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Sustainability Leadership: An Interview with Dr. Hanaa Albanna

Sustainability is defined in a number of ways. When focused on the ecosystem, the most commonly used definition was written in 1987 by the United Nations Brundtland Commission, “Meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  This definition of sustainability denotes that although current populations may use what they need regarding the earth’s capital, this must be done is a manner that will leave ample resources for others, with minimal waste.

In this interview with African Development Magazine, Dr. Hanaa Albanna speaks about her educational background, challenges, the importance of sustainability leadership to the nonprofit sector and field of social responsibility..

Below are excerpts:

Tell us about yourself and your work.

I’m a professional in non-profit organizations, specifically in the fields of social responsibility and sustainable development. I specialize in marketing and public relations for non-profit organizations, while also providing training for international organizations. I feel a deep sense of responsibility for others, especially more vulnerable groups in the world and through my work in the nonprofit sector, I am hoping to make a difference in the world.

At the UN HQ in NewYork

What has your academic journey looked like?

I graduated from Jordan University with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering, and then went on to complete a Master’s Degree in 2006 as a valedictorian in marketing.

I did a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering at the Jordan University in Jordan and immediately started my master’s degree and graduated in 2006 as a valedictorian in marketing. I then joined the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in London to do my Diploma in Public Relations and Social Media Use. Finally, I completed my Ph.D. at Cardiff Metropolitan University, specializing in marketing, public relations and social Media Use in non-Profit Organizations.

Tell us about some of the Honours you have received.

I received the IAM Honorary Fellow from the Institute of Administrative Management IAM for my efforts in the training field and in linking Arab organizations with the British ones and strengthening cooperation in administrative and training areas.

I also received an honouring from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as one of the most influential Arab women in the Arab world in 2020 and 2021 in the professional category. I also had my name recorded in 100 Arab Personalities Most Influential in Social Responsibility for the Year 2020.

What are your thoughts on the current administrative practice in the field of strategic management and international sustainable development?

I believe that one of the main challenges that stand in the way of organisations today is not associating management practices with leadership practices or applying strategic management principles. Today, we face new challenges universally, and we require practices that will contribute to achieving real change. We need to distinguish between the concepts of management and leadership.

When speaking of management, I refer to the organization of the internal parts of an organization which will allow the organization to implement systems that allow optimal performance of the organization.

With HRH Queen Diambi in NewYork at the side event of the Alliance of NGOs and CSOs for South-South Cooperation during the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2019

Leadership relates to the broader empowerment of individuals within the organization and boosting trust between members to improve results when facing challenges. When enhancing both management and leadership skills within an organization, institutional capacities are strengthened and strategic objectives can be achieved, ensuring a higher quality of services provided.

Current administrative practice must focus on leadership that helps build moral systems and takes into consideration environmental, social and economic aspects. These business systems must meet the needs of stakeholders. Now we are facing a new concept of leadership, sustainability leadership.

According to the Institute for Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cambridge, “Sustainability leaders are the leaders who inspire and support work for a better world.” These individuals have chosen to make a difference by increasing awareness of themselves and their surroundings. They seek to adopt new methods to organize and create innovative and sustainable solutions.”

In order to develop and tackle the challenges faced by organizations of not linking management and leadership practices, we must combine the strategic management of businesses and sustainable development so that institutions develop strategies based on sustainability principles, values, and solid foundations..

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, there is more interest than ever before in linking strategic management with sustainable development. Organizations have become more aware of their responsibility towards society and towards providing solutions to global challenges.

This new awareness of social responsibility is spreading throughout government, the private, nonprofit and public sector, and at all levels too; large, medium or small-scale. Companies are gaining more awareness of the movement, the impact it can have on a company’s reputation, and the advantages available to themselves and to their communities when embracing these new practices.

It is expected from us today to reinforce our management and leadership skills and build moral business systems that take into account the basic pillars, the environment, the workplace, governance, society and charity to ensure the participation of our institutions in accelerating sustainable development, addressing global challenges and supporting economic, social and environmental growth to achieve societies’ welfare.

How important is sustainability leadership to the nonprofit sector?

Sustainability leadership is crucial to the development of organisations within the nonprofit sector. The practical consequences of effective sustainability leadership allow communities to flourish and our natural environment to be protected. The values enshrined within sustainability leadership are aligned with the goals of the majority of organisations within the non-profit sector – mainly, to address the social and environmental issues of our society and to offer sustainable, long-term solutions.

I believe that if all organisations try to incorporate more elements of sustainability leadership within their leadership structures, that they will see positive long-term effects both within the management of their organisation and within their work. For non-profit organisations, reputation and the visible effects had by the organisation on society and their environment is crucial. Through sustainability leadership, organisations are encouraged to champion an ecocentric worldview, allowing individuals to think more about minimizing their impact on natural systems in the short and long term and to be stewards of natural systems.

By embracing the concept that organisations should be led through influence and not authority, leaders of these organisations will see more success in their attempts of social networking and their influence on their organisation. Sustainability leadership allows leaders to look inwardly and recognise the importance of leading themselves, creating leaders with clear purpose and values who have deep reflection habits. Successful leaders who can represent these key elements of sustainability leadership will be reflected within the organisation as a whole, therefore creating a more successful organisation internally and externally.

Receiving an award in Egypt – Sharm Alsheikh at a conference focussing on SDG4

What have been the most significant moments of your career?

