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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken Arrives in South Africa

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in South Africa on Sunday, the first leg of his three-nation African tour.

In addition to South Africa, Blinken is also set to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

Blinken is slated to deliver a major speech in South Africa on Monday on U.S. strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa. Climate change, trade, health, and food insecurity will all be topics of discussion.

While in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, State Department officials say Blinken will work to reduce tensions between Congo and Rwanda. Congo has accused its neighbor of backing the M23 armed group, a charge Kigali denies.

In Rwanda, Blinken will raise the “wrongful detention” of U.S. permanent resident Paul Rusesabagina, according to the State Department. Rusesabagina’s actions helped save hundreds of lives during the 1994 genocide and inspired the movie Hotel Rwanda.

His trip comes just days after the top Russian diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, completed his tour of the continent, where he defended Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and blamed Western sanctions for Africa’s rising fuel and food costs. The United States has blamed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for driving up prices.

Political analysts say Africa has again become a battleground for influence and ideology decades after the end of the Cold War.

This is Blinken’s second trip to Africa as secretary of state, after visiting Nigeria, Senegal and Kenya in November.

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AfricaCulture & TourismInternationalInterview storyInterviewsPersonality Interview

I promote African culture, tradition and spirituality of our ancestors- Fabunmi, Yeyeoba of Oyotunji Kingdom

Fabunmi Adefunmi Sands is a scientist 1, licensed phlebotomist, certified orthopedic technician, and Echocardiogram reader who is currently working as an Emergency room technician II, and as a shop steward for SEIU-United Health care workers, a part-time lobbyist who assist with debating on the Capital floor in Sacramento, California, dealing with health care bills and rights for the people of California.

She graduated from American River College with an associate’s in Health and Science with an emphasis in psychology and emergency medicine and Bachelor’s degree in health and Administration with an emphasis in the  Emergency room and National.

Fabunmi is a part-time Human rights activist, a peace ambassador for the Black race, an African American Historian who hosts traditional and spiritual educational events, and the Yeyeoba of Oyotunji African Village who practice priestly ways that were learned from her parents and global travels on traditional events.

In this exclusive interview with ADEWALE ADENRELE, the Yeyeoba of Oyotunji speaks about ancestral lineage, spiritual journey in the Sango temple, and African culture and tradition, plus her major role as Yeyeoba of Oyotunji Kingdom.

Below are excerpts:

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

I am a Dahomean/ Yoruba diaspora who was born in Black Mecca, you would know it as Harlem, New York. I was born and named “Ifabunmi Olubiyi Adesoji Adefunmi’’ by way of my African naming ceremony, and my American name is Fabunmi Olubiyi Adefunmi’ which was on my American government papers.  As the daughter of Oba Adefunmi I and Olori Olubunmi Adesoji, I am a diaspora child of the Oyo and Ile Ife Empire by my diaspora blood line.

I was born to the ruling house of Adefunmi, first Oba of Oyotunji African Village ‘Osejiman Efuntola Adefunmi I, and the first Olubunmi Adesoji the queen of Lukumi and the first Queen of Oyotunji. My parents, who were very strong traditionalist Yoruba priests, were very renowned in the priesthood in North America. I was born to a clan of Obatala priest on my father’s side. My mother’s clans are warrior women / iron women as well as Christian preachers, and Native Indian (Black foot and Edisto) medicine spiritualists.

Fabunmi riding horse at Oyotunji African Village

I was raised in the USA with western colonial ideology all around me; I am a grand descendant to Alexander Hamilton, the first treasure to the United States of America, also the grand descent to Robert Smalls, the first freed slave Senator to South Carolina. I am the grand daughter to Roy King who worked alongside the General Marcus Garve to help the Black star liner and assisting with the birth of Liberia. I was at the birth of the beginning of the nation we all now call Oyotunji African Village. I was raised in the Sango temple in New York until I was age 5, where for many nights my Yeye and baba with other priest held bembe’s and called the ancient Orisas to the earth.

Who influenced you the most in life and why?

My mother was the most influential in my life, she made me to be strong and never scared of anyone or anything, she made me very proud of my blackness when in this country call America frowned on the black people. My mother instilled in me the four elements of courage and I have lived by the rules till this day.

You are the Yeye-Oba of Oyotunji Kingdom, a royal princess and an ambassador of the royal crown; At the most simplistic level, an ambassador acts as a representative which you are one, what are your responsibilities and how have you impacted lives with your position?

Yes! I am the mother of King to Oyotunji African Village, I am the daughter of the first king of Oyotunji, I am the eldest sister to the reigning king of Oyotunji. I am in perpetuity to the Royal Crown, West African culture tradition spirituality of Ancient African religions.

I am also a representative of healing of the mind and body when in crisis, which is ruled with the divinity of the creator’s touch. My responsibilities are to work hard to educate and put forth the truth about our people and to help continue pride and proof of the great royals and rulers of great empires before antiquity, before slavery interrupted our ancestor’s time in the Empires of the humblest of humanity. I helped the spiritual children understand what that force is that compel them to want to return to Momma Africa. That force that they cannot understand, for my people in the diaspora, as well as globally, I supervise, manage and negotiate for the betterment for the kingdom of Oyotunji and the nation of the Yoruba and black race.

Yeyeoba of Oyotunji Kingdom
Yeyeoba of Oyotunji Kingdom

I hosted Black history events on the west coast of the United States. I promote the Orisa festivals held in Oyotunji African village every month, which is the only authentic African village in North America. I work in collaboration with the chiefs and Egbe’s of  Oyotunji African village and villages globally to help promote the West African culture tradition and spirituality of our ancestors in its purest form.

Also, part of my responsibility to the king is to report on my findings pertaining to the family of the Adefunmi and the village of Oyotunji, also to know of the crimes against the Diaspora Africans that were scattered across the world and to make the Diaspora in America and the world to know that you have a home in Oyotunji. I educate on the name of the land called Oyo and Ile Ife, the birthplace of our ancestor. For generation we in North America were never allowed to know the names to return home to. I give the names of the ruling Kings so when they return to momma Africa, they can visit the crown that ruled over our ancestors across the ocean back in mommas Africa’s arms long before the diaspora became diaspora. I educate on how to practice our ancestors’ ways opening without religious persecution. My responsibility is to give hope to our oppressed brothers and sister who are being gun-down in cold blood here in the diaspora on how to spiritually protect them and by shielding themselves with the Orisa.

You attended the World Obatala Annual Festival 2022 edition held in Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria under supreme auspices of the His Imperial Majesty, Oba Babatunde Enitan Ogunwusi Adeyeye, Ojaja II, Ooni of Ile-Ife and the leadership of His Divine Grace Oba (Isoro) O.O.O Dada, The Obalesun Obatala Worldwide. What was the inspiration and motivation that drives your spiritualism on the attendance?

Its closeness of defining me, inline that gives birth to my ancestral lineage where I originated from, they made me who ways show me the way back to the creator to better understand the quality of being.

Read Also: https://africandevmag.net/2021/04/30/oyotunji-african-village-an-institution-for-cultural-tourism-by-adewale-adenrele/

The two-weeks annual festival programme that celebrates Yoruba religion, customs, culture and tradition through spirituality in purity, with the aim to bring together a wider audience of Obatala devotees, traditional worshipers, traditional and cultural institutions. What do you like about African Culture and traditions?

Being a Diaspora African American, my ancestor’s culture is unwavering, I love the ancient customs they still hold to be true.  I love the mystic and the beauty of the beginning of humanities manifestation of traditions that survive the birth, death and rebirth of Momma Africa’s children.

Visitors from different parts of the world such as; USA, Brazil, Trinidad & Tobago, Venezuela, Argentina, Cuba and more were in attendance of the festival. Can you share with us your experience?

An awesome experience!!! I lived in America with hundreds of different ethnicities, but to spend quality time with those many different devotees from around the globe was spiritually uplifting, it made my soul feel more of a connection to being home.

The festival continuously engages in by promoting the Yoruba Cultural agenda towards a veritable socio-economic and political emancipation of our people globally as a yardstick towards global development. How would you use your visit and experience to motivate other Americans who are African descent especially Nigerians-Americans to join you?

I use all my experience to educate and give proof and facts that knowledge is power and always seek the truth, my culture; tradition spirituality has been proven through science, throughout time, our ancestors’ ways is that of the ways of divinity that lives in us all.

L-R: Fabunmi and colleagues

This year theme for International Women’s Day, is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”. Can you tell us how to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all?

Women are the ones who give birth to nations, we are the ones that raise the children of that nation, we are the ones who half to have equal sitting at the table of building and sustaining a nation for we are the mothers of that nation.

A lot of African nations are fashioning their democracy after the west, yet we exist in some level of neo-colonialism. Well, is there a way to localize democracy that will fit the African context? 

Our ancestors left us a blueprint, remember if you look at the Ogbonis, and the Oba council, they already have what we need but the seed of evil scamming, deceitfulness has manifested, and we must remove it from our DNA. We must know how to remove the corruption tree and we must burn its roots.

