Latest News

The latest news from the African Leadership Institute and its Fellows. AFLI Fellows are leaders and change-makers, so this section has a lot of news. Please use the icons below if you want to sort posts by category, such as: regular news posts, video posts, audio posts, by tag, or by blogger. Additionally, all text in all of the posts is fully searchable.

Africa's Great Carbon Valley

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2009 Tutu Fellow James Mwangi connects the dots between climate change and climate action in his TED Talk from June 2022 in New York.  He argues that with the planet missing the IPCC emissions goals that negatively impact climate change, it will be necessary to both push harder on that front, and then also remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere at a massive scale. He says that estimates suggest that the world will need to remove 5-16 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every single year by 2050. 

The Rift Valley, he says, provides a scalable way to remove carbon from the air - and end energy poverty.

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"Got Millet?" - Marketing for the African farmer

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In her TED talk, 2018 Tutu Fellow Zoë Karl-Waithaka explains that marketing impacts the livelihoods of farmers in ways that are unexpected.  She takes a look at campaigns promoting agricultural products like milk and avocados. Perhaps 'Got Millet' - to borrow from the campaign promoting milk - can help farmers by creating a greater market for the product.

She says marketing campaigns like "Got milk?" to "avocados from Mexico," influence what people eat more than one might realize. But despite the known power of food marketing, Zoe says farmers in Africa are more likely to receive funding for seed and fertilizer than they are for advertising geniuses.

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Technology won't solve inequality

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2007 Tutu Fellow 'Gbenga Sesan, who has been immersed in the tech sector for most of his career, has warned that technology alone isn't a solution to inequality.  Tech evangelists have waxed poetic about the ubiquitous nature of technology might be the rising tide that lifts those in poverty out of that state.  In a TED talk, Gbenga argues that centuries of inequality can't be solved with access to technology alone - as limited as that may be. Instead, improved access must be coupled to training and support too.

Sharing the work behind the Paradigm Initiative, a social enterprise in Nigeria that's empowering young people with digital resources and skills, Gbenga details his vision for creating life-changing opportunities for generations of people across Africa.

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Active Citizenship 101

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2013 Tutu Fellow Catherine Constantinides asks deeper questions about everyday active citizenry and what it looks like at the level of the individual and the community in a South African context. She gave her TEDx Talk, which she called Active Citizenship 101, at TEDx Waterfall Drive in May 2020.  Informed by her vast experience as a social activist on the African continent, as an international climate activist, and human rights defender, she challenges ideas about active citizenry and what it means to be agents of change. She begins her talk by saying the biggest mistake one can make is to do nothing because one can do only a little.

The talk was at a TEDx event and used the TED conference format but was independently organized by the local community.

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Listen loudly with your whole heart

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2018 Tutu Fellow Nozipho Mbanjwa took part in the TEDxGreshamPlace session in Durban, South Africa in March 2020. She begins her talk by saying that she is a 'Conversation Strategist'. 

For those unfamiliar with the term, she is in demand for her ability to moderate global conversations - often difficult conversations - with insight, courage, depth and breadth. These have been for global and African institutions, leading listed and unlisted multinational corporations, business schools, and civil society organisations seeking to leverage conversations for change.

So the topic of her TED talk is entirely fitting.  Listen loudly with your whole heart, she says. 

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Being honest about mental health

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2019 Tutu Fellow Sangu Delle delivered the keynote speech at the 65th Annual Employee Benefits Conference in San Diego in October 2019 and his topic was one that is often responded to with discomfort - that of mental health. The conference is the largest gathering of multiemployer and public employee benefit plan representatives, with nearly 5,000 people attending. In prepared remarks, the President of the Foundation, Gene Price, set the tone for Sangu's speech in which he himself shared a personal story that had deeply affected him and he implored all attendees to drop the social pretense and find solutions to help those struggling with mental health issues. Sangu picked up where Gene left off, sharing his own struggles with depression. He recounted how, when stress got to be too much for him, he had to confront his own deep prejudice: that men shouldn't take care of their mental health.

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Harnessing the power of collective action

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In a TEDx Lagos talk, 2006 Tutu Fellow Janah Ncube speaks about the power of the general public in directing economic and even political agenda through the concept of collective action. She challenges the audience through case studies that show how collective action can have had significant impact in policy making.