Even though I had started my specialization in agricultural engineering, my passion was all about marketing, public relations and non-profit organisations, ever since I started undergraduate studies. . This pushed me to pursue my master’s degree in marketing. At this point, I thought this was the right direction for my career, yet my passion for non-profit organisations has followed me consistently throughout my career and my life.

The start of my career in the Society for the Protection of Nature allowed me to travel and inspired me to complete my studies in Britain. I quit my job and joined the PR Diploma Program at the top institute for Public Relations in Britain. This year was such an important moment in my career, it provided me with an amazing opportunity to get to know the UK’s universities and connect with professors and experts in this field. The diploma helped me prepare for my PhD studies, where I would specialize in Marketing, Public Relations and Social Media Use, and was a crucial step in my life with all the experience it gave me in academic research.

The start of my Ph.D. marked another crucial moment in my career, where I realized that I wanted to pursue a career where I would focus on women’s issues globally. I believed that if we enhanced the surrounding circumstances of women, enabled them, and armed them with knowledge and education, we could guarantee the establishment of sound, educated, and safe communities. While volunteering for two associations while completing my Ph.D., I began to struggle with balancing motherhood, work, and studying.

However, completing voluntary work was a significant point in my life where I was able to gain important experience and the knowledge which would eventually allow me to start my career in the non-profit sector in the UK. My work in the non-profit sector started to make me more aware of the importance of the work completed in this sector and the change that can be made to societies throughout the world. Some of my work involved carrying out projects which would lead to the construction of hospitals, the training of doctors and nurses, and the widespread distribution of urgent humanitarian aid kits to refugees. I was able to become involved in high-level UN meetings on sustainable development goals and to meet with the leaders of international organizations.

I have given lectures at many universities in the UK. We established many partnerships, including an academic research partnership with the University of Birmingham, to study the conditions of Syrian refugees in camps. We brought out important recommendations to governments and organizations working with refugees and the bill was discussed in the British parliament.

Another yet crucial stop in my career is the launch of the Alliance of NGOs and CSOs for South-South Cooperation. This experience was very rich in terms of working with many organizations in the South-South Cooperation and establishing partnerships and training programs to raise the efficiency and capacity of civil society organizations in these countries.

Finally, during the Coronavirus period, I began a partnership with the one-of-kind Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This has been especially important for me in my career as it is creating new opportunities for me where I will be able to reinforce social responsibility globally, especially in Arab countries.

How have you overcome challenges in your career?

Just like any other human being, I have faced many obstacles throughout my career and time over the past 15 years. However, I think the biggest challenge I have faced and overcome was during my Ph.D., when I struggled to split my time between my family, university, and my career. However, with determination and will, I managed to overcome this challenge and completed my studies while working and balancing all duties.

I overcame these challenges through consistency, determination, self-confidence, and faith in myself and in God first and foremost.

The Alliance of NGOs and CSOs for south-south cooperation side event during the ICPD+25 Nairobi Summit in Kenya

What would you say to girls and women at the start of their careers, and how can we become a more equal society?

I would like to tell all girls and women that you can turn your dreams into reality when armed with knowledge, determination and the faith that nothing is impossible and that the learning process is a lifetime project. Strive for the best every day and look to strengthen your knowledge and gain new skills. Push further the boundaries of your ambition and believe in yourself and your abilities and that you can and you will. Be sure that if you don’t, nobody will. Don’t wait for anybody to give you a hand. Rely on yourself, for you are the only one capable of building yourself and your career.

In our Arab societies, we need to promote these principles, especially for high school and university girls, boost their confidence and involve them in specialized programs to enable them and introduce them to leading ladies’ success stories for inspiration. We need to encourage girls to complete their university studies and even post-graduate studies. We need to break the stereotypical mentality pattern in our societies which sometimes kills girls’ ambitions. We need women to acquire leading skills and ensure claiming important positions and senior leadership.

The phenomenon of gender discrimination and inequality and placing obstacles before women and girls is a global phenomenon. It exists in Arab and Western countries in various sectors, higher education, banks, corporates, and even government sectors. Since 2000, the UN has sought to launch the Millennium Development Goals, with international efforts on improving gender equality making significant progress as we have greater numbers of girls in schools compared with what they were 15 years ago. There is still a lot to be done for women and girls.

Sustainable Development Goal 5 aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls. Communities can only progress when we enable women and girls to progress too. Unfortunately, the breakout of the Coronavirus pandemic has caused a significant decline in this specific goal.

As countries and organisations calling for women’s rights, we cannot overcome these barriers and establish gender equality without strengthening policies and legislation that guarantee women their fundamental rights. We need to provide these organizations with funding to ensure that violence is eliminated altogether, women are economically and socially empowered to start working, and necessary policies are legislated to ensure that women accomplish leadership.

Dr. Hanaa Albanna is an SDGs, CSR, and Charity Expert, International Initiatives Manager – Global One UK

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Sports

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

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

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

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

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

Below are excerpts:

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

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

Coach Mobolaji Orisatoki

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coach Mobolaji Orisatoki

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ArtsCulture & TourismInterview storyInterviewsLifestylePersonality Interview

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

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

Below are excerpts:

Can you tell us briefly about yourself, your family?

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

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

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

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

Queen Elham Madani

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

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

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

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

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

What do you like about African culture?

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

How many languages can you speak fluently?

English, Farsi, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu

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

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

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

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

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

Are you a spiritual person?

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

How would you promote culture and tourism in your empire?

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

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

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

L-R: Queen Elham Madani anchoring a show

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What advice would you give the younger ones?

