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Prophet Bushiri shares weekend with Malawi children: Donates K10 million to two orphanages.
June 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

South Africa based billionaire preacher Prophet Shepherd Bushiri jetted in his home country Malawi on Thursday and took time off his busy schedule on Friday to mingle with underprivileged children in capital Lilongwe.

The Man of God, popularly known as Major One, visited two child care centres—SOS Village and Tilinanu Orphanage—where he donated K5 million too each centre.

SOS Village, since its establishment in 1997, keeps an average of 130 children per year while Tilinanu, since its inception in 2005, keeps at least 35 orphaned girls.

Visibly jovial and in high spirits, the Prophet mingled with the children through, among others, engaging them in sports activities, sharing childhood fairytales, doing a Bible Study, singing choruses and, interestingly, being taught how to dance by these ecstatic children.

It was all smiles for the children who, from public confessions, could not believe they were sharing a moment with Prophet Bushiri, a global celebrity preacher leading one of the world’s fastest growing ministry.

The Man of God could not hide his joy with the gesture saying reaching out to the children in need is the greatest pillar not just of his ministry, but also his personal life.

“Every child is special to me—just as my biological children. However, these ones [in child centres] suffers rejection sometimes because they feel they don’t have parents to look into. Some of us come in to fill that gap, to show them fatherly love so that they grow up with the love that every child needs,” he said.

He dismissed media reports that his donations are motivated by political motives.

“I don’t just make donations in Malawi. Recently I was in Nicaragua in Central America where we made so many donations. Are we saying I am also having political ambitions there? What I am doing is just who I am. My joy comes from reaching to those not privileged than some of us. I hope the gesture will be echoed by others too,” he said.

The Prophet hailed SOS Village and Tilinanu for braving the time, ensuring that the children are safe and healthy.

SOS and Tilinanu directors Paul Nyirongo and Gift Mkandawire hailed Prophet Bushiri, marveling his gesture as a point of national retrospection and reflection in matters of children in the country.

On his part, Mkandawire—who is running Tilinanu which her departed mothers started in 2005 as part of her selfless cause to help an orphaned girl child—appealed to the Prophet to soldier on the spirit, arguing it symbolizes God’s love of humanity.

*Maravi Post

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African Solutions Are Needed For African Problems-Prophet Shepherd Bushiri on his Corporate Side
June 21, 2017 | 17 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

We need to sit down as a continent and build reasoned, African based solutions to our problems, says Prophet Bushiri

We need to sit down as a continent and build reasoned, African based solutions to our problems, says Prophet Bushiri

In just two years, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri Founder of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG), says his Ministry has registered over 300,000 new members. But why is the ECG such a crowd puller in so short a time? Blending the spiritual needs of his followers, with skills to navigate daily challenges  with success seems to be the winning recipe.

“We do not just preach, in words and deeds, the gospel of the living Jesus Christ. We also teach and empower people on how to face daily economic challenges of their lives through entrepreneurship programmes and also skills development,” says Prophet Bushiri.

With headquarters in Pretoria, South Africa, Prophet Bushiri says in addition to his spiritual work, he has the vision to seek African solutions to African problems.

While many may be familiar with the religious side of Prophet Bushiri, the man of God has a rapidly growing business empire with the Shepherd Bushiri Investments. From aviation to real estate, farming, financial, education and IT services, Prophet Bushiri is slowly but steadily carving a niche for himself in the African business landscape.

‘At the ECG, We Don’t Attract Billionaires, We Produce Billionaires,’ says Prophet Bushiri of the sustained efforts to also boost the  entrepreneurial skills of his followers.

Mr Shepherd Bushiri, thanks for accepting to grant this interview could you start by introducing yourself, who is Prophet Shepherd Bushiri the man of God, and Entrepreneur?

Thank you for affording me this opportunity to speak with you. I truly appreciate you taking time out of your schedule for this.

I am a Malawian born Man of God currently based in Pretoria, South Africa. I am married to Prophetess Mary Bushiri and we have two beautiful daughters.

I am the founder of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) and its headquarters is in Pretoria South Africa.

In just two years in South Africa, the church has achieved over 300 000 registered members just in South Africa.

Further, we have branches in Africa, Europe, Australia and North and South America.

Prophet Bushiri with his family, his wife plays a leading role in running SBI

Prophet Bushiri with his family, his wife plays a leading role in running SBI

I often get asked: Why is your ministry growing fast? Simply put, it is because we do not just preach, in words and deeds, the gospel of the living Jesus Christ. We also teach and empower people on how to face daily economic challenges of their lives through entrepreneurship programmes and also skills development. People are able not just to read and hear about the word of God; they also see, live and experience it.

You are President of Shepherd Bushiri Investments (SBI), can you tell us about your group, and how it has evolved over the years to what it is today?

We started with a vision of creating structures and systems that could empower young Africans with skills development and employment. This vision has turned into a reality.

Today, we own and manage a number of business entities under Shepherd Bushiri Investments (SBI). We are in Travel and Aviation for VIP’s and Presidents, through SBI Airways, where we have four jets that allow for comfortable air travel at affordable rates. We are in financial services where our Trading and Stock Exchange Services industry specialists provide comprehensive, integrated solutions to the Banking & Securities, Insurance, and Investment Management sectors.

We are also in Real estate where our industry practice providing world-class standards of differentiated residential and commercial property services and delivery. Hospitality Services. Currently, we own Sparkling Waters Hotel and Spa, situated in the heart of South Africa’s Magaliesburg Mountains, it is a luxurious three-star hotel, the ideal holiday or conference venue. Further, we are also in Mobile Telecommunications Services through one of SBI’s largest group of specialists providing cutting-edge mobile services specifically designed for PSB Network members.

SBI Airways, has four jets that allow for comfortable air travel at affordable rates

SBI Airways, has four jets that allow for comfortable air travel at affordable rates

Other entities include: SB University, SB Mining, SB Mobile Network, SB Trading Exchange Platform, SB Media, SB Real Estates and SB Agriculture.

How did you get the seed money or capital and at what point did the big break come for the SBI Group?

After I began my ministry in Malawi, I realised that for a ministry to go far, I needed more money. Besides that, I am a father, a husband and a family man. I needed money to take care of my family. Using my small savings from personal endeavours, family assistance and well-wishers I ventured into farming. I was growing and selling maize on a family land—by the way, maize is Malawi’s staple food. I started saving and investing every fortune I got from my maize sales. With days, my investments began to grow. These profits afforded me the opportunity to be where I am today.

The key word is ‘saving’ and ‘investing wisely.’

There are definitely other business ventures of yours that we are not aware, is Prophet Shepherd Bushiri willing to share them with us?

SBI businesses are the ones stated above.

What ties do you have with your home country of Malawi and any projects you have carried out there?

I am a proud and patriotic Malawian. I go to Malawi often on philanthropic work. We distribute relief maize to the poor, we go to prisons, we reach out to the sick, the orphans and the elderly.

Malawi is a beautiful and friendly nation. It is my home.

What are some of the challenges you faced growing the group, and how will you describe the business climate in Africa, atleast in countries where you currently do business in?

Well, challenges of doing business—ranging from corruption, dwindling consumer buying power and soaring taxes—will always be there. SBI, however, is turning them into success by advancing a business and investment culture that puts the clients first. Africa is a great continent with great potential. Opportunities are many and I think they will always be there.

What I envision, of course, is an Africa with African solutions—be it politics, economics and social life. We need to sit down as a continent and build reasoned, African based solutions to our problems.

How does Prophet Bushiri balance his pastoral duties with the corporal responsibilities he has at the SBI?

Time management is essential for all works that one does but most importantly is having a strong team. Fortunately, our team is excellent.

Any biblical precedent for this blend of spiritual duties and corporate interests which seems to be working for you?

If you read the Bible, you will note that men of God were rich including Abraham says Prophet Bushiri in response to the vilification of men of God "blessed with fortune"

If you read the Bible, you will note that men of God were rich including Abraham says Prophet Bushiri in response to the vilification of men of God “blessed with fortune”

I need to emphasise here that there is a tradition of vilifying Men of God whom have been blessed them with a fortune. There is this perception that Men of God are not supposed to be involved in business, to get rich, for instance. I don’t know where this perception comes from, but, if you read the Bible, you will note that men of God were rich including Abraham. It really sets a good example but then you do not just get rich. You must be a great worker—something which I am.

What is the reaction of your Church members to the business successes of their leader and for those who will want to register the same what message do you have for them?

My congregants are heavily encouraged with my success in business. They see me as a source of hope and also the definition of succeeding in doing business even when you are a Christian.

With the motto ‘At ECG, We Don’t Attract Billionaires, We Produce Billionaires’, I aim to transfer knowledge and skills of doing business in my congregants through the Monday Evening Service called the Diplomatic Service. During this weekly service, I train my congregant on how to begin, grow and manage a business using Godly ways.

I am telling you we are making unprecedented progress!

Africa has witnessed a proliferation of churches, and the opulence in which the Pastors or owners of some of the mega churches live is at odds with the everyday toil and pain of their follows, how do your own followers feel about your wealth, how do you feel when in all the wealth you have followers who live in misery, and what is your response to criticisms that religious leaders like you exploit followers for selfish ends?

At ECG, We Don’t Attract Billionaires, We Produce Billionaires,’ says Bushiri

At ECG, We Don’t Attract Billionaires, We Produce Billionaires,’ says Bushiri

Wealth comes from God—it’s a blessing, a gift that we are all born with. What matters is to listen to God for He is the one who has the keys to unlock it for us. The key thing is PRAYER and hard work.

I have never been involved in exploiting my church members. What they contribute to ECG is for the growth of the ministry—not my personal life. This is the reason I started venturing in business so that I do not meet my needs using money from church.

From your take Prophet Bushiri, how can Africans make the distinction between real and fake prophets, genuine men of God and adventurers?

I am a Man of God, heavenly ordained. I cannot speak for others. I feel it’s the sole responsibility of God to make that distinction.

We end with business which was the main thrust of the interview, what projects will the SBI Group be working on  in the years ahead?

We are interested in growing our entities and expanding to almost every country in Africa. We also want to support more especially—the elderly, orphans and youth.

 

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David Oyelowo Demands The Horrors Of Human Trafficking In Africa ‘Must Change’
May 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

He tells HuffPost he’s on a mission to eradicate human trafficking on the continent and around the world.

By Brennan Williams*

David Oyelowo is serious about inspiring positive change in the world.

GEANCO In addition to his scholarship for girls in Nigeria, Oyelowo says he wants to extend his humanitarian efforts to combat the global epidemic of human trafficking.

GEANCO
In addition to his scholarship for girls in Nigeria, Oyelowo says he wants to extend his humanitarian efforts to combat the global epidemic of human trafficking.

The actor will be honored on June 4 by the Diamond Empowerment Fund, a nonprofit co-founded by Russell Simmons, with the Diamonds Do Good International Vanguard Award. The award, which will be given to Oyelowo during the organization’s annual awards gala in Las Vegas, recognizes his achievements in the arts and in the educational empowerment of vulnerable girls in Nigeria.

Oyelowo told HuffPost that he prefers projects that showcase Africa’s overlooked history, such as “United Kingdom,” which highlighted Botswana’s role as a leading diamond-producing nation. In that film, Oyelowo plays Botswana’s first president, Sir Seretse Khama.

“My passion is really behind any African story that highlights the transcendent beauty and just the amazing quality of Africa and its people,” Oyelowo told HuffPost. “So whether it’s in ‘United Kingdom’ or whether it’s in ‘Queen of Katwe’ or other projects that I’m at the inception stages with, that’s what I’m fundamentally interested in and it just so happens that Botswana’s success story is tied into diamonds.”

The actor, who was born in England to Nigerian parents, adds that in addition to highlighting Africa’s abundant culture on the silver screen, he also wants to change the negative perception of Nigeria ― specifically as it pertains to the marginalization of women.

“One of the stories that isn’t a success story of course is surrounding the Chibok girls and what’s going on with Boko Haram, and what’s going on with the marginalization of women generally, not just in Nigeria, but on the African continent and around the world,” he said. “So for me, it’s about highlighting the great story, but also trying to change the narrative around the negative, because those are things that can and must change.”

ALBERT L. ORTEGA VIA GETTY IMAGES
David Oyelowo and his wife Jessica Oyelowo and children arrive for the premiere of Disney’s “Queen Of Katwe.”

Aside from his David Oyelowo Leadership Scholarship for Girls in Nigeria, the actor says he wants to extend his humanitarian efforts to combat the global epidemic of human trafficking.

“Going beyond the borders of Nigeria, human trafficking, modern-day slavery, sex trafficking, these are really disgusting things that are going on in society,” he said. “A lot of them are dealing with girls being pulled out of Africa. It’s happening within the continent itself. Even here in Los Angeles ― the San Fernando Valley, where I live ― it’s one of the worst hubs for human trafficking in the country.”

“So it’s on our doorstep, and it’s international. And if you’re a father of children, really it’s a thing that young people are being subjected to by those who prey upon them,” the actor continued. “It’s unthinkable to think about what’s going on out there. So anything and everything I can do, and my colleagues can do, to eradicate this is what I’m interested in.”

Sometimes with Hollywood specifically, we tend to rush after the buzzy, glamorous, attention-seeking initiatives and it’s not sustainable.”David Oyelowo

As many as 17,500 people are trafficked into the country every year, according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with an estimated 21 million people trafficked around the globe.

And, according to the United Nations, sexual exploitation is the most common form of human trafficking in the world, and women and girls make up the largest proportion of victims.

Oyelowo is committed to reducing these startling statistics, regardless of public recognition.

JASON LAVERIS VIA GETTY IMAGES
Oyelowo encourages more of his peers in entertainment to commit themselves to humanitarian movements in order to see real change.

“I think that’s one of the problems with our society in general. And sometimes with Hollywood specifically, we tend to rush after the buzzy, glamorous, attention-seeking initiatives and it’s not sustainable,” he argued. “Anything that is for instant gratification for yourself will not last. This is a problem in terms of what’s going on in Nigeria, and specifically the marginalization of women.”

“If you’re looking in Hollywood, it’s not as egregious and injustice as sex trafficking and human trafficking but, when you look at sexism within the film industry, we have these moments when everyone pays it attention and then people forget,” he said.

Rather than participating in an occasional initiative for instant gratification, Oyelowo encourages more of his peers in entertainment to commit themselves to humanitarian movements in order to see real change.

“I’m a big believer in not focusing in on the big moment, but on the movement,” he said. “The movement is something that has to be perpetual. Once I attach myself to something I try to focus on it and not let go until the job is done, regardless if the cameras are on or not.”

“I think if more of us do that, the more will actually get done,” he added.

*Source Huffpost

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Ethiopia’s Tedros wins WHO race, first African to get top job
May 23, 2017 | 0 Comments

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former health minister and foreign minister, received more than half the votes in the third round.

Ethiopia’s Tedros wins on third ballot

* Offers more geographical representation of WHO jobs

By Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles*

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

GENEVA, May 23 (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus won the race to be the next head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday, becoming the first African to lead the United Nations agency.

The former health minister and foreign minister received more than half the votes in the first round and eventually won a decisive third-round election to beat Britain’s David Nabarro to the job.

“It’s a victory day for Ethiopia and for Africa,” Ethiopia’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Negash Kebret Botora told Reuters before Tedros, as he is widely known, was to take the floor at the WHO’s annual ministerial assembly.

Six candidates had stood to take the helm at the WHO, which is tasked with combating outbreaks and chronic diseases.

The job has never before been earned through a competitive election and health officials from all over the globe thronged the assembly hall in the U.N.’s Geneva headquarters where voting took place behind closed doors.

