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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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Gambian made co-owner of top restaurant
March 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

-Dishwasher becomes part-owner of top restaurant Noma

Ali Sonko, far right, along with restaurant managers James Spreadbury and Lau Richter, are now partners in Noma, Copenhagen

Ali Sonko, far right, along with restaurant managers James Spreadbury and Lau Richter, are now partners in Noma, Copenhagen

A kitchen porter has been made a co-owner of the four-time winner of the world’s best restaurant.

Ali Sonko, 62, is now a partner at Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant where he has been working since it opened.

Mr Sonko, from the Gambia, was unveiled as one of three new partners, alongside two of its managers.

The two-Michelin starred restaurant closed its doors after 14 years at the current location, and will reopen in December as an “urban farm”.

“Ali is the heart and soul of Noma,” chef Rene Redzepi explained to friends gathered to celebrate the restaurant at the weekend, according to Danish newspaper Berlingske.

“I don’t think people appreciate what it means to have a person like Ali in the house. He is all smiles, no matter how his 12 children fare.

“And, by the way, my own father was also named Ali, and he too worked as a dishwasher when he came to Denmark.”

Posting a picture of Mr Sonko and fellow new co-owners restaurant managers Lau Richter and James Spreadbury to Instagram, Mr Redzepi added: “This is only the beginning, as we plan to surprise several more of our staff with a piece of the walls that they have chosen to work so hard within.”

 

Mr Sonko has lived in Denmark for 34 years

Mr Sonko has lived in Denmark for 34 years

Mr Sonko, who has lived in Denmark for 34 years, first rose to prominence in 2010, when he was unable, due to visa issues, to go to London with the team to pick up their first Best Restaurant in the World award.

 

But the team did not forget him: instead, they all wore T-shirts with the dishwasher’s face on it and two years later – the visa issues sorted out – Mr Sonko gave the acceptance speech as Noma was once again named the World’s Best Restaurant.

At the time, Mr Sonko, a farmer in the Gambia before his arrival in Copenhagen, described it as the “best job” he had ever had to Danish website BT.

Mr Sonko has been working in the restaurant since it opened

Mr Sonko has been working in the restaurant since it opened

“I cannot describe how happy I am to work here,” he said. “These are the best people to work with, and I’m good friends with everyone. They exhibit enormous respect for me, and no matter what I say or ask about, they are there for me. And that’s enough for me to say that it’s the best job I’ve ever had.”

Noma, which made its name with its locally sourced, Nordic food, has been named Best Restaurant in the World in the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best a further three times.

*BBC

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Brooklyn native gave up everything, now serves poor in Ghana
February 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Maudlyne Ihejirika*

Students at the B.A.S.I.C.S. International School founded by Brooklyn native Patricia Wilkins in Chorkor, Ghana, take an afternoon break from their studies. | Maudlyne Ihejirika/Sun-Times

Students at the B.A.S.I.C.S. International School founded by Brooklyn native Patricia Wilkins in Chorkor, Ghana, take an afternoon break from their studies. | Maudlyne Ihejirika/Sun-Times

CHORKOR, Ghana — At B.A.S.I.C.S. International school here, students are gathering for afternoon “Harambee,” a self-affirming session of song and dance.

“Jump in! Jump out! Introduce yourself!” the first song goes. “There’s Crystal! And she loves to read and write!”

They clap in rhythm to a contagious melody, with the school’s founder, Brooklyn native Patricia Wilkins, swaying in their circle.

“Everybody do the freedom rumble! Everybody do the freedom rumble! I wish I knew how it feels to be free! Wish I could break all the chains holding me!”

It’s been 17 years since Wilkins arrived in Ghana from Queens, N.Y., where at 35, she jettisoned most of her possessions and boarded a plane to answer what she believed to be a calling to do missionary work in Africa.

“I was very involved in the United Methodist Church, and had just served a year doing missionary work at an orphanage in Russia,” says this African-American woman, who at the time was making good money as a fashion merchandiser.

“After Russia, I wanted to come to Africa, and they were like, ‘We’re not sending any missionaries to Africa.’ I was like, ‘Why not? Africa needs us.’ They said there was no funding for it. So I was like, ‘Alright, well, I’m going to come myself,’ ” Wilkins recounts.

She started out volunteering at schools here and cajoling family and friends in the U.S. to sponsor a child’s education. That turned in to three schools of her own.

The first — her headquarters here in this overpopulated fishing village — opened in 2010. Today, B.A.S.I.C.S. is a recognized NGO here, tackling illiteracy and poverty among extreme poor who live off less than $1.25 a day.

We’re a nonprofit organization providing access to education to children being deprived due to child labor, child trafficking, poverty, lack of parental care. We take dropouts, and children who have never been to school. We transition them back into mainstream education,” Wilkins says. “We also run an after-school program, a girl’s boarding house, a feeding center . . .” The list goes on.

And a developing country is hard terrain. Atop the devastating poverty, plumbing and electricity challenges abound. To work here takes real commitment.

Dependent on funding from government, corporate and individual contributions, B.A.S.I.C.S. was adopted by Ghana’s Israeli Embassy, which has provided equipment, secured activity venues, and run a music education workshop for students. Israeli Ambassador Ami Mehl is a staunch advocate within Accra’s diplomatic community, bringing B.A.S.I.C.S before other foreign embassies to seek further support.

“I was volunteering at a school in Chorkor when I started seeing kids on the streets that weren’t going to school. I decided I’d sponsor a child” to go to that school, she recalls. “It was right after 9/11. I had about four children I was trying to sponsor, and sent emails to all my friends and family, saying, ‘Help me sponsor these kids.’ I got an overwhelming response. . . . People just wanted to do something to help.

She opened her first school in 2004. And the sponsorships have kept coming.

