Social Networks, Social Change: An Online Paradigm Shift in Cote d’Ivoire

By Carolina Loza For many, social networking is an irrelevant distraction, a facile means of wasting time with games and chatting. For others, it has become an effective method for contacting activists, organizing gatherings and expressing dissent. In Cote d’Ivoire, it has proven a faster, and arguably more effective, means of providing assistance than many of the international organizations working in the field. During the vicious civil conflict in 2010 and 2011, social media may have been as important as the telephone in saving lives and directing emergency services. Twenty-five years ago, the former French colony of Cote d’Ivoire was seen as a beacon of stability in the troubled region of West Africa. Often dubbed “the miracle of West Africa,” it maintained close ties with the West after gaining independence and established itself as the largest cocoa exporter in the world. Blessed with beautiful beaches, fresh fruit and a friendly ... read more

Becoming Clemantine Wamariya

Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when the Rwandan genocide began in 1994. She and her sister Claire became separated from their family and lived on the run in refugee camps in seven different countries before immigrating to the United States in 2000. After starting her formal education at the age of thirteen, Clemantine went on to graduate from Yale University in 2014 with a degree in comparative literature. Since her early teen years, she has traveled throughout the country sharing her message of personal resilience and advocating for action to advance human rights. She has spoken at the United States Holocaust Museum, the United Nations annual commemoration of the Rwandan genocide, the US Department of Homeland Security Human Rights Law Conference, and at numerous schools and universities. She has been a special guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and at Chicago Ideas Week. In 2011, President Obama appointed her ... read more

Africa’s Solar Powered Future

Africa’s economic growth and quality of life are hindered by a lack of power. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that over 585 million people across the continent lack access to power. That’s where Solar Sister comes in. Since 2009, Solar Sister has empowered a network of women clean energy entrepreneurs. With light comes hope and opportunity. Using an Avon-style distribution model, Solar Sister recruits and supports women to sell affordable solar lighting in an effort to create clean energy access and help these women gain a steady income. We spoke to Solar Sister’s Director of Engagement, Caroline Mailloux, about Solar Sister’s sustainable approach to women’s empowerment and clean energy. This interview was originally published by Ayiba.   How did your founder, Katherine Lucey, make the leap from investment banking to working on solving the issue of energy poverty? Katherine has always had a passion for energy and women’s empowerment. She spent more ... read more

Africa’s Digital Media Space: A Conversation with Mark Kaigwa

Mark Kaigwa lives at the intersection of storytelling, technology and entrepreneurship. He is the founder of Nendo, a Nairobi based consultancy firm, focused on strategy and digital storytelling in Africa. He is also the co-founder of Afrinnovator, one of East Africa’s leading blogs on technology, innovation and startups in the region. In 2008, Kaigwa co-wrote, Pamoja Mtaani, a Warner Bros. project and Kenya’s first animated video game. Pamoja Mtaani, which means “Together in the Hood” in KiSwahili, centers on bringing HIV awareness. Kaigwa has also written five short films for Warner Bros. and debuted his first film, Dawa, at the Durban Film Festival in 2010. He went to Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya where he studied Business and Information Technology.  Edem Torkornoo spoke with the 25-year-old Kenyan about what storytelling means to him, Nendo’s work and the digital media space. This interview originally appeared in Ayiba. Tell us a bit about ... read more

Finding An Africa Focused Job

Nina Oduro is the founder and President of AfricanDevJobs, a platform for Africa-based development job opportunities and career advice. The site offers insights into African development careers with a focus on highlighting the contributions of Africans and the African diaspora in the field. This article was originally published by Ayiba. Tips for Young Professionals on Finding an Africa-focused Job   Many young people come out of college with a desire to land a job working at Africa-focused organizations, but such careers are often difficult to break into, especially in international development. As a young professional it is important to know that your passion and enthusiasm for African Affairs is not enough to get your foot in the door. Employers see a lot of candidates with passion, but what makes someone stand out is a combination of passion and skill. So how do you find a position that will help you shape your ... read more

