Memorable Quotes from African Women in Power

With a population of over 1 billion, Africa is the second-largest and second most populous continent in the world. Of the total number of people, more than half are female, with an estimated 56% between the age of 15-64.

Below are 5 memorable quotes from influential and powerful women in Africa.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia

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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is globally-recognized for her role in stabilizing Liberia as the country’s president shortly after civil war. In an excerpt from her book, This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President, Nobel Peace Prize winning author offers inspiring words to rising leaders.

“The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”

Catherine Samba-Panza, President of Central African Republic

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When her country spiraled into deadly sectarian violence in 2013, government leaders looked to replace the current president with an interim leader who could provide a unique perspective to peace talks. In January 2014, Catherine Samba-Panza, the Mayor of Central African Republic‘s capital city, was elected to the presidency. In an interview with The Guardian shortly after she was sworn in, the former corporate lawyer talked about her advocacy work for African women.

“The majority of my sisters and daughters in the Central African Republic don’t know their rights so they can’t defend them. But we who know our rights can help them. We must always help them: the battle is always to promote and protect the rights of women.”

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Former Finance Minister of Nigeria

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala may arguably be one of Africa’s most recognized female leaders. Shortly before moving back to Nigeria to join government as the Minister of Finance, Okonjo-Iweala was a Managing Director at the World Bank. In this 2008 TED talk, she speaks to Africa’s shift from encouraging foreign aid to increasing foreign investment.

“Africans…they are tired. They’re tired of being the subject of everybody’s charity and care. We are grateful, but we know that we can take charge of our own destinies if we have the will to reform.”

Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission

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As the head of the African Union, the South African political leader has stood as the face of the continent in political platforms around the world.

“It’s in [the West’s] advantage to know what’s happening in Africa because if they don’t come to the party eventually the party will happen without them.”

Dr. Isatou Njie Saidy, Vice President of The Gambia

African Women

Though Dr. Isatou Njie Saidy serves as second-in-command for one of Africa’s smallest countries, there is no ignoring her big voice. In an address delivered during the 2011 UN General Assembly, Saidy reminded world leaders that the continent should be approached as a diverse place and not a country.

“Africa is no longer the colony of any country and must be respected and treated as such.”

Source: http://www.africa.com

12 Steps to Thrive

Inspired by Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive, this artwork reminds us to question what it means to be successful in today’s world.

Source: MindValley

12 Steps toThrive

Step 1: Get 30 minutes more sleep tonight. “My single most effective step for being effective, productive and creative is getting enough sleep.”

Step 2: Move your body. “Physical activity is an incredibly powerful component of our overall well-being,”

Step 3: Meditate. “Onward, upward and inward.”

Step 4: Listen to your inner wisdom & Let go of what you no longer need. “When we really connect to that place of wisdom and strength and understanding in us, everything becomes easier.”

Step 5: Start a gratitude list. “Living in a state of gratitude is the gateway to grace.”

Step 6: Each night turn off your devices & gently escort them out of your bedroom. “Disconnecting from our technology to reconnect with ourselves is absolutely essential for wisdom.”

Step 7: Focus on the rising and falling of your breath for 10 seconds whenever you are stressed. “The soul is who I am, the soul is who you are and it is one breath away.”

Step 8: Pick an Image that ignites the joy in you. “Joy is a fuel for creativity.”

Step 9: Forgive yourself for any judgment you are holding against yourself. “To move beyond our worries, anxieties and negative fantasies, we need to forgive ourselves when we are not the best we can be. And then it becomes easier to forgive others.”

Step 10: Make small gestures of kindness and giving a habit and pay attention to how this affects your mind, emotions, body. “The happiest people are the most giving people.”

Step 11: Make a personal connection to people you might normally take for granted, this will make you feel more alive and reconnected.”Restore connection is not just for devices, it is for people too.”

Step 12: Use a skill or a talent you have to help someone benefit from it. “Giving and service mark the path to a world in which we are no longer strangers and alone, but members of a vast yet tightly knit family.”

“Life is a dance between making it happen and letting it happen” A. Huff

The leaders who ruined Africa, and the generation who can fix it

Before he hit eighteen, Fred Swaniker had lived in Ghana, Gambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. What he learned from a childhood across Africa was that while good leaders can’t make much of a difference in societies with strong institutions, in countries with weak structures, leaders could make or break a country. In this passionate TED talk, Swaniker looks at different generations of African leaders and imagines how to develop the leadership of the future.

Are you part of Generation 4?