Tedros will begin his five-year term after Margaret Chan, a former Hong Kong health director, steps down after 10 years on June 30. Chan leaves a mixed legacy, after WHO’s slow response to West Africa’s Ebola epidemic in 2013-2016, which killed 11,300 people.

In a last pitch before voting began, Tedros had appealed to ministers by promising to represent their interests and to ensure more countries got top jobs at the Geneva-based WHO.

“I will listen to you. I was one of you. I was in your shoes and I can understand you better,” Tedros told the ministers. “I know what it takes to strengthen the frontlines of healthcare and innovate around the constraints.”

Tedros was widely seen as having the support of about 50 African votes, but questions about his role in restricting human rights and Ethiopia’s cover-up of a cholera outbreak surfaced late in the race, threatening to tarnish his appeal.

Nabarro, a WHO insider who has worked for 40 years in international public health, had pitched himself as a “global candidate”.

Chan, in a speech on Monday, urged ministers to tackle inequalities as a “guiding ethical principle”.

“Scientific evidence is the bedrock of policy. Protect it. No one knows whether evidence will retain its persuasive power in what many now describe as a post-truth world,” she said.

*Reuters

 

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Gabon’s Aubameyang ends Bundesliga season as top scorer
May 21, 2017 | 0 Comments
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lifts the trophy as the Bundesliga's top-scorer with 31 goals

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lifts the trophy as the Bundesliga’s top-scorer with 31 goals

Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck a late penalty for Borussia Dortmund on the final day of the season to finish as the Bundesliga’s top scorer with 31 goals.

Aubameyang scored twice to help Dortmund beat Werder Bremen 4-3 – his first coming three minutes before the break and his second from the spot in the 89th minute.

It put the 27-year-old one goal ahead of Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski who failed to score in the German champions’ 4-1 win over Freiburg.

Aubameyang becomes only the second African player to win the golden boot in Germany after Ghana’s Tony Yeboah achieved the feat twice whilst playing for Eintracht Frankfurt – in the 1992-93 season and the following year in 1993-94.

Borussia Dortmund’s victory over Werder Bremen gave them a third place finish in the Bundesliga and secured their automatic spot in the Champions League group stage.

*BBC

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Ghana: How I Got to Johns Hopkins – First Ghanaian Neurosurgeon Resident
May 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

Photo: The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Nancy Abu-Bonserah (file photo).

Photo: The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Nancy Abu-Bonserah (file photo).

Nancy Abu-Bonserah, the first Ghanaian and only black female to gain admission to Johns Hopkins University to read neurosurgery has revealed that her self-driven passion to achieve more propelled her to where she is now.

Speaking in an interview on GH0ne said motivation from the people around her also contributed to her achievement as her passion has always been to study medicine.

“At every stage in that stage I was interested in medicine. When I went to college I kept that dream going. I did a lot of research, I did a lot of shadowing to see what doctors do and to see if I will still have the interested in doing the same things. I went to John Hopkins to do my medical training and it confirmed my desire to be a part of the medical profession. Neurosurgery came in a little later,” Nancy Abu-Bonserah revealed.

Nancy Abu-Bonserah is a young Ghanaian who found herself in the United States at the age 15 because her father was transferred there for work.

She attended Hanan School in Madina and continued to the Herman High School in the United States for her High School education and then furthered on to the university.

She has been living in Maryland, US for the past 11 years and hopes to give back to her society after her training when she gets the opportunity and the means.

 “I hope to go back to Ghana over the course of my career to help in building sustainable surgical infrastructure,” she said.

“I want to be remembered for serving my community, whether it is through providing quality surgical care or helping mentor the next generation of surgeons”.

Related: How ‘dark Genius’ Ailes Reshaped US Television News

She is the first Black female to be granted the opportunity to be a resident at the Johns Hopkins’ Neurosurgical department which only admits 2-5 residents.

Nancy Abu-Bonserah is expected to train as a resident neurosurgeon at John Hopkins for next 7years

*Ghanastar/Allafrica

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Nigeria: Fela’s Costumes for Induction Into Hard Rock Memorabilia Collection
May 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

Photo: Premium Times Fela Kuti.

Photo: Premium Times
Fela Kuti.

Late Afrobeat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s costumes will take a fitting place among other world music greats on the renowned Hardrock Cafe Music Memorabilia Collection on May 25.

The singer’s famous children, Yeni, Femi and Seun Kuti will hand over costumes worn by Fela, including pieces of clothing and shoes to representatives of Hard Rock International in Lagos.

Also to be donated are original Fela evergreen album covers whose designer, veteran artist, Lemi Gharioku, will also be in attendance.

Lemi is known for listening to and digesting Fela’s music, then expressing his reaction in Fela’s album covers design. Lemi has designed over 26 Fela album covers.

Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of Fela’s death, a two-part ceremony is slated to hold at Hardrock Café Lagos.

It begins by 3p.m. with an induction ceremony to be witnessed by late Fela’s friends, entertainment bigwigs and corporate Nigeria.

The ceremony will climax by 7p.m. when Femi Kuti with his Positive Force band and Seun Kuti with his Egypt 80 band hit the stage for a pulsating night of Afrobeat music.

One major highlight of the induction will be the release of a new song dedicated to the late Afrobeat maestro by 2-time Grammy Award-winning artiste, Lekan Babalola.

 The song entitled “Mr. Lakaye” (Tribute to Ogun) is produced by Will Angelero (New York – UK based Producer) and co-produced by Lekan Babalola.
 In addition, artist, Fola David will do a live speed painting of Fela on stage.

Other legends whose souvenirs are on the Hard Rock Memorabilia Collection include King Sunny Ade, Quincy Jones, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Prince, and Bob Marley among others.

The Hard Rock Café induction is being put together by talent agency, Temple Management Company after brokering a similar donation last year by juju maestro King Sunny Ade (KSA).

 TMC’s Head of Entertainment, Mark Redguard said, “The Hard Rock Induction event once again reinforces the influence that the great Fela Anikulapo-Kuti still commands twenty years later. We at TMC are delighted to be identified with another historic occasion that further develops and memorializes the Nigerian Music industry worldwide”

Fela’s historic music journey began in 1958 when his parents sent him to London to study Medicine but he opted for Trinity College School of Music.

Fela formed his first band Koola Lobitos in 1961, providing the fodder for a movement that morphed into Afrobeat, a combination of elements of traditional High Life, Rock, Funk and Jazz.

Fela’s music became the voice of the hopeless and a constant thorn in the flesh of successive military governments.

Some of his popular albums include Open & Close (1971), Gentleman (1973), Confusion (1975), Expensive Shit (1975), Zombie (1976) ending with Confusion Break Bones (1990).

 *Premium Times
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The man who brokered the deal to release the Chibok girls
May 17, 2017 | 0 Comments
Zannah Mustapha

Zannah Mustapha

In our series of letters from African journalists, novelist and writer Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani profiles the lawyer who brokered the release of 82 women captured by Nigeria’s militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

When 57-year-old Zannah Mustapha arrived for the handover of the 82 Chibok girls freed from Boko Haram after three years in captivity, a militant read out the girls’ names from a list.

One by one, the abducted schoolgirls, now women, lined up along the outskirts of a forest near Kumshe town, on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. Each of them was covered from head to ankle in a dark-coloured hijab.

“I went ahead of the Red Cross. They [the militants] brought the girls to me,” said Mr Mustapha, the lawyer from Borno state in north-east Nigeria.

Some of the 82 released Chibok girls wait to meet Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (not pictured) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Nigeria 07 May 2017.Image copyrightEPA
Image captionMr Mustapha says the girls started singing for joy when they got into Red Cross vehicles

He has been mediating between the government and militants for the release of the Chibok girls and for an end to the Boko Haram insurgency.

In 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari told the media that his government was willing to negotiate with “credible” leaders of Boko Haram for the release of the girls.

More than 200 of them were abducted a year earlier from the north-eastern town of Chibok, sparking global outrage.

Previous attempts had failed, with different groups coming forward, each claiming to be the militants in possession of the missing schoolgirls.

It was Mr Mustapha who succeeded in convincing the Nigerian authorities that this particular group should be taken for what they say, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu told me.

One of the freed womenImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe freed women will now have to rebuild their lives

“He had dealt with them in the past and they keep to their word,” he said.

Mr Mustapha’s role as a mediator dates back to his founding the Future Prowess Islamic Foundation School in 2007, to provide free Islamic-based education to orphans and the poor.

When the Boko Haram insurgency erupted in 2009, the school offered admission to the children of soldiers and government officials killed by the militants, as well as those of militants killed by the state.

NigeriaImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe 82 met the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari after they were rescued

Mr Mustapha then sought the assistance of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which began providing free meals to the pupils.

He also encouraged parents to form an association which would reach out to other widows and convince them to send their children to his school.

The ICRC soon extended its humanitarian services to the mothers, providing them free food and other items every month.

“This was at a time when the wives of Boko Haram militants were being arrested and their houses demolished, so Boko Haram saw me and the ICRC as neutral parties,” Mr Mustapha said.

During the previous government of President Goodluck Jonathan, former President Olusegun Obasanjo visited Maiduguri, the epicentre of the insurgency, to intervene in the escalating crisis.

He then set up a group to discuss peace with Boko Haram. Mr Mustapha was included in it because of the relationship he had forged with the families of Boko Haram militants.

After the Swiss ambassador to Nigeria paid a visit to the Future Prowess school in 2012, he arranged for Mr Mustapha to go to Zurich and Geneva to receive formal training as a mediator.

“We were already trying to negotiate peace with Boko Haram before the Chibok girls were kidnapped,” Mr Mustapha said.

The initial negotiation was for a batch of 20 Chibok girls to be released.

But, as a sign of commitment to their relationship, Boko Haram added an extra woman, whom Mr Mustapha said was their gift to him, hence the number 21.

Michelle Obama tweets a picture of herself highlighting the #BringBackOurGirls campaignImage copyrightOFFICE OF THE FIRST LADY
Image captionThe kidnapping provoked global outrage in 2014 including from Michelle Obama

When they were released in October 2016, she was chosen by Boko Haram to read out the names of the other 20 women from a list.

Mr Mustapha said the 21 women were lined up and asked by Boko Haram militants if they had been raped. They all said they were not.

When a militant approached a woman who was carrying a baby, she said that she was pregnant at the time of her abduction, having got married a few weeks earlier.

The baby girl in her arms, she said, was her husband’s child.

For some reason, Boko Haram, a group that has cultivated a reputation for brutality, wanted it to be known that it was only after the women “agreed” to get married that the militants had sexual relations with them.


Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani:

Adaobi Tricia NwaubaniImage copyrightADAOBI TRICIA NWAUBANI

“I felt that I have done something that is worth saying to the world that I have done this,” Mr Mustapha said.


This process of lining up the women, pointing at each one and asking the same question, was repeated at the beginning of May when 82 more women were released.

One of about seven Boko Haram militants, who accompanied them, went from woman to woman asking: “Throughout the time you were with us, did anyone rape you or touch you?” Mr Mustapha said, adding that each of them replied in the negative.

None of the second batch of 82 captives came with a child.

But one had an amputated limb and was walking with crutches, an injury she sustained, according to what Mr Mustapha was told, during Nigerian military air strikes against Boko Haram.

‘They all ran’

“You are free today,” Mr Mustapha announced to the 82 women after all the names were called out.

“They all smiled,” he said.

He believes that their subdued reaction was as a result of the presence of the militants, all armed with guns, some wearing army camouflage uniforms and boots.

Mr Mustapha then took some photographs with the women. The militants also had their video camera on hand and recorded the event. ICRC vehicles eventually arrived.

“When I told them to go to the cars, they all ran,” Mr Mustapha said. “Immediately they entered the vehicles, they started singing for joy. Some shed tears.”

Mr Mustapha has received a number of accolades for his work with Future Prowess School. He was a finalist for the 2016 Robert Burns humanitarian award, given to those who have “saved, improved or enriched the lives of others or society as a whole, through self-sacrifice, selfless service, hands-on charitable or volunteer work, or other acts”. He was also given a 2017 Aurora Prize Modern Day Hero award, for those whose “life and actions guarantee the safe existence of others”.

However, he described handing over the 82 freed girls to the Nigerian government as “the highest point in my life”.

“I felt that I have done something that is worth saying to the world that I have done this,” he said.

*BBC

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New Caf president Ahmad refuses to accept a salary
May 9, 2017 | 0 Comments
Ahmad won the Caf presidential election in March, ending Issa Hayatou's 29-year reign

Ahmad won the Caf presidential election in March, ending Issa Hayatou’s 29-year reign

The new Confederation of African Football (Caf) President, Ahmad, says he has refused to accept a salary from African football’s governing body.

His election in March ended Cameroonian Issa Hayatou’s 29-year reign.

“I’ve refused a Caf salary for the simple reason it doesn’t respect good administration,” he told BBC Sport.

“The salaries of all Caf employees, from administrators to the executive committee and president, all have to be transparent.”

The 57-year-old from Madagascar held his first senior Caf meetings on Monday ahead of the Fifa Congress on Thursday 11 May.

Key among the topics being discussed are how to reform Caf.

“The reform of the administration is a very important point – everyone must know what is happening” said Ahmad.

“First we must review the standards of management so that we can apply the reforms.

Ahmad, who goes by a single name, says there is much work to be done – in lots of areas – to make Caf work “as it should.

“I’m sorry to tell you when I was part of the Caf Executive Committee there was no separation of powers – the judicial body, the executive one and the congress – and we have to respect the independence of each body,” he continued.

“There is a big tendency to monopolise power in the executive committee.

“It has to be reviewed and reformed with new statutes for Caf so that everyone can concentrate on their proper tasks.

Ahmad has also voiced concerns about the popularity of their flagship Africa Cup of Nations tournament saying it’s in danger of being overshadowed by the African Nations Championship (CHAN) which is for locally based players.

He says in light of these concerns, there will also be a full review of all the Caf competitions, and as such, a symposium will be organised to discuss the future of the events.

“The symposium will be made up of representatives from all parts of African football so we can discuss what we are going to do in all the competitions – Afcon [Africa Cup of Nations], CHAN, the youth tournaments and the women’s events,” he explained.

Ahmad said he was particularly keen to address issues such as dwindling numbers of spectators at recent tournaments, and players increasingly finding themselves in compromised situations with their clubs during Nations Cups.

“We need to take into account their situation. We must ensure that the Nations Cup doesn’t destroy their careers,” he insisted.

“So we are going to review all of that and we will take a decision that suits everyone so that this competition is valued again and attracts more resources and attract bigger audiences in Africa.”

Ahmad also spoke about giving more power to the presidents of the individual federations, describing them as the “Sovereign Body” – who “have to make the big decisions for the confederation.”

Ahmad has promised to arrange a new Caf congress in due course in order to validate the proposed changes.

He also wants to look at the re-investment of Caf resources to aid the development of football across the continent, stressing that “Caf is not here to make money to enrich itself.”

*BBC

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Omeruo says he may have to leave Chelsea for first team football
May 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Oluwashina Okeleji*

Nigeria international Kenneth Omeruo has yet to play for Chelsea since signing in January 2012

Nigeria international Kenneth Omeruo has yet to play for Chelsea since signing in January 2012

Chelsea defender Kenneth Omeruo says his priority is to play first-team football on a regular basis and admits he may have to leave Chelsea to do that.

The 23-year-old Nigeria international has yet to play for the Blues since signing in January 2012 and is out on loan for a fourth time – this time at Turkey’s Alanyaspor.