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

Thank you for sharing with us.

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

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Culture & TourismInterview storyInterviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below are excerpts:

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

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

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

Bini kouassi Arnaud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can you say about Yoruba culture?

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

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

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

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

Yes, real memories

What advice would you give the younger ones?

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

Thank you for sharing with us. 

Thank you too.

 

ADM2021

 

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FoodHealthInterviews

Consumption of junks, unhealthy meals affects child’s growth- Olu Awolowo

Entrepreneurship is a practice and process that results in creativity, innovation, enterprise development and growth.

Nutrition is the science that interprets the interaction of nutrients and other substances in food in relation to the maintenance, growth, reproduction, health, and disease of an organism. A Nutritionist is one who advises on matters of food and nutrition and their impacts on health while “Nutripreneurship” is the practice that results in creativity, innovation, development, manufacture, and distribution of nutritious foods.

Engaging in entrepreneurship shifts people from being “job seekers” to “job creators”, which is critical in developing countries owing to their high unemployment rate. It requires a lot of creativity which is the driving force behind innovation.

Mr Olu Awolowo is a Nutripreneur whose ability to turn conceptualized innovative ideas into action is remarkable. Since 2007, he has been involved in socially useful wealth creation through the application of innovative thinking and execution to meet consumer needs.

In this Interview with African Development Magazine, the CEO of Distrifoods speaks about learning food processing at an early stage, foods that can impact a child’s learning ability, and available Distrifoods Products – Xpressbite® Peanuts Snack in variants.

Below are excerpts:

Mr. Olu Awolowo, thanks for the opportunity to interview you. We would love to know how you became interested in food. Was it an early passion? What was your motivation?

I had an early interest in food processing through my Dad. He was a Senior Production Manager with FAN Milk Plc until 1995; this brought me at close range with dairy. Afterward, as an economic decision, I joined a number of Best brands in Nigeria – Wilson Bakery (Teamate Bread), Nourish Bakery, UAC Foods, Butterfield Bakery, MamaCass Bakery, etc., and began understudying the marketing and sales of shelf-stable snack foods in FMCGs in the North Central States. So, the passion was nurtured, over my teenage years, due to my exposure to dairy production.

PLSG GIZ Business Enabling Environment Meetings

However, the motivation to grind as a Nutripreneur was hinged on the Global Nutrition Report which has always shown/published the Nutrition status of Nigeria which has been at a disadvantage; more has to be done on the part of food businesses to complement efforts of the Government, and Development Partners to end malnutrition in Nigeria by 2030. After a decade of experience in market development, I took a shot at the YouWin3 Award in 2015. Though the panelist instructed and awarded me to continue distribution for MamaCass Bakery (Abuja), I chose to flagrantly disregard it. The acquired know-how came in handy in 2016, when I ventured into the production of shelf-stable nutritious snack foods using the awarded YouWin3 Grant.
To date, I am collaborating with other Nutripreneurs and fellow key stakeholders within the SUN Business Network, SBN, and Global Food Security Stakeholders, GFSS (Nigeria) to ensure food security and nourish the Nigerian population.

How would you describe healthy foods and healthy eating?

Healthy foods are snack foods or meals made from safe edible ingredients, prepared hygienically, possess, and can offer required micronutrients to support and maintain good well-being. However, due to the prevalence of allergens, one good food is another man’s poison.

Xpressbite® Peanuts Snack

The baseline is this: be aware of your health status, allergies, micronutrients need, and be willing to eat foods that can meet your required daily micronutrient need. All organically grown foods are healthy, all of Nigeria’s Produce is healthy but lack of self-control -gluttony- is our greatest undoing. I will advise anyone over the 40years to always see a Registered Dietician yearly. Those younger than 40, who are health-conscious, should also tow this path; avoid overly processed foods, ready-to-eat foods, and most of these imported condiments. Learn to cook with reduced bouillon cubes, learn to lower your sugar consumption, reduce your consumption of carbonated drinks and other wheat-based staples. Increase consumption of whole-grain meals, nuts, and high fiber foods..

What’s the one thing you’d suggest people keep in their kitchen if they want to cook healthy meals?

Sadly, Consumer behavior is complex stuff. Nigerians jealously guard the pattern they inherited. For the kitchen, kindly add locust bean, melon, dried stockfish, powdered crayfish, pulses, nuts, and vegetables to your store.
A mix vegetable salad or cooked, slightly peppered vegetable serving will do for dinner; we have a number of healthy lifestyle chefs, they can advise better.

As a nutripreneur, what are some of the changes and trends you’ve observed in the food world over the last 10 years?

The trend in eating habits since 2000 has endangered the earth’s population. Life’s hectic pace pressured demand for quick meals from the food industry which has placed convenience ahead of food safety, and nutrition. Food cannot be said to be safe and nutritious until it can be delivered in a form that retains essential micronutrients, and is safe for consumption. Another is the poor mentality to envy the supposedly learned; this has increased the consumption of highly sugar-based drinks- carbonated, flavored; this they see as enjoyment. How could anyone think whenever he wants to ‘chop life’ he should have a sugar-based drink? Check the lunch box of School-Age Children; what do you find there? Sugar-based drinks, mostly flavored, Milk flavored drinks, cooked noodles, etc.

