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Jack Ma’s cash grants for African entrepreneurs

Violet Awo Amoabeng, CEO & Founder of Skin Gourmet

Ghana’s Skin Gourmet qualify for ABH Grand Finale

Interview Story ;Mohammed Abu,ADM,Accra 

Ghana’s Violet-Amoabeng, CEO of Skin Gourmet is among Ten finalists, 50% of who are female and from 7 African countries, poised to make their pitch at the grand finale pitch in November this year.

This was contained in a press release by The 2021 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) prize; a flagship philanthropic program established by the Jack Ma Foundation, These ten entrepreneurs will take the stage at the grand finale in November for their final pitch to win a share of a US$1.5 million prize pool.

The ten entrepreneurs, half of whom the release said, were selected from over 12,000 applications across all 54 African nations. They had passed multiple stages of judging and evaluation. With an average age of 32 years, the top ten represent businesses primarily operating in 7 African countries: Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Their businesses span key industries such as agriculture, beauty, education, energy, food & beverage, logistics, manufacturing, media & entertainment, and retail. 80% of the finalists operate their businesses in rural areas. Through their ventures, these outstanding entrepreneurs are generating positive impact and creating opportunities for their communities.

“It’s African time! We have been continuously impressed with all of our 2021 Top 10 finalists, especially their diversity and strength of their businesses. The Top 10 are truly inspiring and are a testament to the talent, resilience, innovation, and passion of African entrepreneurs. In the midst of unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, we remain steadfast in our efforts to identify, support and shine a spotlight on African entrepreneurs that are driving positive growth for their communities,” said Jason Pau, Executive Director of International, Jack Ma Foundation.

Each year for 10 years (2021 being the 3rd edition), the ABH awards grant funding to 10 outstanding African visionary startups/entrepreneurs who are providing innovative and robust solutions to problems in their local communities. The winner receives US $300,000, the 1st Runner up receives $250,000, the 2nd Runner up receives $150,000 and 7 others in the Top 10 each receives $100,000, on top of other networking and learning opportunities and support.

Awo-Amoabeng’s qualification for the finals  comes on the back of another Ghanaian entrepreneur Abdulai A Dasana, CEO & COO, Amaati Company Limited who also made it to the Top 10 and was awarded 100,000 USD.

 In an interview earlier with Awo-Amoabeng, prior to the announcement on what were her expectations, she said, she expects the judges will make the right choice for the top 10 and added, that for all the training that she had received, she expected that whatever decision they make, it will be the right one.

“I am excited for whatever is next because I have not been disappointed yet by this experience”.

On the input of the ABH programme jn her business endeavours,she said noted  that her company was so thankful for the opportunity to continue to be a part of the competition.

“Even at this point, what the competition is doing for my business and for me as an entrepreneur is mind blowing”adding,”ABH is teaching us how to understand, improve, and guide our business so Skin Gourmet can be a global success. The insight, mentorship, and exposure this competition is giving us is incredible. We are beyond grateful and are really looking forward to seeing what the Top 10 finals has in store”

On what inspired her to become and entrepreneur she said she became one because she wanted to help people and a strong believer in the concept of “Ghana beyond aid” as she believes in her country and her people. Thus, she is building a business that reflects that Africa is capable of taking care of not just itself, but the rest of the world.\

Many people she noted, don’t realize that what they put on their skin ends up inside their body. In other words, users put products on their skin without realizing that they are absorbed into their body. She noted that even though users of the said products won’t eat it but they little realize that its application on the human skin “whether we eat or wear it ends up in the same place = our body. Stabilizers, fragrances, preservatives have no place in the human body much less in our environment”.

It was therefore against this background that, Skin Gourmet created RAW handmade skincare sourced from the WILD of GHANA and so PURE you can eat it. Skincare that is so safe that anyone can use it for anything – even food.

This Awo-Amoabeng noted, is not a far-out concept – “this is the definition of Ghanaian skincare, and we want and need to share this with world. Our products have 7 or less real plant-based ingredients and we don’t add anything that you don’t need”.

“Skin Gourmet is so safe it can be used for anything by anyone. It has absolutely no additives, no fragrances, no preservatives, or anything you can’t pronounce”adding,”The best part? It’s useful even when it is empty and it will not harm you or the planet. This is real Ghanaian skincare – which the whole world deserves”.

On what were the early years challenges she encountered in her business, she recounts that she started her business with just GHS 145.00 (USD 45 approximately) in 2014.

“Skin Gourmet looked nothing like my vision but even with almost no financing – I started.

I struggled and I am still struggling BUT I am glad I started and look how far I have come and how much further I know I will go because I will not give up”.

On what words of inspiration she had for other entrepreneurs, she exhorted them to remain focus and never to give up amidst challenges and they think they don’t have enough they should endeavour to find a way and push on and they would be so surprised by their  ability to overcome, to innovate, to adapt.

He also exhorted them not to be afraid to fail. “It is okay – but only if you get back up.

You don’t need money to make your dreams come true. You need you – to believe in you and your dream. Yes, it is hard, and yes, it will never get easier, but the reward is in overcoming the challenge. And if no one encourages you – encourage yourself”

.“We are all struggling, we all fail but what makes us winners is – we get back up.As African entrepreneurs we don’t do this for just us. So never give up”.

On What are the special moments and achievements of Skin Gourmet she wish to share,she recounted that, the most amazing day of her  life was when I she was  able to pay Social Security and National Insurance Trust(SSNIT) contributions for her  staff.

“To be honest, I have way too much to be grateful for to count – but being able to create jobs, and the opportunity to impact Ghana through our value chain – and be profitable.

“Even though it’s been a hard almost 7 years – I have grown. Were one to ask what I have achieved with Skin Gourmet as an individual, I would say this company is shaping me into the person I have always wanted to be. Every challenge we overcame is an achievement because when I look back; I’m grateful for all of it – the ups, down, tears, pain, and joy. I enjoy every single day in this company – especially the hardest days because then I remember why I do this.

“So I guess my most special moments are my hardest days when am broke because that is when I learnt the most”.

On business tips she had to share with up and coming entrepreneurs, she said she had seven of them she had always reminded herself about and which really helped her. They are namely, “Watch your motives”, “Rebuke is a blessing”, “Do not take it personally”, “It’s not about me”, “Keep walking. No excuses”. “Keep an open mind” and “I don’t know everything”.

Violet is a young Ghanaian entrepreneur, the Founder and CEO of Skin Gournment limited – dealers in RAW handmade high-quality skincare sourced from the Wilds of Ghana.

She is a high energy super hopeful entrepreneur who has always been passionate about people and has attained Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Business administration – specializing in marketing, supply chain management and accounting.

In 2014, Violet created Skin Gourmet with GHS 145 (USD 45.00). Skin Gourmet is now distributed in over 17 different countries and Violet has been featured in Glitz and EMY Magazine as an emerging industry leader. Skin Gourmet has been featured in Forbes, Elle, Pop Sugar, and Indian Cosmopolitan for an Editor’s Best Product Pick Award.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sports

Sports News: “Cycling can bring employment if we take it seriously”- Coach Orisatoki

Cycling is one of the oldest sporting events in Nigeria. Before then, the sport was for leisure, recreation, and to keep fit (physical fitness). This sport is one of the most expensive sports due to the cost of equipment and parts which are imported from developed and industrialized countries like the United Kingdom, Europe, America, and Asia. The cost-effective, make it difficult for many people or clubs to be involved or procure the special bicycle and outfits.

Oriasatoki Mobolaji is a cycling coach, teacher, and programme leader at a college in East London and an associate lecturer at the University. His passion for cycling is undiluted since childhood but footballing and other sports negate his interest while riding a bicycle in the compound was considered.

Started his elementary and secondary education in Nigeria, and decided to proceed to the United Kingdom for University education where he lived, studied, and bagged a BSc in Computer Science, Master’s degree, and Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) from the prestigious University of London (UCL) and currently in the process to complete his Ph.D.  His new environment and education ignited his childhood passion for cycling.

In this interview with African Development Magazine, the Nigerian/British Orisatoki speaks about his cycling experience, challenge, tournaments and plan to establish a cycling club to encourage the youth and reduce unemployment.

Below are excerpts:

Have you fulfilled a dream in your life by going into cycling racing? Where does the intense connection to the two-wheeler come from? Share with us, the journey into cycling?

Interestingly, I didn’t realise cycling was an interesting sport when I was younger.  But growing up with the sports I watched were football, boxing, track and field sports, swimming, etc. Therefore, cycling was not my childhood dream because I wanted to play football, and as much as I show interest, I wasn’t encouraged. Alternatively, I had a bicycle as a child and cycled with kids in our compound.