Shining Hope

It was exactly a year ago, January 2014, when I first came to know of Kennedy Odede, a fellow Kenyan like myself who was causing ripples across the world and for all the right reasons. Unfortunately, it wasn’t through local channels that I had come to know of him but through a gripping piece that he had written for the New York Times which had highlighted on the intrinsic link between terrorism and urban poverty. He had laid the facts bare, the article was true and indeed  uncomfortable. Many a times we do want to judge and furtively give our opinionated views on this perdition known as terrorism without wanting to constructively discuss or tackle its root causes and exacerbating agents. To read more on the article kindly see it here http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/09/opinion/terrorisms-fertile-ground.html?_r=0

Nonetheless, I am not writing to judge but to tell a story.

At four years of age, young Kennedy Odede had grown to know and understand that he was poor, that his family was poor, extended family as well as his late family. He was old enough to absorb the environment surrounding him and at six years when of age to walk around, he took to the streets to sell peanuts. Maybe it was by his own volition I thought to begin with,  but no, it was because of the fact that he needed to make some extra money for the family. His mother worked odd jobs to make ends meet for him and his siblings.

Growing up in Kibera slums however, the city streets and lights offered an added sense of adventure and excitement to young Kennedy. This was not to last and growing resentment took over. As he sold his peanuts to people in cars or to walking pedestrians, Kennedy began to realize the glaring disparity between his home in Kibera and the lifestyles of these people. The big cars, the clean clothes, the good shoes, it was all too painful. “I hate rich people,” the little boy said amidst throwing whatever he had with him at the cars. On several occasions, feeling jaded and exhausted from the day’s work, Kennedy headed home only to find the house fully occupied by neighbours’ kids who had come to partake of their already small portioned meals. “Mum, these neighbours have to go, I am hungry, we are all hungry, how do we even begin to share,” young Kennedy ranted in between short breaths. But his mum was deaf to this and with each passing day she reminded him that it was only through sharing, through humanity that one keeps hope alive.

At the tender age of ten, Kennedy was a homeless boy roaming the streets of Nairobi. The pain had become too much to bear and so he decided to run away from home. At the age of fifteen, ‘luck’ befell him and he got a job at a factory where he made Ksh 100 ($ 1. 2) a day after 10 hours of labour. It was also then that he had begun to read on Martin Luther King Jr. “Each day I cried and cried. This could not be life. Was I born to live this way? Is poverty bound to flow through my veins till I die? Is it genetic? My grand dad was a poor fisherman, his father too…this just cannot be life.”

Fast forward to 2015 and I am seated across this gentleman known as Kennedy. He tells me about the countless number of friends that he lost along this journey called life. The pain is palpable and I could see it through his eyes as he spoke fondly of them. Some committed suicide, while others were killed by the police. “It was crazy, I was crazy. I had lost all hope, I was violent. “

“It was on one of these long days after working at the factory that I began to question myself and question God. Flooded with tears, I told him that he could not bring me into this world to know such hard living. Hard pressed against the wall I could only bounce back. So I decided to buy a football from that day’s earning and called my friends together. I told them that there had to be more to life. Some thought I was mad but this football brought us together. I told them that we had to transform the society by ourselves,” Kennedy narrates. His words ring true and remind me of Victor Frankl’s words in his revolutionary book, ‘Man’s search for meaning’ where he writes of his experiences in the Nazi gas camps. He states that man when questioning his existence should not ask what he expects from life but what life expects from him.

Today Kennedy is a success story, he is one of the leading social entrepreneurs in the world and has transformed Kibera and Mathare through the organization that he started back then at fifteen years of age, ‘Shining Hope for Communities.’ A community based and owned organization that is anchored on providing quality education, health care, water and sanitation and economic empowerment to society. Today the organization is serving over 70,000 people.

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(Large water tank serving the community with clean water)

Library

(The kids enjoying their Saturday morning watching Sesame street while the young adults indulge in some leisure reading at one of the Shofco Libraries)

What was most inspiring to see was the love for wellness of society amongst the staff members and community. During the post election violence that rocked Kenya in 2007-8, the community armed with pangas and machetes stood watch over the organization’s building and projects to protect them from vandalism. “It is there work, they take so much pride in it,” Kennedy says amidst a big smile across his face.

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(The Kibera School for Girls play area)

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One particular individual who struck me on one of my visits to Shofco (Shining Hope for Communities) is Paul (name changed) who focuses on assisting families that are dealing with sexual and gender based violence. His story is both heart-wrenching and inspiring at the same time. Paul was a cab driver who worked long hours especially during the night shift when his four year old daughter was raped by a neighbour. It was then that he decided to sensitize and empower the community on these issues and joined Shofco.