Sadly, most of these Parents have tertiary education- they are not interested in the calorie count nor the nutrition offering of the consumed products to their wards. Basic education should afford one the opportunity to distinguish healthy from junk but not in Nigeria. Our low-income earners need to learn that there is so little to envy in the eating habits of the middle class. Noodles have been elevated into a staple food because it meets the convenience parents, students, & growing adults’ desire. The coveted appeal to our senses of taste and smell has further plunged us into a circle of unhealthy foods through the uncontrolled, unrestricted use of condiments, and bouillon cubes in cooking. The last two decades have propelled man into placing gratification –feeding-over nourishment.
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Group Pictures: NASSI Plateau State Exco visit to the Plateau State Hon. Commissioner for Commerce & Industry, Hon, Abbey Joseph Aku

Which snacks do you recommend for children while learning? Do you have any, tell us?

Whole Grain Snack, Peanuts Snacks, Vitamin A Cassava Crisp, Potato Crisp, etc. Incidentally, Xpressbite® Peanuts Snack (using wheat flour) is now available in 5, safe, tastefully pleasant, and micronutrient dense variants – Milk sweetened, Cinnamon, Suya spice, Coconuts, and Vanilla.  Work is presently ongoing, with 2 partners on collaboration, and two others to commercialize the Xpressbite® Vitamin A’ Cassava Peanuts Snack in the same variants, in sucrose sugar, date, and honey-based sugar. Xpressbite® Peanuts Snacks in variants is a shelf-stable “Nutrified Snack” – micronutrient dense in Vitamins A, Zinc, Iodine, and Iron; vitally crucial micronutrients for the development of School-Age Children.

Can the adequate or inadequate nutritional value of children’s meals influence their intelligence?

Brain development is predicated on the presence, in the required quantity, of micronutrients responsible for its growth. First, women need to prepare themselves for pregnancy, their womb, and self. Their eating habit and nutritional status prior to pregnancy help early-stage fetal development. It would be unwise to get pregnant, and afterward to start checking what you eat. For instance, folic acid plays an important role in the early few weeks of pregnancy.

Secondly, I think we confuse intelligence with knowledge. Many educated ones are knowledgeable but may not be intelligent. Some things are gift base –hereditary- but whatever a child consumes is reflected in his nutritional status and this can impair his growth and wellbeing. So, the consumption of junk, unsafe foods or poor meals can put a child at a disadvantage.

What food(s) can impact a child’s learning ability?

It begins with the Mother. Children’s Early-stage development is resultant from the Mother’s nutritional status. Women going into marriage should better think about this; see a Registered Dietician before you start making plans to get pregnant. This should be done few months before the consummation of the marriage to enable them to make plans for child-rearing immediately after the wedding.

To improve a child’s learning ability, safe, nutritious foods – balanced diet- play a tangible role as much as the emotional security of the child. The psychology of a child’s development -cognitive, emotional, intellectual, and social capabilities and functioning over the course of a normal life span, from infancy through old age is detailed beyond a balanced diet.

If other factors are cared for, children need a daily consumption of a safe balanced diet to improve learning ability. Lest we forget, quality teaching staff plays a pivotal role too.

Thanks for sharing with us.

You are welcome.

 

Mr. Olu Awolowo is the CEO, Distrifoods Nigeria.  Deputy Chairman: Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists’, NASSI, Plateau State Chapter and Vice-Chairman: Agro-Allied, NASSI, Plateau State Chapter. Snack Food Critic, Nutritious Food Enthusiast.

Distinguished: Loyolan | Katangite.  Alumnus: UI, PAU.EDC, & FATE Foundation. 2015: YouWin 3 Awardee | 2020: GAIN KFMW Grantee

ADM2021

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

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

Below are excerpts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who influenced you the most in life and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What advice would you give the younger ones?

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

Thank you for sharing with us.

You are welcome. I appreciate ADM

 

 

 

 

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Insecurity: My blood has been spilled so many times in foreign soils in the cause of world peace- Amb. Abdullahi Bindawa

Peace is more than just the absence of war and violence

Peace is not the absence of conflict – but the ability to manage conflict constructively, as an important opportunity for change and increased understanding, celebrating and learning from difference, not to harm, but also to nurture, all individuals

The United Nations Security Council has created peacekeeping forces as part of the measures taken to fulfil its mandate to maintain international peace and security. The role and mandate of such forces have evolved, from traditional peacekeeping, such as ceasefire monitoring missions, to more robust and broader mandates of peace enforcement and peace building. They are typically deployed in conjunction with parallel humanitarian, political and diplomatic efforts. The Security Council can mandate ‘coercive’ or ‘offensive’ measures, and can authorize regional intergovernmental bodies (e.g., African Union, ASEAN) to manage peacekeeping activities

Without peace, we can never achieve a future free from poverty, hunger and inequality — those same ambitious ideals were laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by 193 countries at the UN nearly five years ago

UN Peacekeepers help bring stability, facilitate humanitarian assistance, support democratic institutions, and help bring a sense of normalcy in fragile areas where conflict has sowed sometimes for generations.

Ambassador Abdullahi Bindawa is a Nigerian educator, Peacekeeper, Humanitarian worker, and security expert with vast experience in peace keeping mission and the most widely recognized young leader in Africa continent.

His educational / security achievements and plans to promote economic self-reliance among Africans are  impressive with record of accomplishment as a peacekeeper and nonviolence trainer promoting peace, justice and human rights against violence, intimidation and terrorism in Nigeria and Africa in general, as one of the few certified Kingian Nonviolence Trainer in Nigeria,

Amb. Abdullahi Bindawa

As a social change activist, his mission was to organized and educates adult education for democracy with emphasis on special projects and system related to nonviolence, and social responsibility with a focus on institutionalizing the capacity to provide training, research, peace education, and public information about nonviolent approaches to reconciling unjust social conflict and violent conditions.