Omeruo, who won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria,admits he is unhappy with his situation.

“It might happen that I get to play for Chelsea but it is no longer my immediate priority,” Omeruo told BBC Sport.

“You have no idea how frustrating it is to always go out on loan,” added the Nigeria defender.

The season-long move to Turkey was a swift return to the Super Lig for centre-back Omeruo after another loan stint at Kasimpasa last term.

He was a regular in the Kasimpasa side, making 26 appearances, but the Turkish club could not take up the option to buy him at the end of his loan spell.

And it is unlikely Alanyaspor could make the switch permanent because last August Omeruo signed a contract extension with Chelsea, keeping him on the club’s books until July 2019.

Despite watching his compatriot Victor Moses establishing himself under Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge this season, Omeruo concedes he may have to look elsewhere for regular football.

“Last season I had an opportunity to go to one of Turkey’s biggest clubs [Besiktas] but the deal collapsed two days to the end of the transfer window,” he added.

“This season I was lucky I could find a place where I could still play because they want me to come to Alanyaspor.

“My priority is to play at the top, to find a place where I get to play regularly.

“Next season will be interesting because I’m looking to be in one of the top leagues, so we’ll see what happens.”

Omeruo joined Chelsea from Belgian side Standard Liege and has since been on loan at ADO Den Haag in Netherlands and twice at English side Middlesbrough.

Despite not making a competitive appearance for Chelsea, Omeruo was called up by Nigeria for the first time in January 2013 and went on to play at that year’s Africa Cup of Nations and Confederations Cup and at the 2014 World Cup.

*BBC

 

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Medhi Benatia: Juventus player stops interview after hearing ‘racist’ insult
May 8, 2017 | 0 Comments
Medhi Benatia joined Juventus on a season-long loan from Bayern Munich last July

Medhi Benatia joined Juventus on a season-long loan from Bayern Munich last July

Juventus’ Morocco defender Medhi Benatia cut short a post-match television interview after claiming to hear a racist insult in his earpiece.

The France-born player, 30, was speaking to Italian broadcaster Rai after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Torino.

“What stupid person is speaking?” said Benatia before ending the interview.

The incident comes a week after another Serie A player, Pescara’s Sulley Muntari, walked off the pitch after claiming he was being racially abused.

Benatia, who is on loan at Juventus from Bayern Munich, has not commented publicly on what happened during the television interview.

The broadcaster has since apologised and promised to find out who made the “unacceptable” comments.

“Rai is sincerely saddened by the deplorable episode of racism involving the Juventus player during the broadcast of Champagne Football,” it said on Sunday, adding that the insult had not been heard by the viewers.

Benatia has made 17 league and cup appearances for Juventus, who are closing in on a sixth successive Serie A title and are in the Champions League semi-finals.

Juventus released a statement, saying: “Following the regrettable insult Medhi Benatia heard through his earpiece during Calcio Champagne, Juventus Football Club wishes to express its concern over the incident.

“While acknowledging the Rai statement expressing solidarity, everyone – and the player first and foremost – deserves an explanation about what occurred.”

Meanwhile, Muntari was an unused substitute as relegated Pescara lost 1-0 at home to fellow strugglers Crotone on Sunday.

The former Portsmouth and Sunderland player was cleared to play after a one-match ban he received for protesting against racist abuse in last weekend’s match at Cagliari was overturned.

Muntari was initially booked for dissent, then received a second yellow card for leaving the field.

Before the ban was overturned, former Tottenham striker Garth Crooks called on players in Italy to strike in protest against Muntari’s punishment.

 *BBC
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We Will Champion Case For Stronger US-Africa Business Ties With Trump Administration- Florizelle Liser, President & CEO Corporate Council on Africa
May 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

When it comes to business relations and trade between Africa and the USA, there are few people around with depth of knowledge and wealth of experience of Florizelle Liser, President & CEO of the Washington, DC, based Corporate Council of Africa-CCA.

For over ten years, she served with the office of the US Trade Representative including a stint as its representative for Africa prior to departure from Government last year. Appointed by the Bush Administration, she served through the Obama years and even out of government, her professional life continues to circle around issues of Trade with Africa as she serves as the first female President of the CCA.

Though she served in the Asia Pacific Region, and Latin America, in the course of her career, it is not until I moved to the African Region that I thought my true calling had been found, said Florizelle in a recent interview at the CCA headquarters. With a combination of her experience, and the great work done by her Predecessor Steve Hayes, Florizelle Liser is confident that the CCA is on course to write the next great chapter of US-Africa Trade relations.

The start of Florizelle’s leadership of the CCA coincided with the arrival of the Donald Administration whose African policy is still in a state of flux, but if there is one thing she is bent on doing, it is to make sure that the momentum on US-Africa Trade relations is sustained. Citing a litany of programs from the Bush and Obama Administrations that facilitated growing business ties, Florizelle said the CCA will be leading the charge in making the case to the Trump Administration on why corporate ties between the US and Africa should be a priority.

While the corporate background of President Trump may help him see the great opportunities and partnerships that abound in Africa, the broader perceptions Americans have about Africa need to change, Florizelle said.  For a continent with all sorts of negative stereotypes, people will be surprised to know that in South Africa alone, there are over 800 U.S companies, there will be surprised to know that there are African companies doing so well in the continent to the extent that there are also setting up shore in the US as well , said Florizelle.

The Administration and the broader American public needs to get the message that if businesses are going to Africa, it is because of profit, it is because of a more enabling environment, and the growing interest of Africans to partner with US businesses, Florizelle said.

In her new role as CEO of the CCA, one of her first major events will be the 11th biennial US-Africa Business Summit that takes place in Washington, DC, from June 13-16. The Forums alternate between the US and Africa, said Florizelle and Washington is excited to host it again after the 2015 summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This will be a great opportunity for the CCA membership to interact with Trump Administration Officials. We have invited Officials from the most senior levels of the US Administration, Florizelle said, as she expresses optimisms for positive interactions between CCA members, African leaders and those who could be key actors in shaping the Administration’s policies on Africa.

 It has been 5-months now, since your appointment as CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa.  In what shape did you meet the CCA, and what has changed so far under your leadership?

Florie Liser: First of all, I have actually been here 3-months, and I was telling people up until probably this week that I have been here 6-weeks, 10-weeks.  When I got too far, I had to change it to months.  So, now I am saying that I have been here 3-months.  I started on January 23rd and I am delighted that I had the confidence of the full board that unanimously made me the CEO.  I am the first woman CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa, but I do not think that they chose me for that.  I think that one of the things that I bring to the table is my long-standing expertise and experience in terms of US-Africa trade and investment and I think the second thing that I bring to the table is the array of relationships that I have both here in the United States and across the continent.  And I’ve been very, very fortunate; very blessed to have been exposed to many, many stakeholders who have shared the vision that I have, which is that the economic relationship between the US and Africa is an important one, a vital one.  And that in this new job, the Corporate Council on Africa, is going to build on the 17-years that Steve Hayes was here.

I   commend him for the excellent leadership that he had of CCA.  But now, I believe that we want to build on CCA’s strengths.  I think that we are one of the most successful organizations focused on US-Africa business engagement.  We are the only ones in my view that are focused solely on Africa.  Other organizations have Africa as one of the areas that there are focused on, but we are solely focused on Africa.

In addition, we have, I think in terms of our successes, also been able to bring together numerous businesses from across the continent.  We have African members first, and we have not only large members of companies that are mega companies, but over 50% of our members are small and medium-size businesses as well.  And I think that, that sort of breadth of engagement also makes us a bit unique, because we are not solely focused on what is best for US businesses.  And of course, we are strong advocates for US businesses, but I think we are probably well-suited and best situated to promote mutually beneficial relationships between US and African businesses.

We held last year I think you know; a US-Africa business summit where we had more than 1400 participants and over 600 companies that attended.  This was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  And actually, I was there.   I was there wearing my previous hat.  In addition, last year we had 6-trade missions, we hosted a range of very senior officials from Africa who came here, including the president of Mozambique, high-level trade delegation from Nigeria and so again, I think that we stand on our past and our history, but we also have a vision for the future.

And one of the things that we will be faced with now as I’m coming into leadership here, is how we work with the new US administration to make sure that the issues of US-Africa economic engagement are a priority for them.  We hope that we can make the case for expanding and enhancing the US-Africa business relationship.  And so, the issues will not only be, for example, Peace, Security, Counterterrorism, which are all very important, and in fact security is one of our core issues here.

We have 10-issue areas, as you know, which go from agribusiness, to health, security, trade, infrastructure, finance, energy, and power, etc.  But, one of the things that we will definitely want the new administration to recognize is that US businesses are in Africa because it’s profitable.  Because it is a critical part of their bottom lines as businesses.  And CCA is, and plans to be a very strong voice for US businesses who are engaged in the Continent, and also for African businesses which are expanding regionally and also some of them who are investing in the United States.  You know, it’s not one way and a lot of times people lose sight of or lose track of the fact that there are African businesses that are so successful that they are investing in the United States.    We have our upcoming US-Africa Business Summit in June and it will be our 11th biennial meeting.  We see that upcoming summit as one of the first opportunities for high-level officials from Africa, as well as CEOs, and US CEOs to meet with various people from the Trump administration.  And we have a theme which sort of reflects part of what I was saying.

We will get back to specifics of some the issues you raised as the interview proceeds.  Prior to your appointment, you serve with the office of US assistant trade representative for what?  Over 10-years?

Yeah.

Including a stint as Assistant as Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa?

Right.

How is this background helping you at the CCA?

So, you know; it’s such a natural progression to come from there, because the major role of the Assistant US trade representative for Africa was for us to promote US-Africa trade and investment.  That was my major responsibility and I did it for 13-years actually.  From 2003 until I left the US government at the end of December of 2016. Though I had worked in other regions of the world like the Asia-Pacific region, and Latin America, when I moved to the African region, I thought, wow, this was my dream job. I had studied Africa, when I was in graduate school, and visited Africa, a number of times, even in other positions.  And so, this was really an incredible opportunity for me, on a hands-on basis, to promote US-Africa trade and investment.  So, I worked with African heads of state, and ministers of trade and finance and those in charge of investment promotion on the African side as well as US businesses that will come in to ask questions about where they should go and issues that they had working in different countries.  I worked with members of Congress, and I had the privilege of working under a number of administrations. I was actually put in that position under the Bush administration, and then continued through succeeding administrations.  And I think that job was a perfect platform for me to come now and work here at CCA to continue doing really a lot of things that I’ve been passionate about for so long.

With this unique experience, in the government and now with the CCA, which is a private entity, you are in a good position to offer an assessment of business ties Between the USA and Africa.  At what point are we?  Where are things at the moment?  What is working?  And what is not working and what needs to be done to make things better?

First, I think, the average American citizen would be surprised at the number of US companies that are operating in Africa.  There are thousands and thousands of them there.  I think, in South Africa alone, there are almost 800 US companies that are there.  And so, we are all across the continent.  Our business is all across the continent in a range of sectors.  We are not just in extractive.  Although obviously, we have a huge stake in the extractive industries, we are also in telecommunications, manufacturing, and retail. We could go down the list of CCA members and beyond who are there.

Now, what has changed?  Even though many US companies have been in Africa for some time, the landscape has changed and is changing in Africa.  You know, where there were many conflicts in the past – there are only a small handful of conflicts today.  Where in the past there were governance and leadership issues, today, there are only a small number of countries where we could say that we have concerns about governance.  Where it was difficult to identify where opportunities were maybe more than a decade ago, I think today, many more US companies are aware of the opportunities in Africa.  It has the highest rate of return on investment there and the opportunities for joint ventures are probably endless.

These are economies that are growing more rapidly than most economies in the world, they have a burgeoning middle class, and disposable income is rising rapidly.  They have a youth bulge, which also has implications for the kinds of products and services that are desired on the continent, and there is a strong interest on the part of Africans to actually partner with Americans.  Therefore, a lot has changed.

Now, what is not working?  What is still difficult in many countries, is the doing business atmosphere.  The environment for quickly getting into a country, getting your operating licenses, being able to get access to the right partnerships.  These are things, which again, a number of countries in Africa are working on.  There are some who have done great in terms of the World Bank doing business scores that are rapidly rising.  But, I think anyone who goes to Africa also knows that there are some difficulties in navigating the African market.  Whenever US businesses would come in to talk to me before a trip, and they think, “well, we’re going to go there for a week and we’re going to close X deal!”  And I think, emm… I do not think that is going to happen.  And so, US businesses will still find sometimes that it takes a little bit too long to get things moving and solidify some of these partnerships.

But, because the benefits are so great, because the opportunities are so wide.  I think many of them realize, “okay, it’s going to take more than one trip.”  It may actually take me numerous trips and it might even take up to a year or more, but I am not going to run away, I am not going to lose this opportunity because I am impatient.   So, yes, I think there are ways that things could operate more smoothly, more efficiently, more effectively in Africa, and I think many US businesses would say that.  But again, the opportunities are enormous and so I think businesses are buckling down and trying to find a way forward.  Even if it is a little bit tough sometimes, even if it takes a little longer sometimes than they want.

 As we speak, there is a new administration in the USA, the Administration of President Donald Trump and people do not yet know the direction of its African policy.  From your experience in government, and signals you have seen, what should Africa expect?  Could his business background be a silver lining for business ties between USA and Africa? 

I mean, clearly it could.  Obviously, he is a businessman, he understands the benefits of doing business, not just here in the US, but across the world.  Because he is not just operating in the US.  He has operated in many places.  In fact, I was in Lesotho in November and someone was sharing with me that they thought there was a factory there that was even producing some products for one of the Trump product lines, yeah.  I did not get a chance to visit the factory, so I cannot definitively say it is true, but I had heard that.

So, what could this mean for the US-Africa business relationship – to have a businessman in the White House?  It could mean a lot.  But right now, it appears that those who our new President is looking to are largely in the area of military expertise, and people who when they look through the particular lens that they have-I’m not saying that’s a Bad lens, but, when they look through the lens that they have, they see Africa in a particular way.  And those issues such as security issues, counterterrorism issues, issues of peace, and conflict resolution; because that’s their sort of area of expertise, I think whenever they put on their lenses to look at Africa as well as other parts of the world, they see it through that lens.

I think one of the things that will be very important to do will be to help Trump Administration Officials and the President himself to take that lens off, and to put on the lens that many of our businesses and members of CCA have.  Which as I said earlier, is there are in Africa because Africa is a profitable place to be.  Everybody else in the world is scrambling to be first in Africa and to have access to what that market provides. we hope that with a strong voice from CCA as well as our members, that we can push that point, and hopefully have a Trump Administration which in short order will be talking about progress in pursuing on the business relationship with Africa.  And again, as a businessman, we are hopeful that President Trump and his Administration will do that.

I think some of them may already be leaning in that direction.  I know Secretary Ross of the Department of Commerce, mentioned Africa in his confirmation remarks, I believe, he talked about the fact that you really could not ignore Africa as a continent, and opportunities there. I understand last week, just last week that a number of the Finance Ministers and Energy Ministers that were here met with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.  So, I was very encouraged by that and we are hoping for a robust US -Africa economic and business relationship.

As you mentioned in your last answer, “there is a growing competition for business opportunities in Africa,” you have the Chinese, you have Japanese, Indians, in addition to the traditional European countries all expressing interest.  How do you make the case for US business in Africa?  Why should African countries prefer or pick US businesses as partners as opposed to all these other partners trying to get in?

I actually do not think they should just choose us.  I think that the Africans are fairly savvy now.  This is not like the olden days where people just moved in and told Africans what to do, and treated them as if they were children.  The Africans are mature, they should not allow countries to just come in, or businesses from different countries just come in and sort of dictate.  I think that there is so much to be done there and so many opportunities that the key I think, will be to manage who can work with them most effectively, in which areas.

