Grand Opening Celebration Day 2: Envisioning the Future

February 9th, 2009

Saturday, February 7th brought the second day of African Leadership Academy’s Grand Opening Celebration, including ALA’s first Leadership Symposium and a celebratory gala dinner.

The Symposium brought together a panel of leaders — including three ALA students — to discuss their thoughts on Africa’s future. The symposium got off to a great start with a presentation by ALA student, Beryl Obiero from Kenya, on the “Role of Women in Africa”. Beryl gave us a personal and insightful look at women’s roles in Africa; past, present and future. Beryl was a tough act to follow, but Dele Olojede, CEO of Timbuktu Media and Africa’s first Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, rose to the challenge and led an exciting and thoughtful talk on the future of political leadership in Africa.

Fatoumata Binetou Fall, an ALA student from Senegal, gave yet another impressive student presentation on “Harnessing the Power of Water” in which she outlined her plans for improving the distribution and use of Africa’s incredible hydraulic potential. Femi Oke, international journalist, shared some candid advice and a few tips with budding ALA journalists, and William Kamkwamba, an ALA student from Malawi, followed with his vision to light up the “dark continent” with power from renewable energy sources.

Other great talks were led by South African businesswoman Bongi Kunene, Etisalat Nigeria CEO Hakeem Belo-Osagie, and Zephyr Investments CEO and Founder Thomas Barry. Guests left the symposium encouraged about the future of Africa and believing that the young leaders at ALA would be a crucial part of that transformation.

After the Grand Opening Celebration, guests headed to the Sandton Hilton to bring the weekend’s events to a magnificent end at the extravagant ALA Gala Dinner. Handsome men and beautiful women came adorned in their best traditional attire for an evening hosted by the actress and presenter Moky Makura. But the leading attraction of the evening was the honorable Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who entertained all with his endearing humor and wit but also challenged guests and students to be agents of positive change in their society.

The dinner was the perfect culmination of ALA’s five-year journey. It was an opportunity for ALA founders, students, faculty, and staff to celebrate their hard work and achievements and, most importantly, to express thanks to all of ALA’s supporters over the years. One exciting part of the evening was the auctioning of the central brick of the ALA “Founder’s Wall” for an impressive R625 000, with the auction led by ALA student Spencer Horne of South Africa! After speeches had ended and delicious food was eaten, guests danced the night away to the tunes of legendary South African musician Hugh Masekela.

African Leadership Academy’s Grand Opening Celebration was a tremendous success, and everyone left feeling that they had witnessed history-in-the-making and the birth of an exciting and promising new institution for the continent.

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