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

African Women in Power/Politics – AWJ Issue VIII

In this issue of the African Women’s Journal, dubbed African Women in Power/Politics, The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) seeks to explore both the individual and collective experiences of past, aspiring or current women in power/politics.

The articles speak to some of the persistent and structural as well as emerging obstacles and challenges women face as they wrestle with power, privilege and politics. Authors also present alternative strategies for ensuring visionary, transformative leadership. They stop and take stock and give room for personal journeys and reflections.

Whether women engage at local, national, regional or global levels, they continue to wrestle with power, make their voices heard and bring about lasting change which can be felt by the coming generations. We’ve heard a few of the stories and journeys here in this issue, but of course there are countless others whose stories have neither been told nor heard. May women continue to shape their own narratives and emerge with possibilities that respond to their realities.

Here’s to gender parity in our decision making spaces – including in our homes, and to transformational leadership.

A luta continua!

A snippet of the Journal:

Amina Mohammed shares her personally journey, from growing up in North-East Nigeria to her current position as special Advisor to Ban Ki Moon on Post-2015. She challenges us that it is not enough to simply have a seat at the table, but we must speak truth to the establishment and make that seat count for the countless who are not at the table. She reminds us that each of us must play our part, using our positions of power, small as they may be, to create a just and prosperous world where all people realize their rights and live with dignity and hope.

Annie Devenish takes a closer look at an eco-feminist and ultimately political movement; the Green Belt Movement, as well as the trailblazing woman at its forefront; Wangari Maathai. This case study provides an alternative model of leadership and participation; with women tapping into power through taking control of natural resources and articulating their struggles and concerns.

Bertha Rinjeu introduces us to a number of resilient women who find innovative ways around the threats, public shame and humiliation they face while on their political journeys. She touches on culture, patriarchy and strategies women employ to overcome obstacles placed in their paths to power.

Gavaza Maluleke looks at women fighting both a racist and sexist apartheid in South Africa – in particular focusing on the role of rural women, and the multiple ways in which women can participate and tap into power – both as individuals, and perhaps most importantly, as a collective.

Louisa Khabure delves into patriarchy, political violence and the increasingly monetized nature of campaigns. She presents the nature and extent of challenges women face when seeking political leadership and examines this within the context of a broader political culture in Kenya. She also proposes actions to remedy the ills of the political landscape.

Aminatta L. R. Ngum presents the case of Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, who ironically held the position of Minister of Family Welfare and the Advancement of Women’s Affairs in Rwanda and who was the first and only woman tried and convicted for the crime of genocide as well as rape as an act of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Nimmo Elmi takes a look at the case of women in Somalia relegated to the private sphere despite their active engagement prior to the civil war. Through Serah Kahiu and Sara Longwe‘s reflections of their own political journeys in Kenya and Zambia respectively, we come to understand that the personal is truly political.

Here’s a link to the Journal Issue (http://femnet.co/index.php/en/african-women-s-journal/item/340-african-women-in-power-politics-awj-issue-viii)

The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) is a membership-based pan-African Network set up in 1988 to advance African women’s development, equality and other human rights. Over the years FEMNET has played a central role in sharing information, experiences, ideas and strategies among African women’s NGOs in order to strengthen women’s capacity to participate effectively in the development processes on the continent. FEMNET has played a lead role in building the women’s movement in Africa and has ensured that African women voices are amplified and influence decisions made at national, regional and global levels, which have direct and indirect impact on their lives.

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.


(Large water tank serving the community with clean water)


(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.

school 2

(The Kibera School for Girls play area)


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.


(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.


(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

The Girl Child

Headlines today read that Africa is rising.

That of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world, six are in Africa and are rich in natural resources. Development is on the rise and talks of economic emancipation are on everyone’s lips.

However, I refuse to accept the narrative that Africa is rising for one reason only; women’s marginalization from meaningfully engaging in the growth of this continent is rife. I write this from a standpoint of logic and sound reasoning as opposed to passionate valour. Women today are not considered as equals and are still victims of sexual violence, poverty and disease.

How then is Africa rising without half of its population?