Just as an example, it could be that you know, to actually physically build out the hard infrastructure in Africa, perhaps which is something that the Chinese can do best.  But then, if you look at the engineering side of it, maybe that’s something that US businesses actually can provide for or someone was telling me of an example of where in a particular country, they were saying that the locomotives were being provided by the Chinese, but the engines were being provided by the US.

What you’re finding is that Africans are not, I think been forced to choose should I pick the Chinese or the American, should I pick the Americans or the French, should I pick the Indians or you know, I think what they’re doing and I think it’s a wise thing to do, is looking at what are the different partnerships we can have with different countries?

I think, what the US business brings to the table about why Africans really like working with Americans is first, I think many Americans go in with high-quality products and services.  Therefore, the value for dollar is there. You may get something cheaper from someone else that is fine.  And I’m not just speaking of Chinese, but you may get a product cheaper, but what do you get with the US is in terms of the quality of the product.

The second thing is, I think US companies are also valued for the fact that we are working with people on maintenance.  We are not just going to come in initially sell you a product or provide a service and then not build in to that relationship, what it is, what’s required to maintain it, you know.  So, what is the point of a road and three years later, it is falling apart, or getting equipment that would not last? What is the point of having, equipment and you know two years later, it is breaking down.  Maybe you would have been better off buying what would last for longer.  I think we do that.

The other thing is the partnerships.  I think that we; our US companies, we are very interested in transferring skills and technology to our African partners.  That is not to say that others do not do it, but I think we are particularly good at those transfers of skills and technology.   The kind of partnerships we then have with our African partners are a reflection of that.  So, those are some of the reasons actually, we hear back from the Africans about why they like working with us.  We treat them as partners; we do not bring them in at the lowest levels of the business and leave them there.  And to be frank, I visited a lot of factories built and run by others, we won’t say who, where if they left, even though the majority of the workers in the factory were African, the Africans actually would not know what to do to keep the business going.  They were not brought in to understand the entire value chain and what has to happen from point A to point Z to keep the business running.  And I think that, that is something that I think Americans; when we come in, we bring people in and we have them as full partners in knowing all the aspects of the businesses that we partner with.

From June 13-16, the CCA will be hosting the 2017 US-Africa Business Summit; can you shed some light on this?

 CEO Florizelle Liser with PAV's Ajong Mbapndah L at the CCA Office in Washington,DC

CEO Florizelle Liser with PAV’s Ajong Mbapndah L at the CCA Office in Washington,DC

Yes, this will be our 11th Summit.  We have been having these summits both here in the US and in Africa.  In fact, we alternate back and forth.  So, we have them every other year.  They are biennial, the last one was in Ethiopia, we had over 1400 participants over 600 companies, I think over 37 countries represented there from across the continent, and it was quite successful.  This year it is going to be in the US and we wanted it here.  We were glad it was our turn to host.  Because, we thought with the new US Administration coming in, this was going to be an excellent opportunity to bring together all of our stakeholders, our members, and many beyond our members to actually come together and to talk about the US stake in Africa, and the partnerships working with Africa.

Over the years, we have had probably over 40 heads of state.  We hope we will get a few; these are tough times because you know there are a lot of competing interests.  The G-20  is coming up.  I think the Africa program it actually happens almost on the same time frame in Berlin, but you know, we are hoping we will.  However, if we do not, we will have lots of high-level Officials, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Energy, Health, Agriculture, and so forth. We will also have some doing business in whatever country as a part of it.  Some sessions will be on doing business in Ghana, doing business in Ethiopia, or wherever as a part of it.

We are also planning to have an event on the Hill.  We have been invited to have an event on the Hill, where we will be having a dialogue with key members of Congress, both from the Senate and the House and from both parties. The hill is so important especially right now.  They have always been important, and will always be important. We hope to have a good turnout of both US and African businesses, and CEOs covering a wide range of issues, core issues, all of CCA’s core issues will be touched on during the summit.  So, we’re inviting, I hope all those who read this article will hear about this summit and will register, and come and be a part of it.  Be that active voice that is needed right now, so that the US Administration can hear from all of us.

You mention the new US administration, and this will be the first summit that is taking place under the new leadership.  First, what level of participation do you expect from them?  Secondly, it was reported in March that there was an African Trade meeting out in California, where there were no Africans because of visa issues.  The Africans who were supposed to turn out were never granted visas to come for the summit.  Is the CCA concerned about this development?

Well, I think first of all, you asked who has been invited; we have invited practically all of the highest-level people from the Administration, who we think have a stake in Africa. So, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Energy, we’re still waiting though for some other people to come into key positions throughout the Administration.  So, again, at the lower levels, or some of the more prominent folks that we would normally engage with are not even there yet.  But, we expect to have participation from a number of US Agencies.  We are also having a session that will be about engagement with Agencies of the US Government.  And we’re getting all of the highest-level people that are there, from the Department of Commerce, to OPIC, EXIM Bank, the US Trade Representative’s office where I came from; to come and be on a panel that will talk about our programs across those different government agencies and institution.  MCC will be a part of it, people who do work on power Africa will be there as well.  So, we think we’ll have a very good discussion of what the US ship brings to the table under this Administration, as well as others.

In terms of the visa issue, of course, you know we have to be a bit concerned that, that happens.  I don’t know the particulars of why that happened with the California conference, but what we’ve done is, we’ve talked to State Department and we’re going to be working with the State Department to let them know which Africans have been invited and also you know, as people register for the conference from different African countries, we will be sending that information to State Department so that they are aware of these people who will need visas.

And then CCA for our African partners who are coming from the private sector, we will be providing them with visa letters.  So, a letter of invitation, which is often needed for getting your visa. We will do that, and we have kind of broadly let people know that.  And as I said, we’re just going to work with the powers that be here to facilitate getting our African delegations into the summit.  That is the best that we can do, and we are going to hope for the best and hope that it will be positive.

Prior to leaving the USTR, you work with two Presidents one Republican, one Democrat. How have you seen the evolution of US-Africa business relations over the years? Who did more? Was it the republicans or was it the democrats?  

Well you know, that’s a great question and I love that question.  Now, my experience you know is that under President Bush, a lot of really incredible programs were launched. so we can talk about PEPFAR, to work on HIV-AIDS,  we can talk about the Millennium Challenge Corporation, that was set up and provides grants to build infrastructure in Africa, there was a program on malaria and girls’ education and so forth.  Then you get to the Obama administration, and he also launched some really effective programs like Power Africa, Trade Africa, YALI, and so on, but here is what I would say that distinguishes them.  I think that the trend has been more to move from initiatives the US has with Africa that are more, could more be described as aid, and development assistance to initiatives that are really more focused on trade and business engagement.  And so, I very much think that is the trend.  My expectation under the Trump Administration is, it will continue moving in that direction.

Another Program that I did not mention, that was very important under President Obama, was the President’s Advisory Council on doing business in Africa; we call it the PAC – DBIA.  Very focused on the doing business relationship, the economic relationship, and that one had CEOs from different US businesses there. We are looking to see now, whether under the Trump Administration that would continue, one would hope it would.

He gets it, he is a businessperson, and we expect that to continue that way.  But, I think the major sort of trend has been that we recognize that yes, aid is important, development assistance is important, but what is most important, what has probably more of a sustainable impact on Africa is private sector driven partnerships and relationships.  Public-private partnerships pushed by and supported by the private sectors on both sides. Power Africa is a good example of that, Trade Africa is a good example of that.

So, that is my experience and let me just say, that’s not to say that we should not give aid.  We definitely should, we have some countries in Africa right now that are facing famines , we want to make sure that we provide that kind of assistance and relief, but I remember from many years ago, they talked about how if Africa was able to increase its share of world trade by just one percentage point; at the time, they had 2% of world trade  Now, they have about 3%, but the movement of 1% additional trade would actually generate every year, three times the amount that Africa gets in aid from everybody in the world.  Just 1 percentage point of trade.

And I use that example, it is an old one.  It came from the old Blair report that came out, Oh, my gosh!  More than a decade ago.  But, the reason I use that is, because it shows you the power of trade and economic engagement.  That no matter how much aid you have, if you are generating your economic growth through private sector investment, through greater trade, the production of value-added products on the continent, the creation of jobs that come from investment and from trade, you can do way more with that, than you can with the aid – yeah.

Last question Ms. Florie, you have spent a huge part of your career working on Africa, and I believe that you have done a lot of travel, different countries, and different people

I have! I have!

What are some of the changes that you have seen? 

Yeah, well, even when I first started going to Africa, and it wasn’t a surprise to me, but you know, the pictures that you see of Africa here in the United States, the ‘Image’ I should say, of Africa here in the United States, is definitely not what is going on in the continent.

I went to cities that were vibrant, or growing metropolises even a decade, decade and a half ago, but you do not see those pictures on TV.  You see children with big bellies and flies in their eyes and, so Americans typically don’t have the vision of Africa that it is.I’ve been to factories that are producing everything from eyeglasses, and toys, and an apparel and footwear and you know, inputs for automobiles and automobiles themselves that are being produced in Africa.

African countries have the potential to do what China has done says Forizelle Liser

African countries have the potential to do what China has done says Forizelle Liser

When I see those thousands and thousands of workers in factories all across Africa, producing pepper sauces and all sorts of value-added agricultural products.  And I’ve been to cut flower farms, and just you know, it’s incredible places where they’re packing green beans and shipping them to the US and Europe.  The image I get is of an Africa that is a part of the global economy, that plays an important role in global value chains and how that Africa is critical to how everybody else is developing in the world too.  We need Africa to be a manufacturing floor, we need Africa’s labor.  Africa is going to contribute more to the global workforce in the next 20 years than any other region of the world.  And you know, FDI into Africa is increasing rapidly.

As I said earlier, the rate of return on investments is increasing rapidly.  Africa is a place now where people who are institutional investors you know, from the state of California or you know, people with pension plans here in the US, where firefighters and policemen and their money is being invested in Africa to their benefit.  And that’s an Africa that I see today and the potential of an Africa today that even 10 years ago, we did not see.  People were not putting their 401(k)s investments into Africa that kind of way 10 years ago, so the potential of Africa to be a fully integrated partner into the global economy is something that I can actually see it.  And you know, or read about it and so you know when I hear you know different fans talking about.  Oh yes, you know were to be investing these hundreds of millions or we have a call out and you know, the call has been filled in terms of you know, the investment bonds and so forth that are being issued.  You’re like wow!

This is what Africa is about today, I’ve been to stock markets in Ghana, in South Africa, in Botswana, and so I look at Africa and I see an Africa which, and let me end on this note, you know; “they are now where China was maybe 30 years ago,” And, if they continue in this direction, to me they have the potential to, not as one single economy because clearly they’re not, but then you know we have the concept of free trade area that’s been launched and where you know, 10 years from now, for sure, maybe we will be looking at it all as one large African market and economy.

I see them as having the potential in individual countries to do what China has done in terms of manufacturing, in terms of investment, in terms of business partnerships, companies that are present there, South Africa, Boeing just opened up an office in South Africa and Kenya, GE has an office in Kenya.

I mean we are seeing a lot of US business engagement there. There is a reason why they are going there.  They are not just going to Africa and setting up offices and businesses and investing there because they want to do good.  And they do, do a lot of good things, a lot of for corporate social responsibility in Africa, but are actually there to do well.  And so, the opportunity for mutually beneficial relationships between US and African businesses in all sorts of sectors and is a part of the global economy is really kind of the vision that everyone has for Africa now.  It is certainly not my vision, but I can personally attest to it.

Ms. Florie Liser, thank you very much for talking to Pan African visions!

Thank you for having me!

 

 

 

 

 

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Coventry University graduate working to turn young people away from terrorism across West Africa
April 25, 2017 | 0 Comments
Mutaru Mumuni Muqthar, a graduate of Coventry's International Terrorism masters course

Mutaru Mumuni Muqthar, a graduate of Coventry’s International Terrorism masters course

ACCRA, Ghana, 24 April 2017,– A Coventry University graduate devoted to tackling terrorism will talk about how he stopped a young man joining ISIS with just hours to spare, when he speaks in Ghana this month.

Mutaru Mumuni Muqthar, a graduate of Coventry’s International Terrorism masters course, has already helped at least 20 people turn away from extremism since he set up a counter-extremism centre in Ghana.

The 34-year-old launched the West Africa Centre for Counter-Extremism (WACCE) after graduating from Coventry University in 2013. Since then he and his team have helped 22 radicalised people to turn their back on terrorism -last year preventing a 21-year-old from joining ISIS in Syria.

Mutaru Mumuni Muqthar said: “Last year I saved a young man’s life. He had been radicalised online and was on his way to join the terrorist group ISIS after he spent time online looking for meaning in his life.

“Just a day before leaving to join the group he watched my TV outreach programme on counter-radicalization – that was what changed everything and he changed his mind.

“West Africa is one of the deadliest regions for terrorism. My plans are to expand my counter terrorism work to include the entire West Africa region, helping to dissuade vulnerable groups and individuals from engaging in violent extremism and falling into the void of terrorist recruitment. ”

Mutaru originally from Accra, works across West Africa to deepen understanding of violent extremism and radicalization to promote the support available to vulnerable people at risk.

He will talk about his determination and how postgraduate study helped him achieve his goals at Coventry University Alumni Association Event on April 29.

He hopes that by speaking to other graduates about his work and how postgraduate study helped him develop the skills he needed to act, he can encourage more people to use education and make a difference.

The event is being run in conjunction with the British Council at Coventry’s partner institution, Ghana Technology University College (GTUC) to promote the benefits of continuing in education to further careers and employability.

In recognition of his own work since graduating from Coventry in 2013, Mutaru was shortlisted for an international award at the UK Alumni Awards in Ghana. Selected from 60 nominees, Mutaru represented Coventry University in the social impact category.

In 2016 he was also elected as a Mandela Washington Fellow for Young African Leaders, being invited to a summit in Washington D.C where he met former US President Obama.

John Latham, Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University, said: “Our students and alumni make a significant contribution to their communities, be they in the UK or internationally. “Mutaru’s is among the most significant and important. His team’s work will shape many young lives and spread a message of peace and I am delighted that his journey began in Coventry. “The success of our alumni is in part down to the experiences they have here and the opportunities they take throughout their studies.”

The UK Alumni Awards were created by the British Council in partnership with UK higher education institutions to recognise outstanding success in Entrepreneurship, Professional Achievement, and Social Impact by people who have studied at UK higher education institutions within the last 15 years.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking.

COVENTRY UNIVERSITY

Coventry University is a dynamic, global and transformational ‘modern university’ whose roots can be traced back to 1843.

Through its links with leading-edge businesses and organizations in a variety of countries and industries, Coventry University’s 26,000+ students enjoy access to placements and international opportunities which ensure that their employment prospects are enhanced by the time they graduate. Its students also benefit from state-of-the-art equipment and facilities in all academic disciplines, from health, business and performing arts to industrial design, engineering and computing.

Coventry was named ‘University of the Year’ in the THE Awards 2015, and as of 2015 the institution is the country’s top modern university in the Guardian University Guide – in which it ranks 15th overall – as well as being named named ‘Modern University of the Year’ in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide for three years running from 2014 to 2016.