Coach Mobolaji Orisatoki

Luckily, I moved to the UK in 2001 where I saw Tour-de-France for the first time and how crazy people went when the tour was on and the support people gave the cyclists when they rode through England. The tour drew my interest and the amazing story of the now-disgraced 2001 winner Lance Armstrong (Now banned for doping) how he recovered from cancer and won seven tours.

In addition, I love seeing people cycling in groups,  to work, enjoying the weather and nature, especially in summer. I love two-wheels, just to throw this in, I am also a fan of motorbikes and I have one and I don’t own a car.

I have been opportune to raise money for The Red Cross, Homeless charity, and some other charities through my passion for cycling. I have raced in some regional races (age group), Time Trial, Duathlons, and Triathlons in England and France.

What do you think is the most important skill a manager or coach of a cycling sports team needs to have?

Firstly, aims and objectives for the team are very important. A coach must be able to set out achievable goals. I have worked with experienced coaches and team managers, one thing they all have in common is that at the beginning of every season, the aims of the team will be given to each member of the team as a guideline to work with. Objectives are tricky but a good coach must be able to design an achievable objective.

Secondly, trusting a coach is important in every sport, if an athlete does not trust a coach, then there will be a conflict of interests and the aim of the team will be compromised.

Furthermore, determination and investing in people is another skill a coach must possess. A coach cannot be selfish, he or she needs to dedicate his/her life to creating better persons. I wake up every morning not only for myself but to create a better future and to invest in the coming generation.

In addition, the importance of teamwork must be taught from a young age. This world can be a better place if we work as a team. Eliud Kipchoge said “I am here because of teamwork. I am here because sport is a mutual interest. I am here to talk about my success because I am really about teamwork. Teamwork helps a lot.  Remember in sport, what you have is Hero’s Formula. If you are a hero, then you have a formula and that says 100% of myself is nothing compared to one percent of the whole team. And vice versa. 1% percent of the teams is nothing compared to 100% of myself. And that’s the meaning of teamwork.”

Coach Mobolaji Orisatoki

Is there a tactic for each player and for each route? Do you have a set of tactics or do you adapt them to each route in detail?

Yes, there are many disciplines in cycling such as BMX, Mountain Bike, Track Cycling, Cyclocross, and many others. Track Cycling and Road Cycling are team sports that include a leader and domestique. The team manager will have to choose each role according to the rider’s strength and attitude to help the team.

How much has the Coronavirus pandemic changed cycling? How were and are you affected as a team?

Of course, YES! Like other sports, Covid-19 affected group training and races, but we adapted to virtual training using an application called ‘Zwift ’ which was an amazing experience. There are other technologies that have helped us to keep training and keep our fitness up. During the national lockdown, I was able to go out and ride on my own or with my daughter. Cycling can be an individual sport, especially during training.

Will you consider the establishment of a cycling club in collaboration with the Cycling Federation of Nigeria (CFN) as a way to catch the younger ones and to reduce unemployment in Africa?

That would be a dream come true to see Nigeria in the next Olympics with teenagers challenging South Americans and Europeans. I believe CFN can do more to promote cycling like their counterparts such as British Cycling which I am a member of. Having youth training and getting involved in the sport at an early age is fantastic and I am ready for the challenge.

Cycling can bring employment if we take it seriously. As we have seen the football and entertainment industry which have produced many entrepreneurs in Nigeria. I have no doubt that cycling can bring in businesses, investments, and jobs which will reduce unemployment in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

Strategising With Lea Valley Youth Club Under 12s team at one of the eastern region races at Redbridge Cycling Centre, Essex

Tell us your plans and innovation to promote the cycling club?

The plan is to start with a youth club especially at secondary schools. We will start with off-road training where it is safe for training and to teach awareness, group riding, and skills.

Getting the government to support this scheme through road safety, health officials and the police would be very good and it will help in promoting the sport from the grassroots.

How would you inspire people to ride more bikes in their lives and what are the benefits?

Cycling is fun and rewarding. People can save on hospital bills make, save gym membership, save time. I believe people know the benefit of sports and exercising. Cycling is not limited to youths only; older people can also get involved in social rides when it is safe to do so.

 With your leadership role as a school teacher and a cycling coach living in the western world, what are the needs in Africa? What will it take to build entrepreneurship and employment in Africa? And what are you trying to do to move the needle?

Teaching has helped me in creating session plans and other administrative parts of coaching. In addition, it has enabled me to tailor my coaching style to suit individuals. Observation is one of the skills you develop as a teacher and how to help students improve. I have been teaching for over a decade and I have been able to use classroom management skills to manage group training.

Africa is blessed with many talents and human resources is our strength. We have entrepreneurs who are doing amazing things. I believe cycling will bring in tourism, foreign investment, and great opportunities to the continent.

Amazing memories are unforgettable; can you share with us the most amazing memory?

Completing Ride100 four times and raising money for charities. I also enjoyed racing in France, French people are crazy when it comes to cycling. My first race in France was unforgettable, I could not believe my average speed because of the adrenaline and the great support during the event.

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ArtsCulture & TourismInterview storyInterviewsLifestylePersonality Interview

Imperial-Majesty Empress Elham Madani Reveals How She Became A Powerful Modern Queen of Humanitarians

In this Interview with African Development Magazine, Her Imperial Majesty, Dr. Elham Madani speaks about her life journey and experience during the war.  She also discussed her plan in unifying royal houses across the globe, service to humanity, women’s empowerment, engaging youths through art, culture, and tourism, and her lead role as “Princess” in the coming movie titled “Legends of Africa”.

Below are excerpts:

Can you tell us briefly about yourself, your family?

Thank you so much. I am the only child of medical physician parents and was raised to be very independent to rely on myself but during the war, I lost my mother and home and it is the reason that caused me a lot of emotional pain and trauma because my father had to take care many wounded patients in the war. I was facing and feeling a lot of pain from the people around me and that caused me to be different. Elham since my childhood as known from Elham to Empress Elham. I passed through tremendous difficult journeys and of course, the spiritual line of the God calling causes me to be very different in a positive way.

I was supposed to be a medical doctor but then I decided to be the eyes and vision of the people that suffered during the war in order to protect them. I chose to be the mental doctor to heal the spirits and I became the professor and a spiritual Queen.

You are the founder & CEO, WIND International Film Festival, Mighty Vision Pictures, INC, and World Cinema Academy, what are the motivation, vision, and mission of this great concept?

To save the world through art and culture, bring peace through creativity, to make people busy in their own self-power. Instead of destroying, we are building with the colour of their beautiful dimensional creative spirit.

Queen Elham Madani

You are popularly known as the‘’ Empire of Madani” can you tell us the secret behind it?

The way that Yoruba is Yoruba today. Madani is and shall be Madanis forever to come. My old Madani royal from Madani’s dynasty served the world thousands of years ago with dignity and hardworking, they were the highest educated in their society, to advance humanity and we shall be the same. I am hoping to see true Madani’s in the world through being connected to the Empire of Madani to build things right altogether.

It’s not a one-way road, you bring things, we build you and  use generation grow. It’s like that.

Promoting culture has been your priority, what motivated you into this?

To bring heal the people and to communicate to the world together through the art and beauty of God. The world is a gift to us and I try to let people be united by using their voices and visions through art, culture, and creative aspects. Though it consists of good and bad things but if we create more good things, we can create a weapon against the dark side of it that is why I celebrate and use this artistic weapon to unite the works with peace with love.

What do you like about African culture?

African spirituality path history mystery and historical roots and colourful traditional aspects of it

How many languages can you speak fluently?

English, Farsi, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu

Have you ever met with any Yoruba Monarch before, if yes, how would you describe Alaafin of Oyo and Ooni of Ife?

Although, I have not met him but through video conference and webinars, of course, Ooni of Ife is one of our imperial patrons of the Empire of Madani but a worldwide humanitarian role father and the traditional king which is being recognized many times through my royal awards since few years.

Alaafin of Oyo is our other great example a true powerful Monarch, highly cerebral who believe in education as Madani royal dynasty. We wish our Ambassadors and students to celebrate them through us and I have outstanding great news I shall tell in your next video interview about Empire of Madani and world Cinema Academy there

Do you believe in Yoruba culture, tradition, and heritage?

Of course yes, otherwise I would not serve my past 8 years, being in Hollywood and learning Yoruba, well it’s not easy it seems that you are president of a country but promoting another country.  (LAUGHS)

Are you a spiritual person?

Obviously! Do you think big things can be happening if we are not connected to the source?

How would you promote culture and tourism in your empire?