Researches put forward a new narrative explaining the variations in African ancestry in the Americas and how these variations were shaped by the transatlantic trade, how has you and many others changing the narrative for development?

Tribute to Alaafin

African Ancestry in North America, the land of the free the home of the brave, those words where never meant for us Chattel Diaspora , American Africans who built this nation. USA Diaspora who still used as target practice for the white man’s fear prophesy preparation for the last stance of the pure white race. I as a decedent of chattel slaves, has study the reason for the debauchery of my people here in North America. Just the fact that I am allowed to read and write, look a white person in their eye when I speak and not be murdered for it is a gift from the great Brave Black Men and women who came before me.

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade took my ancestors humanity for generations, along with millions of ancestral lines. The slave trade took my ancestors language for generations upon generation from us and gave us the oppressors tongue. Still to this day we struggle to learn our ancestor’s original tongue we struggle to go back to Africa for we don’t know where to go, that is until Oyotunji African Village. The strength and resilience of my people brought forth survival tactics to live in this land, first they learned to survive by speaking to one another in an invented language called Geechee talk, , the Geechee talk was invented to help talk about things so the slave master could not know what was going on and used to trade with Indigenous of the North America .

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

My most amazing memory was with my Yeye and Baba, they both were singing and drumming to SANGO  my yeye was singing oriki (Eulogy)  while my baba was drumming and me and my sister Fabayo were dancing, best memory ever.

How many languages can you speak fluently?

I speak 2 languages fluently and several others like Yoruba and French I struggle with it . Though the language was spoken amongst the free blacks and the red skin Indians of this land. As a DESCENDANT I speak Gee Chee fluently like I speak English. In America the chattel slaves lost their culture and their spirituality. As their descendants we fight every day to return to our ancestors’ ways.

We had to fight and scratch for every breath we take on this soil which has been fertilized by the blood of my people the Diaspora of North America, time after time. We the awaken generation now know the names of our ancestors lands the names of the kings, the names of the villages, we know the names of our Gods our ancestors’ ways. We know the name and way to Oyo Empire, We now know the name and place of the Ancient Holy city of Ile Ife, we know that we are from the land of the Benin the village of Abomey where my direct royal ancestor was stolen from.  We no longer cry for home for we know where she is now…

 What advice would you give the younger ones?

I would tell them to never forget who they are and where they came from REMEMBER your culture tradition and your own people’s spirituality

Thank you for sharing with ADM

Thank you. Alaafia o!

 

         ADM 2022

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Culture & Tourism

Nepal has the highest mountain in the world Mount Everest 8,848 meters- Bishwombhar Lamsal

Tourism is the largest industry in Nepal and its largest source of foreign exchange and revenue before the Covid-19 outbreak that claimed lives crashed the economy and affects the growth of tourism. It suffered a setback because millions of tourism workers are jobless due to the pandemic. Even though Nepal possesses eight of the ten highest mountains in the world, Nepal is a hot spot destination for mountaineers, rock climbers, and people seeking adventure.

Bishwombhar Lamsal, a tourism expert, consultant, and founding chairman & counselor, Vraman Holidays Pvt. Ltd shares his view with ADEWALE ADENRELE on “Pandemic and its Impact on Tourism”.

Below are excerpts:

Can you tell us the major attractions in Nepal; how would you educate interested students and potential tourists to visit Nepal?

Nepal is a country that lies between two giant countries India and China. Nepal has been blessed with the youngest and highest mountain on earth also known as the Himalayas. Nepal boasts of having eight the fourteen 8k meters mountains, the highest mountain in the world Mt. Everest 8848 meters is also in Nepal.

Nepal is rich in culture. We have around 125 ethnic tribes living in Nepal and each ethnic tribe has its traditions, customs, and culture. This multi-dimensional heritage combines the varieties of Nepal’s ethnic, tribal, and social groups, and it manifests in music and dance, art and craft, languages and literature, festivals and celebrations, and foods and drinks. With the diversity in altitude ranging from the Terai region to the Himalayan range. The landscape also varies from the lowland agricultural area and deserts to the high-altitude mountain range. Each landscape has its beauty.

Nepal is famous for Trekking; Peak Climbing; Mountain Biking Tours; expedition; Day Tours; Rafting; Wilderness Trekking; Adventure Sports Activities; Helicopter Tours; Honeymoon Tour Packages and Yoga Meditation Treks/Tours among several others. You define it; we tailor-made it. We have been continuously promoting our tourism/hospitality ventures/products and NEPAL as a whole at nearly all of the major international platforms viz: WTM; FITUR; ITB: OAS; CMT Stuttgart; MTS; VIT to name a few. On such platforms, we not only promote our company’s individual products/services but also NEPAL as a whole. We distribute our promotional materials in flash drives; brochures; websites and ads. This way we not only educate; we compel people of varied professions to come to Nepal at least once in their lifetime for life experiences.

What are the challenges you faced while doing travel and tourism business and how did you overcome them?

Tourism is always evolving and it never remains the same! Because the way we were bound to do business during the 90s/2000s and now has drastically changed! Major challenges at that time were guests visiting destinations on their own and facing problems on their way… We have numerous examples of guests missing/lost and death reports simply because they chose; to travel on their own without the support/assistance from the local experts/authorized service providers. Though problems persist, it has been drastically reduced to a significant degree. We become able in educating our guests about the consequences of traveling alone! We solopreneurs in collaboration with our government entity – Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) – are working for the welfare of our industry.

 In tourism, we have aspects of tourism like educational tourism, religious tourism, medical tourism, and cultural tourism, which area is Nepal’s selling point of tourism to the world?

Nepal is diverse and rich in every aspect of Tourism/Hospitality. Nobody will return empty hands/minds once they are in this amazing piece of land! We do outstandingly promote NEPAL as a destination for Education Tourism; (concept broadening) Medical Tourism; Cultural Tourism; Photography & Movie-Shoot Tourism; Honeymoon Destination and many more…

As the founder, chairman, and counselor of Vraman Holidays Pvt Ltd. in Nepal, how long precisely do you think global travel will resume to its normal pace?

Tourism/Hospitality is the HARDEST-HIT industry sector among ALL because of the Pandemic! This is no doubt! And, an amazing part of our industry is – it is capable of rejuvenating at the FASTEST pace among ALL, as well. Let me define this; for instance, people in agriculture, under normal circumstances have to wait several months to have their product being harvested, and we cannot do this all year round! Whereas in Tourism/Hospitality, we can serve our guests all year round! The industry impacts all other sectors! Tourists’ flow means increments in activities; many people get employment; there in consumption in provisions; food, local people are deployed at specific areas as per the needs of tourists. All sectors revive just because TOURISM revives!

Thus, under normal circumstances, I presume TOURISM is the fastest-progressing industry among ALL.

Early 2020 before the pandemic outbreak, global tourism celebrated a record year of travel. Now, it’s decimated and facing a recovery that could take some time. Can you tell us how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the travel and tourism industry?

Words will be insufficient to describe the (global) impact – adverse effect – of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Tourism/Hospitality. This is a service industry and services are meant for luxury. When there arose a situation to choose between luxury and survival; anybody can choose between the ONE. For instance, people need products/goods to survive. But services are for thriving. During the Pandemic, our quest was the SURVIVAL! Thank God, we survived! And, we are confident that now we will thrive at the fastest pace!

The pandemic affects millions of people who depend on tourism and were laid off or furloughed. How do you think tourism can bounce back and survive?

Optimism | Faith | Resilient – we tourism stakeholders bear this trait to the highest degree than anyone in another industry sector! There is no doubt that we – the tourism industry – will be the fastest recovering industry sector among ALL. Tourism/Hospitality is the HARDEST-HIT industry sector among ALL because of the Pandemic! This is no doubt! And, an amazing part of our industry is – it is capable of rejuvenating at the FASTEST pace among ALL, as well.

Let me define this; for instance, people in agriculture, under normal circumstances have to wait several months to have their product being harvested, and we cannot do this all year round! Whereas in Tourism/Hospitality, we can serve our guests all year round! The industry impacts all other sectors! Tourists flow means increments in activities; many people get employment; there in consumption in provisions; food .. local people are deployed at specific areas as per the needs of tourists. All sectors revive just because TOURISM revives!

Many destinations anticipate travelers’ behavior will change in the virus’s wake. What measures have you put in place to sensitize and educate potential tourists/travelers to erase the fear of covid-19?

We are all aware at this point that Covid-19 is no JOKE. Standard health protocols are being deployed everywhere, at least in my country – NEPAL. We are sincere; desperately; in a healthier environment – awaiting our international guests to arrive; enjoy; entertain and thrive!

 African Development Magazine would like to partner us with media tour promotion and coverage of tourism activities, would you support this development and give us a chance?

For sure; we are together at every step of your action. Please go ahead.

Thanks for sharing with ADM

Thank you too.