“I went from five kids to 12 after 9/11. We had 50 kids that year, and 100 the next year. We’ve sponsored over 1,000 kids to date.

“When I first came, I thought maybe six months I would be here. Six months then turned into 16.”

*Chicago Sun Times.Maudlyne Ihejirika was among reporters who attended a five-day trip to Ghana that was funded by the Israel Consulate in New York to showcase its international development agency MASHAV’s support of education and health programs there.

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Nujoma: Reflections of an icon
February 24, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Sam Nujoma*

Sam Nujoma led Namibia to Independence and serve as its first President

Sam Nujoma led Namibia to Independence and serve as its first President

My maternal grandfather, Kondombolo Ka Kambulua, grew up in Uukuambi during the reign of Chief Nujoma UaHeelu.

Kondombolo was trained as a warrior and a herbalist.  My parents, like my grandfather and many generations before them, were born in Uukuambi and were both from the Royal Family.
My father was Utoni Daniel Nujoma uaMutshimba, Mutshimba guaKandenge, Kandenge ka Negumbo, Negumbo IjaKoongoti.
My mother was Mpingana Helvi ja Kondombolo, Kondombolo ka Nakathingo ja Kambulua ka Hango, Hango ja Ndjuluua ja Kiinge ka Mukongo, Mukongo guaTshijala, Tsha Namundjanga guaNambala.
Of my immediate family with whom I grew up at my parents’ home, I was the first born; born on 12 May 1929 in Ongandjera District.

We were 11 children all in all, but now we are only six – three boys and three girls.
As the eldest son, I had to look after the little ones, even carrying them on my back. I also had to look after the cattle and goats and do other household chores befitting a first-born son.

My father made sure that I was properly trained and prepared both mentally and physically to be self-reliant. I had to go through all rituals and had to journey to the salt pan known as Ekango lyOmongua.
When I grew older, boys of my age were forced to go under the contract labour system.
I departed from Ondangwa through Tsumeb to Grootfontein and caught a train to Swakopmund before continuing our journey to Walvis Bay.

I arrived in Walvis Bay in December 1946 and stayed with my aunt, Julia Gebhardt Nandjule.
In 1946, at the age of 17, I began to work for a monthly salary of 10 shillings at a general store owned by Hugo Ludwig, a German.
When my aunt Julia passed on, I went to Windhoek at the beginning of 1949 and joined my uncle, Hiskia Kondombolo, and started working by day while attending adult school at night.
I was also introduced to St Barnabas Night School by Tate Aron Hamutenya who was working for the South African Railway. We used to live in the old location.

In 1956, I got married to Theopoldine Kovambo Katjimune and had three sons; Utoni Daniel, John Ndeshipanda and Sakaria Nefungo plus one daughter, Nelago, born in 1959.
In 1957, at the age of 29, I resigned from the South African Railways with the purpose of devoting my time to politics.
On August 2, 1957, the Ovamboland People’s Organisation was formed by Namibians working in Cape Town but who were later deported to the north by the boers for petitioning to the United Nations.
As the spirit of Pan-Africanism grew in us with the independence of Ghana in 1957, we formed the Ovamboland People’s Organisation in Windhoek with the aim to end the South African colonial administration and the contract labour system.

It is against this background that we were involved in the Windhoek Uprising against the relocation to Katutura.
After December 10, 1959, I became fully involved in politics.
In February 1966, after constant harassment and incarceration by the apartheid colonial administration, a decision was taken by OPO and the Herero Chiefs’ Council for me to be taken out of the country to reinforce Fanuel Kazonguizi, Mburumba Kerina and Rev Michael Scott in their petitioning at the United Nations.

I left the country on February 29, 1960 and went to Francistown, Botswana; from Francistown to Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia; from Salisbury to Northern Rhodesia; and from there to Mbeya then to Njombe and finally to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania where I met the late Cde Julius Nyerere, the President of Tanu.
He had just arrived from New York where he had been petitioning at the UN.
We discussed at length our plans concerning the liberation of the African continent.
He assisted me with money and arranged for me to travel to Khartoum in the Sudan; Accra, Ghana; Monrovia, Liberia and New York.

When Swapo was formed on April 19, 1960, I was elected President in absentia and continued to appeal to the UN to remove the territory of South West Africa and placed it under the UN Trusteeship System.
I returned from New York in early 1961 to establish Swapo offices in Dar-es-Salaam and the rest is history.
A Pan-African spirit

I have fond memories of the momentous event of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity.
On May 25, 1963, the Founding Fathers of the OAU met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to sign a historic Charter establishing the OAU, the fore-runner of the African Union.

I was honoured to attend this historic occasion, representing Swapo and the struggling people of Namibia together with other representatives of African National Liberation Movements with whom we engaged in a common struggle to defeat colonialism and the apartheid crime against humanity which also manifested itself in our country, Namibia, as a colonial oppressor.

As we carried out that difficult struggle, our peoples drew strength from the victories of each of our fighting forces while the setbacks experienced by any echelon of our struggling masses was correctly viewed as a setback for all of us.
Thus our presence in Addis Ababa emboldened our aspirations to fight for self-determination and national independence when for the first time; we witnessed the meaning of freedom for 32 independent, sovereign African states.

Through conversing with the leaders of these newly independent African states, we, the oppressed peoples, were inspired to tirelessly wage the struggle until the last vestiges of colonialism and minority white regimes were removed from the face of the African continent.
While those of my generation and I remember those early days, it is of utmost importance that our young people are also made aware of the glorious history of both their countries and the continent as we resolutely define the vision for Africa come the year 2063.

In my view, the theme of African Renaissance and Pan-Africanism is most appropriate for us to reflect on the struggle for the decolonisation of the African continent and our resounding victories in the fight against the minority white regimes in Southern Africa while at the same time, taking stock of the progress that we have made and the challenges ahead.