A lot of possible ways through the movie field, for example at my World Cinema Academy or Empire of Madani. Umbrella of many organizations collaborated with us, which is like a mother source for learners to know many possible ways to be connected the source of knowledge in acting, cinematography, modeling, directing, producing, and scriptwriting.

I am a co-Producer and co-director plus being the main lead actress of this epic adventurous historical feature movie that has about 20,000 casts and crew in few seasons the aim to make. The first part that is called the legend of Africa ( the land of bows) is going to be shot around early November 2021 in Delta state of Nigeria.

It is my privilege to come to Africa for the first time and associate with great movie makers Celebrities Royal House and Elites by adding value to African history through the Empire of Madani’s and World Cinema Academy …
I have faith this project will be amazing and invite many celebrities and investors to involve
Meanwhile, I am going to shoot a Feature a Documentary about the areas that I am going to visit Royal Kingdoms and what they want the World to know that can be Mainly the importance of the relation of traditional rulers with the people and the power of spirituality in unity in the world

L-R: Queen Elham Madani anchoring a show

These studies help them to build their own life, It’s not acting for the sake of acting but it’s acting for the sake of saving their lives from the slavery of their solo spirit in order to expand them to be a multi-directional and best possible version of what they can be about. So it’s not Acting but it’s making the person a true self, as stronger to be a depth in full spirit to understand themselves, to know themselves and the society knowing the character of each person in the movie allow them a pattern norm for many to learn from them.

African Development Magazine would like to be part of your team, and showcasing your activities, will you give us this chance, and what will be your commitment?

Definitely YES! Perhaps you know I am so picky and you’re going to be given a lot of commitment and tasks. I hope you can do that. I hope so yes!

Memories are unforgettable; can you share with us the most amazing memory?

I have a lot, which one, spiritual ones or physical ones? By this God-calling responsibility as the Empress and a guru on my way, I move forward and have forwarded many to their success.

I passed tremendous difficult trials that are almost not possible for human beings, I did not lose my hope and never quit, which made me very strong and be the fearless Queen that people call “Queens of all warriors” or  Empress to Impress or Phoenix Empress.

That is the power of spirituality I enjoy assisting others indeed to be the same way and I get things done even no one is with me because I know I have God and I go forward.

My Techniques in teaching actors as a director is I make them to know themselves better and get the depth of personality of the characters easier therefore they’re not going to act for the sake of acting they change themselves to be the character that is of course very hard but will give the steps to the character to be connected with the viewers

What advice would you give the younger ones?

To believe in their real self, do not relent. Use the mentorship of their chosen mentors

Thank you for sharing with us.

Thank you too. We want Success for all.  It’s great for all to join us. Thank you once again African Development Magazine. We are connected to God. Be the one to serve and build the nation with love www.empireofmadani.org

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Culture & TourismInterview storyInterviews

The economy strength of every country is culture and tourism- Bini kouassi Arnaud

The diverse culture of Ivory Coast, a coastal West African country bordered by Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, is exemplified by a multitude of ethnic groups, events, festivals, music, and art.

Among the Akan-speaking peoples of southern Ghana and adjacent Côte d’Ivoire, ritual pottery and figurative terracottas are used in connection with funeral practices that date at least to the 1600s. Some of these traditions continued to the 1970s

Bini kouassi Arnaud is an ambassador of Akan culture, cultural promoter, traditional dancer, drummer, and actor. He’s a general commissioner for FPCA (Federation for the promotion of African cultures) and a member of the large cultural family La Federation of Cultural and Artistic Societies of the World (Singapore).

Born in the royal family in Assuefry in the region of Gontougo in the area of Transua Assuefry, a very beautiful city of culture and tourism. His father, Mr. Bini koffi Tah is a planter and his mother, Affia Rosalie (housewife) His childhood in Assuefry alongside the great men of culture who has inspired and motivated him to imbibe the African culture from his school life and after elementary school, he took the competition and was admitted to the LEA (high school of artistic education) at INSAAC in Abidjan

In this Interview with African Development Magazine, Kouassi speaks about his love for African culture, his experience, challenges, and lifestyle as an African traditional dancer.

Below are excerpts:

Promoting African traditional culture and dancing has been your priority, what is the motivation and challenges?

Firstly, it should be noted that I am from the royal family and culture is first and foremost our identity. The issue of promoting cultural heritage and production in Africa is a crucial issue for the future. Culture is made known through the constitution and laws of a people.

The diversity of cultural values ​​is subject to ways of life. And many people have turned their backs on this culture that expresses our identity How to get out of our lethargy as a culturally alienated men when we know that in Africa, we still despise national cultural riches and we remain indifferent to them while waiting for the Western public to recognize some of them and that we then hasten to consecrate and worship?

Bini kouassi Arnaud

It is a long and difficult task, but let’s believe in ourselves first and stay what we are. And with Bini kouassi Arnaud, let’s say: African, “Become what you are even if your culture is threatened by current problems which it cannot do without. The main thing is to control them in order to better circumvent them. And this beautiful culture is endangered, that’s what pushes me to revive this beautiful culture

Federation of World Culture and Arts Society (Singapore) appointed you as a Global Honorary Advisor; tell us your experience, and major responsibilities?

I thank this great cultural federation for the trust it is a great pride for the whole of Africa. Regarding my experience, is that Africa itself has a richness and importance that some Africans ignore we have values ​​of the rich values ​​that embody us and it is her that makes my particularity. A person’s experience is what he has in him or what he received as traditional education.

 African ethnic groups and tribes have customs and traditions that are unique to their culture. What do you like about African Culture?

First of all, it is to promote this culture and to give importance to this culture and it must remain natural and cultural. We must give importance and consideration to each culture of each people

In tourism, we have aspects of tourism like educational tourism, religious tourism, medical tourism which area can Africa be on a selling point of tourism to the world especially Cote d’Ivoire?

The strength of a country is culture and tourism … and tourism is very, very important and Africa has several tourist places on every level, now it is up to us to know how to value them. I think I’ll always be available to hire to showcase these riches

Will you consider the establishment of the African school of Creative Arts, Fashion, and Music as a way to reduce unemployment in Africa?

Yes, the most important thing is to save this wealth and to teach it in the end not to lose it and it is placed that future generations (our children and grandchildren) will lose to know their cultures and they will allow several young people to d ‘have jobs and we will have unemployment reduction in Africa. We must create several schools and art houses to safeguard our culture.

What can you say about Yoruba culture?

It must be meant that Africa itself has a very beautiful, rich, and unique culture and its valuable virtues make us a cultural pride. and every culture is better and rich. I love this beautiful Yoruba culture because is very rich and noble as that of the Akan culture. It is a pride for Africa and I personally used to say it, Africa remains and remains the mother of arts, culture, and tourism in the world. I think that one day I will be in Nigeria for Cultural sharing and passing by I greet his majesties, the kings who are the pride of the  Nigerien culture and his excellence the President of the Republic of Nigeria,  his Minister of Culture, and all the Nigerien brothers and sisters.

African Development Magazine would like to be part of your team reporting your activities, promoting your brand, cultural tourism promotion for Cote d’Ivoire; would you consider partnering with us and what will be your commitment to ADM?

First of all, I would like to thank Africa Development Magazine for everything they do for artists. It will be a great pleasure to work with

Amazing memories are unforgettable; can you share with us the most amazing memory?

Yes, real memories

What advice would you give the younger ones?

What I can give as advice, culture is our identity and we must safeguard this culture and each young person must be the ambassador of his culture

Thank you for sharing with us. 

Thank you too.

 

ADM2021

 

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Interview story

Life Drama: Meet ex-Afghan Minister who is now a food vendor in Germany

Sayed Sadaat, a former communications minister in Afghanistan, is now a food vendor in Germany.

Sadaat, who, according to Reuters, left his country for Germany last September, served under the government of President Ashraf Ghani for two years.

Ghani fled the country on August 15, 2021, when the Taliban took control.

He fled by air landing in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and from there he went to the United Arab Emirates, which granted him political asylum.

In an interview with Reuters, Sadaat, who is now a delivery man in the eastern city of Leipzig, said some persons have criticized him for taking such a job.

But for the man who left office in 2018, a job is a job.

“I have nothing to feel guilty about,” the 49-year-old told Reuters

“It doesn’t matter! I was before a minister serving people and now I am a Lieferando courier driving Lieferando’s services to people. It still is serving people.

“I hope other politicians also follow the same path, working with the public rather than just hiding.”

Sadaat was said to have struggled to find a job that matched his experience in Germany.

With degrees in IT and telecoms, he had hoped to find work in a related field.

“I am proud that I am doing it, otherwise I could have become one of the corrupt ministers, I could have made millions of dollars and could have bought buildings here, hotels here, or in Dubai and I wouldn’t have needed to work,” he said in the interview.

