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.