For centuries, the African people on the continent and those in the Diaspora, especially in the Americas and the Caribbean, were subjected to the agonies of slavery and, subsequently, colonial exploitation and subjugation.
However, I can proudly state that the African people did not submit to colonial subjugation and exploitation but rose up in arms to resist colonial occupation through Pan-Africanism.

As a consequence, during the early 1920s, Africans in the Diaspora, through collective efforts, started to intensify the promotion of the ideals of Pan-Africanism which became the philosophy of Africa’s political emancipation, economic recovery and cultural revival and the empowerment of Africans to chart their own future destiny.
I do not want to go into an extensive discussion on the history of Pan-Africanism.

For our purposes today, suffice to note that the birth of Pan-Africanism can be traced to the founding of the African Association in London in 1897 and the convening, in the same city, of the Pan-African Conference three years later by lawyer Henry Sylvester Williams of Trinidad and Tobago and uncle of George Padmore, who coined the term Pan-Africanism.

Other visionary Pan-Africanists in the Diaspora such as Paul Robeson, CLR James and Marcus Garvey advocated African self-determination with the motto “Africa for Africans”, which paved the way towards the intensification of political resistance against the colonial occupation of the African continent.
After the death of Williams in 1911, the Pan-Africanist movement was continued by WEB du Bois who ensured that a series of Pan-African conferences were held, with the most important being the 5th Pan-African Conference held in Manchester, England in 1945.

This conference was both the culmination of a historical process of the struggle of the African people on the continent and in the Diaspora, and was, indeed, the pinnacle of Pan-Africanism as it was attended by a large number of activists, including Dr Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana who took an active and prominent part in the conference, serving as Secretary, while WEB du Bois was the Chairman.

The 5th Pan-African Conference underscored, as Nkrumah put it “for the first time the necessity for a well-organised. . .movement, as a primary condition for the success of the national liberation struggle in Africa, was stressed”.
In this regard, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who was a passionate believer in African unity, became a living link with the historic Pan-African Movement on the continent.

Furthermore, the Pan-African Movement was strengthened on the African continent when Ghana became the first African sub-Saharan country to gain its independence from Britain and organised the All-Africa People’s Conference in Accra in 1958 at a time when most African countries were still struggling against colonial rule.

The Accra meeting, for the first time, brought together on African soil, nationalists from all over Africa where the issue of solidarity and unity in the struggle against colonialism was the central theme of the meeting and provided an important psychological, political and practical boost to the nationalist movements within the framework of Pan-African unity.

On the African continent, apart from Dr Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Pan-Africanism was kept alive by African nationalists such as Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria, Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea Conakry, Modibo Keita of Mali, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Patrice Lumumba of Congo, Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, Amilcar Cabral of Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and Sao Tome et Principe, among many other liberation icons and visionary leaders on the continent and the Diaspora who played a critical role in the process leading to the formation of the OAU and inspired us to embark upon getting rid of all the vestiges of colonialism from Africa.

In this regard, it is with fond memories that I recall when I left the then South West Africa on February 29, 1960, crossing into Botswana and from there travelling to Zimbabwe, and on to the then Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia.
Long walk to freedom
Finally, I arrived in Mbeya in Eastern Tanzania which was still a British colony of Tanganyika, on March 21, 1960.
Little did I know that this would be the same day that our country would achieve its Independence, 30 years later.

On my way to petition the UN Committee on South West Africa in New York, I arrived in independent Ghana in April 1960 where I met for the first time President Dr Kwame Nkrumah, among other African leaders, who left a lasting impression on me and informed my Pan-African outlook.

I also met Frantz Fanon, representing the Algerian National Liberation Front led by Ahmed Ben Bella, the first Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Algeria who provided us with two sub-machine guns and two TT pistols with which we launched our armed liberation struggle on August 26, 1966 at Omugulu-gwoMbashe in northern Namibia when the torch of freedom was lit in our country until we attained our genuine freedom and independence on March 21, 1990.

In 1961, I attended the third All-Africa People’s Conference in Cairo, Egypt where I met with President Gamal Abdel Nasser and requested him to offer the opportunity of military training to our Swapo cadres.
In September 1961, I travelled to Yugoslavia to attend as an observer the launching of the Non-Aligned Movement under President Josip Broz Tito whom I met for the second time after our first meeting in 1960.

It was, therefore, of great historical importance when 32 independent African states came together in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, and signed the Charter which resulted in the establishment of the OAU.
In his address on that day, Dr Kwame Nkrumah stated: “Our objective is African union now. There is no time to waste. We must unite now or perish.”

Thus the OAU was established with the objectives of freeing our continent from the remaining vestiges of colonialism and minority white apartheid regime; to promote unity and solidarity among African states and peoples; to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States, and to promote international co-operation within the framework of the UN, among other objectives.

Dr Kwame Nkrumah also stated: “We must unite in order to achieve the full liberation of our continent.”
Through the OAU Co-ordinating Committee for the Liberation of Africa, the continent worked and spoke as one voice with undivided determination in support of the liberation struggle and the fight against colonialism and the minority white regime of apartheid.

The OAU provided all-round political and material support to the national liberation movements through the Co-ordinating Committee for the Liberation of Africa.
When I, on behalf of the struggling people of Namibia, and representatives of other African National Liberation Movements participated as observers at the formation of the OAU, our joint statement was read by Oginga Odinga, the then Vice-President of the Kenya African National Union of Jomo Kenyata who was still in detention.
At a later stage, President Nyerere insisted that the authentic liberation movements be given observer status.