“But I am proud that my soul is happy and I have nothing to be feeling guilty – so I am doing an ordinary job and I hope other politicians also follow the same way to work with the public rather than just keeping hiding.”

The ex-minister is also said to have British citizenship.

“Every day he does four hours of German at a language school before starting a six-hour evening shift delivering meals for Lieferando, where he started this summer,” Reuters said in its report.

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ArtsCulture & TourismInterview storyInterviews

We must rewrite Africa’s true story, history to encourage tourism for greater economy- Bokang Kholu Ramoreboli

Bokang Kholu Ramoreboli speaks about her biggest heartbreak that claimed her brother’s life and her plans to improved healthcare in Lesotho to honor her little brother. She also share her life experience and lifestyle, the All Flo  brand and journey to fashion industry with ADEWALE ADENRELE (African Development Magazine)

Below are excerpts:

Can you tell us briefly about yourself, your family and educational background?

My name is Bokang Kholu Ramoreboli. I was born in the district of Mafeteng, where both parents originated from, to Koena Mokhachane, a Royal Princess, and Moshoeshoe Ramoreboli, a Son of a highly respected and powerful Politician and member of the Parliament of Lesotho. I grew up in Maseru, the Capital city of Lesotho. I was blessed enough to have my paternal Grandfather, the Honorable G.P Ramoreboli provide a privileged life that has been fundamental to who I am today. He taught me how to be an entrepreneur, patriotic, serve and fight for the betterment of Lesotho. My Maternal Grandmother the Chief of Matlapaneng and neighboring villages, installed in me philanthropist values, humility, love, and dedication. She served her people her till her very last day, April 2020.

In the mid-’80s my Mother was deployed as a diplomat to Germany. There I completed my High School Studies. I also took a German language course and went on to study Fashion Design at Robert-Wetzler Shuele, Bonn, Germany and later moved to London to further my studies at Hammersmith & West London College. One of my favorite professors suggested I consider moving to the USA where he felt I fit in best. Eventually, I took his advice and moved to NY, Queens. I have lived in all parts of NY for over 20 years. Upon my arrival, I identified the opportunities at hand. The beauty industry was at its peak. I soon became a wife and mother to my oldest daughter. Real-life soon set in. I was divorced and a single parent so I joined New York’s hustle World. It was no brainer that I became a hairstylist. I’d been doing hair since I was 6 years old. I made enough to have my daughter attend private schools and live a decent life. 10 years later my last daughter was born. In 2007 I got back to my first love, Art. I was a part of a NY Organization, Chashama ,Jamaica Queens, New York. USA

I participated in numerous exhibitions and grew stronger as an artist. The makeup artist was born and most times incorporated hairstyling in my work. I knew I ultimately desired to design. Unfortunately, I couldn’t shake off the discouraging advice I got from a teacher back in high school. She explained that the fashion industry is already overpopulated and the competition is too grand for me to even attempt. So I figured I’d satisfy my passion by working backstage. That didn’t last too long. In 2010, I was diagnosed with severe Asthma & had to give up all I loved and made a living out of the hair business and Fine Arts. While fighting for my life, I lost my “little brother “to AIDS. We grew up together as siblings. Our fathers are brothers but we knew our grandfather as our Dad. It was the biggest heartbreak I ever experienced. He was talented but hopeless because of the African system/ mentality. If it’s not academic it’s only a hobby. There aren’t many if any resources outside of basic education. His death was preventable. But the stigma was a greater obstacle, so he died in shame and fear. This broke me into pieces! I was angry.  Depression sank in and felt like a failure. I was fully dependent on my husband and that didn’t sit well with me. Being a full-time housewife wasn’t me but I did love being there for my daughters 24/7. I couldn’t stop thinking “what can I do to change things in Lesotho to honor my little brother?”

Les A.R.T.S was born. Lesotho Artistic Recreational Therapy Services and Shelter. This would incorporate the arts & recreation as a form of therapy, along with education and medical assistance for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. It would also act as an extension to schools for the arts & recreation. Adults infected/ affected by HIV/AIDS would be the top priority employees. Consequently, hope and financial stability would be restored. I hosted fundraising art shows around NY City. Then my T-Shirt line came along and was highly successful. It was a cost-effective option for those who wish to own my artwork but cannot afford an actual painting. Unfortunately, shipping to Lesotho was too challenging especially with immigration restrictions at the time. That never deterred me from my mission to keep raising awareness, collecting school supplies & clothes, and promoting Tourism by putting my little beloved country on the map.

In 2011. I joined the African Day Parade committee and represented the Southern Region of Africa. I was also part of the stage production team as an artist/designer. At this point, I had elevated to being a full-blown African-inspired accessory designer as All Flo. (Nickname I got for doing it all). I made shoes, jewelry bags, and some home accessories. I wanted to always represent Africa anywhere I was seen. I introduced African fabrics in nightclubs and lounges. Made-Africa “chic “. My brand grew very fast! I would soon be invited to showcase during New York Fashion Week. This was HUGE! I can finally showcase the beauty of Africa and make Lesotho shine. What could be better than that!!

Business cards were made with my new logo and officially I was a designer. As though this wasn’t big enough I was told that I could only showcase if I find a clothing designer or produce my own. I had never made any clothes. I didn’t even know how to operate a sewing machine. I was NOT going to miss this opportunity of a lifetime! NO WAY. My mother paid for me to showcase the entire weekend. And just like that I cut & sewed 25 pieces, made 30 pieces of jewelry, and 25 pairs of shoes. I was the only designer with everything and had most pieces. This was done in about 2 weeks. My ancestors carried me all the way!! I was also the only one that received a standing ovation in the end. It was surreal. Such a high! I was bombarded with media personnel and the audience with loads of questions and applause. All I could think was if only my “Mom was here” and I literally felt my little brother smile at me and that was the beginning of Allflo Couture.

What is the most challenging moment while growing up in Lesotho before the sojourn abroad?

My siblings and I were raised mainly by our Grandfather in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, while my father lived in the village. I hardly spent time with my father until he became ill. His illness meant that he had to stay in the main hospital in Lesotho at the time, which happened to be in Maseru. Throughout his hospital stay, I was glued to his side. He’d take me practically everywhere on his adventures in and out of the hospital. I guess he knew that he didn’t have much time to live and wanted to make up for lost time. I enjoyed watching him dance and entertain people with his impeccable storytelling abilities and witty humor. He was a social butterfly and so full of life. Unfortunately, he battled with lung disease for about two years until he passed when I was 12. Losing my father while preparing for my final exam in primary school was one of the most challenging moments in my life.
A few months after his passing, I started catholic boarding high school far away from home. This school was very mentally and physically challenging. My Grandfather demanded that I attend because it was the number one school in Lesotho. Though incredibly arduous, I managed to graduate that year. Shortly after, my Mother was deployed to what was then known as West Germany to work for the Lesotho Embassy in Bonn. I had to make a decision. Stay in Lesotho to be close to my recently departed father or move away from my home to be with my Mother and sister, whom I love and missed immensely. Leaving my dad behind seemed unbearable, so I stayed. As I mourned my father and longed for the day I would reunite with my Mother and sister, I grew increasingly conflicted. To stay or to go

As soon as winter break arrived, I rushed to my aunt and begged her to fly me out to Germany. She prepared everything, and in no time, I was on a flight to Johannesburg. This was the first time I’d ever been on a plane, and I was also alone. The morning of my trip was so surreal. My mind was busy with apprehension, curiosity, and raw excitement. It was somber knowing I was leaving behind my other siblings and couldn’t tell them to avoid complications. Nevertheless, I hopped on the plane wide-eyed and filled with wonder for this foreign place. Finally, it took off, and I sat in the bittersweet reality of my departure. I waved goodbye to my lifelong home and embraced my new life in Germany.

Who influenced you the most in life and why?

My Mother had me in her late teens and had to be a single parent for most of my life. She worked very hard to provide for us. Our home held great significance in Music and Fashion. She’d often design our clothing and incorporated the Ankara fabric, which at the time almost no one wore in Lesotho. This definitely sparked my love for both Ankara patterns, detailed and one-of-a-kind designs. Both Maternal and Paternal Grandmothers exhibited strength, grace, confidence, and leadership. My Maternal Grandmother was appointed as the Chief (Queen) of my Grandfather’s home early into my childhood after my Grandfather’s passing. She dedicated her entire life to leading, developing, and caring for multiple neighboring Villages. My home, also known as the Palace, served as the courthouse, shelter/home for those in need, prayer house, and community center. Her regal, yet ever so humble disposition was inspiring to all!  My paternal Grandfather was a highly respected and feared Politician. While a Parliament member as the Minister of Law and Justice, he also led his Political party. Lesotho and its betterment were his passion and mission. A true Patriot!