ADM 2022

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International

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s Interview with Ronald Kato

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield is the U.S. Representative to the United Nations spoke with Ronald Kato of Africanews, a media outfit on the invasion of Russia in Ukraine and how the economy is affected among other pertinent issues.

QUESTION:  Welcome to this special interview on AfricaNews. So the war in Ukraine is happening far from Africa, but its consequences are being felt on the continent. From skyrocketing fuel prices to difficulties importing food, countries in Africa feel caught up in a conflict they thought they had nothing to do with. To hear more about the ramifications of the Ukraine war for African countries, I’m joined by the U.S. Representative to the UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Ambassador Greenfield, thank you very much for your time. Are you concerned that soaring food prices in Africa could drive social unrest or another upheaval?

AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  Thank you, Ronald, and it’s really great to be here with you. We know that the impact of this war of aggression that the Russians initiated in Ukraine will have an impact on the world. Ukraine has been one of the major exporters of wheat to Africa for example. I think the figures I have is about $2.4 billion in 2021 of trade between Ukraine and Africa. But it is the war that has led to this, and this is why Africans need to be part of the solution to bringing this unconscionable war to an end. The impact is not just being felt in Africa. We’re seeing oil prices increase in the United States. We’re seeing food prices increase in the United States. It is because of Russia’s aggression that this is happening.

QUESTION:  Ambassador Greenfield, this is a major international event. When things like this happen, African countries tend to be on the periphery. We heard last week the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, saying he had been approached to try and mediate a way out of this crisis. What role can African countries do to bring this war to an end, for peace to prevail in Ukraine?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  The voice of every leader, every country, calling on the  Russians to end this war, I think, is is important. No voice is too small. No president is unimportant in this effort. And this is why in New York, in the General Assembly, the African vote is so important. So that we can say to the Russians they have no allies in this war of aggression against Ukraine. That we all stand with the Ukrainian people with this attack on the integrity of their borders, this attack on their sovereignty and their independence, this humanitarian crisis that is being created by the Russian actions in Ukraine. So every country is being impacted by this, and every country ought to stand against this aggression.

QUESTION:  Are you engaging African ambassadors? Are you in touch with the African Union?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  I am working with African ambassadors on a daily basis. As you know, there are three African elected members of the Security Council, the A3, Ghana, Kenya and Gabon. I engage with them on these issues regularly. And I meet with and engage with other African permanent representatives to encourage them to speak out on this issue. The head of the AU was in Washington last week, Mr. Faki, and he met with Secretary Blinken and met with others in Washington. And certainly, a number of issues were on the agenda on how we can partner with Africa on a broad range of issues, but Ukraine was certainly one of those areas where we need African engagement, we need African partnership.

QUESTION:  Ambassador Greenfield, the global economy is emerging from the pandemic. And now you have rising fuel prices that threaten to scuttle growth. I know that this isn’t primarily your topic, but what is your government going to bring down oil prices?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  We have done a number of things to mitigate the impact of this war and the sanctions that have been imposed on Russia – to mitigate the impact of that on other countries, including our own where we are also seeing oil prices and gas prices skyrocket. The idea is to look for other sources of oil to build up and promote other countries who are oil producers. There are a large number of countries who are oil producers on the continent of Africa. How can we use those resources in a in a more efficient way that will provide support across, not just in Africa, but across the world? Those are all issues that we’re trying to address as we address the impact of the war and helping countries come out of the COVID pandemic.

QUESTION:  Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. representative to the United Nations, thank you very much for your time.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD:  Thank you very much, Ronald. And I was delighted to be here with you.

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Diébédo F. Kéré: First African to Win Prestigious Architecture Prize

The 2022 laureate of architecture’s highest honor, the Pritzker Architecture Prize is Diébédo Francis Kéré, known as Francis Kéré, Burkina Faso-born architect, educator, social activist, the receiver of the 2004 Aga Khan Award for Architecture and designer of the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion. Recognized for “empowering and transforming communities through the process of architecture”, Kéré, the first black architect to ever obtain this award, works mostly in areas charged with constraints and adversity, using local materials and building contemporary facilities whose value exceeds the structure itself, serving and stabilizing the future of entire communities.

“Through buildings that demonstrate beauty, modesty, boldness, and invention, and by the integrity of his architecture and geste, Kéré gracefully upholds the mission of this Prize,” explains the official statement of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Announced today by Tom Pritzker, Chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, Francis Kéré is the 51st winner of the award founded in 1979, succeeding Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal. Praised “for the gifts he has created through his work, gifts that go beyond the realm of the architecture discipline”, the acclaimed architect is present equally in Burkina Faso and Germany, professionally and personally.

“I am hoping to change the paradigm, push people to dream and undergo risk. It is not because you are rich that you should waste material. It is not because you are poor that you should not try to create quality, […] Everyone deserves quality, everyone deserves luxury, and everyone deserves comfort. We are interlinked and concerns in climate, democracy, and scarcity are concerns for us all.” – Francis Kéré, 2022 Pritzker Architecture Prize Winner.

Primary School in Gando / Kéré Architecture. Image © Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk

Born in Gando, Burkina Faso in 1965 and based in Berlin, Germany, Francis Kéré works towards “improving the lives and experiences of countless citizens in a region of the world that is at times forgotten” as Pritzker explains. The oldest son of the village chief and the first in his community to attend school, the architect’s first sense of architecture stemmed from his childhood classroom that lacked ventilation and light, on one hand, and from the little illuminated yet safe space where his grandmother would sit and tell stories, on another. In 1985, he traveled to Berlin on a vocational carpentry scholarship, learning to make roofs and furniture by day, while attending secondary classes at night. He was awarded a scholarship to attend Technische Universität Berlin (Berlin, Germany) in 1995, graduating in 2004 with an advanced degree in architecture.

“We have to fight to create the quality that we need to improve people’s lives.” – Francis Kéré, 2022 Pritzker Architecture Prize Winner.

Younger, Kéré had vowed to one day make schools better in extreme climates, allowing for “true teaching, learning, and excitement”, and in 1998, he established the Kéré Foundation to fundraise and advocate for a child’s right to a comfortable classroom. His first building, Gando Primary School in 2001, was built by and for the locals, who crafted every part of the establishment by hand, guided by the architect’s “inventive forms of indigenous materials and modern engineering”. This project awarded him the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004, and led to the inception of his own practice Kéré Architecture, in Berlin, Germany, in 2005. Following this success, other primary, secondary, postsecondary, and medical facilities followed throughout Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mozambique, and Uganda.

Burkina Institute of Technology (BIT). Image Courtesy of Francis Kéré

“I grew up in a community where there was no kindergarten, but where the community was your family. Everyone took care of you and the entire village was your playground. My days were filled with securing food and water, but also simply being together, talking together, building houses together. I remember the room where my grandmother would sit and tell stories with a little light, while we would huddle close to each other and her voice inside the room enclosed us, summoning us to come closer and form a safe place. This was my first sense of architecture.” – Francis Kéré, 2022 Pritzker Architecture Prize Winner.

“A poetic expression of light is consistent throughout Kéré’s works. Rays of sun filter into buildings, courtyards, and intermediary spaces overcoming harsh midday conditions to offer places of serenity or gathering”, adds the official statement of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Other than schools and medical facilities, Kéré’s work in Africa includes, in progress, two historic parliament buildings, the National Assembly of Burkina Faso (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso) and Benin National Assembly (Porto-Novo, Republic of Benin), as well as the TStartup Lions Campus (2021, Turkana, Kenya), an information and communication technologies campus, and the Burkina Institute of Technology (Phase I, 2020, Koudougou, Burkina Faso) composed of cooling clay walls
With an architectural expression deeply rooted in his upbringing and experiences in Gando, Kéré communicated to the world West African tradition, especially the practice of “communing under a sacred tree to exchange ideas, narrate stories, celebrate and assemble”. In fact, for the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion, the architect imagined a structure that takes its shape from a tree, with a detached roof and disconnected yet curved walls formed by triangular indigo modules, the color representing strength in his culture and more personally, a blue boubou garment worn by the architect as a child. Inside the pavilion, rainwater is funneled into the center, highlighting water scarcity that is experienced worldwide. Beyond creating for the African continent, his built works also include structures in Denmark, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Some of his significant works are Xylem at Tippet Rise Art Centre (2019, Montana, United States), Léo Doctors’ Housing (2019, Léo, Burkina Faso), Lycée Schorge Secondary School (2016, Koudougou, Burkina Faso), the National Park of Mali (2010, Bamako, Mali) and Opera Village (Phase I, 2010, Laongo, Burkina Faso).
Lycée Schorge . Image Courtesy of Francis Kéré
A visiting professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (Massachusetts, United States), Yale School of Architecture (Connecticut, United States), Francis Kéré holds the inaugural Chair of Architectural Design and Participation professorship at the Technische Universität München (Munich, Germany) since 2017. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (2018) and the American Institute of Architects (2012) and a chartered member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (2009). Additional awards granted over the years include the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine’s Global Award for Sustainable Architecture (2009), BSI Swiss Architectural Award (2010); the Global Holcim Awards Gold (2012, Zurich, Switzerland), Schelling Architecture Award (2014); Arnold W Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts & Letters (2017); and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture (2021).