President Nyerere then offered the Co-ordinating Committee operational headquarters in Dar-es-Salaam. In addition, President Nyerere, who was a visionary and fore-sighted revolutionary leader, offered training bases at Kongwa, Morogoro and Nashingweya in Tanzania to our freedom fighters who were fighting against Portuguese colonialism in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde and Sao Tome et Principe and the minority white apartheid colonial settlers in Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.

Furthermore, President Nyerere requested the People’s Republic of China to provide experts to train our freedom fighters in the usage of fire arms, reconnaissance, as well as in scientific guerrilla warfare tactics in order to speed up the total liberation of the African continent.
When Zambia attained its independence in 1964, the Zambian government under the leadership of President Dr David Kenneth Kaunda, offered all-round support to the national liberation movements by providing us with rear bases.

In retaliation, the Portuguese colonial regimes in Mozambique and Angola, the lan Smith white colonial-settler regime in the former Southern Rhodesia, now the Republic of Zimbabwe, as well as the minority white apartheid regime in South Africa, which also colonised the former South West Africa, now Namibia, militarily attacked and imposed economic sanctions against Zambia.

However, in the true spirit of solidarity and African brotherhood, President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, President Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana, President Dr Antonio Agostinho Neto of Angola, and President Samora Machel of Mozambique in 1975, later joined by President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe in 1980, formed the Frontline States against what seemed heavy odds and went beyond encouraging words in supporting our liberation struggle by resisting the machinations of the colonial forces to prevent us from liberating the remaining colonies in Southern Africa.

Equally worth mentioning here, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, under the revolutionary Pan-Africanist General Murtala Mohamed, became fully involved in the liberation struggle in Southern Africa and as a result, the Frontline States, became known as the Frontline States and Nigeria.

We thus also pay homage to the important role played by the fore-sighted and revolutionary leader Dr Antonio Agostinho Neto of Angola who provided us the opportunity to establish rear bases and educational centres in Angola and helped us to relocate Swapo Provisional Headquarters from Lusaka to Luanda.
Indeed, in Namibia, our struggle for freedom and independence was part of the wider and total liberation of the African continent from colonialism and foreign occupation.
Africa’s last colony

Sadly, Africa still faces the unresolved case of colonialism in Western Sahara.
The continent has achieved many milestones, but the question of Western Sahara is a question that every self-respecting Pan-Africanist should champion.

For this reason, I call upon the Kingdom of Morocco, which rejoined the African Union, to support the holding of a free referendum for the people of Western Sahara for self-determination and national independence.
Today, Africa stands tall and its citizens occupy a special place among the people of the world as free and independent peoples charting their own future and common destiny of a continent defined by peace, security, development and prosperity; an African continent whose countries, individually and collectively, are free from poverty, disease, underdevelopment and ignorance; and a continent that would ensure that the 21st does indeed become an African century.

These, as the honourable members are all aware, are the logical outcomes of the dream of Pan-Africanism and an African Renaissance and constitute the objectives of an African agenda, as enunciated in the Constitutive Act of the African Union.

Indeed, after 39 years of its existence, African leaders decided to dissolve the OAU and reconstitute it as a new organisation that will address the numerous challenges facing the continent.
This led to the next stage which saw the establishment of the African Economic Community at the 27th Summit of the OAU in Abuja, Nigeria June 2-6, 1991.

The signed Abuja Treaty laid down detailed stages for economic integration at both regional and continental levels to eventually lead not only to free trade, but also a common currency.
The AEC was prompted by the necessity of collective planning and action to build intra-continental economic relations for the benefit of the African people.

Through it, we agreed, as Africans, that we needed to do more to strengthen existing regional economic communities, create new ones where necessary, and ensure that we achieve intra and inter-regional co-operation in all areas of human endeavour.

We also agreed on such important economic matters as trade liberalisation in each regional economic community; the adoption of a common trade policy and working towards a common external tariff to establish a common African market.

Again, we committed ourselves to a gradual elimination of obstacles to the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital and the right of residence among member states.

In this regard, regional economic communities such as the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and Economic Community for West African States (Ecowas) constitute critical building blocks of the envisaged African integration.
Thus the treaty is expected to lead ultimately to the formation of an Africa-wide monetary union and economic community by 2025.

Accordingly, the vision and programmes of the AU and Nepad are rooted in the long-standing desire, commitment and efforts of the African people to work together for the integration of our economies as well as the creation of a continental socio-political unity that would facilitate the faster development of our countries.

Now, the AU, formally launched in Durban, South Africa on July 9, 2002 to provide new direction to our collective efforts and to face the developmental challenges more effectively has to pursue and hasten the programme laid down in the Abuja Treaty.

As we look forward over the next 50 years to 2063, we need to ask ourselves what we would wish to see for our continent. What are the primary issues we need to focus on during this time?
No unity, no future

In my view, we should vigorously embark upon the second phase of the struggle; namely to bring about total and genuine economic independence.
Ghana’s First President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, in perhaps his greatest speech ever on May 24, 1963, on the eve of the founding of the OAU, put it eloquently when he stated: “Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist control and interference.”
Therefore, the struggle for economic independence will be long and difficult. It requires embarking upon scientific research, proper planning and hard work.

As we are all aware, the African continent is endowed with abundant natural resources. Therefore, investing in infrastructure is the key to Africa’s growth.
In this regard, the Grand Inga hydro-electric plant in the People’s Democratic Republic of Congo should be developed beyond mere rhetoric in order to provide AU Members with cheap and adequate electricity supply.

Our economic strength depends substantially on our mastery of science and technology. It is this very same mastery that enables any country’s citizens to fully exploit its natural resources and wealth.
For Africa to succeed, we must join hands and work as a team.
It is important that we tap on the expertise of our brothers in the Diaspora and embark upon strategies which promote manufacturing and adding value to our natural resources.
It is only in that manner that we will be able to create wealth, enhance economic growth and improve the competitiveness of our economies in international markets.

