and Fatmata Koroma was one for the ages, as the union of two talented and accomplished professionals also became a rich encounter between two West African diaspora communities, Guinea and Sierra Leone. There was blazing sunshine and pouring rain, sacred song and jubilant dancing, fine words and fine food, and overall, a tremendous feeling of community and celebration.
I first met Ben in Conakry in 1993 when I was doing music research for public radio’s Afropop Worldwide. As we made our way around town from interviews to rehearsals and concerts, Ben told me over and over that he had one objective in life: to come to America and be a journalist. And damn if he didn’t do it! Ben came to Boston the next year and stayed with me there for some time while he got his bearings, learning English, making connections, picking up on every aspect of American urban life he could. When I left Boston to live in Mali in 1995, Ben went to Washington, D.C. where he steadily worked himself into the city’s exhilarating milieu of politics and journalism. Ultimately, Ben created the popular website AlloConakry.com, where he reports on global affairs, as he always said he would.
In 2015, at the annual picnic of ECOWAS Ambassadors at Liberian Chancery, Ben spotted an attractive young woman photographing the event for Koshe’ Magazine. Assuming that she too might be a journalist, he struck up conversation. As it turned out, Fatmata was actually a public health professional, in fact Executive Director of Therapeutic Interventions Inc.. Ben invited Fatmata for coffee, and the rest is history. He told me, “She has everything I like in woman: beauty, charisma and intellect.”
The wedding took place in Hollywood, MD, at the Victorian Candle Bed & Breakfast, a spacious, whimsical house with 15 bedrooms and a sweeping view of hills and meadow. Fatmata’s Sierra Leonean parents—Susan Dexter and James Koroma—left their homeland in the early 1970s. Susan has since remarried Jim Dexter, and Susan and Jim build the magnificent Victorian Candle from scratch some twenty years ago. But Susan, James and Jim were all present for this wedding, and clearly proud of Fatmata, a sentiment shared by some 200 guests who came early and stayed late. Ben’s family was represented by his aunt, Aunt M’mah Bangoura, who lives in the Washington,DC, area.
People gathered in glorious afternoon sunshine, taking time to chat, survey the property and take photographs of the picturesque setting and distinguished crowd. Around 5PM, everyone made their way down to a tent in the meadow for the ceremony. It was a moving affair, graced by the gravitas one expects when two people commit their lives to one another. There was one fascinating moment during the vows. The Koroma family, present in number, are ardently Christian. Ben, as I knew well from my long experience with him, is a fairly devout Muslim. Even before Pastor Raymond Mani conducted the vows, he gently scolded Ben for not keeping to “protocol.” Perhaps Ben was just a tad too eager to kiss his bride! Perhaps the Pastor knew what was coming.
During the vows, Pastor Mani invited Ben to repeat after him the familiar set of vows heard at most weddings. But then came an unusual phrase. Ben was asked to say that theirs would be an “exclusively Christian marriage.” Ben paused, clearly not quite willing to use such a definitive phrase. Thinking fast, he said instead a “globally acceptable marriage by God.” The pastor let it pass!
With that, Ben established himself as a man of principle, lovingly embracing his new family’s faith, without abandoning his own.
As the married couple returned to the house on the hill, the sky was darkening. Earlier we had all sung a hymn called “Showers of Blessing.” Now they came, the first of two drenching downpours. (The other came late at night, when the toasts and tributes had turned to pure joyous dancing!) Luckily, the tent held, the crowd stayed and reassembled themselves as the sky cleared, producing a big, brilliant rainbow over the house. Then the reception rolled on, with grand dancing entrances from all the key relatives, and guests of honor. Susan Dexter, mother of the bride, most perfectly captured the spirit of the occasion, clearly overflowing with pride and joy, and winning the enthusiastic gratefulness of everyone present for anchoring such a marvelous wedding.