The 44th Pritzker Prize ceremony, honoring 2022 Laureate, Diébédo Francis Kéré, will be held at the Great Hall of the newly opened Marshall Building, The London School of Economics and Political Science (London, United Kingdom), designed by Grafton Architects, led by Farrell and McNamara.

Jury Citation

What is the role of architecture in contexts of extreme scarcity? What is the right approach to the practice when working against all odds? Should it be modest and risk succumbing to adverse circumstances? Or is modesty the only way to be pertinent and achieve results? Should it be ambitious in order to inspire change? Or does ambition run the risk of being out of place and of resulting in architecture of mere wishful thinking?

Startup Lions Campus / Kéré Architecture. Image Courtesy of Kéré Architecture

Francis Kéré has found brilliant, inspiring, and game-changing ways to answer these questions over the last decades. His cultural sensitivity not only delivers social and environmental justice but guides his entire process, in the awareness that it is the path towards the legitimacy of a building in a community. He knows, from within, that architecture is not about the object but the objective; not the product, but the process. Francis Kéré’s entire body of work shows us the power of materiality rooted in place. His buildings, for and with communities, are directly of those communities – in their making, their materials, their programs, and their unique characters. They are tied to the ground on which they sit and to the people who sit within them. They have presence without pretense and an impact shaped by grace.

Born in Burkina Faso to parents who insisted that their son be educated, Francis Kéré went on to study architecture in Berlin. Over and over, he has, in a sense, returned to his roots. He has drawn from his European architectural formation and work, combining them with the traditions, needs, and customs of his country. He was determined to bring resources in education from one of the leading Technical Universities in the world back to his native land and to have those resources elevate the indigenous know-how, culture, and society of his region.

He has continuously pursued this task in ways at once highly respectful of place and tradition and yet transformational in what can be offered, as in the primary school in Gando which served as an example to so many even beyond the borders of Burkina Faso, and to which he later added a complex of teachers’ housing and a library. There, Kéré understood that an apparently simple goal, namely, to make it possible for children to attend school comfortably, had to be at the heart of his architectural project. Sustainability for a great majority of the world is not preventing undesirable energy loss so much as undesirable energy gains. For too many people in developing countries, the problem is extreme heat, rather than cold.

2017 Serpentine Pavilion . Image © Iwan Baan

In response, he developed an ad-hoc, highly performative and expressive architectural vocabulary: double roofs, thermal mass, wind towers, indirect lighting, cross ventilation and shade chambers (instead of conventional windows, doors, and columns) have not only become his core strategies but have actually acquired the status of built dignity. Since completing the school in his native village, Kéré has pursued the ethos and the method of working with local craft and skills to elevate not only the civic life of small villages but soon also of national deliberations in legislative buildings. This is the case of his two projects underway for the Benin National Assembly, in advanced construction, and for the Burkina Faso National Assembly, temporarily halted by the current political situation in the country.

Francis Kéré’s work is, by its essence and its presence, fruit of its circumstances. In a world where architects are building projects in the most diverse contexts – not without controversies – Kéré contributes to the debate by incorporating local, national, regional, and global dimensions in a very personal balance of grassroots experience, academic quality, low tech, high tech, and truly sophisticated multiculturalism. In the Serpentine pavilion, for example, he successfully translated into a universal visual language and in a particularly effective way, a long-forgotten essential symbol of primordial architecture worldwide: the tree.

He has developed a sensitive, bottom-up approach in it

Xylem Pavilion / Kéré Architecture. Image © Iwan Baan

s embrace of community participation. At the same time, he has no problem incorporating the best possible type of top-down process in his devotion to advanced architectural solutions. His simultaneously local and global perspective goes well beyond aesthetics and good intentions, allowing him to integrate the traditional with the contemporary.

Francis Kéré’s work also reminds us of the necessary struggle to change unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, as we strive to provide adequate buildings and infrastructure for billions in need. He raises fundamental questions of the meaning of permanence and durability of construction in a context of constant technological changes and of use and re-use of structures. At the same time, his development of contemporary humanism merges a deep respect for history, tradition, precision, written and unwritten rules.

Since the world began to pay attention to the remarkable work and life story of Francis Kéré, he has served as a singular beacon in architecture. He has shown us how architecture today can reflect and serve needs, including the aesthetic needs, of people throughout the world. He has shown us how locality becomes a universal possibility. In a world in crisis, amidst changing values and generations, he reminds us of what has been, and will undoubtedly continue to be a cornerstone of architectural practice: a sense of community and narrative quality, which he himself is so able to recount with compassion and pride. In this, he provides a narrative in which architecture can become a source of continued and lasting happiness and joy.

For the gifts he has created through his work, gifts that go beyond the realm of the architecture discipline, Francis Kéré is named the 2022 Pritzker Prize Laureate.

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Interviews

Our aim is to meet the social, economic and health challenges of vulnerable communities- AHC founder, Clarisse Mefotso Fall

In commemoration of International Women’s Day 2022 and celebrating the virtuous, ambitious women with selfless contributions and commemorating the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women across the world.

Clarisse Mefotso Fall is one of the powerful leading women with great achievements, track records, and a multi-award winner. She hailed from Cameroon, a wife, mother, and dedicated professional woman in the field of public health having graduated from Mount Saint Vincent College with a master’s degree in public health in the area of policies and systems, and served in various positions.

In this interview, Clarisse Mefotso Fall shares her experience, challenges, and success stories with ADEWALE ADENRELE

You are the Global President of 1000 African women’s Networks; can you tell us the aims and objectives of this organization?

Eric Leroy Adams,
New York City Mayor with Clarisse Mefotso Fall

I am the founder and executive director of the African Hope Committee, a non-governmental organization that was founded in 2003, and registered in 2004. And before that, I was a manager in an NGO in New York for 5 years. Which makes nearly 20 years of career in Public Health. AHC is based in New York and more precisely in Harlem. We provide services to the African population and other immigrant groups in the field of social, education, health, and immigration. AHC serves an African community not only locally but also across the United States as part of its immigration services. Internationally, AHC has developed activities in the field of education, health, and the eradication of poverty in French-speaking African countries such as Senegal, Niger, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as English-speaking countries such as Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia, and Ghana.

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

The secret of my success is multiple. From the beginning of my career, I surrounded myself with a committed (dedicated) and competent team with which I shared a common mission and objectives. Supported by a board of directors dedicated to my vision, I have drawn up a development plan for each of the staff who have and work for AHC. As a public health expert, I was able to define and assess the needs and problems within the African community living in New York and developed and implemented social, health, and educational activities there. responding to these challenges. I have continually cultivated professional and cordial relationships with our donors, sponsors, and partners

What are your major responsibilities as DOJ Accredited Representative and how have you impacted your position on the populace and what are your success stories so far?

I serve as The DOJ Accredited Representative at the African Hope committee. As defined our mission, we provide immigration as well and this came out at the time, we were aggressively creating outreach campaigns on HIV/AIDS in the community. The immigration needs were well demanded. The board saw it as a huge service to provide in the community even if this was to begin by educating families about their illegal and legal status. I was then proposed to join immigration programs that will prepare me to be accredited. I have been accredited for 12 years, being that one must renew its accreditation every 3 years. African Hope Committee ROSE immigration service ( ROSE) Right to Organize for Social Equality.   ROSE is my mother’s first name, a woman who likes justice and fairness for all and continues to live her through HOPE and FAITH.  I deal with the immigration cases that come our way, namely asylum and refugee immigration applications, family reunification, obtaining immigration visas for students, changing statutes, work permit applications, and more. AHC has been able to meet the demand of the African immigrant community living in New York under this program by assisting them in securing their green cards through some of the immigration programs mentioned above. This is our pride.

With your leadership role and vast experience working with international organizations, accredited organizations on global projects linked to United Nations; 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, especially in Cameroun?

With my leadership role and my experiences working in community health, with the board members,  AHC has always aimed to meet the social, economic, and health challenges of vulnerable communities by providing lasting solutions. The African community residing in New York is confronted with problems of integration, health, housing, learning the English language, finding employment, a complete lack or inadequate medical coverage, and faced with unprecedented immigration problems. Unlike in Africa, people are more confronted with poverty in general. The need to build more schools that are adequate to compete with the kids in America or Europe, to build a vocational program that builds our kid’s skills where some can progress to become great entrepreneurs, businessmen, and computer technicians. What we’ll take to build not only entrepreneurship in Africa but programs geared towards building our children’s skills is to mobilize government institutions and continue to address the SDGs 20230. AHC has begun to address programs that build youth skills so they could grow to be independent and this to a country like Cameron, Senegal, The Republic of Congo/DRC, Niger, Nigeria Through our member presidents and vice-presidents under AHC Network called 1000 African Women Network.