*AMA

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ZAMBIAN ACTRESS WINS CANNES FILM FESTIVAL AWARD
April 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
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New Role, Same Zeal for Cape Verde’s Washington Envoy Carlos Veiga
April 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

It is about serving my country says Carlos Veiga on his new role as Cape Verde's Ambassador to Washington,DC

It is about serving my country says Carlos Veiga on his new role as Cape Verde’s Ambassador to Washington,DC

It is all about service to my country says Carlos Veiga Ambassador of the Republic of Cape Verde to the USA. In Office for some six months now, Veiga arrived Washington in the twilight of the Obama Administration and ended up been sworn in by President Donald Trump.

With a unique profile, his appointment as Ambassador to Washington, DC, was perplexing to many. A well-respected Lawyer, with stints as Attorney General, President of the ruling party, and Prime Minister for two terms, serving as Ambassador was not something Veiga was looking forward to. With a very close finish in two Presidential runs including one (2001) where he lost by seventeen votes, many thought that Carlos Veiga was done with public office, but then a call came from President Carlos Fonseca for him to be the country’s envoy to Washington, DC, and he accepted the challenge.

What may be seen by some people as a demotion was seen by Carlos Veiga as a choice to continue serving his country as he had done with brio over the years. My appointment and presence in Washington is a symbol of the importance that Cape Verde attaches to its close ties with the USA, said  Veiga in a recent interview at his Massachusetts Ave Office in Washington, DC. Cape Verde is considered as a strong ally of the USA with strong partnership on maritime issues, and fighting drug trafficking, Ambassador Veiga said, as he looked forward to deepening the relations.

With a strong diaspora presence, Ambassador Veiga equally a large community of Cape Verdeans to look out for. The U.S hosts about 500,000 people from Cape Verde mostly around New England. Veiga said he was excited about opportunities to interact with compatriots in the diaspora who were the nemesis in his past Presidential runs.

Cape Verde is a very stable country with a solid record in democratic values and principles, Ambassador Veiga said. The country has not known military coups and political transitions have been peaceful, said Veiga as he gave credit to Cape Verdeans for the choice to live and move forward together as a people.

Cape Verde has adopted the choice of democracy as the best guarantee for stability and development and is reaping the developments says Ambassador Carlos Veiga

Cape Verde has adopted the choice of democracy as the best guarantee for stability and development and is reaping the developments says Ambassador Carlos Veiga

While Cape Verde may not be as resource rich as other African countries, prudent management, and good governance have placed the country firmly on the part of development. There are opportunities to invest in maritime services, new technologies, and financial services, Ambassador Veiga said in making a pitch to US and other potential foreign investors. Cape Verde has one of the most friendly investment climates anywhere in the continent, Veiga continued.

Cited recently for the fifth straight time as one of the world’s “Ten Best Ethical Destinations,” by Ethical Traveler, tourists are guaranteed a most agreeable and fun-filled stay in Cape Verde, said, Carlos Veiga. From the quick visa procedures, to the friendliness of the people, and the unique beauty of the islands and historic sites, Cape Verde should be the country to visit, Carlos Veiga enthused.

Responding to a question about President Carlos Fonseca serving his second and last term, Ambassador Veiga described him as a friend who did great work in the past on the constitution. President Fonseca has made immense contributions on the democratic strides that Cape Verde continues to make, Ambassador Veiga said.

With two unsuccessful presidential bids in the past, Ambassador Veiga was coy about his political future.You never say never in politics, he said, but was quick to point out that the presidency was never a do or die affair for him, but rather a desire to offer the country better leadership at a critical point in its history. The elections are still several years away, and right now, I have been assigned with serious duties to represent my country in Washington, and it is an assignment I have to discharge to the best of my abilities, Ambassador Veiga said.

 

 

 

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African Media Agency (AMA) CEO Nominated for New African Woman in Media Awards 2017
April 15, 2017 | 0 Comments
Eloïne Barry CEO of AMA

Eloïne Barry CEO of AMA

Eloïne Barry, CEO of African Media Agency (AMA) has been nominated for the New African Woman Forum (NAW Forum) awards. The event is taking place in Dakar, Senegal, on 12 and 13 April.

Eloïne’s nomination in NAW’s media category comes as a recognition for the positive strides she is making in the Pan African Media landscape. AMA which is founded on the core principal of availing opportunities to journalists and helping tell the positive stories of Africa has had a dramatic impact on the continent. AMA has played an important part in changing the perception of the continent by promoting an home-grown narrative.
In partnership with various players both local and international it has provided the much needed content for the continent’s media players. It also provides journalists with networking opportunities that are vital for their career growth.
“This nomination is such an honour and recognition for the hard-working women of the continent, who dedicate their life to make Africa a better place. I strongly believe that a healthy country needs a healthy press that is given the right tools, content and transparency to produce a work that will educate and empower the population. This has been my goal and I am pleased to see the changes that our work as a team has made for thousands of African journalists.”, noted Eloine.
AMA provides press release distributions and media relations to the most important NGOs, International Organisations, companies and communications agencies in the world. Since its inception in 2014, AMA has run over 700 campaigns, reaching thousands of African reporters and generated tens of thousands of coverage pieces for their clients.
Other notable personalities who have been shortlisted include, the new UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed, Somalia’s first female presidential candidate Fadumo Dayib, Gambia’s doyen of democratic change, Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang, Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the South African Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya and her fellow countrywoman, former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
The awards are an initiative of New African Woman magazine. This will be the second edition of the awards.  Chosen in 12 categories, 68 groundbreaking women have made the final list which will now be adjudicated by a special panel of judges, and the winners in each category will be announced on 12 April at a Gala Dinner in Dakar, Senegal.
African Media Agency  specializes in helping companies grow their share of voice on a pan-African scale. Our deep knowledge and understanding of the continent helped us gain recognition and act as an authoritative source of news for the most influential media houses in every African country.
Our offices are located in Dubai (UAE), Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire), Kampala (Uganda), New York (USA) and we have local presence in Johannesburg (South Africa), Nairobi (Kenya) and Lagos (Nigeria). Our team has ten years of experience across the Communications spectrum on a pan-African scale. We intimately understand the diversified and often complex business environment in each African country and guide our clients with best practice on every step of their African journey.
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Kenya: Q&a With President Kenyatta As Jubilee Marks 4th Anniversary
April 11, 2017 | 0 Comments
Photo: Jeff Angote/The Nation President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto address residents of Ruaka on April 5, 2017

Photo: Jeff Angote/The Nation
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto address residents of Ruaka on April 5, 2017

By Capital FM, Nairobi — PRESIDENT KENYATTA: I am very proud to showcase some of the work that my government has done in the first four years of my term. As your President, it is my primary duty to provide the environment necessary for each one of you to fulfill your full potential, and to improve your own livelihood, as well as that of your community, and that of our nation.

Together, we have achieved much that will benefit many, and in a very short time.

QUESTION: What was your vision going into 2013 elections? What did you want to achieve for the country?

PRESIDENT KENYATTA: To understand where you are, and to understand where you are going, you must know where you’ve come from; then you are able to better visualize where you want to be. And I think we’ve come a long way.

Our forefathers came together with the singular aim of having a free, socially inclusive society where our people could govern themselves, and make a future for themselves. They achieved our independence for us. Once we got that independence, somehow we did not internalize that independence as a Kenyan independence; we internalised it as an ethnic independence. So we started to say ‘what about the prosperity of my community?’, ‘what about the jobs of my community?’ We lost the nationalist spirit that actually won us that independence — independence was not won by any singular community, it was won by people coming together and saying we want to govern ourselves; we want a future for ourselves. I believe that the politics that took place after the first 10 or so years of our independence resulted in a situation where, rather than co-exist as Kenyans, we co-existed as ethnic communities. We saw the worst of that in 2007/2008. It is an episode of our national history that is still fresh in our minds.

As a result of that, some of us who were accused of fanning that incitement felt very, very, very strongly, and thought very deeply. We asked: ‘how could our country — that we all love so much, and that we all wanted so much for — end up in this particular situation?’ Then, working with other individuals, we agreed: ‘look, it is time for us to change the Kenyan narrative’.

QUESTION: So, what was your resolve?

PRESIDENT KENYATTA: Our rallying call in 2013, as many in Kenya will remember, was the fact that regardless of whether we won or lost, we would ensure that we had a country that would not end up in the kind of chaos that we saw in 2007/08, and that no Kenyan would lose their life for who they were. We wanted a country that celebrates our diversity and that works together with the understanding that the issues that confront us don’t confront us because of our ethnicity, but are common to all of us as Kenyans. The only way to solve them is to solve them together. And that was basically the platform on which we launched our campaign in 2013. And, thank God, Kenyans gave us an opportunity to lead this country.

For the 4 years that we have led this nation, we have focused on answering a single question: how do we coalesce this society of 43 communities into one society? We recognised that our new constitution gave us an opportunity to achieve this, through the devolved governments. We made them work, and we were able to reach out and get development into every corner of this country. We ensured that our government was as inclusive as the constitution allowed us to be, because it was the first time, for example, that we were limited in the number of Cabinet Secretaries we could appoint. I also think it gave us the opportunity to pick the best that we could from our country, because so long as you are limited, you have to pick the best. As the national government, our key priority then became, first and foremost, to ensure that in the shortest possible time we got devolution to work so that every single Kenyan, irrespective of what part of the country they came from, could feel the benefits of being a Kenyan.

 Today in Mandera, for the first time ever in the history of this country, you can get a caesarean section done in the hospitals — which have been revamped. We ensured that the programmes we initiated for free maternal healthcare enable every single mother to give birth in a safe environment.

We also focused on education, recognising that as long as every single Kenyan is able to get proper education, we are beginning to equalise our society.

Many areas got — for the first time — decent infrastructure that could attract industries. (And we have to attract investment outside the main cities: Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and Eldoret)

We went on a massive programme of building roads, electricity expansion, trying to increase dams in order to get water access, so that a person living in Wajir would have the same benefits as a person living in Nairobi; so that an industry would be attracted to Garissa — because now you are connected to the main grid — just as it would be attracted to Mombasa. We recognised that if we focused ourselves on these, it would ultimately give us an opportunity to achieve what every single Kenyan needed: opportunity.

We are not there yet, but we have started that journey. We have started the process. I believe strongly that if we are allowed to continue with the kind of development we have made so far, then, in a very few years to come, we will have a singular society that looks at issues differently: not from where we come from, but from whom we are as Kenyans.

We will begin to deal with the challenges that face every single Kenyan, the challenges of health, the challenges of education, the challenges of job creation; and once we do that, we then can see ourselves as Kenyans. And once we see ourselves as Kenyans, because we have a government that is dealing with us as Kenyans, we will look to a future where we work together for mutual prosperity and for mutual happiness.

QUESTION: Are you making progress?

PRESIDENT KENYATTA: Well, you also ask yourself where and how you want to get to where you are going. I keep on telling Kenyans: let us have patience; let us focus ourselves on doing things that ought to be done, because if things had been done in years past, we wouldn’t be complaining today.

QUESTION: Some have chided you as a tourist President. How have Kenyans benefitted from your travels beyond our borders?

PRESIDENT KENYATTA: Countries are like people: you cannot make progress on your own. Kenya must work in very close corroboration and cohesion with its neighbours and others in the international community. That is why we have made foreign policy central to our agenda.

We need to ensure that we are on good terms, and have great trading partnerships, with others. We would not attract the kind of investment that we are attracting if we were only talking to 42 million people; we need to be able to talk of a region of 300 or 400 million, because it is that economy of scale that will allow us to attract the kind of investment that we need, in order to create the jobs that our people need. So long as you continue to think inward, you will only slow your quest to achieve your objectives. And that is why my administration has been very keen to improve linkages between Kenya and other nations. Within our region we have been very focused on trying to deepen integration. We have worked very hard, and now we have a single network area for Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, and we are trying to bring on board Burundi, Tanzania and South Sudan. We now have a single tourist visa, so that visitors coming to Kenya can use the same visa to go to Uganda and Rwanda.

 We have worked on our ability to travel within our region using just our identity cards, which means that it is easier for East African citizens to move across and trade. In 4 years, we have reduced the time it takes for goods to move from Mombasa to Kampala to Kigali from 21 to 4 days. All this is meant to improve and ease our ability to do business. Our interactions with people outside our region are also aimed at ensuring that we have the ability to trade with those countries and again create job opportunities for our people.
 That’s not all. My recent visit to India resulted in us being able to get a cancer hospital. Cancer is a catastrophe for many families in our country, who are spending millions to move their loved ones to India, to the UK, to South Africa for treatment. As a result of that visit, we shall have, in a very short period of time, our own cancer hospital right here at Kenyatta National Hospital, which will greatly reduce the cost and expense that Kenyans have to bear.

The bottom line is to create, and to open new doors for the citizens in Kenya, so that our people can create prosperity. I want to go back to what I started with from the very beginning: if we look at ourselves as ‘our community’, ‘my tribe’, we shall never succeed. Equally, if we think of our country, and if we open ourselves to the world, then we will achieve our own internal agenda, our own objectives as individual Kenyans. That is why I said, when I hosted the new Somali President, that Somalia’s peace, security and stability and Kenya’s peace, security and stability are tied at the hip. We need each other in order for us to have shared prosperity. That is the spirit that drives my administration in its engagement with foreign governments.

QUESTION: We have seen quite a number of brands — Volkswagen, Peugeot — setting up shop here. What’s the driver?

PRESIDENT KENYATTA: We have made the necessary investments — in infrastructure, in building skills, in technology — and become an attractive investment destination. We are now marketing what we have aggressively with our foreign trips. Once you have a conducive environment for international business, you can’t just sit at home and think that everybody will see it: you have to sell the infrastructure; you have to sell the ‘ease of doing business’; you have to expose what is available in Kenya. We need to show the world that Kenya is an attractive and safe destination for its investments. So all these things are linked: when you see us moving out and rolling out Huduma Centres, when you see us out there rolling out e-Government, when you see us visiting other countries, all this is part of our attempt to make Kenya an attractive destination.

There’s a lot of new investment. Peugeot for example, is looking at Machakos as a place they want to make their investments; Tata is looking at Machakos as a place they want to make their investments. Why? Because they can see that we are keen on opening up the dual-carriage road linking Nairobi to Athi River, all the way to the Machakos turnoff. They can see our investments in electricity. They can see our investments in roads. Previously, they wouldn’t have looked at Machakos as an investment destination. This is what we are trying to do.

With Huduma, government services that were once available only in Nairobi are now available in almost every corner of the country. Our investments in fibre-optic cable also mean that a person a person in Migori has the same capacity to access the Internet as a person living in Nairobi. This is what we are selling out there.

We are also investing in security to ensure that Kenyans are safe, and that our tourism and services sector is able to get back on its feet. We are dealing with enemies who want to create the image that Kenya is not safe; they want it believed that Kenya is not secure.

QUESTION: Your vision of education, and especially technical training. Why?

PRESIDENT KENYATTA: We need to be able to create a nation of hope. Let’s recall where were we before all this. We were a country able to ensure that every primary-school child was able to go from Standard 1 to Standard 8, and complete his or her education. But then, after Standard 8, what happens? I want us all to remember the usual January story: how many children have been accepted to secondary schools? It is always a major story in Kenya: every year, we hear that some have gone to secondary school, and a great many have been left out. So we come in and say: ‘OK, look: these kids who now have been left without hope of entering secondary school — first and foremost these are kids who are 11, 10, 12 — what are we gonna do with them? They are still kids’.

Within the next two years, we want all our children to automatically transit to secondary school. We have enough space — we have the places. This year alone we are spending KSh 5 billion to improve school infrastructure, to ensure that we have adequate places for all our children so that, at the end of the day, every child will be able to go from Standard 1 all the way to Form Four.