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(Kennedy Odede)

This brings me to my kind appeal to you; we do not need to know pain nor humble beginnings to change the world. It’s okay to just be and to give of our gifts and time to better society. Our founding fathers fought for liberation, it is now our time to propel transformation. It no longer is about politics as we know it where several individuals suffer delusions of grandeur, but about the grassroots and the roles that we are playing there. I would love to hear more on your amazing stories as well as share them. In a world that is facing the ubiquity of suffering with heartbreaking news sprawled across our screens on a daily basis; it’s all too easy to fall into the bottomless pit of hopelessness. We do have the ability to transcend this predicament and influence in a different way, African youth tell me your story nwmaina2015@gmail.com

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.Martin Luther King, Jr.

2014 Quotes from Africa’s leading economic drivers

2014 was fraught with economic challenges for several  countries in Africa, especially with the oil escapade, naira devaluation, Ebola and other socio-economic challenges. Regardless of these, 2014 was a great year for businesses.

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(Pic courtesy of eclusiveafrica.net)

The year witnessed big mergers and acquisitions across the continent, multiple oil finds in East Africa, global franchises expanding in Africa and new ones joining the African business train. The continent’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, continued his industrialization plan of sub-Saharan Africa, and fellow countryman Tony Elumelu pursuing an entrepreneurial Africa; the Africapitalism proponent set up a $100,000,000 entrepreneurship fund. These business leaders and Africa’s growing entrepreneurs were at the forefront of the continent’s success in 2014.

Ventures Africa takes a look at the year, culling out some of the top quotes from business leaders that epitomizes the success and growth recorded in 2014.

“I enjoy myself a lot but I derive more joy in working. I believe in hard work and one of my business success secrets is hard work. It’s hard to see a youth that will go to bed by 2am and wake up by 5am. I don’t rest until I achieve something.” – Aliko Dangote

“I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me thirty years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.” – Aliko Dangote

“If you don’t have ambition, you shouldn’t be alive”. – Aliko Dangote

“Mobile phone technology can help to bring financial services to the 80 percent of African women who do not have a bank account and bolster the growth of the world’s poorest continent. It’s not just about empowering women, it’s about economic growth. Unless we can make access to finance easier for women in their businesses, we will be missing out on a significant portion of growth within our economies”. – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

“We are growing, but not creating enough jobs. That is a very big challenge.” – NgoziOkonjoIweala

“Sometimes, when people think of Nigeria, they think of oil. But we have far more than oil. The non-oil sector is even growing far more”. –Nwanze Okidegbe

“Let us focus like a laser beam on the quality of growth and that growth needs to create the jobs for our rural people and our urban people.” -NgoziOkonjo-Iweala

“As you already know, to succeed as a woman in a world largely dominated by men which we live in today requires extra effort, dedication and perseverance to attain. – Jennifer Obayuwana

“I am confident that Egypt is positioned to achieve exceptional economic growth in the years to come, attracting direct investments in key sectors which continue to offer substantial investment opportunities.” – NaseefSawiris

“The Nigerian market is huge. If you can get it right in Nigeria, you don’t even need to go anywhere […] Just in Africa there is a huge market without us now even going out to Europe, specifically England, UK, Paris, those fashion capitals.” – DeolaSagoe

“There is so much beauty in Africa and it’s definitely a one sided story what you see on your television screens especially in the west.” – AkosuaAfriyie-Kumi of AAKS

“Africa is regarded by many developed economies as one of the final remaining frontier markets with significant opportunities … and the GCC countries are very aware of this.” – RassemZok, CEO, Standard Bank Plc

“Political instability is something you have to work around; it is better if it is not there, but it does not rule out opportunities. You have to study a country, see how you can mitigate risk.” – RassemZok

“Leadership style is what differentiates between a business thriving, sinking, or soaring.” – OnyecheTifase, MD/CEO Siemens Nigeriabusinesses

Article crossposted from Ventures-Africa.com

The kind of Leaders this Continent needs

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A beggar had been sitting by the side of the road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. “Spare some change?” mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. “I have nothing to give you,” said the stranger. Then he asked: “What’s that you are sitting on?’ “Nothing,” replied the beggar. “Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.” “Ever looked inside?” asked the stranger. “No,” said the beggar. “What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.” “Have a look inside,” insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to pry open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.

I am that stranger who has nothing to give you and who is telling you to look inside. Not inside any box, as in the parable, but somewhere even closer: inside yourself.

Excerpt from the Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle

‘I often meet the real leaders of Africa (Youth) searching for external transformational leadership. Essentially they are looking for themselves.’ – Brian Tamuka Kagoro

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