You have visited many countries, what would you advise the African leaders?

Having lived abroad, it’s clear that the key to prosperous countries is their cultural-conscious strategies when developing their lands, investments in youth, and involvement of their women. African leaders need to return to African roots of respecting their women as leaders and refrain from the European notion of patriarchy. They must create Africa’s future by creating platforms for innovative projects. Diversifying and upgrading the existing/conventional educational system is the only way to broaden the economy. Africa can easily be the World’s leading Nation!

You were very angry at Africa continent when you lost your brother, can you tell us why and what triggered your anger?

HIVAIDS is still a pandemic in Lesotho. The traditional beliefs and stigma are the main reason for this. For instance, for a wife to suggest that her husband uses protection when having sexual intercourse would result in a possible divorce or, worse, physical altercation. As for those infected, they are shunned and labeled as promiscuous. This makes it impossible to seek necessary medical treatment. My youngest Brother/Cousin died unnecessarily because of this. His death made me resent Africa! I couldn’t help feeling like Africa failed him and us his family.

As the founder of Allflo Couture, tell us what motivated or inspired this great concept and the success stories recorded so far?

My dream is to establish an African school of Arts, Fashion, and Creative Designs as a tool to reduce unemployment in Africa and restore hope in its youth. I showcased in numerous NYFW shows and around the US ,Canada, Suriname, Guyana ,Lesotho etc.  I have also won awards for best designer and African Philanthropist.
My designs were featured on multiple US & International newspapers and magazines
Some of My artworks are part of exhibition in NY Museums which is huge success for the brand

African ethnic groups and tribes have customs and traditions that are unique to their culture. What do you like about African Culture?

African culture is unique and beautiful! I love that we have strong morals, spirituality, family pride and values, gratitude, unity, and recognition of our ancestors who paved the way for us. As we say,” u munthu ka bantu” or “o motho ka batho” meaning you are who you are because of others.

As an African woman who had lived, worked in abroad for over decades, what can you tell the world about Lesotho, the people and their culture?

Lesotho is Africa’s best-kept secret. Landlocked within South Africa lays its breathtaking snow-capped tall mountains in the snow, high altitude, and abundant land. It owes its long history of political autonomy to the mountains that surround it and protects it from encroachment. Almost all Lesotho plants are medicinal.  It’s the first African country to grant a license for the cultivation of medical cannabis that is also exported to the European Union. Home to one and only ski resorts in Southern Africa, Lesotho is the place to go to for skiing and snowboarding adventures. Afriski Mountain Resort, situated in the Northern Highlands, has something to offer for every snow lover, both activity and scenery-wise.

 

The famous Sani Pass is one of the most challenging yet rewarding 4×4 routes in the World. The Pass begins at 1,544 meters and submits at 2,876 meters. Sani Mountain Lodge boasts the highest pub in Africa. In addition, the prehistoric caves and the Subeng dinosaur footprints are preserved in sandstone and feature the prints of a variety of prehistoric animals which lived approximately 200 million years ago. Located 24 kilometers from Maseru, is the Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village. This is a national monument and birthplace of the Basotho people. The sandstone plateau is home to a fortress established by King Moshoeshoe 1, the founder of the Basotho Nation, and is considered by the locals to have magical powers. Thaba Bosiu meaning Mountain at Night is believed to grow larger during the night, protecting inhabitants from enemies and intruders

In tourism, we have aspect of tourism like educational tourism, religious tourism, medical tourism which area can Africa be on a selling point of tourism to world especially Lesotho?

Lesotho’s people, Basotho, have a rich culture. Their origins can be traced back to prehistoric times. The Basotho, also known as Sotho speakers, are said to have originated from the north of Southern Africa. They made their way down as various tribes settled in different parts of the country. Today these groups are respectively known as the Batswana, Bapeli, and Basotho tribes.
Basotho people associate and identify themselves through the use of their clan names, which specify their ancestral origins; namely the Bataung, Basia, Bafokeng, Makholokoe, and Bakuena. The royal family of Lesotho is largely made up of Bakuena.

Basotho’s oral history can be found deep-rooted in their usage of totems or family odes (liboko), praise songs or poems (lithoko), and storytelling (litshomo). Liboko refers to the names of families, clans, or totems. In these, a clear history, philosophy, and the origins of each tribal group can be found. Family odes are used to identify and differentiate one clan from another. Litshomo were traditionally told by grandmothers to their grandchildren while sitting by the fire at night. The purpose of these stories was to guide and warn the young children about harmful things surrounding them.

Basotho are known for their unique style of Fashion. Hats and Blankets are big statement pieces in Basotho Fashion. Their overall style is conservative/ classy with an edge.

African Development Magazine would like to be part of your team reporting your activities, promoting your brand and tourism promotion for Lesotho; would you consider partnering with us and what will be your commitment to ADM?

I love and support the vision and mission of African Development Magazine and it is my passion to support and promote the African brands. I am a firm believer that all Africa needs to reach its full potential is the right support by Africans. Firstly and most importantly Africans must start rewriting Africa’s true history and stories to encourage tourism for a greater economy.

My commitment to ADM is being their Southern African Ambassador through Arts, Fashion, and Tourism both in Africa and the USA. I  would like to introduce/support Eco-tourism to Lesotho in particular to ensure the preservation of its environment, history, and culture.

Amazing memories are unforgettable; can you share with us most amazing memory?

In 2016 I visited Lesotho for the first time after almost 30 years. It was such an emotional trip on many levels. Finally, I could see my family again. This also meant that now I would face the fact that I have lost almost all of my Father’s family.

I can still remember vividly the feeling I got as I landed on South African soil. I could hardly breathe. Tears of joy poured down my cheeks and the lovely South African woman sitting beside me gently asked “are you alright dear?” Chocking with emotions I nodded my head and she rubbed my shoulder and said “breathe”. As I exited the plane, I literally heard my ancestors say “welcome back our child” I smiled and wiped off my tears. I felt a sense of belonging and security.  I stayed in Johannesburg for a couple of days. On the third day, we left for Lesotho. Mafeteng (my birthplace) to be exact.

As soon as we approached the border into Lesotho, it rained cats and dogs! It was a sign that the Gods were pleased with me. The sign Khotso Pula Nala at the border brought me to my knees. I stepped out of my Aunty’s car and kissed the ground. Despite the night’s darkness, I noticed some familiar places as I stared out the window like a toddler with a grin on my face. I felt free and as though all my worries and hardships I’d endured abroad were completely lifted off of me. I was HOME where I belong.

What advice would you give the younger ones?

I have been blessed to be invited as a guest speaker to local schools in Lesotho and I often tell the youth that education is fundamental for a better life. However, going to school to get hired is no longer the way things work. Innovation is the key to success! With innovation, one can create job opportunities and improve the country’s economy. School is only to prepare and guide. In other words the beginning not the final destination.

Thank you for sharing with us.

You are welcome. I appreciate ADM

 

 

 

 

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AfricaInterview storyInterviewsPersonality InterviewPolitics

African spiritualization, culture and traditions are my ancestral linkages – Dr. Akil Kokayi Khalfani

Dr. Akil Kokayi Khalfani, is a Change Agent, Motivational Speaker, Author, and Professor and Pan African Diaspora Ambassador to His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ooni of Ile Ife.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, and raised up to the fifth grade in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Dr. Khalfani spent most of his adolescence in Los Angeles, California where he learned the foundations of family values and hard work from his parents, grandparents, and large extended family.

As a first generation college student, he was dedicated to seeking the truth about the African global experience, and breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for others, which he did as a radio host at KZSC and a newsmagazine editor.  Unbeknownst to him, he was following in the footstep of his Great Grandfather and his three brothers, who were doctors and educators.

Dr. Khalfani did not learn of them until after he had begun writing his dissertation.   As part of his academic journey, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. However, he refers to his BS degree as a Blood Shed degree because of the thousands of Africans in America who died to provide him with the opportunity to thrive.

He subsequently earned his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania, from which he also earned a Graduate Certificate in African Studies. While at Penn, he became a Fontaine Fellow and an International Pre-dissertation Fellow through the Social Science Research Foundation.  During the latter he studied isiZulu, Afrikaans, and southern African history and culture at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.  His academic areas of expertise are Africana Studies, race relations, social stratification, and developing solutions to social problems.

In this exclusive interview with Adewale Adenrele of African Development Magazine, Dr. Khalfani speaks about his political journey, African spiritualism, Leadership challenges and plans for his constituents.