Janah makes the case that Africans can bring changes themselves rather than looking for others to provide solutions or for elected political leaders to do so. She describes the concept of collective action as several individuals working together for the same goal and putting together all their ideas, thoughts, skills and resources towards it.

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"Where are the women?" Fellow asks in her TEDx talk

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2014 Tutu Fellow Linda Kasonde reflects on her own experiences shattering the glass ceiling in the legal profession in this TEDx talk in Lusaka.  In it, she asks "where are the women?"  Linda shares her journey to leadership, while challenging other women to fulfil their leadership potential.  Linda Kasonde was the first female President of the Law Association of Zambia and is now a partner in a leading Zambian law firm. Leadership in itself is difficult; but when power structures - like the glass ceiling women face - place obstacles in your path, it is that much more difficult.

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What if we Refused to be Separated?

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In a TEDx Maitama talk, 2017 Tutu Fellow Jude Abaga shares with his audience some examples of how much dividing people can affect the outcome of their goals. Jude makes connections in the music business in which he focuses on the importance of collaboration and how other industries can learn from what record labels have been able to do in the music industry so far - as well as how much there is still left to be done.

Jude Abaga also known as M.I, is a Nigerian Hip Hop Artist, lyricist, producer, songwriter and instrumentalist. He’s won numerous awards, including the MTV Africa Music Awards 2009. Jude is the CEO of the record label Chocolate City Music. Moving beyond music, he makes it clear that only by working together as one can the African people continue to achieve more and progress.

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Diversifying the voices of African Literature

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In her TEDx Talk that was recorded at TEDGlobal 2017, 2008 Tutu Fellow Bibi Bakare-Yusuf says stories carry great significance in a culture. Bakare founded the indie press Cassava Republic because of her conviction of the importance of reading to culture.  Narratives in books give shape to the people they represent, and as a writer and publisher she believes it is important to be able to find voices like your own in your country’s literature. This quest to broaden Africa’s story archive is what motivated her to become a publisher.  Since then, she has obtained considerable success, picking up several awards and her disruptive approach has seen her sell books in cafe's, hair salons, and supermarkets.

View her unedited talk below.

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Fake or real? Verifying your meds aren't knockoffs

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A third of the medicines available in parts of Africa are fake. People have as much as a 50% chance of getting the wrong drug. Patients can’t tell if they are getting the real thing and counterfeit drugs are manufactured in dangerous conditions. 2010 Tutu Fellow Bright Simons outlines in this TEDx talk in Hamburg and how the aim of his company is to use technology to determine the authenticity of medicines. Counterfeit medicines are a real issue in Africa, where near-perfect copies of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies can jeopardize the recovery of patients, or worse, lead to the deaths of people.

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Harnessing Africa’s Resources

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2012 Tutu Fellow Julie Gichuru discusses the development of African resources in her TEDx talk. She makes the case that Africa is blessed with rich natural resources and by harnessing them - rather than wasting them - Africa could be transformed.  The Sahara could be developed into a solar power generator for the continent. Careful use of agricultural resources has transformed Malawi.  She unpacks these ideas by pointing out a few areas in which potential exists for positive change.

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Building a TENT for tech students

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Recorded in 2012, Gbenga Sesan begins his TEDx talk about his time at Obafemi Awolowo University. He arrived at the gate to the university and told the cab driver to let him out. The road that goes into the campus is quite long. Despite the cabbie’s protests, Sesan got out of the cab. It was then that he learned that he still had quite a way to go to walk to get to the dorm. His first lesson as a new student was that old knowledge and a new environment could lead to embarrassment - especially with four bags!  He learned more along the way that had little to do with his formal education.

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Is a rose by any other name as sweet? Perhaps not.

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Making a simple change can help realize one’s full potential. At TED Talent Search Lagos 2017 in Nigeria, Victoria Ohaeri describes the importance of changing her name to positively affect others' perceptions.  The 2016 Tutu Fellow tells her personal story about the effects of labeling, and how changing her name made all the difference.

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Don't be a spectator in your own economy

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2013 Tutu Fellow Monica Musonda narrates her journey into entrepreneurship as a Zambian woman in this TEDx talk in Euston in the United Kingdom.

She tells how, working for the richest man in Africa, her former employer Dangote asked “Where are the Zambian Banks & Factories?”  Monica reflected on how Nigerians run their economy and this inspired her to actively participate in her own country’s economy.  It is a funny story about the trials and tribulations of being an entrepreneur, but also about the impact that steps such as these can have in building the African economy.

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