Now, from Form Four, we are now focusing ourselves on the TVETS to ensure that we have adequate technical training institutes across the country. Because there will be those who will transit to university, but there will also be this group that will not make it to university. We are saying that life does not end because you did not go to university.

After Form Four, you have kids of 17 or 18 who are not going to university. They can be trained in a skill: plumbers, technicians, carpenters, bricklayers; all these are noble professions that people can engage in, and that bring prosperity to you as an individual. We also want to train our kids to be able to use tractors and modern agricultural equipment — we, and they, need to do more in agriculture.

QUESTION: What has driven your digital focus?

PRESIDENT KENYATTA: Technology is linked to investment. With digitisation, we are making it easier for people to do business, we are reducing the time it takes to register companies, the time it takes to get permits, and the time it takes to register your tax returns.

We are improving the business environment; and we are also cutting corruption. Once you digitise, as we have our lands registry, you don’t have to have human contact: you just get on to the Internet and do your search; you are not at the mercy of any individual. Now, once we get our e-procurement up and running properly, we will make the entire process of business tendering completely transparent, even on major contracts. Every single step of procurement will be transparent, available and open to everybody. That cuts out corruption, and again ultimately helps us improve our business environment.

Incidentally, one of the key issues with which we have a major problem is the length and period of time it takes for court cases to be adjudicated. You have even heard me complain about it. But once we digitise our court recordings, we will improve the speed with which judgments, both in criminal and civil cases, are done. More importantly, through digitisation we are also creating opportunities for our young people. For example, once we are through with the digitization of our judicial process, the practice of a judge writing in longhand will be over: a young man or woman will transcribe the recording; in the morning, the judge has a complete record of the previous day’s proceedings. A job has been created for a young man or woman, and we have eased the work of the judge.

QUESTION: Let us turn to upcoming elections. Elections are about the future. What should Kenyans look forward to should they give you a final five-year term as their President?

PRESIDENT KENYATTA: One is the continued commitment to the vision to create hope and opportunity for the majority in this country — our young people. The investments we are making today are not for our generation; they are for that future generation that is currently hungry, eager and wants jobs.

*Capital FM/Allafrica

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Africa: Moreira Chonguica and Manu Dibango Release an Album M&M
April 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

Photo: Moreira Chonguica/Facebook Manu Dibango and Moreira Chonguica album.

Photo: Moreira Chonguica/Facebook
Manu Dibango and Moreira Chonguica album.

When two seasoned African jazz musicians come together to play music, what you end up getting is an unforgettable musical experience. Mozambican saxophonist, Moreira Chonguiça collaborated with Cameroonian jazz maestro Manu Dibango in a 10 track album that took five years of discussions. The album titled M & M was released at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival on the 31st of March. The songs are a remarkable mix of well known old jazz standards with an African twist.

South Africa hosted the 18th Cape Town International Jazz Festival, which ran from the 31st of March to the 1st of April, graced by music legends such as Manu Dibango known as the ‘Lion of Africa’, Moreira Chonguica, Kamasi Washington, Judith Sephuma and a host of other jazz stars.

 This year’s edition was made more special by the presence of the iconic Cameroonian jazz maestro Dibango and renowned Mozambican saxophonist Chonguica who performed live on stage, sampling their new album M&M, which was launched at the festival.

According to a press statement, the two African saxophonists began discussing a list of songs in February 2015. In March 2015, Moreira flew to Paris to rehearse with Dibango’s band comprising of – Cameroonians, Jacques Conti Bilong on drums, Guy Nwongang on percussion, Justin Bowen on piano-keyboards and Guy Nsangué Akwa on bass guitar and Valérie Belinga on vocals. From France, Patrick Marie-Magdelaine on guitar, Isabel Gonzalez on vocals and two-time Grammy award-winner – for his work on Zawinal Syndicate – Paco Séry on sanza (more commonly known as the mbira).

Commenting on the 10 track album, the 83 year-old Dibango said, “The idea and perseverance for this album came from Moreira! We have been friends and collaborating for about 15 years. It is a very nice album, for which I took great pleasure in writing the arrangements, an African re-reading of the music made in the USA: the return of the “boat” on African soil”.

“I hope that those who listen to it will take as much pleasure as we did when it was recorded in Paris. We had sought, Moreira and myself, an atmosphere of peace and serenity where only music is the Master. So we invite you to listen, dance and vibrate body and soul,” Dibango added.

 This is not the first collaboration for the duo. The first collaboration was on Moreira’s second release, The Moreira Project Vol 2: Citizen of the World on the track West South Side, which has also been included on the new CD, M&M, Manu Dibango and Moreira Chonguiça.

Commenting on the latest project, Moreira said in a statement, “I am honoured and humbled by the opportunity and circumstance created by “Papa Manu” to express, experiment, sometimes in a very disruptive manner, the rhythms and grooves that I have never heard; the chords and melodies that I never thought I would record; the meals, talks and jokes that we shared whilst building this historical storm”.

 “M&M is a celebration of similarities and differences, diversity and pluralism, love and hate, empathy and passion. M&M mirrors once more that in a creative world the best form of evolution is the collaboration. M&M is the true reflection that as Africans we can live together, love each other and break all negative boundaries related to our wellbeing.”

The album was recorded at Ferber Studios in Paris, France under engineer Guillaume DuJardin and was mastered at Milestone Studios in Cape Town, South Africa by Murray Anderson.

Chonguiça produced the album, he performs on alto and soprano saxophone and the arrangements with the exception of Track 1 and 10 are by Dibango who performs on the vibraphone and saxophones.

The songs on the 10 track album include, “Blues for Africa”, “Tutu”- a tribute to Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, Desmond Tutu, “Unga Hlupheki Nkata” – a soft romantic ballad, “Night and Day”, and “Nonto Sangoma”.

*AllAfrica/This is Africa

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Cameroonian Beauty Mimi Mbah Hits Back At Racist Twitter Troll
April 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

Social media stood in support with Mimi Mbah, a 19 year-old Cameroonian aspiring model, who was featured on Africa Beauties, a Twitter page showcasing beautiful Africans worldwide after she received a racist comment saying she would be hotter if she was lighter. This Is Africa caught up with her to discuss her experiences in the U.S. and how she handles racist comments.

Social media took a stand with Mimi Mbah, a 19 year-old Cameroonian aspiring model, who was featured on Africa Beauties, a Twitter page showcasing all the beautiful Africans worldwide.

When Mimi’s picture was featured, Twitter went in overdrive. After some positive comments on her picture, a racist post popped up which read, “if she was lighter, she’d be fire”. Mbah responded to the message, and gave a perfect answer, which has since gone viral. She said, “No thanks, I wouldn’t trade my skin colour for the world! Still fire though,” ending her response with a smiley.

Mbah who’s been in the U.S. for about six years was born and grew up in Yaoundé. With many of her family and childhood friends still in Cameroon, she told This Is Africa that her heart will always be in Cameroon. Since coming to the U.S. Mbah says she has found it difficult to adjust to the lifestyle change, racial diversity, personalities, accents among many other individual, social and cultural nuances. The challenges haven’t deterred her from enjoying life in the U.S. and the many opportunities abound.

 Mbah, is currently a pre-law student at Montogmery College. She told TIA that the journey towards being a model has been bumpy but appreciates the opportunities coming her way. She admits that getting gigs has been difficult due to her height but that hasn’t deterred her from believing, and pursuing her dreams.

Before the racial troll incident, Mbah says she hasn’t experienced major issues because of her blackness, but she’s received absurd and ignorant comments disguised as compliments such as “you’re pretty for a dark skinned girl.” She says she tries not to give hateful people the reaction they’re seeking. Her afro, which she says she’s gotten compliments for still gets her some negative comments, which she never allow to affect her. “I don’t like letting people put a damper on my positivity or happiness,” she added.

We applaud the brave young woman for taking a strong stance against racist trolls.

*AllAfrica/This is Africa

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Nigeria: Singer Mo Adeniran Wins the Voice UK
April 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

Mo Adeniran, 21-year-old Nigerian singer, has emerged the winner of the 2017 edition of The Voice, United Kingdom.

Mo Adeniran.

Mo Adeniran.

“After months of stellar performances, battle rounds and public votes, Mo Adeniran was crowned the winner of The Voice UK during Sunday night’s live final,” according to Dailmail UK.

Flabbergasted as the result was announced, Adeniran looked on in shock whilst his mentor, singer and Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson, immediately burst into tears of happiness.

Adeniran who worked night shifts at a hotel prior to the show, came to the show with his best friend, Max Vickers, who made it through to the semi-finals.

He beat other contestants with his rendition of Iron Sky which had the judges turning their chairs. His victory left him in shock while his mentor, Hudson, burst into tears of joy.

Adeniran who scooped the title with winning performances of Paolo Nutini’s Iron Sky and Unsteady by X Ambassador looked stunned as host Emma Willis announced his name.

He thanked his mentor, Hudson, for her support.

“An amazing thank you to the most phenomenal person I have ever met, thank you Jennifer,” he said.

Adeniran’s stirring performance of “Unsteady” had Hudson struggling to contain her emotions.

Blinking back tears, she told him: “Mo, we feel your heart.

He won praise from all the coaches, with Gavin Rossdale gushing: “You have the voice of a generation.”

 Adeniran was adopted into a family at the age of three – only to be taken away again at the age of eight after it was discovered his adoptive mother was abusive.
Mo Adeniran.

Mo Adeniran.

The star was then placed back into social services and his turbulent family life led him to go off the rails as a teen.

This came to a head when Mo lost his close pal in 2015 after he died from a drug overdose.

Mike Carter, who was one of Mo’s band mates, battled with an addiction to painkillers which he was taking for chronic back pain.

Tragically, Mo suffered another personal loss when his friends from the band Viola Beach died in a car crash last year.

The band were to play at a tribute concert for Mike before the accident in Sweden which killed Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe, and Jack Dakin.

Adeniran was congratulated by his fellow contestants, Jamie Miller and duo, Into The Arkas as confetti fell on the stage.

His mentor, Hudson, who could not control her tears, tweeted her delight at his win.

She wrote: “Now that I’m kinda done crying … .OMG!!!!!! CONGRATS @imjustcalledmo #Teamjhud #TheVoiceUk”.

He is now headed to the studio to record his winner’s EP.

*NAN/Allafrica

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`Ten Things to Know About Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Candidate for WHO-Director General’
April 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,

In May this year, the World Health Organization (WHO), the world’s premier international public health agency, will elect a new Director-General to lead the organization when Dr. Margaret Chan steps down in July. The importance of this role, cannot be underestimated. Pandemics, pollution, poverty and war all add to the complexity of preserving the health of the world’s almost 7 billion citizens.

A cool head, informed professionalism, and high-level organizational experience will be needed. While three candidates remain in the nominee field, Dr. Tedros Adhanom of Ethiopia – a champion for global health priorities both nationally and internationally – stands as the most experienced, visionary, and veteran `problem-solving’ leader to take on this most important public health position.

Why? Here are ten things you might not know about Dr. Tedros and his candidacy:

1. Over three decades, Dr. Tedros demonstrated a unique mix of political leadership and hands-on public health experience.

 2. As Ethiopia’s Minister of Health he has greatly improved health outcomes in a country/region hardest hit by many of the world’s biggest health challenges; his comprehensive agenda of reform dramatically transformed the country’s health system.

3. Dr. Tedros increased access to health care with limited resources and community engagement, using primary health care as a platform; investing in critical infrastructure, expanding the health workforce and initiating pioneering financing mechanisms.

4. By overseeing the training/deployment of 38,000 health extension workers, (a `health development army’) his efforts created a community-based system with nearly 3 million women at its core; leading to a seven-fold increase in health professionals and a capacity increase of doctor training from 3 medical schools to 33 schools.

5. Under Dr. Tedros leadership, the Ministry of Health developed an integrated, household-based information management system which documents the health history of each family member; resulting in improvements in data collection, monitoring and evaluation.

6. Health insurance in Ethiopia now provides people in both the formal/informal sectors with full coverage of health services; leading Ethiopia to be the first country to sign a global compact with the `International Health Partnership’.

7. Dr. Tedros also helped establish the pooled MDG Health Fund, facilitating the allocation of ear-marked/disease-specific funding to address pressing health needs.

8. With the establishment of `Ethiopia’s Pharmaceutical Supply Fund Agency’, Dr. Tedros instituted transparent and accountable business processes, ensuring the availability of a reliable supply of affordable, quality-assured medicines.

9. Dr. Tedros showed impressive leadership and broad understanding of valuable partnerships/relationships as Board Chair, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB & Malaria; Board Chair, Roll Back Malaria Partnership; Board Co-Chair, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health; and Chair, UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board.

10. In being elected to lead the WHO, Dr. Tedros will make history as the first African to head the organization.

In a lifetime of service, Dr. Tedros Adhanom has used his proven political, diplomatic and negotiation skills to continue to build a healthier world for all people – a goal he will undoubtedly work towards when elected to be the next Director-General of the World Health Organization.

Dr. Tedros will be travelling in your part of the world soon and is available for phone and print interviews. For reference, the WHO election will take place on May 23rd in Geneva, Switzerland at the 70th session of the World Health Assembly.

Follow Dr. Tedros on his website: http://www.drtedros.com/, on Facebook.com/DrTedros.Official and follow Dr. Tedros on Twitter at @DrTedros.

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Africa: Opio – the Ugandan Writing Jokes for Trevor Noah and the Daily Show
April 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

Joseph Opio

Joseph Opio

Joseph Opio has always been serious about comedy. So serious, in fact, that he walked away from a promising newspaper job in Kampala, borrowed a large sum of money, and went to America to try and make people laugh.

Some people end up in comedy the way a drunkard stumbles into a previously unknown tavern on his way home. Others linger in comedy, waiting for an opportunity to move on to acting or a proper job. For Opio, comedy was the journey and the destination.

We meet in a small busy restaurant in mid-town Manhattan after a live recording of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Opio’s fortunes are closely hitched to the South Africa-born comedian’s wagon but he has laced his bootstraps himself.

The making of Opio

He had been one of the best A-Level students in Uganda and, after reading a law degree Opio had landed a job with a major audit firm in Kampala. But the life of stuffy suits did not sound appealing and he had been drawn to comedy in his early teens when he watched Bernie Mac and ‘The Original Kings of Comedy’.

He had dabbled in sports journalism at the New Vision newspaper in Kampala where he landed a sub-editing job at 17 while still a student, but the newspaper world, away from the sports pages, was full of grim news stories.

“Instead of complaining I decided to vent using comedy,” says Opio. The result was a comedy show, LOL Uganda, on Urban TV, a small station in Kampala, which Opio wrote, edited, directed, produced and presented.

Although only in his 20s and despite the show being only mildly popular on a small, start-up station, Opio quickly became, he says, the highest-paid television presenter in the country.

But it was not enough.

“Most people want to be the biggest fish in the small pond,” he says, “and the problem with [many] Ugandans is thinking small.”

His first big break

Opio’s first break came during a visit to South Africa to attend a reception for the Late Night Show comedy. He met the right people and made such an impression with his jokes during the chitchat that he was invited back to work on the South African comedy circuit. Within a month of moving to South Africa he had become the first foreigner to win the Nando’s Showdown, a stand-up comedy face-off in Johannesburg.

Opio was tempted to lay down roots and try to make a comedy career in Johannesburg but he learnt that the SA show he had written some jokes for on his earlier visit had been nominated for an international Emmy and its host, Trevor Noah, had moved to America to try his luck on a bigger stage.

Coming to America

Never short of confidence, Opio returned to Uganda, worked on a screenplay, looked for money and applied for a visa to America. Soon after, armed with a fistful of borrowed dollars and a suitcase of dreams, Opio landed in New York.

