NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Former U.S. President Barack Obama Monday praised Kenya’s president and opposition leader for working together but said this East African country must do more to end corruption.
Obama, on his first visit to Africa since stepping down as president, commended President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga for cooperating following last year’s disputed presidential election which were marked by violence.
“Despite some of the tumultuous times that seem to attend every election we now have a president and major opposition leader who have pledged to build bridges and have made specific commitments to work together,” said Obama, speaking in Kogelo in Siaya County, the rural birthplace of his late father.
“So what we see here in Kenya is all part of an emergence of a more confident, more self-reliant Africa. But we know real progress means addressing the problems that remain. It means rooting out corruption that weakens civic life,” he said.
Other challenges facing Kenya are tribalism and the need for better education, Obama said. Since visiting Kenya as senator in 2006 and then as president in 2015, Obama has passionately urged Kenya to tackle its endemic corruption and problems surrounding the divisions between this country’s ethnic groups. In 2006, he angered the government of President Mwai Kibaki when he gave a talk about corruption at the University of Nairobi. The government spokesman responded calling him “an inexperienced young man who could not teach Kenya how to manage its affairs.”
Obama went to Kogelo on Monday to launch a sports and training center founded by his half-sister, Auma Obama, through her foundation Sauti Kuu. Thousands of Kenyans turned up in his ancestral home of Kogelo to see Obama but many could not get into the venue due to high security.
“We wanted to appreciate Barack Obama for what he has done. In fact he has developed the community through giving iron sheets for people to build their houses,” said Boniface Rachula, a farmer from Kogelo who was turned away from the event.
Obama’s current visit to Kenya is low key, unlike his previous trips where he electrified thousands of Kenyans who lined the streets to see him. “It is a joy to be with so many people who are family to me and so many people who claim to be family to me. Everybody is a cousin,” Obama said in jest.
Later Monday he left for South Africa where he will deliver the annual Neslon Mandela lecture which this year will mark the late anti-apartheid icon’s 100th birthday.
Lots of the news from sub-Saharan Africa is about war, famine, poverty or political upheaval. So it’s understandable if many Americans think most Africans who immigrate to the United States are poorly educated and desperate. That’s the impression that President Trump left with his comments to members of Congress opposing admission of immigrants from “s***hole countries” in Africa and elsewhere.
But research tells another story.
While many are refugees, large numbers are beneficiaries of the “diversity visa program” aimed at boosting immigration from underrepresented nations. And on average, African immigrants are better educated that people born in the U.S. or the immigrant population as a whole.
“It’s a population that’s very diverse in its educational, economic and English proficiency profile,” said Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington and co-author of a report last year on sub-Saharan African immigrants in the U.S. “People came for a variety of reasons and at various times.”
Overall, their numbers are small compared with other immigrant groups but have risen significantly in recent years. The U.S. immigrant population from sub-Saharan Africa (49 countries with a total population of more than 1.1 billion) grew from 723,000 to more than 1.7 million between 2010 and 2015, according to a new report by New American Economy, a Washington-based research and advocacy group. Still, they make up just half a percent of the U.S. population.
Drawing from U.S. surveys and Census Bureau data, the report found that the majority come from five countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa.
The Pew Research Center reported that African immigrants are most likely to settle in the South or Northeast, and that the largest numbers — at least 100,000 — are found in Texas, New York, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Virginia. Many African refugees have also relocated to or have been resettled in states such as Minnesota and South Dakota.
The Refugee Act of 1980 made it easier for people fleeing war zones to resettle in the U.S., and today there are tens of thousand of refugees from Somalia, Sudan and Congo. About 22% of African immigrants are refugees, according to Andrew Lim, associate director of research at New American Economy.
At the same time, the diversity visa program — also known as the visa lottery — has opened the door to immigrants from more peaceful places. Of the sub-Saharan immigrants who have become legal permanent residents, 17% came through the program, compared with 5% of the total U.S. immigrant population, according to Batalova.
Applicants to the program must have completed the equivalent of a U.S. high school education or have at least two years of recent experience in any number of occupations, including accountant, computer support specialist, orthodontist and dancer. As a result, the influx includes many immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa who are highly skilled professionals.
article by Hira Humayan, Amanda Sealy, CNN and Phoebe Parke, for CNN via cnn.com
Asnath Mahapa was fascinated by planes as a teenager, little did she know she would break boundaries with them by becoming South Africa’s first African female pilot.
“It just dawned on me that those big things that we see in the skies, someone is actually in charge of them,” she told CNN. “I thought if someone can fly this thing, that means I can also do it.”
Mahapa, whose father didn’t want her to become a pilot, overcame a number of obstacles before she took to the skies. “When I told my father I wanted to become a pilot, he never even entertained the idea, ” she explained.