Other distinguished guests included Ambassador Francois Balumuene (Democratic Republic of Congo), Jan Du Plain ( President/CEO Du Plain Global Enterprises, Inc..), VOA journalist David Vandi, Cooki Collinet, Georges Collinet (host of Afropop Worldwide) and emcee for this event, Jeannine B. Scott, matron of honor Sheri Sesay-Tuffour, and best men Salif Justice and Mohamed Sako, Doris Car, aunt of the bride who traveled from London (UK) to attend the ceremony, as well as Ibrahim Gba-Kamara who came from Italy.
Amid the toasting, reference was made to the deeper history between Guinea and Sierra Leone. During Sierra Leone’s civil war, Guinea took in and protected many war refugees. “So this is not the first time our two countries have come together to do something important,” noted one toast master. It was food for thought. Not only was this unusual wedding a heartening display of Africa solidarity, across lines of language, nationality and faith; it was also an affirmation of the American dream, which has always been a story of the ambition and achievement of immigrants from far away lands.
To Ben and Fatmata, a long and loving life, wherever it may take you!
*Banning Eyre is Senior Producer, Afropop Worldwide .
Bushra al-Fadil wins 18th Caine Prize for African Writing
July 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
Bushra al-Fadil has won the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing, described as Africa’s leading literary award, for his short story entitled “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”, translated by Max Shmookkler, published in The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction(Comma Press, UK. 2016). The Chair of Judges, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, announced Bushra al-Fadil as the winner of the £10,000 prize at an award dinner this evening (Monday, 3 July) held for the first time in Senate House, London, in partnership with SOAS as part of their centenary celebrations. As a translated story, the prize money will be split – with £7,000 going to Bushra and £3,000 to the translator, Max Shmookler.
“The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away” vividly describes life in a bustling market through the eyes of the narrator, who becomes entranced by a beautiful woman he sees there one day. After a series of brief encounters, tragedy unexpectedly befalls the woman and her young female companion.
Nii Ayikwei Parkes praised the story, saying, “the winning story is one that explores through metaphor and an altered, inventive mode of perception – including, for the first time in the Caine Prize, illustration – the allure of, and relentless threats to freedom. Rooted in a mix of classical traditions as well as the vernacular contexts of its location, Bushra al-Fadil’s “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”, is at once a very modern exploration of how assaulted from all sides and unsupported by those we would turn to for solace we can became mentally exiled in our own lands, edging in to a fantasy existence where we seek to cling to a sort of freedom until ultimately we slip into physical exile.”
Bushra al-Fadil is a Sudanese writer living in Saudi Arabia. His most recent collection Above a City’s Sky was published in 2012, the same year Bushra won the al-Tayeb Salih Short Story Award. Bushra holds a PhD in Russian language and literature.
Bushra was joined on the 2017 shortlist by:
- Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria) for ‘Who Will Greet You At Home’ published in The New Yorker (USA. 2015)
- Read ‘Who Will Greet You At Home’
- Chikodili Emelumadu (Nigeria) for ‘Bush Baby’ published in African Monsters, eds. Margarét Helgadóttir and Jo Thomas (Fox Spirit Books, UK. 2015)
- Read ‘Bush Baby’
- Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria) for ‘God’s Children Are Little Broken Things’ published in A Public Space 24 (A Public Space Literary Projects Inc., USA. 2016)
- Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (South Africa) for ‘The Virus’ published in The Harvard Review 49 (Houghton Library Harvard University, USA. 2016)
- Read ‘The Virus’
The panel of judges was chaired by Nii Ayikwei Parkes – member of the Caine Prize Council and Director of the Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing at the African University College of Communications in Accra, the first of its kind in West Africa. He is the author of the novel Tail of the Blue Bird (Jonathan Cape, UK. 2009) which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2010.
Alongside Nii on the panel of judges are: Chair of the English Department at Georgetown University, Professor Ricardo Ortiz; Libyan author and human rights campaigner, Ghazi Gheblawi; distinguished African literary scholar, Dr Ranka Primorac; and 2007 Caine Prize winner, Monica Arac de Nyeko.
As in previous years, the winner of the Caine Prize will be given an opportunity to take up residence at Georgetown University at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. The winner will also be invited to speak at the Library of Congress. Each shortlisted writer receives £500, and Max Shmookler, translator of Bushra al-Fadil’s shortlisted story (originally written in Arabic) receives £250. The winner is invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town, Storymoja in Nairobi and Ake Festival in Abeokuta, Nigeria.
