Taalu 2023: Celebrating Diversity

On September 15th, the Academy was filled with color, vibrancy, and music as we officially welcomed members of the Class of 2023 at the Annual Academy Opening Ceremony – Taalu. Taalu serves as the official start of the new academic year and is a celebration of the diversity that enriches our vibrant community.

During Taalu, the ALA community had the opportunity to hear from ALA CEO Hatim Eltayeb, Chairlady of the Student Government Tanatsiwa Dube ’21 (Zimbabwe), and Chairman of the Student Government Liam Obor Blaauwhof ’21 (South Africa).

Find excerpts from the Taalu speeches below.

Taalu, that single word, encapsulates the essence of our time at the African Leadership Academy. It’s a call to action, an invitation to come together despite where we come from, to learn together and grow together. It symbolizes unity in diversity, and you know what they say about unity – it’s like a good stew; it’s where the magic happens!

We are not defined by our origins; we are united by our shared purpose.

So, as we gather here for Taalu, let us remember that diversity isn’t just a word; it’s a gift. It’s the fuel that propels us forward, the source of our strength, and the foundation upon which we build a brighter future. Embrace the diversity because you are part of it, and together, we are the embodiment of Taalu.

Tanatsiwa Dube ’21 (Zimbabwe), Chairlady of the Student Government

Taalu is, of course, a celebration of diversity. Today we mark the arrival of our new cohort. Yewan’s welcome to ALA. Thank you for your past, thank you for your present, thank you for your future. Today we celebrate you. We celebrate the richness that you bring, individually and collectively. There are more than 35 nationalities represented amongst you but much more than 100 individual histories and, greater still, and infinity of possibilities.

Diversity, like all worthwhile things, is difficult. It is easier to move in a world that is familiar, to move among friends who look, sound, smell the same, easier to speak and be immediately understood, subtext and all. We are richer for taking a more difficult path. You will be uncomfortable, but without discomfort there is no learning. You will have conflict, but without conflict we cannot find the edges of ourselves and know the boundaries of another.

Hatim Eltayeb, CEO, African Leadership Academy

The same way each nation with pride shares their culture on stage. We too as individuals must share with pride our unique identities, ideas and personalities. It means being unafraid to let your light shine, even when others may not want you to. In fact, we must be unafraid to be misunderstood. They will label you all sorts of things. But they don’t know you. Your light will scare them, they will try to tame you. And whenever they try to put you in a box, you must Resist them, because once someone has dimmed your spirit, you will never experience the fulfilment that comes from living your authentic self. So let your light shine brighter than the stars. So dare greatly and spend yourself in a worthy cause.

Liam Obor Blaauwhof ’21 (South Africa), Chairman of the Student Government

If you know a young changemaker who deserves to celebrate Taalu with us next year as part of the incoming class of 2024, encourage them to apply for the class of 2024!

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