Students Reflect on the First Week at ALA

September 10th, 2008

Ngozi Cole
Sierra Leone

African Leadership Academy has brought together students from different backgrounds, from North, West, East and Southern Africa. I must confess that on the day I arrived, I was struck by the many accents of English I heard. I really had to tune my ears to understand what people were saying! However that was okay, because I understand that we are here to celebrate our diversity.

I was also struck by the method of teaching. During the Seminal Readings I had time to sharpen my critical thinking and comprehension skills. It is very challenging to know that you are surrounded by intelligent people and therefore have to bring out all the best in yourself. I realize now that ALA will be a platform for me to use and explore my hidden potentials, not only to make a change in Africa but also to make a change in the world.

Joe Fahed


Is Lebanon in Africa? Of course not! Am I originally of African descent? Unfortunately not. Well, what am I doing at African Leadership Academy?

To describe myself, I would use the following adjectives: ambitious, enthusiastic, talented, hardworking and visionary. Since my early childhood I have always been passionate about how to pursue a great career that will leave the world better than it was when I was first introduced to it — as Lord Baden Powell once said.

I heard about African Leadership Academy from a Moroccan friend of mine. Since my first glance at the website, I felt an inner push to explore the ALA mission more and more. I could already tell that African Leadership Academy was the school that I always dreamed of joining. I was certain that it would make all my educational dreams come true. Langston Hughes once said:

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

That’s why I had to make a quick decision: ALA…Here I come!

I arrived at the Academy on Tuesday the 2nd of September 2008. I kept one quote in my mind: “ Don’t worry about knowing people; just make yourself worth knowing.” And that’s how I have already made loads of quite interesting friends in my new family. The Academy’s environment is peaceful, friendly and, let me say, challenging. Who can deny the fact that our corner of South Africa is now loaded with 97 of the best students in Africa and the world?

I can describe the ALA students with a saying by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “We may all have come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” This boat is a glittering kingdom of Leadership, where the princes and princesses are the continent’s most promising young future leaders and kings and queens are the world’s most exceptional and professional teachers, advisors and of course the founding brains who decided to apply what George Washington Carver once said: “No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.”

Belinda Munemo


Wow, ALA is fantastic! It is so exciting to finally be here after so much anticipation. Who would have ever imagined that I would finally be in a place where so many diverse backgrounds are merged by one passion, driven by one vision to change Africa?

It is an honor to be here and I must say these past two weeks have been overwhelming. So much to learn in school and about each other! Truly I am surrounded by the most exceptional breed in this continent and I am most grateful to the Founders Mr. Bradford and Mr. Swaniker for giving us, the future leaders of Africa, a platform to share ideas and develop our skills.

I am looking forward to official lessons next week and will definitely make the most of the next two years that lie ahead of me. ALA is here and here to stay. Takabatana kudai, hatidzokere shure! Together we can, so watch out world — here we come!

Michael Kayemba


Since Monday the 1st of September 2008, when I set foot on the African Leadership Academy campus, I’ve had a wonderful time. From the exceptional faculty to the charming, friendly, bright (the list is long!) schoolmates I am interacting with, I am learning a lot of new things! This past week we have been doing Seminal Readings. At first I thought I would be bored by these authors I had never studied before — but this all changed when we began our readings and I discovered that I enjoy them very much. Sitting in a circle with schoolmates and teachers to share our views on these texts has opened my mind even more. I now think it is extremely important to invest a lot of money and other resources in the training of teachers as they “breathe the real breath of life into boys and girls and make them human!”

Simone Henry

United States

I have celebrated four birthdays during my time in high school and every year several classmates and teachers have sung me the “Happy Birthday” song. Back then, I never would have known that I would have the privilege of celebrating my 18th birthday at African Leadership Academy, where my new friends sang the “Happy Birthday” to me in about 30 different languages. As a graduate of the largest private preparatory school in the United States I thought I knew diversity, but at ALA I’ve made friends from over 25 countries and each one has shared a small piece of their culture with me.

Last week’s Cultural Exchange Program was filled with young men and women singing their countries’ anthems with pride, wearing their traditional clothing with grace and showing off their dance skills, passionately inspiring shock and awe in me with every intricate twist and turn. The other American students and I performed a medley of popular American dances from four completely different genres.

I’m currently working on the moves to master the Dobko dance from Lebanon and reveling in the unique viewpoints, reflections and opinions of my classmates, which have enlightened me, inspired me and pushed me one step closer to effecting positive change across the African continent.

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