 In November 2014, Opio met Noah at the Comedy Cellar in New York, a popular venue for comedians trying to get into the business. Opio had had to cajole and beg a bouncer to let him in, and then cajoled some more to get a chance at the microphone.

They had never met but Noah had heard about Opio in the SA comedy circuit and they hit it off immediately, chatting from 8pm to 3am.

A few months later, Noah was handed The Daily Show, replacing Jon Stewart. Although Noah had, by that time, spent six years playing the stand-up circuit in America, it was a gamble by Comedy Central to put a foreign comedian with a distinctive accent (and who speaks six languages) in one of the most coveted late-night TV seats.

To add to the complexity, Noah decided to give the show a more global appeal, embracing diversity and bringing in writers who knew about American issues, but also about the world. Opio was hired as one of the writers.

What it is means for Opio

His impact was almost immediate, lampooning Donald Trump, then a long shot in the Republican primaries, as potentially America’s first African president in the mould of former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin – but it wasn’t all smooth sailing.

Nightly ratings dropped as American audiences struggled to come to terms with the exotic humour and accents on the show. Fortuitously, Trump would become the gift that kept on giving and as he gained momentum in the presidential race, so did the show in the nightly ratings.

 In October 2016, just before the US election, The Daily Show was both the highest-rated and most-watched ad-supported late-night talk show among millennial men (both 18-34 and 18-24), the group Comedy Central most aggressively targets, according to The Hollywood Reporter, an entertainment website.
Joseph Opio left, and Trevor Noah at a game of football in New York.

Joseph Opio left, and Trevor Noah at a game of football in New York.

It has more non-white viewers and its overall viewership has become younger and more diverse, as it spreads out across platforms and geographical boundaries.

As the show rises, so have Opio’s fortunes; he paid off the loan within weeks of being hired and he describes living in Manhattan, where he rents an apartment, as “mind-blowing”.

We find a tiny table in the crowded restaurant and Opio orders a cappuccino. I order a draught beer. It is a popular pit stop for the workers on the show including Noah (he doesn’t show this evening) and Opio points out some of his fellow writers.

“Everyone at work has an Emmy,” he says, looking around the dimly-lit bar.

“Except the new guys.” It can only be a matter of time.

New developments and the future

Opio and his fellow writers on The Daily Show have been nominated for the 68th annual Writer’s Guild of America awards next month in the comedy category. Just joining the Guild is an achievement in itself, Opio says, pointing out that it has 300 members while the National Football League has 3,000 players.

“There is a higher statistical chance of joining the NFL than the Writer’s Guild.”

It is a long way from Kampala to Manhattan but Opio’s journey might still have some miles in it, from the east coast to Hollywood, with dreams of writing movies, screenplays and sitcoms. It is a journey with many stops and a constant loop of challenging oneself.

“That’s how you know that you are growing – when you look back at things you did a few months ago and you are embarrassed.”

Does he not worry about failing? About the career he turned his back to?

“If I can go and perform at the same club as Chris Rock and I am not laughed out of the place then I’ll take my chances,” he says. “If you are rejected at Barcelona you can always go back to Mamelodi Sundowns,” he adds in a football reference to the Spanish side and a smaller club in South Africa.

“My family has always been proud of me,” he adds suddenly, with introspection. “Being good in school helped, that’s probably why I have no self-doubt – it is something I’ve never had.”

He speaks a lot, and quickly, his mouth a wrestling arena between an American and a thick Ugandan accent. I ask if the Ugandan accent makes it easier for him to write jokes rather than perform them in stand-up comedy clubs.

“There are only two things Uganda has given me,” he says bursting out with laughter, “a bad accent and trouble at immigration…”

“Seriously though,” he adds, “As a Ugandan you have to fly just to get what an American gets by just walking. You already have an accent, so you have to make sense when you speak.”

I pick up the tab and we walk out into the crisp autumn night. We shake hands and I watch Opio as he walks towards the bright lights of mid-town Manhattan. It is not Fifth Avenue and there is no walking cane by his side but you can hear it in his accent when he talks; Joseph Opio is a Ugandan in New York. He’s hungry, ambitious and funny as hell.

Quick notes

Joseph Opio is a Ugandan now based in New York. He is the former host of the political satire talk show LOL Uganda since 2014.

Opio and his fellow writers on The Daily Show have been nominated for the 68th annual Writer’s Guild of America awards in February in the comedy category.

In November 2014, Opio met Noah at the Comedy Cellar in New York, a popular venue for comedians trying to get into the business.

Opio’s first break came during a visit to South Africa to attend a reception for the Late Night Show comedy.

*Monitor/Allafrica

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Song thankful for support following return to Cameroon
April 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Leocadia Bongben*

Former Cameroon international Rigobert Song has thanked the country’s fans and President for their support as he arrived back in Cameroon following six months of treatment in a Paris hospital.

The former Liverpool player was taken ill in October 2016 when he suffered a brain aneurysm and was hospitalised in Yaounde where his condition stabilised before he was taken to Paris.

Song returned to Yaoundé to a rapturous welcome on Saturday where he was met by dignitaries, friends and family.

“I’m going to say thank you to the people, to God and President Paul Biya and his wife because he did everything to keep me in a good way,” Song told reporters on his arrival at the Yaoundé Nsimalen Airport.

“And people in Cameroon, I’m going to tell them ‘thank you’ for everything they did when I was in my situation.

“To come out of a heart issue without a scar, I am thankful to God and the Cameroonian people. I am healthy thanks to the doctors, I underwent three aneurysm operations,” Song added.

The 40-year-old joked that his return to Cameroon was “not an April fool” and said he could not recall the moment he fell unconscious last October.

“I don’t remember what happened, but after my situation I’ve seen a lot of things. People have told me what happened. So I’m very happy to come back and I want to say thank you to all the people.

“When I opened my eyes the first reflex was to touch my head and I realised something was wrong, I was very far and I thank God for his mercy,” Song told the throng of journalists.

Bernadette Song, Rigobert Song’s mother, was elated at seeing her son.

“To be here to celebrate the return of Song, I am overwhelmed with happiness. I joked that he left like a passenger without a ticket, but today he has come back on his feet. I thank Cameroonians and the presidential couple for loving him so much.”

Poueni Francoise, a friend who went to Paris to bring Song back to Cameroon, described how seriously ill the former Indomitable Lion was.

“I was there when Song arrived at Pitie-Salpetriere (in Paris), operations followed immediately and he spent 40 days in a coma.”

Now, although appearing lean and with his famous hair much shorter, Song displayed his usual jovial nature.

He acknowledged the Indomitable Lions’ triumph at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and that his reception at the airport reminded him of the special welcome he and his former team-mates received after winning the 2000 and 2002 Nations Cups.

“The Lions came back with the trophy, what again, a retired person?” Song joked.

As for his future plans, Song said he wanted to continue working as a coach for Cameroon’s football federation having undergone a series of tests to determine his fitness.

“I’m going to continue my job. I’m ok now. I don’t have a problem. My problem is in the past now. It’s another situation. I’ll continue to work normally.

“I will start preparing the CHAN (African Nations Championship) set to take place in four months.”

*BBC

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Ponderables and Imponderables of President Kagame’s AIPAC Trip
March 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

-A strong showing for the Rwandan leader on Africa’s  AIPAC debut

By Ajong Mbapndah L

President Paul Kagame delivering his maiden speech at AIPAC policy conference

President Paul Kagame delivering his maiden speech at AIPAC policy conference

On Sunday morning, March 26, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda became the first African head of state to address the annual gathering of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington.  Also on the program Sunday morning was former British prime minister Tony Blair.  Later in the day, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and former Canadian prime minister Stephan Harper addressed the conference.

AIPAC’s annual policy conference takes place this year from March 26 through March 28 at the Washington Convention Center.  In 2016, 20,000 people attended and every presidential candidate (except for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders) spoke at the event, as did then-Vice President Joe Biden.  Each year it attracts top U.S. government officials, key congressional committee chairmen and powerful senators, military officers, journalists, and wealthy philanthropists who have an interest in Israel and U.S.-Israel relations.   President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner, is a long-time participant in AIPAC activities and he will be there as his father-in-law’s eyes and ears.

During the past five years, AIPAC has spent more than US$14 million on lobbying the U.S. federal government.  In what looks like a tactic in a “charm offensive,” Kagame will be looking among the AIPAC attendees to find lobbying services that have an inside track with the new Trump administration.  According to available public records from the U.S. Department of Justice, since 2014, Rwanda has already been spending a minimum of US$45,000 per month – more than US$540,000 per year – on lobbying and public affairs services in the United States.  Sources in Washington and Kigali suggest that Kagame is prepared to spend double that to cozy up to the new Trump administration.

Kagame’s invitation to AIPAC stemmed from a sense of affinity between the Israeli and Rwandan peoples, who have both suffered from genocide.  There was another motivation in Kagame’s visit to Washington, however:  to shore up his relations with the new Trump administration, which has close ties to AIPAC through Kushner (the Orthodox Jewish husband of Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, another close West Wing adviser), and to Israel itself, through Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who did not hide his support for Trump over Clinton during the raucous 2016 presidential campaign.

With the departure of the Obama administration, Kagame has lost his key patrons in the U.S. government, including former National Security Advisor Susan Rice (who, in the private sector, represented the Rwandan government as a consultant in the early 2000s) and former Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who made her reputation as an Africa analyst by writing about the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s.  Her book, A Problem from Hell:  America and the Age of Genocide, brought Power to the attention of Barack Obama and eventually to her ambassadorship in Turtle Bay.

Recognizing that Africa is a low priority for the Trump administration’s “America first” foreign policy, Kagame will use his short trip to Washington in meetings with opinion influencers, such as think-tank experts and Africa policy makers from previous administrations.  For instance, Kagame is scheduled to speak in a closed-door meeting at the prestigious Atlantic Council on Monday, March 27.  The event is hosted by Dr. J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa program at the council, who is widely touted to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, succeeding Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who has left the State Department for a pre-retirement fellowship at Georgetown University.  (Thomas-Greenfield is likely to be among the 30 or so experts who attend Kagame’s presentation at the Atlantic Council, along with other former assistant secretaries like Herman Cohen and Constance Berry Newman.)

In Kagame’s speech to AIPAC, he stated that “Until all ideologies which justify killing as a patriotic duty are defeated our world is not truly safe. Not for us, not for anyone.”  Yet his appearance before the 20,000 “friends of Israel” at the Washington Convention Center came on the heels of reports from the Democratic Republic of Congo that Rwandan militias under the banner of the FARDC had beheaded more than three dozen Congolese police officers.   The Rwandan-backed, Tutsi-staffed FARDC has also been implicated in the kidnaping of American aid worker Michael Sharp and the assassination of Swedish UN expert Zaida Catalan.

These events stand in odd juxtaposition to Kagame’s urging in his AIPAC speech that, “together with friends like the United States, we must call for renewed global solidarity against the reckless efforts to deny genocide and to trivialize the victims.”

President Paul Kagame (L) conversing with Author Frank Sesno at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington DC.Pic Credit KT Press

President Paul Kagame (L) conversing with Author Frank Sesno at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington DC.Pic Credit KT Press

According to one African Analyst, Kagame’s presence in Washington and meeting with prominent advisors to the White House suggests he wants to claim the inside track against other leaders in the Great Lakes region, so that Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza, for instance, will have to play a game of “catch-up” to obtain the attention of the Trump administration and retain the political and logistical support those countries have received from the United States infighting regional terrorism.  (Both Uganda and Burundi have deployed hundreds of troops to Somalia as participants in AMISOM, the AU Mission in Somalia.)

Even in the absence of his old friends Susan Rice and Samantha Power, Kagame has enough political savvy to sniff out new allies in the unconventional Trump administration, whether it is in the still-to-be-staffed State Department or the White House National Security Council – or even in the Pentagon, which more than two decades ago took Kagame under its wing to train him and his comrades-in-arms to end the genocide and take over the Rwandan government.

Praised by many who give him credit for the changing fortunes of Rwanda and scorned by critics who see growing dictatorial tendencies, Kagame has emerged as a champion of African solutions to African problems. His latest leadership role is a commission under his watch to come up with reforms to boost the economic viability of the African Union. One of the few African leaders to have spoken to President Trump so far, Mr Kagame is also the first leader to be hosted by Washington in a high profile event since the new U.S Administration took office.

 

 

 

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Star studded Kgalagadi Soul to tour SADC for workshops and performances
March 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

Kgalagadi Soul is a collaboration of three top artists – Mumba Yachi of Zambia, Sereetsi from Botswana and Austebza a South African. The trio has acquired a wealth of experience wowing their fans all over the world on big and small stages. Kgalagadi Soul will present a rich repertoire drawn from the trio’s individual projects using one international band comprising musicians from Congo (Nseka Bienvenu – guitar), South Africa (Bokang Kupa – keyboards), Zimbabwe (Leroy Nyoni – drums) as well as the USA (Terry Lewis – saxophone) that makes the tour a strong collaborative affair.

Music Workshops

Kgalagadi Soul will be doing workshops during the tour in cities they will be performing at to share their knowledge with young and aspiring musicians. The one-day workshops will be structured in this way:

Sereetsi whose 83 page four string folk guitar instructional book/CD has been approved by Botswana Education Ministry to be taught in schools, will be leading the workshops. He will be teaching the technique of playing a modern guitar on four strings. A tradition originally used by herdboys on a self-made tin guitar.

Mumba Yachi will be sharing his experiences in the international music business scene.

Austebza will also share her experiences as a performer, a session musician and a bandleader as a woman in the tough music industry.

The artists

MUMBA YACHI is a folk musician born in Mokambo, a border town with the DRC Congo. He developed interest in music at a tender age while listening to his mother singing in a church choir and his father playing his various records of African musicians

Mumba Yachi seriously involved with music after spending just one day at the university. He quit university to follow his music call. He has been active on the music scene since 2009 and has released four albums – I am Lenshina (1st May 2015), Mongu Rice (2013), Mokambo (2012) and Inspire Me (2010).

Mumba Yachi has won several awards in the Zambian music scene
including Best Traditional Album for his Mokambo album and Best Live Recording Album for I am Lenshina album. He has become a household name in Zambia and is considered the leading voice in traditional/folk music of his generation. He is also a UN Ambassador for Gender Equality.

He has already collaborated and shared the stage with a number of well known artists such as Femi Kuti, Mokoomba, Hugh Masekela, Joss Stone, Mama Sibongile Khumalo and Hope Masike. He recently shared the stage with Sereetsi and the Natives and Jonathan Butler in Gaborone.

SEREETSI has just won four awards out five nominations at the BOMU Awards 2016. He is considered a pioneer on the cultural landscape in Botswana. His 83 page guitar instructional book/CD on the local folk guitar tradition entitled The Solo Four String Guitar of Botswana is a groundbreaking first. He continues to present workshops on the folk guitar tradition in Botswana and internationally. His book has been assessed and approved for use in schools by Botswana’s education ministry.

Only over a year after the release of his debut album, Four String Confessions, the act has already shared stages with established names like Jonathan Butler, Oliver Mtukudzi, Caiphus Semenya, Jaziel Brothers, Letta Mbulu and McCoy Mrubata. Sereetsi is the first Botswana act to embark on a month-long tour of South African (2016).

Sereetsi has also played Chicago, USA, Planeta World Music Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden, the Mahika Mahikeng Jazz festival for two years in succession, Kgalagadi Jazz Festival and the Cultural Calabash Fest in Durban, South Africa. This is in addition to a busy festival and corporate gig schedule in Botswana. Among festivals Sereetsi & the Natives has played in Botswana are the Maun International Arts Festival, The Hamptons International Jazz Festival, Son of the Soil and the President’s Concert.

