When Emmanuel Murairi first arrived at African Leadership Academy in September 2018, he was instantly recognizable, with his trusted accomplice often found balanced on his chin and its accompanying appendage in his right hand. Emmanuel’s dexterity with the violin quickly earned him a reputation on campus, as he performed at several campus events ranging from the weekly all-community Assembly to the annual Taalu welcoming ceremony. Emmanuel had learned to play the violin as part of a church orchestra in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, and it formed an essential part of his personality. However, by the time he graduated from ALA in June 2020, he had become known for something entirely different – he was the “IT guy”.
How do you organise an event that encapsulates community and celebrates the achievements of our graduates, during a global pandemic? Find out how ALA pulled off one of the most memorable graduation ceremonies yet! On Thursday, 18th June 2020, African Leadership Academy had the honor of hosting its first-ever virtual graduation ceremony, giving the entering Class of 2018 the send-off they deserved – despite the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In the week leading up to the 11th annual ALA graduation ceremony, the Class of 2018 presented their final Thesis to the community. Although this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Thesis presentations were completed virtually, the opportunity allowed for a more diverse group of attendees ranging from family members to donors and alumni to engage in meaningful conversation. The ALA Thesis is composed of three components: 1) Presentation, 2) Discussion and 3) Reflection. The presentation pushes the students to explore an issue using the seven ALA Traits (Africanist, Autodidactic, Entrepreneurial, Ethical, Collaborator, Communicator, Critical Thinker) and share how they have grown as leaders in the past two years.
Anannyabrata Mandal ’18 Working to Create Sustainable Agricultural Practices for Cocoa Farmers in Cote d’Ivoire
Anannyabrata Mandal ’18 came to ALA from Cote d’Ivoire with a piqued interest in learning about other cultures and societies. As his passion for research developed, his focus shifted into farming and agricultural sustainability, and it is through some of his most memorable classes at ALA, like African Studies and Model African Union (MAU) research that he was able to identify a need in his community back home, and expand his skill set. Anannya has been accepted to Cornell University and plans to continue his research to develop an economic model that will help to address growth and development in the agricultural sector simultaneously.
Before her graduation ceremony from Skidmore College was unfortunately curtailed as a fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, Naira Abdula ’14 from Mozambique was scheduled to be one of the student speakers at the ceremony. It would have been a fitting conclusion to her momentous journey at the College where she was graduating with seven top awards and a double major in Economics and Business Management. Coming from Mozambique, Naira’s early ambition was to be an Engineer, but she references the Entrepreneurial Leadership curriculum at African Leadership Academy as her introduction to the world of practical business, with modules on business models, profit making and strategy being particularly influential in her decision on undergraduate study. She applied to Skidmore College in New York because of the opportunity to study Business Management.
Uzoma Chidumaga Orji ’12 is a visual artist and creative technologist who, while solidly defining the themes he explores in his creative and technological endeavours, is not bound by the boxes that titles and definitions often require.
When you google “Uzoma Chidumaga Orji”, his website ‘uzomaorji.com’ leads you to a unique, interactive and colourful portfolio encapsulating the essence of his work. Uzoma is a creative young man who designs engaging human-centred digital experiences as well as art that observes and creates representations of the society in which he lives.
Musodiq Tolu Ogunlowo ‘14 graduates from the University of Notre Dame after completing his Capstone Project within the school’s Formula Hybrid racing program. Tolu, who hails from Lagos, Nigeria, came into Notre Dame already knowing that he wanted to study Electrical Engineering. He credits ALA for this strong sense of purpose, even as a first year university student. He says that the Academy taught him that, “when you’re trying to decide what you want to do with your career, think about… how can you merge your interests and your skills with a challenge that will actually impact the lives of a lot of people?.” This lesson is what helped Tolu narrow his Electrical Engineering studies to focus on renewable energy.
We are delighted to announce a brand new set of short courses designed for young global leaders from all around the world – African Leadership Academy’s Global Short Courses. These courses have been created to enable knowledge exchange between Africa’s future leaders studying at ALA, and students in different parts of the world. Building on ALA’s rigorous and practical leadership development, entrepreneurship and design-thinking courses, and an inspiring and informative African Studies curriculum, the courses provide a unique global learning opportunity for students in Grades 7 – 11.
“I feel like music is a tool for me to make positive change on the continent. The highlight of my musical journey was the validation of 4,000 people in a stadium singing my song from top to bottom without me having to sing it… It has been really nice to see how much impact one can have on a younger generation and even the older generation of people just who want to change.”
“The formula to success is taking risks. You cannot put yourself in a position to get the desired results if you do not take that first risk. I love my career as an investor; every time we invest in a company or an entrepreneur, we are taking risks. You cannot be successful if you have not taken risks. You cannot be successful if you have not taken risks.”
“I believe that individuals who have ideas can change the world, and I have ideas. How do we ensure that our continent emerges and gains the economic and political independence it deserves? This is what my life’s purpose should be about.”
“As a Kenyan and a Ghanaian, meeting in South Africa for a project that will benefit neither of our countries but other Africans exemplifies the true spirit of Pan-Africanism. We have a target of positively impacting 5,000 people over the next ten years through The Living Machine. We want to see many people grow and have access to quality food and a better lifestyle. The Living Machine is bigger than just the two of us, or even ALA”.
“I believe that we as the young generation should come together and take charge of wildlife and wildlands before it’s too late. We are not waiting for older generations to hand it down to us – we will take it, because the time is now. I cannot tell my kids that I’m the reason elephants are extinct. We must all come together to protect our heritage. Animals are Africans too, and we should use our voices to speak up for them.”
“If you were to Google South Sudan today, all you’ll see is violence and bloodshed. It doesn’t represent the whole picture or the South Sudan I am working towards. I am working to build a network of secondary schools across South Sudan that will use educational spaces for peace-building as well as leadership development for young people.”
“For me, it’s beyond being in entertainment; it is about building one of the leading industries in Africa today. I hope to see the African music industry grow, and I want the industry to be developed to a place where we have institutions within it and our artists can flourish and have platforms and opportunities. That feeling of seeing someone go from zero to becoming a star is very fulfilling.”
“I am passionate about seeing things through from the beginning to the end. I am interested in finding out if there are affordable ways of treating cancer. I believe that as an engineer I am properly equipped to think creatively about how we can develop these approaches in a cost-effective way so that people living in third world countries can afford it.”
“I believe that access to quality education can transform lives, and I work with a community of entrepreneurs to make that happen. I really enjoy helping others to fulfill their potential. One of the things that inspires me in working with school leaders across the continent is seeing the impact that they’re able to have against the odds. This idea of maximizing resources to give the best to students is what drives me.”
“We have communities that live sometimes in a state of stagnation where it seems that we cannot shift where they are in the cycle of poverty. Any attempt to do that without connecting them to the global economy will not succeed. How could we expect people to pull themselves by the bootstraps, or produce something that someone else will want to buy when they cannot get those goods to local and regional markets?”
“Science education on the continent, unfortunately is lacking in many ways. I do not just want to use my research to find new drugs or find new therapies, I want to use it as a space to increase the interest in the sciences and to build capacity for scientific research on the African continent.”
“90% of children living with disabilities have never seen the insides of a classroom. I use my life to demonstrate to children with disabilities that they can become the protagonists in the story of their own lives. I have a voice and I get to use my voice in service of things that really matter.”