1000 African Women Network members attended the 2019 CSW63 at the United Nations 🇺🇳

In the past 20 years, sub-Saharan Africa has achieved some of the most dramatic breakthroughs in the world. The number of female legislators on the continent has increased, would you consider yourself as a politician someday?

This is a question that most people asked me. Currently, I serve as an African Commissioner at the Newark Mayor’s Office in New Jersey. I was appointed in June 2021. I have worked for more than 20 years in the social areas. Our work will never be achieved without reaching out to politicians and partnering with their offices to address issues that affect our communities. The question you asked if I consider myself a politician one Day? We never know where our career will take us. Working in this area of public health does not distance you from working with politicians. I meet, Presidents, Ministers, congressmen and women, Mayors, Deputies, Elected Officials from around the world from these high level social, economic, and political forums, especially during global events such the CSWs, The General Assembly, and during some of the State Address by Assemblymen and member s of the Congress.

In 2009, Former First Lady Michelle Obama recognized your humanitarian work and activities; would you tell us what she told you and the kind of award?

Since 2004, thanks to an effective referral system and the collaboration of our local partners, NGOs, and government institutions, we were able to provide health education and host health summits for more than 7 years consecutively. Reaching women, men, girls, and boys in New York. For example, I have been honored with several awards as well as proclamations from members of the American government, including members of Congress and Former New York City Mayor Bloomberg on 3 occasions in 2006, 2007, and 2008. The most rewarding award was the Awards from The NYPD, where I was the first African Descent woman to receive such an award in New York for caring for the immigrant community. In 2009, we also received The Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s recognition with her own words: “Movement for real and lasting change is sustained by the relationships we build with one another. Thank you for your support. Michelle Obama.”  This is simply a recognition of the hard and sustainable work we bring to the community. A lasting effort, durable and lasting. As a humanitarian herself, she understands what it takes to bring a community together to create a sustainable service.

You are the Founder & Executive Director at African Hope Committee, Inc, what motivated or inspired this great concept?

Once again thank you for the opportunity to speak in your journal. My name is Clarisse Blanche Mefotso Fall.  With my background in public health, I have developed a great passion for education. My father is a retired educator in Cameroon and had worked all his life in educating kids. I guess I got that from my father with the only difference being that I am in the Field of Health, Public Health and I have obtained a master’s degree in Public health with tracks in policies, systems, and community health.

Attending The C3-Arab Summit during UNGA 2018 - Picture with Honorable Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. UNGA is United Nations General Assembly
Attending The C3-Arab Summit during UNGA 2018 – Picture with Honorable Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. UNGA is United Nations General Assembly

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”. Can you tell us how to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all?

African Hope Committee as an accredited organization with the United Nations ECOSOC Program works to reinforce the UN Women ideas that act to empower women and girls across all its programs and advocacy. We continue to address each year at the CSWs Gender Equality with the hope to make progress towards sustainable development by 2030, leaving no one behind. In 2020, right before CSW64, we hosted a Gender Equality forum in Cameron by reaching out to students and bringing them together at the Ecole Bilingue Wafo in Douala Cameroon. This was a great success in empowering young women and boys with the issues of inequalities. We hope to conduct such a program in Africa by mobilizing government and private institutions to develop a program that will not leave anyone behind in terms of education and employment.

African Development Magazine would like to be part of your team reporting your activities; will you give us this chance and support us?

Communication is key in our society. Social media and marketing are very important in the progress of our society. We continue to build partnerships with news media and social media that will help advance our mission and bring exposure to the work we do. We are honored to build a partnership with your journal to help cover African issues around the globe.

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 the most ancient culture starting with Egypt. As we all know, of all the countries around the world, African culture stands out. From its beautiful attire to the languages, food, arts, and nature itself.  It is rich and very diverse as it keeps changing from country to country in Africa. Many cultures and traditions are found in the country. And this brings the attraction to many people to visit the continent.  People are kind, polite, and very humble in general.

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

Before talking about some of the amazing memories in my life, are the wonders of life that define me daily and bring joy, pride, satisfaction, and motivation in my life. I am a happy wife and mother of 4 young adults including 3 grandchildren.  The best memories are working and guiding young college and high school students to aim high in their lives; to work with men, women, girls, and boys even children to create a positive image of our community around the globe. Imagine bringing together the African Community to partake in the AIDS WALK for over 4 years. Hosting High-Level Health and Social program by mobilizing the international and the local community to partner and participate at the events. To expose members of the international communities at the United Nations, High Level, Social and Economic Forums. To build Ngo’s skills and provide them with more tools that will reinforce that knowledge, especially with the SDGs. To create a global network that brings people from around the globe. To travel to different countries to address public health issues. As an author of a book entitled CLARISSE BLANCHE released on March 5th, 2019, I get to talk to people about my book which is found in Amazon and other major book stores around the world.

What advice would you give the younger ones?

My advice for young people is that the most important thing is to build faith, hope, and trust yourself. Focus on your education and be positive and stay away from trouble. Respect your parents, your elders, your teachers, and yourself. Invest as soon you begin to work because this one thing lacking especially in the Black and African Communities. We must advise our children to invest earlier to minimize financial stress. Not to be strained financially as you grow older.

Thank you for sharing with us.

You are welcome!

ADM2022

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AfricaAfrica AsiaEconomyHealthInterview storyInterviewsPersonality Interview

Digitization helps reduce redundancy, improves efficiency of healthcare professionals – Sudhir Rathore   

It’s no secret that the healthcare industry is complex and fast-growing with hundreds of laws, policies, and regulations, the wide range of potential professions and jobs, and daily developments in diagnosis, treatment, and medication, healthcare organizations have a lot to keep track of — and doing so thoroughly and professionally is vital to their success and the health of their patients.

Healthcare consultants are so valuable. Although becoming a healthcare consultant takes years of education, time, and skill development, it’s a position that’s crucial to the success of healthcare organizations across the globe.

Sudhir Rathore is a Healthcare entrepreneur and consultant with a primary focus on the African continent and he has worked in senior positions in various capacities with healthcare organizations like Fortis healthcare and Aster healthcare, also with prestigious groups like Aditya Birla Group and TATA in India. He bagged Bachelor of Science, Master of Business Administration degrees.

Sudhir founded SURJEN, a Healthcare delivery start-up, and integrated technology, health for medical services providers to achieve better healthcare delivery objectives in Africa. He is rated as among one of the best healthcare executives in Nigeria.

Sudhir Rathore is also a co-founder, director, and principal consultant at Troika Consulting. He shares his experience with ADEWALE ADENELE on why he focuses on Africa, the role of digitalization, and the future of the healthcare industry.

Below are excerpts:

How and why did you begin your journey as an independent consultant?

After working with various organizations for 15 good years in senior positions one thing I realized was that the independence to work on your dreams is not something that comes easy. So, it’s like searching for absolute freedom in my professional career has encouraged me to start afresh as an entrepreneur. My years of experience in the Nigerian healthcare system helped me to contribute and add value to the healthcare industry.

Which industries or work areas are you typically involved in?

Sudhir Rathore
Sudhir Rathore

My work area is exclusively Healthcare, which includes working with Hospitals, Laboratories, Pharmacies, etc. The idea is to change the way healthcare is delivered in Nigeria. We want the healthcare delivery system to be more accessible, economical, and trustworthy

Can you think of any client story in the healthcare industry that you are especially proud of?

We have helped more than seven thousand patients in accessing quality healthcare through us, be it heart surgery for small kids, kidney transplants, gynecology surgeries, spine and brain surgeries, gunshots, or accidents we have assisted all sorts of patients. One specific patient I would like to mention was a few years back when he was shot in the head in Makurdi during a random shooting incident by armed robbers. We received a call around 11:30 pm to evacuate him and bring him to Abuja. It was very difficult in the middle of the night by the road looking at the security situation, we arranged an air ambulance to airlift him to Abuja and performed successfully in one of the hospitals in Abuja. We were able to save a life.

Do you think the pandemic has affected consulting in the healthcare industry, and have you seen an increase in a specific type of project?

Pandemic has affected many industries at large; however, it has given a stimulus to the hospitals around the world. We are a part of the consulting team of a private University Teaching Hospital coming up in Abuja, which was conceptualized and built during a pandemic. Pandemic also has helped diagnostic laboratories to build their infrastructure and provide quality and comprehensive services to the masses in Nigeria. A lot many investors are now investing in healthcare diagnostic businesses in Nigeria.

What role do you think digitalization will play in the healthcare industry?

To me, digitalization is the basis of easy accessibility and cost-effectiveness of healthcare services delivery to the masses in Nigeria especially primary healthcare. Web-based digital healthcare services like www.surjen.com  provide primary healthcare services to the patients from the comfort of their homes, be it blood sample collection, booking hospital appointments, Teleconsultation, second opinion for chronic diseases, or referral to hospitals in case of advanced treatments. Such digital healthcare services are not only cost-effective but easily accessible by the patients. In secondary and tertiary healthcare institutions digitization not only helps reduce redundancy but also improves the efficiency of healthcare professionals.

