Category Archives: Africa

South Africa’s Hero Dies at 95 Years Old

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Today the world joins together to remember and highlight one of Africa’s greatest heroes, Nelson Rolihahla Mandela. According to BBC Africa, South African president Jacob Zuma announced that the former president and anti-apartheid revolutionary passed away peacefully in the company of his family in his home in Johannesburg around 8:50 this evening Dec. 5th. He was 95 years old.

Mandela, 95, led South Africa’s transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s, after 27 years in prison. President Obama acknowledged Nelson Mandela, stating that he was one of the most “influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth”.

Since I was a child Nelson Mandela was always much more than an icon. He was a hero, teacher, fighter and most importantly a leader who gave inspiration to many.

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Happy New Years Eritrea and Ethiopia

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Oh let the celebrations begin!

Eritrean and Ethiopian New Years is one of the biggest celebrated festivities in both in the Horn of Africa and the diaspora.

The Eritrean and Ethiopian calendar is derived from that of ancient Egypt, but is unique to both these countries. The seven- to eight-year gap between the East African and Western calendars results from differing methods of calculating the date of the Annunciation.

In 2010, during my four month graduate research visit to Addis Ababa, I was able to end my trip with a unique celebration that I’ve never experienced before in Africa. After dealing with three months of heavy rain, I was excited to finally see the season coming to an end as the sun slowly started to come out. Seeing the flowers blossom all over and fields changing into bright green brought excipient to me.

My cousins told me the season of change is a period when the old blesses the young and the young hope for new prospects, which New Years brings about.

As a vegetarian I didn’t eat any of the meat, but I enjoyed observing the daylong celebrations. I started my early morning by watching my cousins slaughter the animals, followed by preparing a special lunch, which consists of mainly Injera and wot.

As the adults spent their morning preparing the food and drinks, children also got involved and shoed their own way of celebrating. The boys prepared hand pointed pictures and gave it out to neighbors and relatives through out the community. Little girls gathered together singing in groups as they dressed in their beautiful white habesha dresses.

It was amazing to not only witness, but also be apart of a celebration that brought people together through God, art, food and love. So as Eritrean, Ethiopian and the diaspora are getting ready to embark and celebrate another year of blessings, I will be celebrating a cup of bunn (coffee) and wishing my people all the best.

Melkam Hadish Amet!


African Novelist Chimamanda Adichie Shares Her Story

“At about the age of seven … I wrote exactly the kinds of stories I was reading: All my characters were white and blue-eyed, they played in the snow, they ate apples, and they talked a lot about the weather: how lovely it was that the sun had come out. This despite the fact that I lived in Nigeria; we didn’t have snow, we ate mangoes, and we never talked about the weather, because there was no need to.”

These are the words of Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie as she presents at Ted Speaks about growing up and reading stories written by American and Britain authors who portrayed stories about life through their eyes – and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story,” says Adichie. However, Adichie also discovered African writers like Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye that gave her hope and libration and realizing that there are young girls like herself with similar skin, hair and characteristics who also exist in literature

Adichie’s presentation highly demonstats the importance of story and how it be used to empower and to humanize. Check out Adichie’s prentation below.


South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Turns 95

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“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”  – Nelson Mandela

Even though I was born in Eritrea and grow-up in America, I have found that you cannot remain untouched by the amazing Mandela. Historically known as one of the most influential icons of African history, Nelson Mandela is fighting the ultimate battle for his life today, physically. However, even in his weakest moment he still has the power to influence and bring people of different backgrounds and races together. Mandela’s legacy will always remain as important a chapter of Africa till the end of times.

Even during President Obama’s recent visit to South Africa, Obama stayed in the Rainbow Nation. His stay also included a visit to Robbon Islands, where Nelson Mandela spent years as a prisoner of the Apartheid regime of erstwhile, White South Africa.

Regardless of his life of struggle and hardship, Madiba developed a great sense of humanity. Although I have never met Mandela in person, his leadership, determination and drive he has left a great mark on my thoughts, and inspires me to continue to be a voice for the African Diaspora. As people around the world celebrate Mandela’s 95th birthday, I will pray for his health and hope for more Mandela’s around the world.