Last year the Caine Prize was won by South African writer Lidudumalingani for his story “Memories We Lost” from Incredible Journey: Stories That Move You (Burnet Media, South Africa. 2015). Lidudumalingani has since gone on to win a Miles Morland Scholarship and is currently writing his debut novel, Let Your Children Name Themselves.
The New Internationalist 2017 anthology, The Goddess of Mtwara and other stories, is now published and it includes all of the shortlisted stories along with 11 other short stories written at the Caine Prize 2017 workshop in Tanzania. You can buy the anthology at https://newint.org/books/fiction/caine-prize-2017/. The anthology is also available from 11 African co-publishers who receive the print ready PDF free of charge.
The Caine Prize, awarded annually for African creative writing, is named after the late Sir Michael Caine, former Chairman of Booker plc and Chairman of the Booker Prize management committee for nearly 25 years.
The Prize is awarded for a short story by an African writer published in English (indicative length 3,000 to 10,000 words). An African writer is taken to mean someone who was born in Africa, or who is a national of an African country, or who has a parent who is African by birth or nationality.
The African winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Wole Soyinka and J M Coetzee, are Patrons of The Caine Prize. Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne is President of the Council, Ben Okri OBE is Vice President, Dr Delia Jarrett-Macauley is the Chair, Adam Freudenheim is the Deputy Chairperson and Dr Lizzy Attree is the Director.
Full biographies of the shortlistees are available at http://caineprize.com/2017-shortlist/.
Full biographies of the 2017 judges are available at http://caineprize.com/2017-judges/.
This year 148 short stories from writers representing 22 African countries were received and entered into the 2017 Caine Prize before they were whittled down to the final 5. The judges made their final decision on the winner today.
Previous winners are Sudan’s Leila Aboulela (2000), Nigerian Helon Habila (2001), Kenyan Binyavanga Wainaina (2002), Kenyan Yvonne Owuor (2003), Zimbabwean Brian Chikwava (2004), Nigerian Segun Afolabi (2005), South African Mary Watson (2006), Ugandan Monica Arac de Nyeko (2007), South African Henrietta Rose-Innes (2008), Nigerian EC Osondu (2009), Sierra Leonean Olufemi Terry (2010), Zimbabwean NoViolet Bulawayo (2011), Nigerian Tope Folarin (2013), Kenyan Okwiri Oduor (2014), Zambian Namwali Serpell (2015), and South African Lidudumalingani (2016).
The five shortlisted stories, alongside stories written at Caine Prize workshop held in Tanzania in March 2017, are published annually by New Internationalist (UK), Interlink Publishing (USA), Jacana Media (South Africa), LanternBooks (United States), Kwani? (Kenya), Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana), FEMRITE (Uganda), ‘amaBooks (Zimbabwe), Mkuki na Nyota (Tanzania), Redsea Cultural Foundation (Somalia and Somaliland), Gadsen Publishers (Zambia), Huza Press (Rwanda), Books are available from the publishers or from the Africa Book Centre, African Books Collective or Amazon.
The Caine Prize is principally supported by The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, The Miles Morland Foundation, The Carnegie Corporation, the Booker Prize Foundation, Sigrid Rausing & Eric Abraham, The Wyfold Charitable Trust, the Royal Over-Seas League and John and Judy Niepold. Other funders and partners include, The British Council, Georgetown University (USA), The Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, The van Agtmael Family Charitable Fund, Rupert and Clare McCammon, Adam and Victoria Freudenheim, Arindam Bhattacherjee, Phillip Ihenacho and other generous donors.
Special thanks also go to the Centre of African Studies and SOAS, University of London, for supporting this year’s award dinner, held for the first time in London.
*The Caine Prize
World Food Prize goes to African Development Bank president •June 26, 2017
June 27, 2017 | 0 Comments
By DAVID PITT*
The son of a Nigerian farm laborer who rose out of poverty to earn graduate degrees in agricultural economics and spent his career improving the availability of seed, fertilizer and financing for African farmers is the winner of this year’s World Food Prize announced Monday.