Furthermore, I believe that one of the effective strategies to reach our goals is through educating and training our youth, especially in the scientific fields so that we can produce our own agriculturalists, medical doctors, engineers, scientists and other technical personnel who will play an active role in the industrialisation and modernisation of our economies.

Thus our efforts to promote continental integration must place education of our people at the top of our priorities as key elements in addressing development challenges.
It is clear that the renewed geo-political interest in Africa, especially its natural resources and potential markets, is leading to attempts by former colonial powers to reclaim the ground we have gained in terms of African self-determination.

Therefore, the profoundly retrogressive developments on the continent are a direct consequence of the unstable security and political situation such as the one that was created by the forces of imperialists under the membership of Nato who overthrew Colonel Muammar Gaddafi without due consideration of severe repercussions of their actions.

As Africans, we have a responsibility to promote peace and security on the continent because when peace is restored, Africa as a whole stands to benefit.
We must, therefore, consolidate, guard and defend our hard-won freedom, democracy, peace, security and political stability.

Thus it is imperative for our governments to support the efforts of the AU Peace and Security Council in order to maintain peace and stability and enhance economic development on the continent.
As Africans, we must unite because it is only when we are united that we can successfully enhance the total integration of the continent with a single African currency and a single passport.

In this regard, President Mwalimu Nyerere of Tanzania said: “My generation led Africa to political freedom. The current generation of leaders and peoples of Africa must pick up the flickering torch of African freedom, refuel it with their enthusiasm and determination and carry it forward.”

I am also happy to learn that some among us will be honoured with an award in recognition of our efforts in removing the last vestiges of colonialism from Africa as a whole.

In conclusion, I call upon the current generation to dare not fail in their historic mission of building “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by Africans “.
For that to happen, our youth should not allow themselves to be divided through the old tactic of divide and rule, but must unite.

Indeed, as President Nyerere further emphasised, “without unity, there is no future for Africa”.
I, therefore, call on the African youth to prepare themselves to defend the territorial integrity, the territorial waters and the airspace of the African continent against imperialists and foreign aggressors.
I believe a united people striving to achieve common good for all members of the society will always emerge victorious.

*Source Sunday Mail.His Excellency Dr Sam Nujoma is Namibia’s Founding Father and former President. He was speaking to Zimpapers Television Network in Windhoek, Namibia on February 13, 2017

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Meet The 30 Year-Old Nigerian Entrepreneur Who Helped 3 African Presidents Get Elected
February 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Mfonobong Nsehe*

Adebola Williams With President Nana Akufo-Addo

Adebola Williams With President Nana Akufo-Addo

“This is the man with the golden touch,” Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo excitedly told a guest in full glare of jubilant supporters and an observing press. “Anything he touches turns to gold.”

He is talking about Adebola Williams, chief executive officer of StateCraft Inc, the communication agency that helped power Ghana’s three-time presidential aspirant to a victory this time, becoming President in January.

He is not exaggerating. Williams, only 30 this year, has turned out to be the continent’s leading authority on winning elections, running a governance communication company that won the presidential elections in Nigeria in 2015 and then won the presidential elections in Ghana in 2016.

Both elections are eerily similar. Both incumbents, as Vice-Presidents had stumbled into public office based on the deaths of their principals. Both entered into office on a wave of wild popularity. Their opponents had run at least twice each before (three in the case of Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari) – and both had won in the years that they brought in StateCraft Inc to manage their political communication. Both campaigns ran on a ‘Change’ message.

“Because the conditions were so similar, it was easy to replicate a message of ‘Change’,” Williams says during an interview. “Not every election and every context will require a message of change, even though it’s a global movement. “But many countries in West Africa and across Africa are ripe, even desperate for change.”

Williams is co-founder of RED, which is the 11-year-old parent company that houses StateCraft Inc. It’s a network of four media companies focused on Africa’s youth: Red Media Africa, a Public Relations company working in West Africa for Facebook, Uber, Union Bank and Heineken; Generation Y!, a TV and online content company with one of Nigeria’s most popular online newspapers and The Future Project, a social enterprise that hosts Africa’s biggest youth social change event, The Future Awards Africa.

His career began first in film 16 years ago and then in the media began 13 years ago, working for a youth counseling company and soon co-presenting two shows on Nigeria’s National Television Authority. He parleyed that into a thriving career as a TV producer, working for Nigeria International, a syndicated TV show in three continents; and Living it on South Africa’s Mnet.

“I returned to acting last year,” he mentions, credits including the stage play London Life, Lagos Living and what has been called Nollywood’s biggest-budget film, 93 days – capturing Nigeria’s historic response to the Ebola crisis on the continent in 2014. “Even the film projects fit into the theme of my life’s work: using the media to galvanize Africans to solve their own problems.”

Indeed, RED doesn’t fancy itself just another media company. It’s uniqueness lies not just in its combined content-communication-development, but also in its lofty ambitions of large-scale social change– using the media to galvanise young Africans to take political and economic action.

“We always say that in this century, the media can no longer be a bystander,” Williams shares, animated. “Our big audacious goal is social re-engineering. Political elite across the world have gotten too arrogant, too walled off, too uneven. It is time to hack establishments and hack these insular systems and return power to the hands of the people, where it belongs. And yes, for them to do whatever they wish with that power.”

That mission led them from building hugely popular media platforms in their native country, Nigeria to a specialization in governance communication across the continent.

“For us, building the sustainable business model is crucial. You listen to Peter Thiel or Elon Musk or Tony Elumelu and there is a growing global sense: social change must be driven by a sustainable model,” he says, recalling his role leading some of Nigeria’s most prominent youth activist campaigns. “After serial engagements focused on driving accountability and modifying government behaviour, we began to think more long term about our business and our misison: what is the sustainable business model that ensures we grow financially and build the resources we need to be effective, while at the same time driving the social change that is so central to our identity?”