Below are excerpts:

 

 Can you tell us briefly about yourself?

My name is Akil Kokayi Khalfani. Which means, intelligent, one who uses reason to summons the people who are destined to rule. When someone calls my name, it reminds me of the role and responsibility that I must play in my community. I am a man of the people, an author, professor, motivational speaker, father, and husband. I am a candidate for U.S. Congress representing New Jersey’s 10th congressional district. I earned a Ph.D. and Masters in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s from the University of California, Santa Cruz. I studied in South Africa at the University of Pretoria. My academic areas of expertise are, social stratification, developing solutions to social problems, Africana Studies, and race relations. I am currently the Director for the Center for Global Education and Experiences, Director of the Africana Institute and Associate Professor of Sociology at Essex County College.

I recently founded Vote-ED, a nonprofit organization dedicated to voter education and registration.  I am the Pan African Diaspora Ambassador to the Ooni of Ile Ife. I am the author of, The Hidden Debate: The Truth Revealed about the Battle over Affirmative Action in South Africa and the United States, which was nominated for the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award of the American Sociological Association (ASA). I have contributed to several books including the W.E.B. Du Bois Encyclopedia and White Logic, White Methods, Racism and Methodology, which won the ASA’s 2009 Oliver Cromwell Cox Award.

 What are your major responsibilities as an Advisor to the UNESCO Center for Global Education, how have you impacted your position on populace?

I formerly served as an Advisor to the UNESCO Center for Global Education.  We organized events to address educational challenges around the world.

 What have been the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of leadership for you?

The greatest challenges are the resistance to liberty, equality, and justice around the globe, particularly as it relates to people of African descent.  As I wrote in The Hidden Debate, we must develop a new holistic analysis to the problems of the world, while simultaneously developing a holistic approach to the solutions of these various social problems. Often policymakers and scholars, although well meaning, only address the surface of the problems of the day and never get to the true core of our various challenges. The core of these problems, I argue, rest at divergent interpretations of liberty equality and justice. Thereby, suggesting that what one experiences in the name of liberty equality and justice is also divergent because we are not operating on the “sup posit” universal meanings of these precepts.

My rewards are not individual. Success or rewards come in the form of collective achievement of agreed upon goals and objectives. That is, we must focus on outcomes and not just access to the possibility of social transformation. So, the answer is not just equality, equity, or justice, it is the synergistic achievement of these precepts that are symbiotic in nature. The achievement of equity, for instance, is often believed or at least spoken about in isolation of justice or freedom, which is not possible.

Contribution and call for promoting humanity service, peace and unity, equity and justice has been your priorities, who influenced you and why do you choose this path?

I have been influenced greatly by our African ancestors, my parents, and grandparents.  The legacies of Harriet Tubman, Kwame Nkrumah, Malcolm X, Toussaint L’Overture, Imhotep, Oduduwa, and others.

The generational trauma, pain and suffering of the people in our community, as well as the great potential and opportunities for our community compel me to push and to push hard. As Frederick Douglass said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

You are a Candidate for US Congress for New Jersey’s 10th district; Share with us your journey into politics?

This is my second time running for U.S. Congress. I am pushing along with my constituents for greater representation for New Jersey and the 10th district. Many people in the district do not feel as though their voices are heard, so I am striving to be the voice of the voiceless.

 You were extremely disappointed with your representation in Congress; can you tell us what you will do differently if given an opportunity?

As mentioned above, I will be the voice of the voiceless. I will hold regular town hall meetings for constituents in the district. I will fight to bring more financial resources from Washington DC into the district. I will work to clean up the environment in New Jersey where many people experience environmental discrimination and pollution because their communities are near various polluting systems or corporations.

READ ALSO: https://africandevmag.net/2021/05/17/interview-nikki-spooner-american-born-nollywood-actress-embraces-yoruba-language-culture/

I am a strong advocate for reparations for African Americans. My position is that the discussion on reparations in the United States needs to be tied to the long discussion of reparations for people of African dissent around the world as a result of colonialism and slavery.

 President Joe Biden is the president of the United States, Do you believe in his vision and policies?

This is a very broad question. I believe that Biden like any president has some things right and other things that need to be counterbalanced. As a member of Congress, it would be my responsibility to both draft legislation and to serve as a balance in this regard, especially where the constituents of the 10th district are represented, but also on national and global matters.

It seems you have an ancestral link or bloodline with Africans, tell us about Juneteenth celebration?

I am African. So, my ancestral linkages are with the motherland and her people and traditions.

Juneteenth is a recognition of the delayed emancipation of enslaved Africans from the vestiges of forced servitude and torture by European Americans and the American system of governance. A group of Africans in Texas, who had been freed at the same time as all others when slavery ended in the United states in 1868, were not aware of their freedom more than two years after their actual emancipation. This celebration of Juneteenth is a contrast in part, to July the 4th.

This is important because July the 4th is when independence is celebrated in the United states. However, it was again Frederick Douglass who so eloquently said, “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.” Douglass’s point was that why should African people celebrate the 4th of July when the vast majority were still enslaved. Many African Americans still reflect upon this important point today. Juneteenth, however, then is an opportunity for African Americans to reflect upon their formal liberation from physical bondage, but as slavery ended a new form of servitude immediately followed in the form of sharecropping and convict leasing. These atrocities continued the subjugation of people of African descent in the United States albeit in a different format.

 African Development Magazine would like to be part of your team reporting your activities; would you consider partnering with us and what will be your commitment to ADM?

We will be glad to work with the African Development Magazine.

 Amazing memories are unforgettable; can you share with us most amazing memory?

The birth of my children are always amazing memories for me. Also returning home to the motherland in 1994 was an amazing journey, as well as living in South Africa in 1995. There are so many others, but I will say that I am blessed to have had the opportunity to travel widely and appreciative of the foundation laid by my parents whose sacrifices made all that I do today possible. Modupe!

 What advice would you give the younger ones?

Keep pushing forward and let no one or nothing stop you on the path to your personal and collective liberation and upliftment. We must practice Ubuntu, Maat, and Iwa Pele.  Share what you know and always strive to know more.  Finally, bring someone along with you on the journey to upliftment and transformation of our people around the world.

Ase! Ase! Ase ooo!

 

ADM2021

 

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AfricaInterview story

INTERVIEW STORY: DRC President and African Union chief Felix Tshisekedi with François Chignac

For the first time in 25 years, African economies entered a recession, as they were badly shaken up by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The IMF estimates that $300 billion is needed for the African continent to get out of this difficult situation.

The migrant crisis, terrorist threats, good governance and vaccine skepticism are other challenges facing the continent. In an exclusive interview, Africanews’ Francois Chignac spoke to Democratic Republic of Congo President and current President of the African Union, Félix Tshisekedi.

François Chignac, AfricanewsMr. President, my first question will be very straightforward. 19, 20 African heads of state, and international delegations were in Paris, after President Emmanuel Macron invited them. Are the conclusions of this summit, in a way, the first jab that was needed for African economies to bounce back?

Félix Tshisekedi, DRC and AU President: First of all, I would like to thank French President Emmanuel Macron for this courageous and unprecedented initiative. Why unprecedented? Because, at last, it has been able to involve Africans in the reflection on their future. Because until now, decisions were taken in the absence of Africans and were then sent down to us. Here, we are piloting this process together. I like the term that President Macron used: the New Deal.

I know that this will be hard. But I am confident because the European Council President, Charles Michel, who is also a committed Africanist, attended the conference. We have set ourselves a number of targets, until the first half of 2022, during the French Presidential Elections, where we will look at what the situation is during a European Union-African Union summit. Then, we will perhaps be able to tell you whether what was done in Paris was headed in the right direction.

François Chignac: Mr. President, the conclusions of the Paris Summit were focused on health. Where are we at really in terms of bailing out African economies?

Félix Tshisekedi: The big news is the decision on the special drawing rights, which are valued at $650 billion. We were a bit disappointed at the Paris Summit, because we only got 33 billion to be allocated to Africa at this stage, which is a very small amount for 54 countries.

And so, the objective of this conference was, among other things, to go and raise up to 100 billion. And after our discussions, we saw that it was possible and that we could even go beyond that. The other news is that the lever by which these drawing rights will be used is the African Development Bank, which knows African countries and the challenges they face very well. And this would be a considerable contribution to wipe out a part of the debts these African countries have. This would enable them to start up on the basis of their own efforts.

We are not going to confine all Africans in Africa’

François Chignac: Let us come back to the health crisis if you would. What is your opinion on the conclusions of this summit?