Akinwumi Adesina, president of African Development Bank, says the future of global food security relies on making farming in Africa a profitable business and developing local food processing that adds value to agricultural products to help move farmers out of poverty.
“I believe that what Africa does with agriculture and how it does it is not only important for Africa but it’s important for how we’re going to feed the world by 2050 because 65 percent of all the uncultivated arable land left in the world is in Africa,” he said. “To help Africa get it right in agriculture is also going to be a key part of securing food for the world.”
World Food Prize President Kenneth Quinn, a former U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, said those goals are one reason the organization’s board chose Adesina this year for the $250,000 prize.
An official announcement for the World Food Prize came in a ceremony Monday at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue hosting the event. Adesina, 57, works in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where the African Development Bank is based. He will receive the prize in a ceremony Oct. 19 at the Iowa Capitol.
“Dr. Adesina knows that our work is not done. The challenge of feeding 9 billion people in just a short time will continue as we address the hunger issue,” Perdue said. “At USDA we keep that in mind as the world population grows and we want to be a huge contributor in providing the food needed to resolve and to supply the global demand for that vital noble resource.”
The World Food Prize was created by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug in 1986 to recognize scientists and others who have improved the quality and availability of food. The foundation that awards the prize is based in Des Moines, Iowa.
The award recognizes several of Adesina’s accomplishments including:
—Negotiating a partnership between commercial banks and development organizations to provide loans to tens of thousands of farmers and agribusinesses in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Mozambique.
— Creating programs to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production and to help cassava become a major cash crop while serving as Nigeria’s minister of agriculture from 2011 to 2015.
—Helping to end more than 40 years of corruption in the fertilizer and seed sectors in Nigeria by launching an electronic wallet system that directly provides farmers with vouchers redeemable for inputs using mobile phones. The resulting increased farm yields have led to the improvement of food security for 40 million people in rural farm households.
Adesina said it’s vitally important to show young people in rural regions of Africa that farming can be profitable and can improve their lives as a way to stem terrorist recruitment efforts. He said high unemployment among young people, high or extreme poverty, and climate and environmental degradation all contribute to conditions in which terrorists thrive. He said these factors make up “the disaster triangle.”
“Anywhere you find those you find terrorists operating. It never fails,” he said.
Adesina grew up in poverty in a rural area of Nigeria and said his father and grandfather walked fields as laborers. After his father was chosen for a government job, Adesina was able to go to college. He earned agriculture economics degrees — both a master’s and a doctorate — from Purdue University in Indiana.
As a student, he said he saw that classmates were able to attend school when agriculture afforded them the opportunity, but they dropped out when it didn’t. He said from that experience he learned making agriculture profitable so families can provide their children with an education was a key to breaking the cycle of poverty.
He said he often thinks of the hundreds of millions of young, rural African people whose opportunities are limited because of what is happening with agriculture.
“So in a way for me this is not a job,” Adesina said. “This is a mission. And I believe that in getting agriculture to be a business — turning our rural areas from zones of economic misery to zones of economic opportunity — therein lies the future of Africa’s youth, especially those rural youths.”
Nigeria: Why I Played Strong Sex Scenes in My Latest Film – Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde
June 26, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Jayne Augoye*
Leading actress, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, has returned to Nollywood. After a three-year hiatus, the 39-year-old is lined up to debut “Alter Ego” alongside Wole Ojo and Jide Kosoko.
PREMIUM TIMES had an exclusive interview with the award-winning actress who has appeared in over 300 films. Omotola opens up about her career, marriage and playing a controversial character inAlter Ego.
PT: You went off the scene for three years. Was this deliberate?
Omotola: Yes it was. I knew I was going to embark on a break so I starred in a few movies, which have not been released. I shot Blood on the Lagoon with Teco Benson, and another one in London called Amina, which are yet to be released. I got to that point when I felt like nothing was challenging me anymore and I began to feel like my standard was dropping. I went through that period and I knew I needed to stay away and wait for Nollywood to catch up with some of our ideas.