Challenging route to success
She enrolled in a course in electrical engineering at the University of Cape Town in line with her father’s wishes, only to drop out a year later. She later started flight school, which came with it’s own set of challenges.
“I was the only woman in my class the whole time,” she said. “I had to work very hard. I had to probably work ten times harder than the men that I was with in the classroom.”
Mahapa also felt sick the first few times she took to the skies. But that didn’t stop her. “My first time, I felt sick,” she said. “I was persistent, I went back again, I went back until I stopped feeling sick.”
Her hard work and determination paid off and in 1998 she broke barriers by taking to the skies as the first female African pilot in South Africa.
“I didn’t know I was the first black woman until 2003, until about four years later. And I was still the only one at the time and I did not know,” she said. “Before I knew it I was on TV, front page of newspapers, and that came as a shock because I was still young, I was 22 at the time, I was very young.”
Charting a new course
Mahapa was not content with just breaking barriers, she wanted to train and inspire a new generation of pilots, so in 2012 she opened the African College of Aviation.
“For me, it’s about trying to help women who aspire to become pilots,” she said. “I still see a lot of black women going through the same things that I went through at that time. They still struggle to get jobs after they qualify.
“Most of them they struggle with finances because it’s a very expensive industry.” In addition to cost, according to Mahapa the field is still very male dominated, something she is committed to change.
On Friday, the World Economic Forum on Africa presented the five winners of the conference’s challenge to find Africa’s top women innovators. The winners, whose innovations were from the areas including mobile health insurance, solar powered vending carts, bio medical materials and IT training as well as food processing, hail from Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.
Currently, Africa has the youngest population in the world and this is expected to double by 2045. In view of this, several global leaders have attested to the fact that Africa’s future lies in the hands of its youthful population. The region’s start-up businesses are gaining confidence and scale with a growing number of innovations achieving recognition beyond the region’s borders. However, a lot still has to be done in order to create an enabling environment that will allow women to flourish. Due to this set back, the World Economic Forum decided to run this competition to find Africa’s top female innovators especially as the potential of women entrepreneurs is far from optimum.
“I strongly believe that the 21st century will be Africa’s century, that its young population has the potential to build a world where they are not only materially better off, but also where things are fairer, more sustainable and more tolerant than at any other time in history. But this will not be achieved unless women are able to make a full contribution. This is why we are showcasing Africa’s best female entrepreneurs in Kigali this week,” said Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa at the World Economic Forum.
Here are Africa’s top female innovators, selected based on the criteria for the WEF Africa challenge. This required entrant companies to be less than three years old, be earning revenue for at least a year and have proven innovation and positive social impact.
Natalie Bitature – Musana Carts, Kampala, Uganda
Musana Carts has used frugal innovation to develop environmentally friendly, solar-powered vending carts. With a price point of $400, each Musana Cart saves 3,000 tons of carbon emissions and improves the health of cities by eliminating pollution from charcoal and kerosene stoves.
Audrey Cheng – Moringa School, Nairobi, Kenya
Audrey Cheng established Moringa School to enable an entire generation gain the skills they need to compete in the digital economy. Two years on, graduates work in the top tech companies in the region, earning, on average, 350 percent more than before they completed the course.
On Friday, McCoy, best known for her roles in The Players Club, All of Us, Single Ladies and the TV One reality series The Real McCoy, joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to discuss the notion of colorism within the Black community through the muse of Skinned’s main character, Jolie.
Essence Magazine reports, “Jolie is a young woman who is uncomfortable with her complexion and begins to experiment with bleaching and lightening creams to alter her skin tone.”
When asked why she wanted to tackle the issue of colorism in her directorial debut, McCoy said Studio 11 Films asked her to direct the movie and once she read the script, the message behind it forced her to ask, “Why do they want a light-skinned woman to direct a dark-skinned project?”
McCoy explained the reason was controversy. She said, “Controversy now sells and I wanted to have all eyes on this epidemic, because not only is it happening in Africa and our Caribbean nations, but here in America too.”
During their conversation, McCoy mentioned the lightening of former MLB star Sammy Sosa and late King of Pop Michael Jackson as instances of skin bleaching’s prevalence in our society.
McCoy later added that skin bleaching “causes skin cancer, yet it is an over-the-counter drug.”
Psychologist Dr. Kevin Washington, a board member of The Association of Black Psychologists, also joined Martin to discuss the epidemic. He said people of color have been “indoctrinated into a system of European superiority.”
“Anything that is associated with the dominate group becomes desirable,” said Dr. Washington. Adding, “Even in Cote d’Ivoire — just in May — they’ve banned skin bleaching for the purpose of health and racial identity.”
According to Washington, skin lightening “is not just a Black issue.” Dr. Washington said, “The idea of pigmentocracy takes over as a result of a hierarchy that is ascribed to the features associated with Whiteness in this country and globally.”