Behind The Scenes with Chika Oduah

While she may be labeled a journalist, Chika Oduah is perhaps better described as an anthropologist ⎯ a true student of culture. Through her photography and writing, Chika, a Nigerian-American independent journalist and frequent contributor to Al Jazeera, shines a light on Africa’s culture and politics as well as history and development. In 2014, Chika won the Trust Women Journalist Award for her coverage of women’s rights in Nigeria. Ayiba’s Akinyi Ochieng spoke to Chika about her journalistic work, the art of storytelling, and Nigerian society. This interview originally appeared in Ayiba Akinyi: Having grown up in the diaspora, how did you arrive at the conclusion that you wanted to work on the continent? Chika: I’ve always been an ambitious person. I’ve always been a dreamer attracted to faraway places. Firstly, I was intrigued with my own Nigerian heritage ⎯ my parents are Nigerian and I was born in Anambra State ⎯ and ... read more

Start-up Stories: Zere Fashion House

Tosin Obalade has a master’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Nottingham, but when she is not working full time as a pharmacist, she is busy building the e-commerce company Zere Fashion House. Eyitemi Popo spoke with ZFH’s founder to learn more about the company, the challenges involved with managing a start-up, and what it takes to bring African fashion to the world. This interview was originally published in Ayiba.  Why did you pursue entrepreneurship? For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a CEO. Though I didn’t know all that it entailed, it was something that fascinated me. I would sit in my dad’s swivel chair pretending to be in charge. I started my first company called “Busola Company” when I was just nine years old and my second right after university. I’ve come to realise that I didn’t choose entrepreneurship; rather I think it ... read more

Telling the Truth about Africa using Photography

By Jorrit Dijkstra This piece originally appeared in This Is Africa. If only he knew what he exactly wanted to show, his life would be a lot easier. But for Ghanaian photographer Nana Kofi Acquah, Africa is a never-ending journey of discovery. “My aim is to show the beauty of Africa, and so far I’ve just been sharing my experiences with my viewers. I see myself therefore more as a storyteller who uses his camera as a medium.” Acquah grew up in his grandmother’s pub in Elmina, Ghana, just two hundred metres away from São Jorge da Mina, the first slave castle built in sub-Sahara Africa. “It [the pub] was the hotspot for every kind of gossip and the place where I learned to develop a keen ear. To date, I think one of my best gifts is my ability to listen and even to hear what is not being ... read more

Patronised Immigrants – A Chat with Okey Ndibe

“It is quite a while since I sensed creative promise on this level,” said Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka on reading Foreign Gods Inc., a recent novel by outspoken Nigerian writer Okey Ndibe. We sat with Okey to discuss the book, Chinua Achebe and immigrant life. This interview was first published by This is Africa Atane Ofiaja: Tell us a little about yourself and your background. Okey Ndibe: I was born in Yola, Nigeria and I grew up in Nigeria. After college, I worked as a journalist for two major Nigerian newspapers, The Concord and The Guardian. I then came to America in December of 1988 at the invitation of Chinua Achebe. He asked me to be the founding editor of a magazine that he and some of his colleagues published in the US called African Commentary. I’ve lived in the US ever since. Wow, so that’s been over 25 years. ... read more

Why are Schools Punishing Children for Speaking African Languages?

Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire looks at the various reasons for ostracising African languages in African schools and shows how unconvincing they are, arguing for more vigilance in the defence of the use of local languages in African schools. This article was originally appeared in This Is Africa. In various schools in Uganda, and some other parts of Africa, children as young as five are punished for speaking African languages, indigenous languages and mother tongues at school. The modes of punishment differ. The most common one in Uganda is wearing a dirty sack until you meet someone else speaking their mother tongue and then you pass the sack on to them. In some schools, there are specific pupils and students tasked with compiling lists of fellow pupils and students speaking mother tongues. This list is then handed over to a teacher responsible for punishing these language rule-breakers. According to Gilbert Kaburu, some ... read more
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