Abdullahi Bindawa’s journey in humanitarianism began early summer 2013 at the University of Rhode Island (URI) of the nonviolent civil right campaigns. He traveled the world promoting peace in a just and sustainable world. He was involved on intervention and prevention training, peace nonviolence in Nigeria and United States Universities. He participated in dialogue as a National delegate of interfaith leaders provided an opportunity for direct ongoing involvement in violence against women’s and counter violence extremism campaign, awareness through 2010 to 2020. He was recognized as a leader who combines skills of organizing social movement experience with innovative ideas about the philosophy of peace learning and leadership education.

His experience from grassroot have been an advantage to coordinating and directing projects, he traveled near and far  and had attended training programmes, courses, seminars, meetings, both locally and internationally in all aspect of Humanitarian development.

In this interview with ADEWALE ADENRELE, Ambassador Abdullahi Bindawa speaks exclusively about his challenges, career, experience, campaign against terrorism; violence against women’s and counters violence extremism campaign. He also proffers a lasting solution to terrorism, banditry and insurgency in Nigeria.

Below are excerpts:

You are a certified Kingian Nonviolence trainer from Nigeria with a background in international affairs, a previous career as a UN peacekeeper and having served in numerous assignments around the globe. What have been the most challenging and most rewarding aspects of leadership for you?

Thank you so much for asking this important question, I don’t know how to express my happiness for you though, I would not be where I am today without the help of countless individuals. Whenever I see someone in a leadership position, I try to learn from him or her. Whether the example is positive or negative, there are lessons to learn and apply or not apply to my own leadership styles. It’s most effective to “teach people to fish, rather than giving them fish”, I have had mentors throughout my life who have taught me how to fish.

Whenever I was getting involved in planning large scale events for the community, I meet someone twenty years older than me and began following his path and having conversations with him about how best to interact with people who would know what’s best” for me to do, how to lead young generations, and the best ways to give instruction to youths who were sometimes five times my age. I ended up talking what I learned from him and build the largest district in recent history. I will continuously push myself to learn and observed so that I can become a highly effective leader who supports others and myself in all I do. My peace building and diplomatic leadership will constantly be developing and show up in who I am and how I am in both formal and informal relationship.

Emergence of terrorism in Nigeria is traceable to factors such as Bad governance, Religion extremism, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, political greed and foreign influence, as a security expert, what are major reasons for the growth and spread of terrorism and what is the lasting solution?

I have watched with dismay the indiscriminate Killings of our people in recent time and I feel I should voice my opinion on the matter. We have been fighting an internal war with Boko Haram propagandists using our Armed Forces, State Security Service (SSS) and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), but yet war is not the answer to resolve the Boko Haram Conflicts.

I can offer no answer to question 1 and 2 above, but I will suggest a possible solution to question 3, and the answer I will give will provide an immediate solution if we follow it through.

Why do I voice my opinion now to Control Arms?

  1. The Niger Delta conflicts were resolve through negotiations and campaign awareness
  2. The IRA conflicts in the United Kingdom were resolved through negotiations.
  3. The Etta conflicts in Spain were resolved through negotiations.
  4. The US government is still fighting Al Qaeda even after the death of their leader with reported death of US citizens worldwide.
  5. After fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan for many years, the US government is negotiating with the Taliban to find a lasting solution to the conflicts. This is a war the US government cannot win without Arms Control Awareness.

Sir, what then is my solution? It is simply that you constitute an International Commission of Inquiry into the issue of Boko Haram Conflicts and Implements its recommendations.

Membership of the commission could be along this line.

  1. A Judge of the International Court of Justice as Chairman
  2. Both National and International Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice
  3. The Sultan of Sokoto
  4. Security Experts/Consultant
  5. Emir of Borno
  6. Representatives of the Senate and the House of Representative
  7. A Prominent lawyer as Secretary
  8. A Prominent journalist, and 3 Ordinary Nigerians.

Let us stop this war and let all Nigerians witness the commission of inquiry lives on TV with all the stakeholders including Boko Haram, members in detention voicing the issues and solutions.

Ambassador Abdullahi Bindawa

What Nigerians need is jobs, good education, electricity and good roads, jobs being the most important. We can create jobs in their millions by making Arms Control awareness through positive way of agriculture in North and South, open coal mining for green coal electricity generation in the East. Once we do this, Boko Haram members will take jobs and join other law abiding citizen of this our great Nation.

We can have peace; our late President Umar Musa Yar’adua has laid the foundation via his work in resolving the Niger Delta Conflicts.

Boko Haram members are ordinary Nigerians just like all of us looking for daily living. Poverty has no doubt led to the foundation of Boko Haram.

Since 2009 millions of our people lost their jobs due to government’s interventions to make Nigeria a better place, however our government and ministers neglected our people. If we must take actions to make Nigeria great lets also think of the consequent and the social needs of our people. When the British Government saw that the mining industries are to close, they invested billions through regional development agencies. The results of these agencies are employments, retraining for coal miners and grants to business to relocate to these areas. We can do the same in our country and not neglect our people with all the Support by Coalition of Arms Control Campaign.