Born in Krugersdorp and bred between Boons and Mafikeng, AUSTEBZA is a vibrant, energetic, incredible musician. She started her music career after her parents couldn’t afford to pay her university fees, but she has always been involved in music throughout her middle and high school. She then went to join the music department at the Mmabana Cultural Centre in Mafikeng, where she learned how to play the acoustic guitar.

Austebza has just landed the musical directorship of Feather Awards 2016. She has also worked with various artists such as HHP, Gang of Instrumentals, Maxhoba., Wanda Baloyi, Swazi Dlamini, KB Motsilenyane. While working with these top musicians, Austebza managed to travel Nigeria, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, USA, Germany, Namibia, Jamaica.

 

Her debut album, Make a Difference has been well received. She is constantly performing with her band around South Africa.

The Kgalagadi Soul Tour 2017 is supported by an ANT Funding Grant from Pro Helvetia Johannesburg financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Confirmed Shows

30 March – Pretoria – African Chef – Performance

31 March – Pretoria – Bentley’s Country Lodge

04 April – Gaborone – Maitisong Festival – Workshops and performance

05 April – Pretoria – Solomon Mahlangu Arts Centre

13 April – Kuruman – Kgalagadi Jazz Festival – Workshops

15 April – Kuruman – Kgalagadi Jazz Festival – Performance

02 May – Johannesburg – Wits School of Arts – Workshops

03 May – Pretoria – Tshwane School of Music – Workshops

17 May – Durban – UKZN Jazz Centre – Performance & workshops

More shows to be confirmed.

For Kgalagadi Soul Bookings and Media enquiries:

BakTu Musik
C: +27 83 750 5764
E: tumi@baktumusik.co.za
F: 086 692 0360
T: @BakTu_Musik
W: www.baktumusik.co.za

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Africa: New Head of AU Commission
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Cristina Krippahl*

New African Union Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat officially takes up his post on Tuesday. But who is Faki and what does he stand for?

Photo: allafrica.com

Photo: allafrica.com
African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat

A seasoned diplomat and politician, 56-year-old Moussa Faki Mahamat is no stranger to the challenges presented by the top job he was elected to on January 30. He is seen as the architect of Chad’s nomination to the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member and also of the country’s presidency of the AU in 2016. He headed the AU Commission on Peace and Security at the Nairobi summit in 2013, which was dedicated to the fight against terrorism. Above all, as a former Chadian prime minister and current foreign minister he has had a decisive say in all the military and strategic operations his country was and is engaged in: Libya, Mali, South Sudan and Central African Republic, the Sahel and the Lake Chad region.

His election as chief executive of the AU thus indicates a very likely reorientation of AU policies towards issues of peace and security on the continent, Liesl Louw-Vaudran of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria told DW: “His country, Chad, is well known for seeing itself as a sort of champion of military intervention.”

 International approval

His predecessor, South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, was severely criticized for neglecting the pressing issues on the crisis-riven continent, preferring to concentrate on longterm plans of prosperity for Africa, not to mention her own political career at home. Moussa Faki, on the other hand, has already left a mark in the fight against terrorism, most notably as chairman of the council of ministers of the G5Sahel, a military anti-terror alliance made up of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, of which Ndjamena is the driving force.

His election to the AU Commission is likely to please both Europe and the United States of America, who support Chad in the fight against Boko Haram and other jihadist groups. Chad is also the headquarters of the French counterterrorism operation in the Sahel, Operation Barkhane.

Democracy not a priority

But not everybody welcomed the news. Doki Warou Mahamat, a Chadian who coordinated the campaign against Faki’s election, told DW: “Moussa Faki is on the payroll of a dictatorship. The Chadians are in a state of mourning. You have to clean up your own act before starting somewhere else.”

Moussa Faki is reputed to be very close to President Deby who was reelected in April 2016 for a fifth consecutive term. The outcome was widely criticized because of serious irregularities. Deby has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1990. Both are members of the Zaghawa ethnic group. Analysts note that Deby succeeded in placing a man he trusted at the helm of the AU on the same day that he handed over the rotating presidency of the organization to Guinea, showing the extent of Chad’s influence in the AU and on the continent.

Reforms in the offing

Nevertheless, Faki’s election was not a foregone conclusion. Internal rifts in the AU were highlighted in July 2016 when no candidate won the necessary two-thirds majority at a previous attempt to elect a chairperson, forcing Dlamini-Zuma to stay on for an extra six months. And early this year it took seven rounds of voting before Faki emerged as the winner ahead of Kenya’s Amina Mohamed, long considered the favorite.

While campaigning, Faki, who studied law in Brazzaville and Paris, said that as head of the AU Commission he would want a continent where “the sound of guns will be drowned out by cultural songs and rumbling factories.” While he promised to put development and security at the top of the agenda during his four-year term, he might also want to go ahead with at least some of the reforms deemed necessary to make the organization more effective. “The AU chairperson should be able to make a stand and authorize the sending of AU troops in crisis situations. At the moment, the Commission is sort of beholden to the decision of the 55 member states. Basically, the Commission’s hands are tied,” expert Liesl Louw-Vaudran said. Being a man accustomed to power and who expects to be obeyed, it is likely that Faki will want to change that.

*DW/Allafrica

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The 2017 AFRICA CEO FORUM AWARDS Recognise Business Leaders and Companies that Shaped the Year in Africa
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments
The Winners of the AFRICA CEO FORUM AWARDS 2016

The Winners of the AFRICA CEO FORUM AWARDS 2016
Credits Jacques Torregano

GENEVA, Switzerland, 13 March 2017, The AFRICA CEO FORUM 2017, the most high-profile international forum on African private sector development, will be held on 20 and 21 March in Geneva and, for the fifth consecutive year, will salute the economic performance of African business leaders and companies at the 2017 AFRICA CEO FORUM AWARDS.

Every year, the AFRICA CEO FORUM AWARDS recognise those companies and investors whose strategies and performance have contributed most to Africa’s growth dynamic over the past year.

On the night of 20 March 2017, in the presence of Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, one of the finalists in each of the following categories will win an award:

CEO OF THE YEAR
1. Abdulsamad Rabiu, CEO, BUA Group
2. Issad Rebrab, Chairman, Cevital
3. Mohammed Dewji, CEO, MeTL
4. Naguib Sawiris, Chairman, OTMT Investments
5. Said Salim Awadh Bakhresa, CEO, Bakhresa Group
6. Strive Masiyiwa, CEO, Econet
YOUNG CEO OF THE YEAR
1. Anta Babacar Ngom Bathily, MD, Sedima
2. Basil El-Baz, CEO, Carbon Holdings
3. Darshan Chandaria, CEO, Chandaria Industries
4. James Mworia, CEO, Centum Investments
5. Mohamed Ben Ouda, MD, SNTL
6. Lamia Tazi, MD, Sothema

YOUNG CEO OF THE YEAR
1. Anta Babacar Ngom Bathily, DG, Sedima

2. Basil El-Baz, PDG, Carbon Holdings
3. Darshan Chandaria, PDG, Chandaria Industries
4. James Mworia, PDG, Centum Investments
5. Mohamed Ben Ouda, DG, SNTL
6. Lamia Tazi, DG, Sothema

AFRICAN COMPANY OF THE YEAR
1. CIEL Group
2. ECONET
3. ELSEWEDY ELECTRIC
4. LABEL’VIE
5. MTN
6. OCP Group

AFRICAN BANK OF THE YEAR
1. ATTIJARIWAFA BANK
2. BANQUE CENTRALE POPULAIRE
3. ECOBANK
4. MAURITIUS COMMERCIAL BANK
5. STANDARD BANK GROUP
6. UNITED BANK FOR AFRICA

PRIVATE EQUITY INVESTOR OF THE YEAR
1. ACTIS
2. AFRICINVEST
3. DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS INTERNATIONAL LLP
4. HELIOS INVESTMENT PARTNERS
5. LEAPFROG INVESTMENTS
6. THE ABRAAJ GROUP

INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION OF THE YEAR
1. ALLIANZ
2. COCA-COLA
3. MOTA-ENGIL
4. ORANGE
5. SIEMENS
6. VITOL

For the past four years, over 120 African and international companies and investment funds and more than 30 CEOs, all emblematic of Africa’s economic vitality, have been nominated. Nineteeen awards have been given, including four prestigious CEO OF THE YEAR awards.

Developed in partnership with the African Development Bank, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is an event organised by Groupe Jeune Afrique, publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and Rainbow Unlimited, a Swiss company specialising in organising events promoting and facilitating business.Launched in 2012, the AFRICA CEO FORUM has become the leading international meeting on the development of Africa and its companies, in a top-level professional setting. The 2016 edition hosted over 1,000 African and international personalities, including 600 business leaders from 43 African countries and 100 high-level speakers.
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South Africa: Trevor Noah Named a Time Magazine ‘Next Generation Leader’
March 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Socrates Mbamalu*

Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah

South African comedian Trevor Noah has been in the news of late and it’s been for all the good reasons. From a New York Bestselling book, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, to his recent swanky acquisition, a $10 million house, The Daily Show host is now a TIME magazine ‘next generation leader.’

Trevor Noah is hogging the limelight, all for good reason, recently named a TIME magazine ‘next generation leader’. The 33 year old South African comedian, who took over The Daily Show from John Stewart, said in an interview with TIME magazine that he sees The Daily Show as an opportunity to speak truth to power.

Noah has been doing exactly that ever since he started hosting The Daily Show. With Trump as president, Trevor has always had something to say on the Trump administration. The comedian, who says it’s possible to have a conversation with someone that doesn’t agree with his fundamental beliefs, hosted Tomi Lahren, a conservative who disagrees with the Black Lives Movement, on The Daily Show. The interview happened to be one Trevor’s most famous, and it went viral.

Although not yet matching as many viewers as his predecessor, the show has experienced diversity in its viewership, from 70 countries when Stewart was host, to 176 countries as reported by TIME magazine.

 The list of next generation leaders is made of 10 people and includes artists, athletes and entrepreneurs. TIME magazine described the next generation leaders as 10 pioneers who cross boundaries, forge new paths, take their crafts to unexpected places and also improve the world.
TIME magazine described Trevor as a master of the eloquent Trump-takedown. Trevor started the show with faltering viewership figures, as he made an effort to assert himself and find his foot after Stewart’s 16 year presence on the show. February this year saw a record of 1.5 million viewers, a 17 percent increase from the year before, Times Live reported.
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Gambia’s Isatou Touray Bags Jeane J.Kirkpatrick Award
March 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

 

Dr. Isatou Touray

Dr. Isatou Touray

Dr Isatou Touray, Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration, and Employment, has brought honor to the Gambia with the Jeanne .J.Kirkpatrick award presented by the Women in Democracy Network.

 

The Award was presented to Touray at a luncheon on March 2, 2017. Honored alongside Touray at the luncheon was Greta Van Susteran, a news anchor with the MSNBC network. Dr. Touray’s award comes in recognition of decades of advocacy for women’s rights, sexual and reproductive health, and a successful campaign to end female genital mutilation in Gambia.

“Women are just as capable as men of fully and equally participating in politics, the economy, and society,” Dr. Touray said in accepting her award.

“We have relentlessly fought against female genital mutilation and early and forced marriage, successfully changing people’s opinion on these issues and laying the groundwork for the legal ban on these practices in 2015 and 2016,” said Dr Touray in describing the work she has led others in doing to improve the rights of women in Gambia.

Touray, who last year made history by becoming the first woman to run for the office of President in the Gambia, spoke of the challenges of bringing change to Gambia after 22 years under an authoritarian regime.

Dr. Isatou Touray with Ambassador Omar Faye at the Luncheon

Dr. Isatou Touray with Ambassador Omar Faye at the Luncheon

“In this particular case, change meant restoring democracy, respect for the fundamental right of all Gambian citizens, and freedom of expression; bringing institutional and constitutional reforms, as well as bringing the country back to the community of Nations; and ending impunity, which for so long had been characteristic of the autocratic regime,” Touray said.

It is the same motivation that pushed me to support Adama Barrow and today he is the President of Gambia, Touray went on.

“I’m proud of what the men and women of the democratic opposition were able to achieve: restoring democracy to the Gambia, and opening doors for women to increase their participation in Gambian politics,” Dr. Touray said.

Dr. Touray, who was also the first official of the Barrow government to visit Washington, DC was treated to a reception at the Embassy of Gambia by Ambassador Omar Faye and the Embassy staff. Touray lauded the contribution of Ambassador to the democratic change with his early calls and principled stance in urging former President Yahya Jammeh to respect the verdict from the polls and the will of Gambians. Touray was impressed with the fact that the Gambian government owns the building hosting the Embassy.

In a chat at the Embassy, Dr. Touray said Gambia is living through very exciting times following the victory and installation of President Adama Barrow. We are conscious of the enormous challenges and expectations, she said, but expressed optimism that Gambians will not be disappointed. It is a new dawn for the Gambia, she said and called on all hands to be put on deck in writing the next chapter of the country’s history. She indicated youth employment issues will occupy a strong place on the agenda of her Ministry.

Dr Isatou Touray ,Amb Omar Faye, and PAV's Ajong Mbapndah at the Gambian Embassy

Dr Isatou Touray ,Amb Omar Faye, and PAV’s Ajong Mbapndah at the Gambian Embassy

The award is not only for me but also for the people of Gambia, Dr. Touray said. She welcomed the renewed interest in prospects of partnership with the international development organizations, some of which she had contacts with during her Washington, DC, trip.

Gambians should be proud of the award of Dr. Touray, Ambassador Faye said in a chat after the reception. Dr. Touray has worked hard on gender related and democracy issues and the award can only be a good omen as the government of President Adama Barrow gets to work, Faye said. Ambassador Faye indicated that the country was open to investors willing to tap into the myriad of economic opportunities in the Gambia.

Named after the first woman appointed to serve as Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, the Jeane Kirkpatrick Award was established in 2008. In addition to her membership of President Reagan’s cabinet and National Security Council, Dr Kirkpatrick was instrumental in the creation of the Women’s Democracy Network.

Prior recipients of the award include Tarja Kaarina Halonen, the first female President of Finland, and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking Republican woman in the United States Congress.

 

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Rihanna named Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year
March 2, 2017 | 0 Comments
Rihanna honoured as Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year

Rihanna honoured as Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year

Rihanna never went to college but the R&B superstar voiced delight as she was presented an award by Harvard University for her humanitarian work. “So I made it to Harvard! Never thought I would be able to say that in my life, but it feels good,” a beaming Rihanna said to students’ cheers at the prestigious US university Tuesday evening.

“So I made it to Harvard! Never thought I would be able to say that in my life, but it feels good,” a beaming Rihanna said to students’ cheers at the prestigious US university Tuesday evening.

Harvard named the 29-year-old singer its Humanitarian of the Year, pointing to her projects that include an advanced center to treat breast cancer in her native Barbados and support for girls’ education around the developing world.

Rihanna said she had set up her first charity at age 18 and remarked: “People make it seem way too hard, man.” “You don’t need to be rich to help someone, you don’t need to be famous, you don’t even need to be college-educated,” she said, while joking that she wished she were.

“I want to challenge each of you to make a commitment to help one person, one organization, one situation that touches your heart,” she said. “My grandmother always used to say, ‘If you got a dollar, there’s plenty to share.’”

Rihanna, who was discovered by a music executive while still a teenager, has also set up a scholarship program named after her grandparents for Caribbean students in the United States.

*Vanguard

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