Watch Roland Martin, LisaRaye McCoy, and Dr. Kevin Washington discuss colorism, pigmentocracy, self-esteem, and Skinned, which premieres Saturday night at 8PM ET on TV One.
Laurence Fishburne is set to play the lead role of Nelson Mandela in Madiba, a miniseries for BET Networks executive produced by the late South African hero’s grandson Kweku Mandela.The six-hour mini, directed by Kevin Hooks (Prison Break), is based on two Mandela books, Conversations With Myself and Nelson Mandela by Himself. Named afterMadiba, the Thembu clan to which Nelson Mandela belonged, the project tells the story of a younger Nelson Mandela during the early-60s as he deals with the political unrest engulfing South Africa.
Madiba will be produced and financed by Toronto-based Blue Ice Pictures and also produced by UK-based Left Bank Pictures and South Africa’s Out of Africa Entertainment in association with Fishburne’s Cinema Gypsy Productions. Blue Ice Pictures president Lance Samuels executive produces alongside Kweku Mandela of Out of Africa and Daniel Iron, Neil Tabatznik, Steven Silver, Andy Harries, Marigo Kehoe and Loretha Jones.
Pre-production will begin later this year, with production slated for early 2016 in South Africa.
“Nelson Mandela’s journey of political activism and leadership is deeply inspirational and we are proud to have the talented and award-winning actor Laurence Fishburne join Madiba to tell this triumphant story” said Stephen Hill, President of Programming, BET Networks.
Fishburne executive produces and co-stars on the ABC comedy series Black-ish andwill be seen next summer in Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice. He recently signed on to star in the A&E remake of Roots and is in production on Sony’s romantic sci-fi drama Passengers starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence.
There have been a number of feature and TV movies about Mandela, with the Nobel Peace Prize-winning anti-apartheid activist and political prisoner-turned-president portrayed by such actors as Morgan Freeman, Sidney Poitier, Idris Elba, DennisHaysbert, Terrence Howard and Danny Glover.
In an effort to combat HIV infections in girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African nations hit hardest by the virus, the Obama administration recently announced a $300 million program to help reduce the growing numbers according to The Associated Press.
The administration hopes to see a “25 percent infection reduction in females between ages 15-24 by the end of next year and a 40 percent reduction by the end of 2017,” the report says.
“No greater action is needed right now than empowering adolescent girls and young women to defeat HIV/AIDS,” said National Security Adviser Susan Rice of the program credited with saving millions of lives in Africa, writes The AP.
The new goals represent the next phase of the program, which was started by President George W. Bush and broadened by President Barack Obama, the report says.
The Obama administration releaased the new targets before “a U.N. summit on development goals for lifting people around the world out of poverty. Obama is scheduled to address the development meeting on Sunday,” writes The AP
About half of all new HIV infections among girls and young women last year are from the 10 countries countries targeted by the new initiatives, including Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, The AP says.
As a boy, I dreamed of becoming a journalist. But then I got caught up with day-to-day troubles. When your life is full of worry it is like the future does not exist.
When I was about seven, my father left our home in a township near Maputo and travelled to South Africa to look for work. I was older than my sisters and had to help bring in some money. So I started to take my mother’s biscuits into town to sell in the market.
I got into doing odd jobs in the market – washing people’s cars and helping to carry their bags. Instead of going home, I often slept overnight in the market with my friends.
It wasn’t very safe. We had nowhere to keep anything, so we stole from one another. I got into some bad habits – minor criminality, but it was a question of survival. Dog eat dog.
My mother tried several times to send me to school but she just couldn’t afford the fees. But all this time I was learning – I read books, and through volunteering with NGOs I learned English.
When I was about 14, I borrowed a friend’s camera. I started to take photographs of my surroundings, documenting people from the townships as they travelled to the city to sell their things. They were black-and-white photos, which I developed in a darkroom I made in my mother’s house. I was teaching myself how to do things, practising whenever I could, but it was difficult for me to pay for the film and the chemicals.
My favourite photograph was taken near the township where I grew up early one morning. It was of a woman walking into town to sell cassava. She had her back to the camera and it was raining.
Lupita Nyong’o, Miriam Makeba, Alek Wek, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Wangari Maathai are just a few of the dynamic women featured in Ruramai “Rudo” Musekiwa‘s Sibahle poster series. The Zimbabwe-born, Johannesburg-based artist and activist created the collection to acknowledge the contributions made by both well-known and unsung heroines from the continent in time for South Africa’s National Women’s Day on August 9th.
“The Sibahle Poster Series is an ongoing body of work paying tribute to phenomenal African women,” Musekiwa said in a press release. “The statement it seeks to make, is that our young girls can and should find inspiration right here, within the continent, within our context as a people. Women are the pillars of our society and it is imperative that we pay homage to inspirational women that not only radiate authenticity and passion within their respective crafts, but also understand how their purpose is connected to others (Ubuntu).”