Finally I appreciate your responded on time and let me also concludes with quotation,

Many Nations have sung the songs of freedom, after travelling the valleys of death. Our own time will come in Nigeria when we shall sing the song of Victory

I am confident we will sing the song of victory with your organization of Coalition of Arms Control Campaign through Positive awareness in Nigeria and Africa in generals.

Recently, Nigeria service chiefs were replaced with new chiefs and yet they were unable to tackle banditry, kidnapping and robbery, Do you think our security has been politicized?

In a time when divisions, violence and attacks are increasingly making international headlines, I want to share with you some solution of hope. They are a reminder of what can be achieved when we work together, peacefully.

Since January, 2013, Boko Haram has taken control of Marte, Mobbar, Gubio, Guzamala, Abadam, Kukawa, Kala Balge, and Gamboru Ngala, Local government areas in Northern Borno State. Unfortunately, numerous attempts at negotiating with the Islamist group, including the previous presidential Amnesty offer extended to its member, have stalled due to gross distrust on both sides, and the factionalized leadership of the group’s different cells.

And some of the politicians are hiding under the shadow of Boko Haram to attacks their political opponents. Recent reports have also revealed that some members in the Nigerian security sector have strong links to Boko Haram. In Feburary, 2012, the commissioner of police in charge of criminal investigations in Abuja, Zakari Biu, was dismissed from the Nigeria Police Force for his role in the escape of Boko Haram suspect Kabiru Sokoto. Sokoto is believed to mastermind the bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla Niger State in which over 40 people died. Sokoto’s escapes also lead to the sacking of the former Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim. and if you can remember when Niger Delta Militants kidnapped and sometimes Killed expertrate in reaction to abandonment of oil spillage and destruction in their region, the government awarded them with scholarship, sent them overseas and others became multimillionaires from contract settlements crime was handsomely rewarded.

When Boko Haram killed women and children and kidnapped many into the forest, we negotiated sent some overseas and still pay huge ransom for new kidnappings of children daily we still do not know the identity of Boko Haram, but have their account numbers to pay ransom. When bandits kill farmers, we held round table meetings with them, appeal to them to stop, no talk of arrest, we reward them and ask them to give peace a chance, and even offered them some billions. When politicians and some governors steal their state dry, when confronted by EFCC, we cry foul play and term it is ethic persecution, we stand by our brothers and sisters found stealing. Despite everyday parading of suspects from Armed Robbers and Kidnappers, there is no information about prosecution.

You decided to resign from military peacekeeping assignment as a soldier of peace and join the league of humanitarians, can you tell us what hasten your decision and why do you choose this path?

There is no greater sense of pride than when you raise your hands and take an Oath to protect and defend your nation from all threats, but I understand that wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they kill, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties, and drain our economy, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities. I commit to engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all winnable and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace.

As I spent all my entire in military background before I joined the presidential office and other international organizations, and I remain an important and respectable member of United Nations Committee of Expert on Public Administration (CEPA), United Nations, Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and United Nations Peacekeeping Training Centre (UNPTC) and United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA). Whenever it was require me, I have done my duty to the International community; I have never been accused of sponsoring international terrorism. I have a proud record in contributing my military and security experience, my materials resources and my diplomatic efforts in support of the United Nations and African Union (AU). My blood has been spilled so many times in foreign soils in the cause of world peace.

.What are your major responsibilities as a Youth Ambassador for Peace at United Nations and how have you impact your position on populace?

Perhaps establishing International Youths Humanitarian committees to work and create awareness could be a good idea. We can develop presentations about Global Goals, prepare an active citizenship framework to promote the use of Global Goals in projects; promote the importance of collaborating with societies. We can discuss the Global Goals with committees to let them see what is needed in their community.

The numbers of young people in many developing countries today are unprecedented, highs, in both absolute and proportionate terms. This potentially gives rise to a demographic dividend, an opportunity for rapid growth and development brought about by a bulge in a nations working age population. It also brings new challenges for countries in providing decent work and education for these young people, with serious risks in terms of political and social instability if potential of these youthful cohorts is not captured.

Middle: Amb. Abdullahi Bindawa in the midst of other UN Youth representatives

In most developing countries, particularly in sub-saharan Africa and South, and central Asia, a significant share of young people lives in rural settlements.

As pressures on food production systems increase, rural economies diversify and become more integrated with larger towns and cities and the pace of urbanization accelerates, the productive roles of these young people will have important consequences for development.

We can’t wait any longer for government to fill the gaps. We have seen what happens when we leave it to institutions. Handouts aren’t the answers, our presence is the answer. When we leave serving others to government and corporations, we lose the opportunity to find meaning and significance in our own lives.

As a Youth representative at United Nations Association, what are the needs in Nigeria, what will it take to build entrepreneurship and employment in Nigeria, Africa and what are you trying to do to move the needle?

As international Humanitarian aid worker and also a Diplomatic security consultant and understand the importance of collaboration when it comes to preserving the well-being of society. I also believe that it is the people of the community who should have the largest voice when it comes to keeping their people-healthy and safe, allowing people in community to speak up and take part in the decision making process will only prove to benefit the community as a whole. After all, it is the people of the community who experience these life changing events and those are the same people who must rebuild and resume their lives when the water dries up and smoke clears. I say let them speak, let them looking forward to a mutual beneficial relationship, politically, business wise, socially and economically.

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

I am honored to accept your gracious invitation to join the ADM in reporting my International activities and I gratefully accept your request for partnership. I have long coveted an opportunity to share a stage with Guild members and to educate as we promote the social developments around the globe. I shall certainly strive to be an active and inspirational member of this exceptional Media. Thank you for the recognition. I look forward to meeting with you in person.