 The idea for the StateCraft model, interestingly, came from working for the man they first elected and then eventually defeated.

“Oronto Douglas (of blessed memory), the special assistant on strategy to President Goodluck Jonathan had asked our social enterprise to convene young leaders to chart a 20-year course for youth involvement in public service,” he recalls. “After that, our content company asked for an exclusive interview with the president. But then, after that request and a long silence, he suddenly calls us out of the blue two months later, and says they were impressed with our work and they had found out we had a PR sister-company: could we handle campaign communication targeted at the growing youth market?

“We saw in it every single thing that we were extremely passionate about: media, youth, nation building on the largest scale. And at the time, Jonathan was a change candidate like no other; what some called a breath of fresh air. He was the first minority president, he had a particular interest in the arts, had expanded the space for civil society and free expression, and was very passionate about engaging with young people.

“Unfortunately,” Williams adds with not a little hint of sadness. “He turned out to be a disappointment. However, voting him in was a crucial step foreword for Nigeria. It enabled Nigeria make huge leaps that no one can regret: he oversaw massive leaps in infrastructure; and established and strengthen a truly independent electoral commission. The latter became his most important legacy, and it is one for which he must get eternal credit.”

Williams became disenchanted, along with much of Young Nigeria, with the allegations of corruption that came to dog the government, the rise of Boko Haram, and the politics that led to government’s initial denial and slow response to the kidnap of 256 girls from the Chibok village in Borno State. They couldn’t possibly work for Jonathan’s next campaign, they decided.

“Nigeria’s politics is structurally different from America’s or what you find in much of the West,” he explains. “Nigeria’s political parties, and much of West and East Africa don’t have distinct ideologies, most in theory and all in practice. There are no big debates over economic systems or cultural wars. Parties are not fighting over abortion, over Supreme court justices, over open or closed markets. So in America, you can’t possibly go from messaging on pro-abortion to messaging on anti-abortion.

“In Nigeria, however, many of those debates are either closed here or not necessary. Voters are in agreement over government involvement, over expectations of social security, over gay marriage and abortion, over income inequality and the place of the police. So elections boil down to character and personality. And so that movement was easy, and urgent.

“Someone once asked us: ‘You want to change Africa, but what’s the business model? Grants?’ We have always been a business focused on the imperatives of community and nation building – nation-building is our business; we have made it at the centre of our media group. StateCraft Inc is our business model for building a sustainable financial structure that enables us achieve our critical mission – empowered young Africans to take charge of their countries, and their destinies.”

How come they win all these elections? Williams says the playbook is very simple, actually.

“Very simple at the base of it: we use our experience with on-the-street activism – everything we have been involved in from #EnoughisEnough to #OccupyNigeria to #BringBackOurGirls – to connect popular anger and aspiration. The dichotomy between community organizing or activism and politics has always been a false one as Obama ’08 showed. Now, at the time of our first involvement, we were just citizens getting involved, but then we realised ‘wait a minute, we can actually dedicate our lives to this personal passion’. They are one and the same. So we are taking that model of true people-power to return power to the hands of the everyday citizen.”

He points to their model in Nigeria of building an army of volunteers – tagged #GMBVolunteers, complete with a Twitter handle of almost 100,000 followers – to push their message of the campaign.

“There was the same thing in Ghana. So this victory isn’t ours really. Without angry citizens determined to make change happen, we can do nothing. The Ghanaian people did this. Your job as communication is to help the candidate connect to the popular aspiration It’s the army of volunteers, of social media warriors, the party’s machineries, his own loyalists tired of their country being mis-managed and overrun, the army of dedicated party members and believers, that won this victory; our job is simply to channel that anger, to spread it and ensure citizen action. The victory is for and by the Ghanaians.”

He notes however that it would be a mistake to assume that communication alone, even in an age of social media, is enough to win elections anywhere.

“Yes, as my co-founder (Chude Jideonwo, who is chief executive of the group) always says: at its core politics is still the art of persuasion, but you need mobilization and persuasion. Mobilisation is party/candidate structure plus data. Communication is messaging plus outreach.

“You need the David Axelrods as well as the David Plouffes, the Jared Kushners as well as the Kellyanne Conways. Oh and Kushner is of particular interest because he is first passionate about and appeared to have brought that keen sensibility into mobilization.

“How we work essentially? We survey the field and then give the candidate our advise on mobilisaion. You need X and Y alliances, you need X relationship, youu need to seal X deal, and delegitimize or neutralise Y. Then, messaging seals the deal. You always have natural voters whoever you are. Mobilisation helps secure those, but messaging helps rally them, set fire to their passion and helps convince those that you need to go beyond your floor.”

They are already working towards their next project, even though they will not, for reasons of confidentiality reveal who the client is, except that it is another presidential election within Africa.

“Democracy will continue to flourish in West Africa and the whole of Africa because the rules have changed,” he says. “The old guard has plenty of experience in snatching ballot boxes, bribing electoral officials and intimidating opponents. When the system changes towards free and fair elections however, they are left out in the cold. They have nothing. And then we have the advantage.”

Beyond the next elections, he adds, StateCraft Inc and it’s parents group is focused on the initial 20-year vision it announced at RED’s first press conference in 2005, when he was only 19.”

“We are inspired by a crucial – if controversial – quote from the movie V for Vendetta: People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

African governments have clearly been put on notice.

* Forbes .Author can be reached at mfon.nsehe@gmail.com

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Behind Beyonce:Meet the artist behind Beyonce’s pregnancy photo
February 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Lola Mosanya*

Beyonce’s pregnancy announcement portrait is now the most liked Instagram post of all time. But who is the artist behind the image?