We see this in almost every corner of the continent; women holding minority number of seats in parliament; women being demoralized from meaningfully engaging in the very economic activities that are propelling this continent forward; be it in the mining sector, manufacturing industries or service industries. Despite women being majority of the farmers on this continent, we still see that they have no tenure security and their contributions are most times going undervalued and underutilized.

Our Chibok girls have still not returned and are subject to atrocities for a crime no one should ever be guilty of, an education. These are adolescent girls who, against all odds, sought education in order to be empowered in their bid to become responsible leaders of the society.

Gender equality cannot be underscored in the African story, it is imperative in realizing our potential and prosperity as a continent and true emancipation can only be realized when we rid ourselves of this impediment.

Women’s empowerment and participation in the community and the workforce greatly increases economic growth, reduces poverty, enhances societal well-being, and helps ensure sustainable development. This is a proven statistic.

I give the example of women who reside in the mountainous region of Entoto in Ethiopia; women who make less than dollar a day from carrying 35kgs of firewood on their back in order to educate and provide for their children; or of the women engaging in artisanal mining despite its hazardous effect on health in order to feed their families; or of the ambitious Chibok girls who were targeted by Boko Haram insurgents because of the fact that their empowerment threatens the existence of their organization.

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It is a fact that when we empower women and girls, we change the world. Today both women and men are becoming increasingly aware that this undoes centuries of injustice and enriches societies; that it also plays a very vital role in defeating some of the most dangerous ideologies and organizations around the globe. It is for this very reason that we see large and experienced terrorist groups target a teenage girl like Malala.

To silence the guns in Africa by 2020, we must realize that addressing crimes against women and children is a priority; that gender inequality is not a woman’s issue, but a rights issue.

It is reported that regardless of the international protocols mandating governments to protect civilians, women continue to be targeted for rape and other violence. For instance, despite having one of the largest peacekeeping forces in the world, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has continued to play host to targeted rape campaigns by armed groups vying for control of mineral-rich turf.

Despite demonstrated value of women as peace-builders from Liberia to Uganda and Sudan, women are largely excluded from formal peace processes. Only 1 in 13 participants in peace negotiations since 1992 has been women. Women have served as only 6% of negotiators to formalized peace talks and are not appointed as chief mediators in UN-brokered talks. Lack of women’s participation often means crimes against women go unaddressed and peace agreements do not ultimately reflect popular needs.

It has also been proven that women add value to measures that prevent conflict. They can be critical sources of intelligence, such as locations of weapons stores or plans for insurgent attacks. Yet global conflict prevention efforts still fail to adequately incorporate this resource: only slightly more than 3% of total military personnel in peacekeeping operations are women. Similarly, only 13 of 34 peacekeeping and political missions have gender advisors, compromising mission ability to incorporate a gender perspective in prevention efforts.

The progress of this continent can only come about if persons in society work together as equals. We need to address education in a more holistic manner to address this issue. Men are as much the problem as they are the solution to ending violence against women as well as their empowerment. Society needs to learn and relearn on what manhood is about. Manhood is not about dominance, nor is it about inequality; and women are neither objects to be used nor abused. We need to start teaching boys and men that they are equals and that it is okay to promote equality. Men’s liberation can only come about from women’s liberation. That one day young men would be enthusiastic and pleased to be told that they play like girls.


The Maputo protocol is one of our greatest achievements in formidably progressing women’s rights on the continent yet despite this, we still see that not all governments have ratified it.

The African Union Heads of State and Government have dedicated next year, 2015, as the “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063” which reflects its rededication to the Pan African vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.

One of the aspirations for Africa by 2063 is an Africa of people driven development relying on the potential of its women and youth. This aspiration can and will be realized only when we critically challenge ourselves on the roles that we’re playing to enhance, ensure strong visibility, actionable commitment and implementation on the same.

To ensure sustainable growth, governments need to address structural weaknesses and deliberately and vigorously promote economic transformation with depth; this involves inclusive growth. There can be no democracy without women feeling safe and secure to live, to work and to meaningfully contribute to the growth of the African continent.

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