PT: Do you think starring in Chineze Anyaene’s 2010 movie, Ije, in the United States, sort of placed you on a pedestal?
Omotola: Well, I knew cinema movies were the next step for me. After starring in Ije I knew that the industry was not moving fast enough and I knew the only way out for me was to make that sacrifice and just dropout. So I starred in movies that I thought could hold forth for me while I concentrate on other things like building my business. Coming back was hard for me because I was aiming for that movie that would challenge. I was looking for something as strong as or better than Mortal Inheritance. I knew I had to reset my mindset, I was looking for something that would excite me the same way Mortal Inheritance did. I got a lot of scripts and none of them filled that gap. I could have taken up some of them for the sake of money. But I have gone past that point.
Omotola in a scene of Alter Ego
PT: Your fans can’t stop talking about your sex scenes in Alter Ego. Was your husband comfortable with you playing the role?
Omotola: Some of the sex scenes in Alter Ego were downplayed because I’m married. But I won’t play the sex scenes if it wasn’t necessary to be included in the film. I know by starring in this movie that my fans would either hate me or love me forever. While shooting the film, I knew I was doing something quite risky. There are several ways to shoot a sex scene tastefully. I’m all for playing a sex scene convincingly and my husband knows this. I tell my husband, “You know what darling, you married an actor”; and secondly, he is my biggest fan. I tell him, “Do you want me to be great or do you just want me to be good?” He will say, “I want you to be great, sparklingly great”. Then I’ll say, “Ehen, we go love o” and he’s fine with it. He understands but just like every other human being and the professional that he is, he too wants to be convinced that I played a sex scene because it was necessary. I know when he watches movies sometimes he would say, “Did they have to kiss if they were not going to kiss well?”
PT: You got pretty raunchy with your co-stars in your latest movie, Alter Ego. Are you ready for viewer’s criticisms?
Omotola: When I wasn’t even confident, I starred in a movie called a prostitute, which was released 22 years ago. If I didn’t die then, is it now? I’m ready.
PT: Playing a believable sex scene would mean going extra lengths. Do you think Nigerians will embrace such films?
Omotola: You don’t even have to “chop” somebody’s mouth if you don’t want to. If the scene is not about you showing real mad crazy love then you can’t now be showing mouth to mouth kissing or removing of clothes. In Nigerian movies, we have downplayed chemistry. I hope we can bring that back. Back in the day when I shot Mortal Inheritance in 1995, I had to spend time with my co-star, Fred Amata. He was already a renowned director and in those days, directors were revered. So imagine, my director who had directed me in a movie prior now acting as my lover. I was really afraid but we broke the ice by spending time with each other. So, he demystified himself and we had chemistry and you could tell. So, I’m hoping all of this returns to Nigerian movies. So, as professionals, we need to ask ourselves if it is necessary for a movie to have a sex scene and when it is, it should be done well.
Omotola acting a sex scene in the movie Alter Ego
PT: With regards to Alter Ego, how were you able to build some on-screen chemistry with your co-star, Wole Ojo?
Omotola: I was working with Wole Ojo for the first time, so we had to spend time together and we played very rough. I understand the power of being friends with your love interest in a movie so we became like a couple. We ate together and basically just broke down the walls to make sure we were both comfortable with each other and have each other’s backs and interest at heart. So, it spilled into the movie without you even noticing.
PT: Alter Ego appears to be the first Nollywood movie to truly address Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Do you think it would appeal to the Nigerian Nollywood audience?
Omotola: We don’t talk about PTS that much in Nigeria, so, when you see someone that is mentally traumatised, the first thing that comes to your mind is, “this person is crazy!”. We don’t talk about depression in Nigeria. We don’t talk about how it affects children, especially those that have been abused.
When you ask a lot of adults, you might find out that some people have been abused as children. And if we want to tell ourselves the truth, how many of us were actually able to tell our parents about this?