Félix Tshisekedi: It’s true that we are not going to confine all Africans in Africa. They will be forced to move around, to interact with others, and they could contract another variant of the virus that might be much more deadly, and make vaccination useless. So I believe that we have to vaccinate the largest amount of people possible. And so a call has been made to those who own the rights to these vaccines. And that will also have a positive impact on our people that have been heavily manipulated.

François Chignac: If you allow me, Mr President, people did not trust vaccines.

Félix Tshisekedi: Exactly. But the fact that Africans have developed this resistance to the virus has led many to believe that the virus was affecting others and not us. But this is a mistake because the virus mutates. So we have to protect ourselves.

François Chignac: People have often said there is a lack of communication on the African continent.

Félix Tshisekedi: It’s easy to say, but before that, there were some mistakes. I’m thinking of the decision by eleven European countries to suspend the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has given a boost to those who hold the view that this vaccine is dangerous for Africans. You see, it’s very difficult to deal with this kind of thing.

François Chignac: After the health and economic crisis, Let’s talk about the migrant crisis. A lot of migrants have arrived on Spanish territory recently. Are you, as the current president of the African Union, in touch with the European Union in order to stop these waves of migrants coming to Spain?

Félix Tshisekedi: Not yet, unfortunately. Not yet. Because Europe’s response is radical. They close their doors. But I believe that Europe’s response should be to talk to Africans, and most important, to see from which countries the majority of these migrants come from and to look at how we can, by working together, prevent these migrations, hold back these young people who are leaving. Because the real reason for all of this is despair. The youth believes that Europe is an Eldorado. And that by leaving their country, they can find happiness in Europe. But Europe also has its problems. It is very difficult for these young Africans to find a place over there.

We have, on the one hand, to explain this to them, but on the other hand, we have to provide them with solutions to their daily problems. Youth entrepreneurship is something that could be effective, and that’s why, as the current president of the African Union and the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, I have offered to organize the first meeting of the Alliance for Youth Entrepreneurship.

We have to stick together, because these young people are the future of our country, and we must be able to supervise them, manage them, train them, and educate them.

‘What is going on in Mozambique really attracts our attention’

François Chignac: Let’s talk about Mozambique, where there is a serious jihadist threat. The SADC has intervened and you want your country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, to really act among these southern African countries. How do you deal with the jihadist threat in Mozambique?

Félix Tshisekedi: The problem in Mozambique is similar to that in the east of my country. These are Islamist terrorist groups that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and this is not a problem that affects one country. And the risk is that this cancer, this problem, spreads to the whole region, the whole continent.

So we must fight it now. We cannot wait. What is going on in Mozambique really attracts our attention because it is exactly the same phenomenon that we are experiencing here.

Because these regions are potentially rich in mineral and other resource, what we have to do is cut them off from that supply, because that is what’s going to fuel their activities. So we have to work quickly, efficiently and together, because together we will succeed.

François Chigna_c: So Mr. President it is a regional problem!_

Félix Tshisekedi: That is why the presence of the SADC Executive Secretary Professor Faustin Luanga will be useful in raising the voice of the DRC in this matter and in many other areas.

I also stress on the integration of Africa because that is how Africa will succeed in getting back on its feet. We will start with regional economic communities, the SADC being one of them, and within these regional economic communities we will give an impulse that will bring us together to form this African continental free trade area.

François Chignac: You are talking of a regional response. What do you have to say to your Rwandan counterpart, regarding the acts of violence that took place in your country a few years ago?

Félix Tshisekedi: Well first of all I am not here to comment on this. He is a person with whom I have a good relationship, and there are other ways to get our message across.

I would say that the Mapping Exercise Report is something that was written by UN experts. It was not done by the Congolese. The Congolese are not accusing anyone. The people who wrote this report are unbiased.

And then I would also say that justice must be served for all the victims, all those who died and whose lives were taken away in Congo and elsewhere in the region.

So, for me, it would be a positive thing for President Kagame to collaborate in this, because at this stage, there is still no conviction. So, we must serve justice. I want to bring back peace and security in my country because I want to move on from this dark period in Africa’s history. I want peace for my people, but also for the neighbouring people, so that our countries turn to their development rather than to an unnecessary war.

François Chignac: You mentionned instability. Let’s talk about your country. Should states of emergency be introduced in transitional periods, as you have done?

Félix Tshisekedi: Of course. You know, this situation has now been going on for the past twenty years, and we still haven’t found a solution. The military administration that we now have is here because I wished it. Because the governor is a representative of the President of the Republic in the province he runs. They are my eyes and ears.

And in that regard, the military governor is the one who can provide the best answers, and the best remarks and observations about this situation. So it’s very important for us to move to this model of governance through the military and to have a military officer in charge of these provinces.

François Chignac: A few months ago, the international community and the Congo suffered a heavy loss with the death of the Italian ambassador. What is the status of the investigations surrounding his death?

Félix Tshisekedi: Investigations are ongoing. At some point, we had a few suspects who had been apprehended. I think they are being questioned,because beyond these suspects, there is a whole organisation. They are bandits, organised in gangs and who for sure have mentors. So, I think that’s what we have to try to trace back.

We have the collaboration of the Italian services and we are working hard on it. I would really like to say that it was very sad because I knew the ambassador personally. It is terrible. I was really saddened by his death and it motivates me even more to look for the suspects and especially to put an end to these pockets of violence in the east of my country.

François Chignac: As the current chairman of the African Union, you said a few days ago, regarding Chad, that this transition really had to be settled in this way in order to maintain stability in the country.

Félix Tshisekedi: I fear that I may not have been understood. With President Déby, we knew how he ran this country and therefore the sudden disappearance of such a pillar, could lead the country into total instability.

And so the solution that was found, that didn’t come from us, but from the Chadians themselves, was a military solution. So for me, if that brings stability…I was in N’Djaména for the funeral of President Deby, I saw that the country was stable. People were calm.

From the moment that there is stability, then good. But then, we are not giving them a blank check. We say that because, they themselves said that there will be elections in 18 months, and we wish for this transition to be as inclusive as possible, to remove any possibility for someone to say “I was excluded, so I will settle my fate by taking arms”.

So if everyone is involved, if everyone accompanies this transition, we will have free, democratic and transparent elections. In any case, we hope so, and at that point, the country will return to a definitive stability.

François Chignac: Mr. President, the Congo is hoping to be represented at the UN Security Council…

Félix Tshisekedi: Yes of course, we hope to carry out the Congo’s voice on the international level and I think that now is a good time for us to have a relay at the UN as we take the presidency of the African Union

Of course, it is an ambition to carry the voice, obviously, of the Congo in the concert of nations and I believe that it is an opportunity now that we also have the African Union to have a relay at the United Nations.

Fabrice Marimootoo and Tancrède Chambraud contributed to this piece.

Credit: Africanews

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Meeting the funding needs of African SMEs

 Zahra Baitie-Boateng 

….As ABH Prize 2021 nominations open and competition gears up! 

 Interview Story: Mohammed Abu, ADM, Accra

Prior to Covid 19 add-on,one of the already existing  many challenges facing African small and medium scale enterprises(SMEs) had not only been the easy access  to capital, but more so,at most affordable cost.

The Jack Ma Foundation’s  sponsored Africa Business Heroes(ABH) Prize Competition seeks to change the narrative as nominations for the 3rd edition of the event having been since  opened and due to close on June 7,2021.

The prize competition which is the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic program for spotlighting and celebrating Africa’s entrepreneurs also serves as a Special Purpose Vehicle for grant funding of $1.5 million intended to boost entrepreneurship across Africa. The funding opportunity is open to all 54 African countries.

After initial rounds of judging, the Top 50 finalists will be announced in July while in  August, the Top 20 will be identified and begin preparing for the Semi-Finale round in September. At the semi-finale round, the Top 10 heroes are selected to go on to the Grand Finale in November.

The competition is open to all African entrepreneurs, no matter their sector, age or gender. The organizers are looking for passionate, resilient, innovative, and mission-driven entrepreneurs who are solving pressing challenges and creating jobs and opportunities. They are also encouraging most especially, female entrepreneurs to apply for the competition.

Entrepreneurs who are mostly encouraged to apply are those who have market traction and at least 3 years of revenue and operational history.

Held under the theme, “It’s African Time”, the event organisers want to challenge stereotypes typically associated with “African Time” by issuing a bold call to action to all of the immensely talented African entrepreneurs who are unlocking innovation and change with their businesses.

This was disclosed by Zahra Baitie, Head of Partnerships & Programs, Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition during an e-interview with  your favourite, the African Development.

“We hope they are able to tap into the ABH competition as their chance to grow their companies and share their stories with the world.