What trends will have the biggest impact on the healthcare industry? And how do you think companies should better prepare?

Healthcare industry is one of the most challenging industries as compared to others like software, space, or automotive. The industry is regulatory heavy, approvals for new products and procedures take years leaving less room for innovators and investors. However, there is a change in both the attitude of the regulatory bodies and investors in the last couple of years. The way various vaccines are developed against pandemics using newer technologies within a limited time has opened up a newer avenue for industry players, regulators and investors. They are more receptive now and willing to move ahead together.

I think genetic research coupled with AI technology is a new goldmine for investors and will bring out better resources for healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies to treat diseases like sickle cell which is predominant in Nigeria, cancers, Alzheimer’s, etc.

How do you think the healthcare industry will change over the next 5 to 10 years?

Healthcare industry in Nigeria is already going through a positive transformation. There are treatments and surgeries which were not happening in Nigeria before but are being done frequently in hospitals in Abuja and Lagos. So, things are changing. However, we need to aggressively counter the challenge of brain drain. A lot of young doctors after training from Nigerian institutions move abroad for greener pastures leaving the country’s healthcare system to suffer. I think both the Nigerian government and private healthcare players should bring out opportunities in terms of training and growth of these doctors within Nigeria so that such migration can be discouraged.

Nigerian Healthcare delivery system can change with the intervention of the government by providing subsidies on importation of equipment, consumables, medicines, etc. It should also be liberal on imposing various taxes on healthcare facilities and most importantly is to make available capital at single-digit interest rates through banks. Covid intervention fund from CBN is one such welcome move by the federal government but this should not be the only one.

Do you think there are any advantages for companies using independent healthcare consultants?

Pix; Middle: Sudhir Rathore and his staffs
Pix; Middle: Sudhir Rathore and his staffs

Consultants bring a wealth of experience and knowledge with them that’s why they are called consultants. Expecting a good doctor to be a good businessman and a good management professional at the same time is asking too much from him. It takes a lot of people with different skill sets and knowledge to successfully run a healthcare institution be it a hospital or a laboratory, it’s a team effort always. A consultant guides the total business entity to a growth path by integrating each department cohesively and eliminating any friction.

What are the most exciting aspects of working in the healthcare industry?

Respect before money. This is probably the only industry where you respect your customer and your customer equally respects you. Secondly, the blessing you receive when you have done your job well and the patient has recovered, nothing can match that. However, this is also an industry that comes with heavy responsibility

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

Yes, one amazing story I would like to share with you. This family whose one-year-old daughter was detected with a hole in the heart and was referred to me by one cardiologist to undergo surgery in India. When I discussed with the hospital in India the bill was coming out to be around 6000 dollars for the surgery. Meanwhile, the father of the child sought to meet me; I didn’t go to my office on that day so I invited him to my house. When he came what I saw was a military sergeant in uniform. I discussed with him the process and cost of surgery, and he said that he can’t pay as he is not that financially strong and he has much support from his family. That pained me as much as I could emotionally connect to him as my father was also in the Military. I vowed to help him within my best capacity. I called the hospital in India and pleaded with him that we need to get this surgery done within the bare minimum cost. After initial hiccups, the hospital thankfully agreed and they diverted the patient through an NGO making the whole surgery free of cost for the family. Later the father sends me an emotional email with lots of blessings. I will never forget that man, what I saw in him was my father. Life is good, that’s what I can say.

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

Sure, why not.

Thank you for sharing with us.

You are welcome, Thanks to ADM

  ADM 2022

 

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Interviews

I founded ‘AAAA’ after I lost my parents to HIV/AIDS- Carine Siltz Kapinga

Carine Siltz Kapinga, a former Miss Congo, DRC-USA 2003, and founder of the African Advocates Against AIDS Inc,  use her organization to sensitize, educate and orientate the community about the risk in the disease HIV/AIDS, raising awareness and helping them access, adequate testing, care and treatment services.

The journey started after she lost her parents to HIV/AIDS and joined a program supported by World Health Organisation through the Amo Congo in Bandal/Kinshasa/DRC. The program was aimed to train AIDS Orphans about HIV/AIDS and how they can educate and sensitize others around the world.

Carine Siltz Kapinga shares her experience with ADEWALE ADENRELE on the struggle many HIV orphans go through, the stigma, and the need to educate our community about the risk and protective factors of this decease

The mother of 3 who bagged an associate degree in Journalism is currently running a street outreach initiatives effort for HIV AIDS awareness and covid-19 prevention

Below are excerpts:

You are the Founder of African-Advocates Against Aids What are the aims and objectives of this organization?

The African Advocates Against AIDS Inc., aim and objectives is to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS virus with African immigrants and the African American community in the United States of America through education and raising the awareness of this disease and helping them access, adequate testing, care and treatment services through referral to our partners and supporters among whom are: The African Immigrant commission of NY and CT, NYC Health and Hospitals/ Test and Trace outreach corp, The NYC Emergency Management, the Bridge Builder’s Community Partnership, the Alliance of Positive Change, the Boots on the Ground Street Outreach Ministry, The Greater Highway Deliverance Temple, the Bethel’s Emanuel Temple ( BET), St Mark Catholic Church, Jabba African braiding salon, the Ryan and Nina health center, the Institute of family health, African Paradise and Aisha braiding salon.  We are grateful for their unflinching support. Together we are stronger!

Carine Siltz Kapinga
Carine Siltz Kapinga

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

The most challenging moment for me was to initiate our current and ongoing street outreach initiative efforts for HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 prevention by being in the shelter due to family matters and also during a global pandemic with the added challenges of maintaining one’s confidence while building a team and experiencing setbacks like the Covid-19 Pandemic. I’ve learned that during times of crisis, one can produce much fruit by leading one’s self to build. It is important for a leader to be seen involved for your team’s success depends on it. Leadership cannot be a Lone Ranger endeavor.

The most rewarding moment for us is to see how well we all came together to serve during the Covid-19 crisis, thus our Mantra. ‘We’re Stronger Together” During this Covid crisis, we were found on the frontlines, and under an unprecedented circumstance, we found the strength in working together to do what it takes to fight back and expand lifesaving resources to those communities in need, this was done through collaboration, and working with our partners, including community’s faith organizations(CFOs). Community-based organizations and (CBOs) local participating, local businesses such as pharmacies, barbershops, African hair braiding salons, and volunteers that all came together to support our initiative.

How would you describe the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak and what have been the challenges and the success stories to your organization?

As an organization, we have been operating under unprecedented circumstances as I was in the NYC Shelter system where women are experiencing homelessness at even higher risk than men and contracting the HIV/AIDS and Covid-19 Virus.  In that regards we initiated our street outreach initiative efforts for HIV/AIDS and Covid-19 prevention where we distributed on a weekly based to the community in need: Masks, hand sanitizers, face shields, and resources provided access to vaccination, testing, care, and treatment services provided through our referrals and partners.

If we can come together and utilized resources to create adequate infrastructure to carry out those interventions that have been successful here in America, we can address the HIV/AIDS and Covid-19 crisis in Africa and Globally.

When are you taking the outreach to the African continent for street outreach and awareness?

We are hoping to work with African countries very soon to raise the awareness of this virus, the risk, and protective factors, so we can prevent the spread and expand lifesaving tools information, and resources to those African countries that have been severely impacted by HIV/AIDS and Covid-19 virus.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urges leaders to play a vital role in their community combating the pandemic by sensitization and outreach; would you tell us what your organization has done in this regard?

Our organization has played a vital role in communities severely impacted by sensitization and outreach.

Women are supposed to be celebrated every day for their selfless contribution to the community but there is a low level of participation of women in politics, do you wish to contest in the future?

Carine Siltz Kapinga
Carine Siltz Kapinga

We see low levels of participation of women in politics over the years but the tide appears to have turned judging from the role of women now in the workforce and politics. I support these women political leader and their services to those populations in need and may consider running with God’s willingness to improve the lives of those affected or infected by HIV/AIDS and build better infrastructure to address the current crisis.

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

Of all the countries in the world, I find that African culture stands out; it is rich and very diverse as it is considered the motherland with strong characteristics in Arts, Languages, Traditions, and Culture.

African Development Magazine would like to partner African-Advocates Against-Aids for Sensitizing, educating, and orientating the Africans through our platform, would you support this development?

Yes. AAAA would support this development and welcome your organization as one of our partners.

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

The most amazing memory is Our World HIV/AIDS Day/Outreach Initiative where all of our participating CFOs and CBOs came together to serve the community

What advice would you give the younger ones?

We cannot disregard the needs of those we seek to serve, know that there are going to be challenged in life and though there may be great, there are not impossible. Don’t look for excuses or make excuses for failure to grow. “Take the bull by the horn, for you are the Bull” There are numerous entrepreneurship and opportunities to serve your community.  We believe this can be accomplished through: mentorship, training, education, information sharing, and available resources, however, sometimes, like a needle in a haystack” one must search and seek it out. If we can invest in our youth, truly we believe they are the future.