In Africa, it’s always a taboo to say, “uncle, somebody touched me”. They will practically ask you one million questions. “What did you say to him? How were you sitting? What were you wearing?” As if it’s your fault, you become the victim. Alter Ego sets out to address how sexual abuse affects victims as kids and as adults.
PT: Why were you drawn to Alter Ego?
Omotola: It’s the soul of the movie. It must come quickly in a movie and must also be underlining throughout the film. Some come naturally while some don’t. The movie got me on time because I switch very quickly; so if I read through the first 10 pages of a movie script and I don’t get the story, I get bored. I loved the film from the beginning but it was a diamond in the rough. I knew what was lacking in it. So, I called the director and told him we will have to tear the script apart and rebuild it and he gave me his nod. It takes a big mind to shoot Alter Ego.
PT: You once hinted of plans to build a film village in Badagry in conjunction with your husband. Will it be ready anytime soon?
Omotola: I hope it will be ready next year hopefully. I also began another project on Mobolaji Bank Anthony,Lagos, which is supposed to be annex of the film village first called, Double Doors. So, these are some of the things I was busy putting together when I went off the scene. I have always said that what we need in Nollywood is infrastructure. So, I needed to start building infrastructure.
PT: Do you think the Buhari administration has done enough for Nollywood?
Omotola: I think this government needs to wake up. The sad part is that they go around the world and they brag about Nollywood. That’s why I don’t understand how to brag about something you are not helping enough. They need to understand that Nollywood in itself is a force and it should have its own ministry. We have a problem in Nigeria which is that we are afraid to allow ourselves be great. So, instead of allowing someone who knows his or her onions do the job we put stumbling blocks because of “see finish”. But if a white person comes along, we will support him or her. We need to start supportting ourselves. You will be amazed to know that Nollywood is the second (highest) employer of labour in Nigeria after agriculture. I think if they want to be sincere they will say Nollywood is number one. Why don’t we forget our immediate petty jealousy and begin to invest in this industry?
Omotola: I starred in one a long time ago titled No Rival and Oyato. I might be shooting one soon. It’s not a fully Yoruba film; it’s a collaboration. I’m currently reading the script.
Omotola acting in a scene in the movie Alter Ego
PT: How have you managed to reinvent yourself year in year out?
Omotola: I think it’s knowing what matters and being authentic and hoping that your authentic self makes sense. I am blessed that from a very tender age I was able to find God and my Christian values have shaped me. The real me is real; “I no dey form, I no dey do pass myself and what you see with me is what you get.” Somewhere along the line in my career, I deviated because of the distraction of money. Our brothers that were bringing so much unnecessary money into the industry and they were the ones dictating the pace. Thank God that I was able to find my core self back.
PT: Did marrying early boost your career?
Omotola : Absolutely. It’s one of the biggest blessings of my life because I look back now and I am like if I wasn’t married then, will I be married now? I can understand that as a celebrity it is hard, really hard, to get people who really love you for who you are and not because of the image of you that they have in mind. So, I can understand what some of my colleagues are going through because it’s not easy. Having said that, marrying my friend, a very wonderful, powerful man, who is confident of himself, has helped me. It has allowed me have that stability and be able to go out and fly.
PT: What’s happening to your music career?
Omosexy : I want to get back to music so bad and I am coming out viciously and it’s not like I care about what people were saying when I launched my music career.
I hope we can get to that place where we can find a balance. But, I want to do music in such a way that I can be in concert like Barbra Streisand. I want to fashion my career like hers I won’t be a Tiwa Savage because music is her career. So, I can’t compete with her because of movies; but I’ve told people in the past that I almost love music more than movies. That is why I love to express myself a lot in music. I want to build my own place and be in concert and have people come watch me. That’s the way I think I’ll be able to do music.
PT: On a final note, will your son produce your songs?
Omosexy : I would love him to produce me but we fight a lot and I complained a lot about that. But, I now understand that he is very finicky. He knows exactly and I don’t know if we can ever work together because we are both very headstrong. I will love to work with him because he is a very fantastic producer. Anyone who has met him says the same thing and he is the future and I’m not saying this because he is my son. Visit his website and check out his music.