Why I Will Always Love Africa

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Regardless of the numerous stories about wars, famines, corruption, etc., you read online about Africa, Africa still stands tall and proud and I am very proud to be an African. I thought I would try something different and discuss why I love Africa.  I personally love so many countries in Africa and would like others to also see what there is to love about Africa and remind people why Africa is so great.

Food – I cannot talk about Africa and not mention food. Wither it is Ethiopian food, Kenyan food or any food from countries in Africa, I am in! Last week I was invited to dinner with a friend and tried egusi soup with pounded yam, which is mainly eaten in Nigeria. I love to eat and cook food from many different countries in Africa and I am always ready to try more.

Music – Let’s not forget the music and art Africa has to offer. Eritrean music followed by Nigerian/Yoruba music is my personal favorites and my day is not complete without blasting some Eritrean, Nigerian or Ghanaian music. I am also a huge fan of Art, Ghanaian art in particular is one of my favorite. So bright, colorful and unique.

History - Africa has some good and some bad history. That’s what makes it the Africa it is today. Growing up in America and reading American history and comparing it to African history made me get a true feeling of what countries in Africa have gone through and we should remember that and pass the knowledge to generations after us. Many youths especially African-Americans dismiss or ignore to learn about Africa and I blame some of that on the American education system. However, I believe education regarding Africa starts with ourselves and as I embark on my PhD in Anthropology I will strive to educate and inspire people to look at Africa deeper and learn the different cultures, people and history.  Look around and love the beauty of Africa. It may not be easy to live in some parts of Africa, but that’s what makes people stronger and braver.

Africa brings me to life and helps to clarify my purpose, and though I reside in America, I think I will always yearn for more opportunities to explore and learn from the continent. The main purpose for this blog is to remind people that Africa is wonderful in many ways and we should never forget that.

My heart beats Africa…


Tanzania: Learning The Meaning Of Life

Today’s guest blog is shared by Sham Tzegai as she speaks about her inspiring experience in Tanzania. 

Guest Blog by Sham Tzegai

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Good morning Madam! That’s the phrase I would hear every day at the orphanage as soon as I stepped into the classroom.

Happy kids with smiles always on their faces, simply happy that I was there.

In November, I spent three weeks in Arusha, Tanzania volunteering at Rainess Children Center.  Making the decision to go didn’t take long.  I knew that volunteering abroad was something I had wanted to do for a long time.  Once I made the decision to go with International Volunteer HQ, the only thing left was to decide where to go.  Africa has always been a huge part of my life.  Having been born in Sudan with parents from Eritrea shaped my outlook on the world.  So I made the decision to go to Tanzania.  I went with no expectations of what I would see or experience.  I can say now looking back that it was truly life changing.

Rainess Children Center is in Usa River, a town about 30 minutes outside of Arusha.  It was different from some of the other orphanages as the majority of the children lived there instead of going home to live with extended family.  There were about 40 children there every day.

I saw bugs that were bigger than I had ever seen.

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And I fell in love with children that will forever be a part of my life.

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The older girls also had to help with the laundry, which was washed in the nearby river.  Missing part of the school day to do so.

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Every morning at about 7:30 a couple other volunteers and I would leave the volunteer house and walk down the path to the dalla dalla stop.  We’d get on a dalla and travel about an hour to Usa.

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The kids were taught in English and we’d either help their teacher with the lesson or lead the lesson ourselves.  I learned that teaching practices are very different from what I’m used to here.  The children were split into Baby I and Baby II classes.  Baby II had most of the older children.  But a couple of the younger kids could be in it if they were smart.  It was basically a competition if they had a couple kids that would be moved to the older class.  They were tested on several things to see if they could do what the other kids were doing.  It was sometimes hard to watch how some of the kids struggled to really understand what they were taught.  Only a few of the older children understood English enough to follow the entire lesson.  It was our goal as volunteers to try to help them with their lessons in the best way we could.  We didn’t speak Swahili and they didn’t speak English.  We had to find other ways to communicate what they needed to know.