Thank you for sharing with us.

You are welcome.

ADM2022

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Interviews

My mission is to amplify the voices of vulnerable people- Seah Matilda Banga

The number of women leaders who are stepping forward as change agents that advocate for the assailable and voiceless in society increases across the world with landmark achievements in humanitarian activities.

Seah Matilda Banga a.k.a Sia Domingo is one of the leading women who uses her platform to advocate for important issues like human rights activities, education, women’s and youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, and civil society campaign for good governance among other injustices

As a role model, ambassador, leader, activist, and Ordained Pastor, Seah Matilda Banga has carved out a niche in the world with her captivating educational background and journey into humanitarian activities and leadership role which enable her to lead various organizations back in the home and in diaspora and worked on many humanitarian projects.

Seah Matilda Banga had an exclusive interview with ADEWALE ADENRELE, and shares her humanitarian experiences, her days as a refugee, her advocacy for change and democratic stability in Sierra Leone, her role as an electoral judge which enables her to know the importance of voting rights, justice, and fairness for citizens to have more engagement with government through voting and how she founded and manage her foundation and other investment like real estate.

Below are excerpt:

 Your profile is captivating, motivating and interesting; can you tell us briefly about yourself, your family and your educational background?

I am originally from Kono District (the land of diamonds), the Eastern Region of Sierra Leone in West Africa and currently living in the United States of America.

I attended the University of Sierra Leone, Institute of Public Administration and Management where I graduated with a background in Journalism,  I went back and added Public administration and computer studies to the package. I also attended the Haggai Institute of South Africa, Nairobi Peace Initiatives, and completed the Conflict Resolution and Peace mediation course. I acquired more diplomas from the Liberian Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, The Ghana Human Rights Commission.

In 2015, I was invited to participate in the Barak Obama Organizing for Action Expedited course for Community activist and Fellow program. I attended and graduated as a Fellow in 2016. I have since attended other programs in his institution in Chicago. After my Fellows program, I also became a Fellows Manager and was appointed Head of Chapter for the climate change and leadership in my county, Montgomery County, Maryland, from 2016-2018.

Seah Matilda Banga
Seah Matilda Banga

With the call of God upon my life, I attended the Omega Christian University in Louisiana, United States, and completed my doctoral at the Southern Wesleyan University.

While in Sierra Leone I was a civil activist and actively participated in human rights activities, women’s empowerment, and a civil society coordinator for the campaign for good governance. I was blessed to work for one of the best attorney’s offices in Sierra Leone, Betts and Berewa law firm for 12 years. Lawyer Berewa later became Attorney General of Sierra Leone as well as a presidential candidate. It was during my time there that I developed the inspiration to fight for the disadvantaged and developed my leadership skills. I became the founder and President of the Sierra Leone Legal Secretaries Association, the Secretary-general of the National Organization for Women (NOW) for over 5 years.

During the rebel war in Sierra Leone, I escaped to Guinea, Conakry where I was temporarily employed by the UNHCR to manage the refugee program. While serving as a refugee myself, I was approached to participate as one of the voices behind the pirate radio, Radio Democracy 981.FM with a mandate to organize programs, speak to bring back democracy to Serra Leone. I took on the alias Sia Domingo because it was a very sensitive time then. I was promoted to become the first Personal Assistant to the then President Alhaj Tejan Kabbah. I served only a short time and was invited to the United States by the USAID to participate in the Democratic Enhancement for Women program in Washington DC. After the course, I could not go back because there was another war in Sierra Leone. It was during that international visitor’s program that I was given honorary citizenship by the Mayo of Nebraska.

To continue my passion I started an organization called the Diaspora International Platform which is a tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Maryland in the United States of America. The idea was to bring together other African countries, advocate for change and democracy stability, so we can lend our voices to each other and support when needed.  There are currently about 15 countries in the organization.

I am the Founder of This Time Africa Media- a platform to hear the minds and achievements, contributions of Africans in the Diaspora and globally. The General Overseer of GAP Ministries- Destiny House in the United States, with partners in India, South Africa, Sierra Leone.

On the corporate level, I am also in property management, finding great apartment homes or other homes for people t0 meet their budget

What motivated you to start the Diaspora International Platform and what have been the aims and objectives?

Diaspora International Platform was created out of the need to bring together voices of Africans in the diaspora. It is important to learn from each other how we address similar issues and pick out lessons from other successful diaspora organizations.

D.I.P-Africa Aims to provide a platform, a hub where a unified team of Africans will share information about their communities and strengths, and redefine our sense of purpose as Africans living in the diaspora, to harness the power of our diversity

D.I.P-Africa creates the necessary relationship and impact so that All Agencies managing African Affairs can recognize our existence.

D.I.P-Africa serves as a bridge -Outsource and implementing between County and diaspora community-

As a Director of Operations and Host at This Time Africa Media, What have been the challenges and the success stories?

As you are aware there are general challenges that we in the media faced whether it is print or mass media. The life threats to people in the media, lack of transparency. As a new channel, people are always looking for already big names while we are also looking for big names that will make us big (Laughs and Laugh continues )

Data privacy- with the world of social media, people are concerned about their data privacy and lastly financial- challenge. However, the focus and vision are to continue and we will, despite a lot of these challenges we have received great success stories of Africans who have succeeded in creating great businesses and are business entrepreneurs making headlines, those living in abroad who have entered the political field, religious, art and music industry, etc., We have interviewed representatives in government and others in public or private industries and one of them is Africans greatest entertainer Kweku Amoako who runs the  Afropolitan cities. He was interviewed by BBC and This time Africa Media.

Women supposed to be celebrated every day for their selfless contribution to the community but there is low level of participation of women in politics, As Electoral Judge at MD State Board of Elections, do you wish to contest in the future?

This is a very interesting question and one that I have been asked several times.  I have been approached by people and I have had, and continue to have that conversation. I have passion and drive for change. Maybe I should not use the word change or I should say improvement. I believe that with my experience I am able to bring improvement to any government in my country. The idea of running for a seat or becoming a cabinet minister of some sort is something I toy and pray about daily.

Seah Matilda Banga with Amb of African Union, Arikana Chiombori

The primary thing is to look at it in a way of service. How can I serve my country with everything including knowledge and experience that God has helped me acquired. The proportion of women has to increase. I believe God gave some of us the opportunity to come overseas to improve ourselves.  Remember that I was in Sierra Leone before the war and during the war and made my contribution to society.

“So the impact is there and the memory of my service no matter how small lingers on. I want to say with all humility that Sierra Leone enjoys the peace it has today because of some of us. Seah Matilda Banga alias Sia Domingo) who sacrificed our lives for peace to return, and democracy to prevail”

Having served as an electoral judge for several years I have learned the importance of voting rights, justice, and fairness. I have also acquired the discipline of the sensitivity of voting and how it should be taken seriously. The numbers determine the choices of the people. When it is not handled correctly it overturns the desires of the popular vote.

You are the President at ONE CHILD IN NEED, what are the vision and mission of this great concept?

The 12 years of civil war in Sierra Leone left many women and children unprepared for the burden and responsibilities that came after the war. With absolutely nothing to start from, these young children are left with no alternative but to either prostitute or sell wares on the streets, or become beggars. It touched and continues to touch my heart to see this.

One child in need was born out of the need to help reach children and bring a smile to their faces but in particular children in the rural areas, the vision statement of One child is to change the community, at a time by each one reaching one child in need.

This year 2022 we shall focus more on this organization.

With your leadership role and vast experience working with international organizations, 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?

Firstly let me tap Africa on the back because we have made strides globally, there are improvements, achievements to show our journey to success, considering the fragmented economy, brainwash we inherited.

What we need is to have a new mindset that we are great and we are able to be independent and you can see it from what is going on today. Mali is redeeming itself. The idea of gaining independence from colonialism is not enough. We must sustain our independence by getting the right leader- this is a big term being used every day but if we have a compassionate leader one who has integrity and is accountable to his/her people.

One of the things I intend to do in my country is to start a patriotic campaign. I’m not sure you saw what happened at the African Cup of Nations (AFCON2021), but all of the Sierra Leoneans came together. If we place patriotism as a priority, I am not saying it will change immediately, but it will enhance change.

What am I doing to move the needle Is to make my voice heard in different quarters (I don’t even think I am doing enough) but this is top on my list this year.  I want to go back to working with the grassroots, training, advocacy, and leadership development.

African Development Magazine would like to be part of your team, partnering with international agencies and showcasing your activities, will you give us this chance to promote African continent?.

I think this will be a worthy cause. We should be in partnership to work together on issues that affect Africa and how we can contribute positively to bring a change. There are international organizations that will help us on the project.

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

I am a big believer in African Traditions and Culture. This is what makes us unique. From the clothes we wear, our accent, our respect for elders, to the depth of other traditions, I believe and love the culture and hope that our generation and generations after us can maintain the culture. Life is about identity. Our culture and tradition is our identity. I learned from school reading a literature book of Okonwo that he who brings kola brings life and I believe in the sharing. I miss the days when we all sat around the big tray and ate together. (Even though I was being bullied) but it was great it brought about love and unity.