Zahra intimated “We know first-hand how impactful SMEs and entrepreneurs can be in driving positive growth”, adding, “Our mission with the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) prize competition is to spotlight and support these talented African entrepreneurs from across the continents who are working to solve critical problems, uplift their local communities, and build a more inclusive digital economy for the future”.

“Every year, ten finalists will come together to compete in the ABH finale pitch competition. These ten finalists are all winners in that they will be walking away with a share of a US $1.5 million prize pool in grant money. But we also want to provide these entrepreneurs with a platform where they can fully showcase their business ideas and talent.

“The finale is broadcast in a television show and online where we hope to inspire others to action. Some of our 2019 Finalists have cited how the ABH Show supported them in raising their profile, attracting investors and closing funding rounds.

“Beyond this, we also aim to provide our finalists with access to investors and provide them with investment readiness training to support them as they raise funds. Lastly, we aim to facilitate an ABH Community of various stakeholders – investors, entrepreneurs and various organizations who can collaborate and also work together to tackle some of the challenges that entrepreneurs on the continent face

 On whether the ABH Prize Competition has come to stay or has an exit period, Zahra said, they have a long-term mission to help foster a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa. One, she noted, where entrepreneurs, government, civil society, and academia work together to remove barriers to entrepreneurship.

“Over a ten-year period, ABH will recognize 100 African entrepreneurs – allocating grant funding, training, mentorship, and access to a community of like-minded African business leaders ‘Zahra disclosed.

 “It’s been incredible to see the response we’ve had to the first and second editions. We had great momentum after hosting our first competition in 2019 but when the pandemic hit last year, we knew we had to double-down on our mission to enable African entrepreneurs.

“ It was the right decision. Last year, we received more than 22,000 applications from all 54 countries in Africa, which was more than twice what we had in 2019.

“We are also gratified and proud to see our past finalists go on to even greater success after going through our prize competition. Our past two grand prize winners for example, Temie Giwa-Tobosun of LifeBank and Chebet Lesan from BrightGreen Renewable Energy have scaled their operations into new markets and new geographies, a hugely difficult task given the challenging year we faced.”

 On what she has to say to those applicants who may not be able to make it to the grand finale, “I would say to never give up. Entrepreneurs are born problem-solvers so this will just be another problem to solve.

“We saw many past applicants who were previously unsuccessful come back and go further than before. Additionally, although not all entrepreneurs are able to make it to the finale, applicants are able to receive invaluable feedback, find new ways to grow their businesses, and gain access to an incredible community of like-minded business leaders throughout the selection process. So, there is still tremendous value in applying even if you do not make it to the finale”

“What helps set our competition apart is our focus on mentorship and community. We provide training and learning throughout the process and applicants will also be able to make invaluable connections through our program. As I mentioned, each year the grand finale is also aired in a television show and online to showcase how our top 10 finalists pitch to legendary business figures.

“There is immense educational value in seeing how Africa’s top entrepreneurs articulate their businesses and visions to a world-class panel of business legends. We hope that the show can serve as a master class in entrepreneurship for aspiring entrepreneurs”.

 

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Africa’s Internal Development Challenges

Shiekh Ben Halima Abderraouf,.

….As ADM Engages  Tunisian Cleric in Accra

Story: Mohammed Abu-ADM,Accra..

Aside the popularly known external factors militating against Africa’s progress and development notably among which is, the long protracted balance of payment deficit, fiscal deficit , debt over hung,a number of  factors which are said to be  internal shortcomings of Africans themselves,are also said to be blamable.

The effect of Black magic and Sorcery also popularly referred to as”African electronics” is also said to constitute one of the internal factors badly affecting Africa’s progress and development.

To find out more, ADM,Ghana caught up with  with Tunisian cleric/mystic,Shiekh Ben Halima Abderraouf currently on a two-month Ruqya or psychic healing mission to Ghana.

Shiekh ben Halima is known in a number of African countries where he has established psychic healing and exorcism centers run and manned by his local  trainees with his mandate to do healing on his behalf.

The cleric believes among the  local factors, the slave and past colonial domination  mentality,sorcery and corruption are the worse offenders.

Even though slavery and colonial domination has long since ended in Africa,some Africans as of today,he sadly notes,also still exhibit past colonial domination  mentality in their relations and dealing with fellow Africans.

Such people he lamented, don’t  even show any sense of guilt when they should get the chance to take  undue advantage of their less unfortunate African fellows.

Such negative behaviour  ,Shiekh says,creates bad blood,erodes trust and goodwill among  people of  same  identity.

’This is a big affront to the cultivation of a  common sense of belonging and fostering of unity  for a common purpose to ensure even development and shared prosperity for the good people of  Africa with so much natural resources endowment.

To address  this undesirable situation,the current generation of  Africans,he suggests, must endeavour to catch the up and coming generations young.

He was of the view that, inculcating in growing up African children good  moral and ethical values with positive mindsets that shuns slave and past colonial domination mentality in their relations and dealings with their  fellow Africans would be very good for Africa’s progress and development.

On a more serious note,he is of the view that,,factoring of a new paradigm of mental renaissance premised on sense of togetherness for a common purpose as part of  the  upbringing of the African young ones,would be very important and could even be incorporated into the educational curricula of African countries.

That at best could even be incorporated into the  national  development agendas of the various African countries since it  would be prudent for achieving the much cherished continental economic integration moving on..

On whether sorcery is really an affront to progress and development in Africa,he said it is indeed one of the major internal factors.

Even though its cost he sadly notes,cannot be easily and really quantified,as a practitioner in psychic healing in Africa for some  decades today,he is aware of the use of sorcery and black magic by some Africans to fight their fellow Africans out of envy and sheer jealousy.

Many  a born African genius,potential leaders,enterprising people with bright futures whose success in life could have afforded them the opportunity to impact their societies and nations  most positively, often become victims of sorcery and black magic resulting in long protracted blockages in their lives.

Shiekh also bemoans the use of black magic by some Africans to  fight fellow Africans at work places simply because such innocent people want to see the ideal work ethics upheld and the right thing done in the interest of the corporate entity they are entrusted with some management responsibility. This often lead to compromising of standard work ethics and eventual collapse collapse of such entities.

On the issue of corruption,Shiekh says he couldn’t  easily think of  any effective remedial action towards it,but it  no doubt constitutes one of the  big hurdles  to Africa’s progress and development. Thus,some how Africans must come out with an effective means of scaling it down even if not completely eradicating it

Shiekh also cited other cases public spirited African individuals  who became victims  of sorcery and black magic simply because they made moves to put in place humanitarian projects that would have benefited members of their society. Such attacks in some cases,he said,are orchestrated by family enemies of the victim.

Sorcerers he says employ the services of demonic forces referred to as jinni in Arabic to haunt and torment their victims through long protracted ailments and problems of all sorts.

Black magical powers is highly developed in Africa Shiekh admits  and sadly notes that in most cases,used for evil and destructive purposes  rather than for the good of Africans and their  societies.

On a snapshot of use of black magic worldwide, he noted that it is currently relatively lower in the European countries such as France where he had once resided before stating that, that part of the world also had it in their past history but they  have since moved past the stage in which Africa still finds herself now.

The grand Shiekh said black magic is also found minimally  in  Arabia,with considerable high occurrence in East Asian countries such as Pakistan and India.Island countries like Madagascar he also noted has  high occurrence of it.

Shiekh Ben Halima is known in Ghana and other African countries where he operates healing centers run and managed by local citizens who have to first  receive hands on practical  training from him before they are certified to do healing on his behalf.

Psychic cases  treated at the Ruqiya Healing Centres are namely, Jinni or evil spirits,black magic and sorcery related ailments and afflictions

The form of healing Shiekh Ben Halima practices is termed Islamic medicine otherwise known as Prophetic  healing that adopts  a holistic approach for addressing both psychic  and physical health needs of man.

Ruqiya is the is the spiritual or psychic healing component but could also be extended to include physical ailments  healing within the broader context of the prophetic or Islamic medicine.

On the issue of corruption,Shiekh says he couldn’t  easily think of  any remedial action towards it,but it no doubt constitutes one of the  big hurdles  to Africa’s progress and development. Thus,some how Africans must come out with an effective means of scaling it down even if not completely eradicating it

Shiekh Ben Halima’s 150-page  book,”AL-RUQYA AL-SHARIYAH”,Exorcism According to the Qur’an and Sunnah gives  astounding insights into the inter-relationship between the spirit world and our human physical world as well as the interplay and collaboration  between some elements in both divides either for good or for evil.

The Ruqya healing services of Shiekh is opened to all the spiritually and physically  afflicted irrespective of ones religious or other persuasions.

 

 

 

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