Awol Erizku

Awol Erizku

The photo of Beyonce wearing a veil and cradling her stomach has now been liked over eight million times.

This might not be a big deal for the 35-year-old singer. But it’s a huge accomplishment for Awol Erizku, the artist who took the famous photo – and the entire series of pregnancy photos that Beyonce has since uploaded to her website.

Here are five things you should know about him.

Who is he?

Born in Ethiopia, 28-year-old Awol grew up in the South Bronx area of New York.

In 2014, he graduated from Yale University with a masters in fine art and his work often fuses photography, video installations and sculpture.

And while he’s now responsible for the most liked picture on Instagram, Awol has a humble following on his own social media accounts.

If you’ve tried to find more of his work on Instagram after seeing his portrait of Beyonce, you probably know already that his page is closed for business.

The 28-year-old treats his Instagram account like an art gallery, where he hosts Instagram-only art shows.

For example, his account has detail about “gallery” opening hours: timings for when his feed is opened up for public viewing.

He combines his art with music

With each of his exhibitions, Awol has released what he calls a conceptual mixtape.

Think of this as a kind of soundtrack to the artist’s latest creations.

One of Awol’s most played mixes was released alongside a film and photo project called Serendipity, which was a response to the Black Lives Matter movement in America.

This isn’t the first encounter he’s had with Beyonce

Before he helped Beyonce break the internet with her pregnancy announcement, Awol created a less extravagant photo of the Carters during their 2014 trip to Paris.

In the original photo uploaded to the singer’s Instagram, Beyonce and Jay Z stand posing in front of the Mona Lisa.

But after Awol photo shopped the image replacing Mona Lisa with one of his portraits, Vogue US shared the picture on their Instagram.

He’s inspired by the lack of representation of people of colour in the art world

In an interview with Vulture, he got real about the lack of representation for people of colour in art history and museums.

“There are not that many coloured people in the galleries that I went to [growing up] or the museums that I went to. I was just like, ‘when I become an artist I have to put my two cents in this world’,” he said.

His work uses primarily black and Asian subjects and In 2013 he travelled to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to explore his parents’ birthplace.

There, with the help of translators and pimps, he created a series of nude sex workers posing on the beds of hotels around the city.

He’s also explored the Afropunk revolution in his work, collaborating with Vogue to create a photo series about black hair.

 And for those who don’t fancy waiting for his Instagram gallery to open up, Awol’s work is also available on Artsy.
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Dual Somali-US citizen elected president in historic vote
February 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Abdi Guled*

Farmajo quickly took the oath of office on Wednesday [Feisal Omar/Reuters]

Farmajo quickly took the oath of office on Wednesday [Feisal Omar/Reuters]

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A former prime minister who holds dual Somali-U.S. citizenship was elected Somalia’s president on Wednesday, declaring a new “era of unity” as he took on the daunting task of bringing the long-chaotic country its first fully functioning central government in a quarter-century.

Fears of attacks by the Islamic extremist al-Shabab dogged the historic vote, which was limited to lawmakers instead of the population at large, with members of the upper and lower houses of parliament casting ballots at a heavily guarded former air force base in the capital, Mogadishu, while a security lockdown closed the international airport.

“This victory belongs to the Somali people,” the newly elected president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, declared after taking the oath of office. “This is the beginning of the era of unity, the democracy of Somalia and the beginning of the fight against corruption.”

“There is a daunting task ahead of me, and I know that,” he said.

Thousands of jubilant Somalis poured into the streets, chanting the new president’s name as cheering soldiers fired into the air. “Somalia will be another Somalia soon,” said Ahmed Ali, a police officer celebrating in the crowd.

Incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud conceded defeat after two rounds of voting, saying: “History was made. We have taken this path to democracy.”

Mohamud held a slight lead over Farmajo after an initial round of voting Wednesday that included a field of 21 candidates. But Farmajo easily won the second round contested among three candidates, with 184 votes to Mohamud’s 97.

The new president represents a generation of Somalis scattered abroad by conflict who cautiously have begun to return to help their homeland recover. Most of the candidates in the election held dual citizenship.

Farmajo, who is in his mid-50s and holds degrees from the State University of New York in Buffalo, was prime minister for eight months before leaving the post in 2011. While he was in office, al-Shabab was expelled from Mogadishu, his campaign biography says. He had lived in the United States since 1985, when he was sent there with Somalia’s foreign affairs ministry.

Somalia began to fall apart in 1991, when warlords ousted dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other. Years of conflict and al-Shabab attacks, along with famine, left this Horn of Africa country of some 12 million people shattered.

Across Mogadishu, Somalis had gathered around TV screens at cafes and homes, eagerly watching the vote. “We need an honest leader who can help us move forward,” said Ahmed Hassan, a 26-year-old university student.

Somalia’s instability landed it among the seven Muslim-majority countries affected by President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, even though its government has been an increasingly important partner for the U.S. military on counterterrorism efforts, including drone strikes against al-Shabab leaders.

As an American citizen, Farmajo will be able to travel to the United States despite the ban.

In a sign of the dangers that remain in Mogadishu, two mortar rounds fired by suspected extremists late Tuesday hit near the election venue. There were no such attacks reported in the capital on Wednesday and no public statements by al-Shabab.

The international community pushed Somalia to hold the election as a symbol of strength, with the U.S. pouring in hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years for political and economic recovery. But the election was marred by reports of widespread graft in a country recently ranked as the world’s most corrupt by Transparency International.

The legislators voting — 275 members of the lower legislative house and 54 senators — were selected by the country’s powerful, intricate network of clans. Weeks ago, a joint statement by the United Nations, the U.S., the European Union and others warned of “egregious cases of abuse of the electoral process.”