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

Oh wow!!! One of the most unforgettable moments was my ordination. It was the icing to the cake of my book (in the making) from politics to pulpit making the demanding bridge between religion and politics.

Secondly, when the Ambassador of the African Union Arikana Chiombori received and honored us.  Just receiving that pin, recognizing what we do in community development gave me the chills.

What advice would you give the younger ones?

Pursue it until it happens. Be an example of good and stay positive. My experience is that for every level of leadership there is a challenge. Be strong enough in the time of storm and know it will pass do not give up.  Take God along with you in everything you do. Do not try to be someone else. Do not let the noise of the market drown your dream. Hold fast to your dream. Be part of the change.

Build relationships, build communities, build for change.

Thank you for sharing with African Development Magazine.

Thank you too. I appreciate so much.

ADM 2022

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Improving the world for future generations is my priority- Richard Collins

The most important role in marketing is that of the brand strategist. A good brand strategist can unify a company, influence a market, and architect and implement the brand experience that can directly affect the success of a company.

Richard Collins is the Founder, CEO, and Managing Director of CSR Accreditation, He’s an experienced brand strategist and creative whom have pursued a passion for helping companies in the public, private and third sector promote their brand reputation to create differentiation and improved audience engagement.

Collins established CSR Accreditation in 2018 and turns to be one of the leading UK-based company delivering a global standard for social responsibility, improving the world for future generations, and reducing the negative impact on the environment by building a better and cohesive society.

Collins is the Vice-President for the Bucks Chamber of Commerce Council, a member of the Society of Leadership Fellows, St George’s House, Windsor Castle, and a Trustee for Heart of Bucks – Community Foundation.

In this interview with ADEWALE ADENRELE, the CEO speaks about how CSR Accreditation has provided the perfect opportunity for positive stories and testimonies. How he helped organisations to promote their CSR and sustainability efforts as an integral part of their brand personality and reputations.

Below are excerpt:

What motivated you to start the CSR Accreditation?

I was involved with the Green Organisation from early on when a project I was involved in won a Green Apple award.

I was so impressed with what they were doing I have stayed involved until this very day. As a result we established the International CSR Excellence Awards. This led to a large regional business membership group to look at establishing an accreditation for social responsibility. I needed a new definition that was less fluffy at the edges and one that applied to all organisations across all sectors no matter how small or large. Social responsibility should be for everyone.

So I developed a standard that is supported by the CSR four pillars of environment, workplace, community and philanthropy. This provides a structure that will help an organisation plan and act responsibly. A standard that states for Social Responsibility should be for every organisation.

The ‘C’ needs to be more inclusive, ‘Corporate’ excludes a large number of stakeholders, specifically the third and public sectors, sole traders and small SME’s. For this reason we have defined the C to be more inclusive. To include companies, communities, charities, to allow for collaboration, we can then surround these meanings with a Caring, Cohesive approach Common to the wider Collective.

Social Responsibility allows you to enrich the quality of lives for all by investing in social value as an essential part of an organisations culture. This provides purpose and impact and will ensure a sustainable and profitable business. It will help to build a better world for future generations by improving the environment and ensuring a cohesive community to live and work in.

How important is CSR, ESG and SDGs to us and how do we create the right culture and mindset to drive change?

There is now no doubt about the impact of CSR on profitability for an organisation.  Social responsibility is a new profit centre. The future shape of business will be measured in both social and financial value.

The clear drivers for CSR can be seen in a return on social investment (ROSI) and a social return on investment (SROI). CSR now drives an organisations brand and business reputation and is a powerful emotional investment that has a positive impact on all stakeholders. It makes us feel good because it is about something good. It is also a way to add value and give greater purpose to our time beyond the job role and title. This is about staff engagement, improved productivity and mental health and wellbeing. Employees want to feel proud of the organisation they work for.

Being a responsible, sustainable business makes it easier to recruit new employees. There appears to be a change in mindset from those seeking employment for the first time. This may be about underpinning value for business in engaging with the next generation from a CSR perspective. In other words, an organisation that delivers social value. This is about lining up your values with those of the next generation, and there is the measurable operational costs savings and better financial performance by reducing resource use, waste and emissions, you can help the environment and save money too.

It also easier access to capital. Investors who are pouring money into companies want to know that their funds are being used properly. Not only does this mean that corporations must have sound business plans and budgets, but it also means that they should have a strong sense of corporate social responsibility. Investors care about corporate social responsibility and so should companies.

According to the London Stock Exchange Investors now routinely analyses information on CSR (ESG) performance to gain a better understanding of companies’ future prospects. 60% of assets managed for EU investors incorporate sustainable investment strategies.  It is now common place to be scored on your CSR performance when tendering for both public and private projects. Already one out of three local authorities insist on evidenced CSR as part of the tendering process.

CSR is about the future: discovering your sustainable and profitable potential and achieving it

Customers want to trust organisations they engage with. Employees want to work for values-driven employers and investors want to know that a company is addressing its ethical responsibility. But it is also about delivering social value, and investment in something much bigger than the organisation. It will help with clarity about want you want to get out of business and from your life. It becomes a road map for delivering greater purpose and value to all stakeholders.

So, ask yourself what is the cost of not being socially responsible? Increased absenteeism, retraining, poor engagement, lost social capital, losing tenders, poor reputation, dropped from the supply chain, not attracting new talent and a high risk investment.  Can you afford not to be a socially responsible organisation?  NO!

What is CSR Accreditation?

The CSR Accreditation provides independent recognition of organisations socially responsible activities.

A CSR Accreditation provides a structure that can help an organisation plan and act responsibly – Social Responsibility – driving forward successful businesses. The CSR Accreditation is an effective way to benchmark what you are already doing with regard to social responsibility. It is a process in which you collate measure and report on your organisation’s socially responsible activities.

This is a fully holistic and inclusive approach that allows for all organisations – private, public and third sector and is for all sizes from sole traders to large corporations. It employs a white paper approach that promotes an organisation’s individuality. The application process provides a simple and straightforward template where you record activity against the Social Responsibility ‘Four Pillars’ of environment, workplace, community and philanthropy. Each Social Responsibility Pillar is designed to help you impact report on areas such as energy performance, recycling, staff engagement, health and well-being, community engagement and support for local and national charities.

The Accreditation application is independently assessed and depends on supporting evidence to back up CSR activity outcome and impacts.

Why get CSR Accreditation?

CSR Accreditation is a powerful way to communicate these positive actions to all stakeholders. Achieving CSR Accreditation is a visible testimony of excellence in Social Responsibility.

  • The accreditation helps you integrate social, environmental, ethical, human rights and consumer concerns into your business operations and strategy.
  • An accreditation will also provide you with a roadmap for planning future activity.
  • A CSR Accreditation can be used to:
  • Deliver the information required for ESG (Environmental Social Governance) reporting
  • Identify the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) which you may wish to support.
  • Write a Social Value policy
  • Reduce negative impact on climate change – Race to Zero
  • Produce a Social Impact Report.
  • Enrich, enable and engage employees, shareholders and stakeholders.

When you have achieved a bronze, silver or gold accreditation you can use the mark to show all audiences that you have been independently recognised and validated for your CSR commitments.

CSR Accreditation Arabia website and portal was recently launched for Middle East and North Africa countries and what is motivation and the feedback?

We have seen a significant uptake in interest in CSR in the region. We have partners in the Gulf States and Egypt and can see subjects like ESG and the United Nations SDG’s becoming headline topics.

The concept of CSR is truly a global phenomenon especially with regard to supply chain, environment and human rights. CSR Arabia has come at a perfect time to allow organisations of all sizes engage in a meaningful way with this topic.

The feedback has been overwhelming with our regional partners and their audiences. It allows organisations to share impact and evidence in Arabic to support their applications and most importantly provides access to independent validation.

What advice would you give the younger ones and prospective students?

To be honest we should be taking advise from the younger generation.  There appears to be a change in mindset from those seeking employment for the first time. This may be about underpinning value for business in engaging with the next generation from a CSR perspective.

Bucks New University indicated that Over 70% of students actively look for an organisations CSR policy before accepting a job offer or applying for a job.

Furthermore, that their careers platform showed for the first time that the “average” student would rather explore work in the public or charitable sector rather than banking or law.

In other words, an organisation that delivers social value. This is about lining up your values with those of the next generation.

I would advise these younger generations to show that they are the true enablers for delivering meaningful socially responsible and sustainable initiatives. To find out how they can inspire and influence an organisation to do good.

To show that the future shape or business will be measured in social value as well as financial value. That their generation will be making purchasing, recruitment and loyalty decisions based on the moral and ethical behaviour of the organisations they engage with.

Thank you for sharing with African Development Magazine.

Thank you too. I appreciate so much.

ADM 2022

 

 

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