What advice would you give the younger ones?

A word for our young generations we are all equal, Hausa, Fulanis, Ijaw, Igbo, TIV, Yoruba, Muslim and Christians, we need to all carry each and every one along.

We should be our brothers and sisters keeper, and as a democratic Nation we should be more focused on protecting the lives and property of our people, we need also to be diplomatic in our dealing with one another.

I am a true believer in patriotic Nationalism and I am going to be always available for you all and discuss any Nations issue and for those of you that want to connect and chat concerning women’s rights, security, education, and our unemployed youths, it can always be an avenue of discussion, to foster a great outcome on all issues that needs attention.

I am promising our young women’s that we are going to come up with a big well prepared term to plan our young women’s future with a master a great use of all opportunities that will be available to us all. We should remember that we are the future of not only Nations alone, but the worldwide at large, so let’s change our footsteps on development goals and take a most reliable productive movement for our young women’s upcoming fresh graduates in Nations, I will want o also advise us all to not relent in our efforts on trying again and again, not to always rely on the government alone, because the future of Nations as a countries is going be on Agriculture and Natural resources.

Let us all join hands and create a network of wholehearted individuals that will be trust worthy and will work for the masses and the people that wouldn’t care who gets the credit nor what they get out of what they’ve spent in building for the future of our young women’s and girls. Be it infrastructural development or young women empowerment.

We only need young future leaders that will work on behalf of the people for the people and by the people of Nations for progress, not for political gains or reinstatement.

My doors will always be opened for discussion like I have mentioned above so whoever picks interest in international collaboration that come along with any progressive idea to pilot a collective job creation chain that will be revisited again and again as a suggestion to  require actions on time.

Thank you for sharing with ADM.

You are welcome. Thank you.

 

Abdullahi Bindawa DSC is a UN Peace Ambassador and International Outreach Coordinator at Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies, The University of Rhode Island (URI), USA.

Honorary Board Member for UN-NGLS Stakeholder Selection Committee for President of the UN General Assembly’s High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding & Sustainable Peace at UN Headquarters, New York – USA

Senior Fellow for United State Institute of Peace (USIP), Washington DC, USA

Research Analyst – Conflict Early Warning & Assessment, at Fund for Peace (FFP) Washington DC, USA.

Senior Fellow, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University, California, USA

Counterterrorism Research Analyst & International Security Consultant Arab Institute of Security Studies, Jordan.

International Humanitarian Aid Worker & Global Peace Leader.

Consultant for USAID West Africa Reacting to Early Warning And Response Data (REWARD) Country Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (CRVA)

Social Cohesion & Development Specialist 2018/2020 World Bank Crisis Recovery & Resettlement Consultancy Field Mission – Northeast, Nigeria

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below are excerpts:

 

 Can you tell us briefly about yourself?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 What advice would you give the younger ones?

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

Ase! Ase! Ase ooo!

 

ADM2021

 

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Africa’s Internal Development Challenges

Shiekh Ben Halima Abderraouf,.

….As ADM Engages  Tunisian Cleric in Accra

Story: Mohammed Abu-ADM,Accra..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Interview: Nikki Spooner, American–Born Nollywood Actress Embraces Yoruba Language & Culture

American Born gospel singer, Nollywood actress Nikki Spooner in an exclusive interview with Adewale Adenrele of African Development Magazine speaks about  her experience , challenges , lifestyle and insight in learning Yoruba , African languages and culture, also how King Sunny Ade has influenced her to become a singer .

Can you tell us about yourself ?

 I am Nikki Spooner, I work as an MCNA (medical certified nursing assistant) I am a mother of two amazing kids and I also sing in Yoruba and act in Nollywood movies.

What motivated your decision to learn a new language and culture?

 I fell in love with Yoruba culture after seeing an official introduction, I thought it was beautiful and decided that I will learn this culture….. the love for the language came in when I heard king sunny Ade singing merciful God and I fell in Love again saying “wow’ I have to learn this language.

Nikki Spooner
Nikki Spooner

How many languages can you speak fluently?

 I can’t speak any language except English but I can sing in 5 different languages.

How do you sing in different languages, explain this?

 Yes, Music is a love language and just like your kids will learn the lyrics to the songs you play in your car, I learn by listening and singing along practice! Practice!! Practice!!! LAUGHS!!!

Why do you choose African Language especially Yoruba language and culture?

It’s beautiful why wouldn’t I choose it.

Language is very essential for any culture to survive. Yoruba is a foreign language in America, how did you learn how to sing in Yoruba? 

I studied by listening……. I played the music and wrote it out how it sounded to me. Then I practiced. It’s so interesting and amazing.

What are the challenges you faced while doing this and how did you overcome them?

 The biggest challenge I faced was those closest to me expecting me to fail, or the people who said I can do it but I can’t ever do it well enough to be accepted. I faced the word of God and stayed focused.

What do you like about African culture?

 Even with Everything America has, it’s amazing to me that all we lack in America is in African culture.

What did your family say when you decide to take up African culture?

  I didn’t ask my family’s permission, I didn’t get opinions or question my own choices. I followed the voice of God and didn’t look back.

You also dress like a typical Yoruba woman, how do you get the clothes and the designers?

 I met so many people who gave me cloth and sewed attire for me. Most designers contact me, especially during shows and events however I use sun-wealth clothing for all my fashion designs.