With reports of votes being sold for up to $30,000 apiece, “this is probably the most expensive election, per vote, in history,” the Mogadishu-based anti-corruption group Marqaati said in a report released Tuesday.

“We encourage Somalia’s new administration to take credible steps to stamp out corruption and to establish strong electoral institutions to enable a free and fair one-person, one-vote poll in 2020,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said as the U.S. congratulated Farmajo.

Britain’s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said the U.K., which is hosting an international donors conference on Somalia in London later this year, was ready to help address the “significant challenges” facing the country as it recovers from two decades of civil war, including reducing the risk of famine, improving security and undertaking constitutional and electoral reforms.

“This is a crucial opportunity to accelerate progress and agree priorities that will help secure a brighter future for Somalia and its people,” Johnson said.

Tremendous challenges remain for Somalia and its new president, even beyond graft, al-Shabab attacks and an economy propped up in part by the country’s diaspora of more than 2 million people.

An African Union peacekeeping force of more than 20,000 is making plans to pull out of the country by the end of 2020, leaving the job to national security forces that observers have said remain underprepared.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees are under pressure to return home as neighboring Kenya’s government seeks to close the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab, by the end of May. Human rights groups have warned that Somalia is hardly equipped to support the returnees — especially as the United Nations and others warn that drought is creating a humanitarian crisis for almost 3 million Somalis.

*AP/Yahoo

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JOSE EDUARDO DOS SANTOS, AFRICA’S SECOND-LONGEST SERVING PRESIDENT TO STEP DOWN IN 2017
February 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

BY *

Eduardo Dos Santos

Eduardo Dos Santos

Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the second-longest serving head of state in Africa, has confirmed that he will not be running in the country’s August elections.

Dos Santos, 74, came to power in the oil-rich country in September 1979 after the death of Agostinho Neto, Angola’s first post-independence leader. His tenure is one month short of Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the continent’s longest-serving president.

The Angolan president said at a party meeting on Friday that the country’s defense minister, Joao Lourenco, would be the presidential candidate of the governing People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in legislative elections scheduled for August, Reuters reported.

Dos Santos indicated in 2016 that he would not be running for re-election, but has made similar statements before only to go back on them.

He led the MPLA throughout the majority of a civil war that broke out in the 1970s and lasted almost three decades. The MPLA, which was backed by Cuba and other African liberation movements, signed a ceasefire with rebels backed by South Africa and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in 2002.

Jose Eduardo dos-Santos

Jose Eduardo dos-Santos

The dos Santos family controls some of Angola’s most powerful institutions. The president designated his daughter Isabel dos Santos —listed by Forbes as Africa’s richest woman with a net worth of $3.2 billion—as head of the state oil firm Sonangol in 2016. Oil production constitutes almost half of Angola’s GDP, according to OPEC.

The president’s son, Jose Filomeno dos Santos, is the chairman of Angola’s sovereign wealth fund.

*Newsweek

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From Refugee to Presidential Candidate, Liberia Must Be For All Liberians says MacDella Cooper
February 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

In 1990, MacDella Cooper, then a thirteen-year-old student fled the civil war with her family and sort refuge in Ivory Coast. From there, she moved to the USA, had College education, ran a successful Foundation to help the less fortunate in Liberia and today she is making a Presidential run.

In her early 40s, articulate, passionate, and sure of the path that Liberia should follow as President Sirleaf Johnson steps down after two terms, MacDella Cooper says Liberia must be for all Liberians.

To her, while President Sirleaf Johnson has maintained peace and strengthened democracy, the status quo has benefitted only a handful of highly placed politicians. Citing the example of Senators and other high government officials, MacDella believes that the amount of salaries paid to them are vastly at odds with the realities of the country and economic conditions of the ordinary Liberians.

“I am here to provide opportunity for the young people who seem to have been forgotten under the current system,” says MacDella who is running on the platform of the Union for Liberian Democrats-ULD. While the party has little to count on in terms of experience from previous elections, the youth appeal, vision, and dynamism are some of the factors that give MacDella hope.

The plight of young people has a special place in MacDella's heart

The plight of young people has a special place in MacDella’s heart

Running in a crowded field of older and male dominated candidates, MacDella said she was very satisfied with the way things were shaping up for her party and the campaign.

“The campaign should be about ideas and a vision for Liberia and not gender,” MacDella said in response to questions on the feasibility of a female President succeeding a two term female President.

With the human and natural resources it has, Liberia has the potential to be a greater country than it is now, MacDella said. For this to happen, corruption must be eschewed, leaders committed to serving all Liberians elected, she said. It is unconceivable that half of the country’s budget should go to meeting the wage bills of politicians and a bureaucracy which has not done enough to meet the needs of every Liberian.

On the legacy of outgoing President Sirleaf Johnson, MacDella took pride in the fact that Liberia was the first African country to elect a female President and gave her high points for sustaining peace and keeping the country together. With that mission completed, it is time for Liberia to move forward to the challenges of tackling education, health care, providing adequate social services and providing jobs to Liberians,MacDella said.

Liberia must be for all Liberians says MacDella Cooper

Liberia must be for all Liberians says MacDella Cooper

Years before she eventually settled a Presidential run, MacDella Cooper was already hard at work to improve the lot of less fortunate Liberians. With the MacDella Cooper Foundation, the Presidential hopeful has helped in bringing opportunity to the vulnerable and disadvantage in Liberia through education, training and motivation to overcome post-civil war stress and ordeals.

On a diplomatic offensive  and tour to engage Liberians in the diaspora at the time of the interview in Washington, DC, MacDella was keenly aware of the challenges and pitfalls that go with a Presidential run. In addition to Liberia getting a President who can meet the aspirations of the people, the country also needs a leader who can engage confidently with rest of the world, she said.

Full interview in podcast below

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