Do you have American friends who speaks Yoruba language or were you able to teach them the yoruba language ?

 No American friends who speak or want to speak the language.

A Yoruba musical album was launched recently by you, what is the title, where can it be download ?

“O Nbe Sibe” is the title, was launched on May 14th in Ikeja, Lagos and it’s not available for download yet as I am about to do the music video ,then they will release together

Can you sing for me ?

I would love to sing for you. ““O Nbe Sibe” Oluwa n be…. 3ce

 Have you met with Yoruba Monarch? 

 Yes I have, in fact I have been to see many. pure enjoyment.

 King Sunny Ade Album inspires you to learn Yoruba language, can you sing the song?

  I wish I could claim to sing all of them but the only one I know is “Merciful God”

Do you believe in Yoruba tradition, worshiping the deities?

  I am so intrigued and interested in learning the culture and traditions sometimes It may seem like I am a believer, contrary to that I am a firm believer in Christ Jesus. I Love to worship and praise him. I believe that God would want us to learn everything we can learn while we’re here on earth.

What is your relationship with Chief Otunba Gani Adams?

 Oh that question is simple as an amazing man, he is quite the leader and a great teacher of Yoruba culture and traditions. Because of my curiosity and drive to want to learn Yoruba culture I am grateful to have him as not only a Teacher but also a friend.

Nikki Spooner

Are you a spiritual person?

 Yes as a proud member of Redeemed, I love God. I love his daily presence in my life and I trust his judgment.

How long have you been in Nigeria and Africa?

 I have been coming since 2000′ and I have also been to Egypt, DRC, Ivory Coast and Ghana and I love it…..

What can you say about NIGERIA?

I love Nigeria so much, it is my prayer that western worlds be reminded to teach their children where they come from with pride. It is my belief that even with everything America has all that we don’t have Nigeria does have it all.

Do u like to cook, what is your favourite meal both foreign and local?

 I love to cook…..  my favorites are diverse I love (African) Eba and efo rio, (Jamaican) curry Goat with rice, (Haitian) rice and beans with Goat and sauce (American) steak and corn on the Cobb with mashed potatoes (Italian) stuffed sausage manicotti

Eba (Cassava grains) and Efo riro (vegetables) is one of your favourite, can you teach how to prepare it?

Yes I can ……… in fact we should be filming this, when we do it….. Hope you will take me on a video to prepare it for Nigerians to eat.

How would you promote culture and tourism?

 I promote it with the best form of advertisement “Word of mouth” I tell everyone about my positive experiences and I involve myself in all culture festivals and events involving culture.

Have you attended Nigeria festivals, what can you say about it?

I love them! I am always excited when I know festivals are coming….

How many tourist site have you visited in Nigeria and Africa?

I have been to a few places but never have time to actually be a tourist. I am always busy…. I really want to tour …Laughs …anyone wanna take me……….???

Do you wish to tour Nigeria with African Development Magazine to take you around?

I haven’t toured any sites but I have seen some with my eyes and a promise to go back……… wow …..if African Development Magazine wanted to take me around Nigeria as a tourist,  I will be so honored and overwhelmed with joy!

What’s your secret?

 I am in Love with GOD.

What do you value the most?

My relationship with God, and my relationship with my kids.

How is your relationship with your father and did he ever support you even when you decide to go African?

My father died when I was 14 years old.

 Who influenced you the most in life and why?

 My greatest influence in life is my Sister Denise and my Best friend Kiki and King Sunny Ade.

Is there something you stopped doing, even though you love it?

 Everything in life has an expiration date, life is too short not to try it and move on to the next big thing.

What is the hardest lesson you had to learn in life?

That you cannot pocket God, he’s a big God. Yes He is.

What would you do tomorrow if you would become president today?

 I would find a way to make sure everyone had an opportunity to travel and experience another country.

What is your most amazing memory?

 The day my kids were born and the day I performed live on stage with my Yoruba idol King Sunny Ade.

Can you Mention a few of the Nollywood films that you have featured in?

 Baba lawo lamerica ,Oyin ni ,Village idiot 2, Twins, Kowe, Osun….Just to name a few of them……….

Who are your favorite nollywood actors?

I love so many actors and actress and they are all blessed with many different faces it would be hard to choose between so much raw talent.

 Are you single or married and do u wish to marry an African man?

This is a two part questions and the only way I can answer this is to say I am in love with an African man.

What is your relationship with Alh Wasiu Alabi Pasuma?

Pasuma and I were friends and we first met in America and then I was on set of his music video and then present at the same shows, then finally seeing him again in Nigeria after a long time. I am a fan and a friend. I look forward to working with him on a collabo effort.

What advice would you give your younger self?

  “Life to the fullest, meet everyone you can and don’t ever look down on the people who look up to you.

Who are those that have supported your dream so far?

 A sovereign God, My sister Denise, my children Fabian and Olivia ,my best friend Quianna, Redeemed Church of Christ  Pastor Oni and his amazing wife. Nollywood and King Sunny Ade, My PA Joyce , Famed Music producer Mr. Julius Olagoroye (Julieking), Manager Seyi Allen, Mr. Moses Adeyemi and family, as well as Mr Jimoh and everyone who worked with me.  Chief .Dr. Otunba Gani Adams, Oba Onimole & House of Assembly’s  Hon .Babatunde Brimoh especially as cultural icons . I thank you for all you have taught me and I look forward to the promotions of Yoruba culture. So many people to thank these are just a few………

 

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