Baby I

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 Baby II

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I learned so much from those 40 kids at Rainess.  I learned what you really need to have a happy life.  They didn’t have running water or a variety of food.  They didn’t all have mattresses on their beds.  But they were always smiling, always happy.  And they taught me much more about life than I think I taught them about English.

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Tanzania will always have a special place in my heart. And if I can I will go there many more times.  The Tanzanian people are welcoming and open.  I met some of the most amazing volunteers from the UK, Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand.  This was an experience I would repeat over and over again.

We hiked to the waterfall in Arusha. I rode a boda for the first time (motorcycle cabs)

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I ate some of the most amazing food there.  The “House Mamas” at our volunteer house were so friendly and were amazing cooks!

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The volunteers I went on safari with. An amazing group of women from all over the world!

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Some of the sights we saw on Safari. Tanzania is truly an amazing country!

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For more information on volunteering in Tanzania with IVHQ:


Henry Okah Sentence To 24 Years In Nigeria

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Let there be justice! Today Judge Neels Classen sentenced Nigerian terrorist Henry Okah to 24 years of jail time, but is that enough?  I’ve been following this news since I’ve first heard of it a few months back.

On January 21, Okah was found guilty on 13 counts of terrorism. The chargers were in relations to two car bombs in Nigeria. The first bomb took place on March 15, 2010 at a post amnesty meeting where one person was killed and 11 people injured. The second bombing took place on October 1, 2010 also known as Nigeria’s Independence Day where 12 innocent people were killed along with 36 injured people.

According to the South African Press Association (SAPA) Classen stated “the State had proved Okah’s guild beyond a reasonable doubt, and his failure to testify meant the evidence against him remained uncontested.”

So how did Judge Classen calculate the amount of years Okah should serve? Okah was given 12 years imprisonment for each of the bombings and 13 years for the threats made to the South African government after his arrest in October 2010. SAPA stated the 13 years would run concurrently with the 24 years.

I hope Okah’s hearing today serves a bit of justice to the families of the victims and most importantly the ones who survived the bombing.


Live Podcast: African Women and Girl Storytellers in the Digital Age

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Live Podcast Today at 6:30 pm EST

In honor of Women’s Month please join me in listening to a live podcast regarding Afrian women and girl storytelliers in the digital age. Listen to female journalists, writers and storytellers from South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda who are living in the Diaspora talk about their work and how they are tackling depictions of African women in media in a LIVE podcast called “African Women and Girl Storytellers in the Digital Age.

For more information and to tune in please check out Spectra Speaks


Back to Africa

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Happy Black History Month! Today I want to look at Pan-Africanist Marcus Gavery. Garvey was a political leader, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur and founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).  Garvey knew the UNIA would find its most enthusiastic audience in the United States after African-American soldiers returned from fighting in World War I.

Although African-Americans fought for democracy, they returned to the raise of discrimination, racial violence and segregation with white Americans. Garvey noticed the level of frustration among the black community was raising and therefore used his charisma to get the attention of blacks to follow him as he became the most popular black leader in America in the early 1920s.

According to researcher the “UNIA, committed to notions of racial purity and separatism, insisted that salvation for African Americans meant building an autonomous, black-led nation in Africa.” The movement offered in its “Back to Africa” campaign a powerful message of black pride and economic self-sufficiency.

I want to share Garvey’s 1921 speech, “If You Believe the Negro Has a Soul,” courtesy of the Marcus Garvey and the UNIA Papers Project at the University of California, Los Angeles.  In his speech garvey  emphasizes the inevitability of racial antagonism and the hopelessness of interracial coexistence.

Marcus Garvey: Fellow citizens of Africa, I greet you in the name of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League of the World. You may ask, “what organization is that?” It is for me to inform you that the Universal Negro Improvement Association is an organization that seeks to unite, into one solid body, the four hundred million Negroes in the world. To link up the fifty million Negroes in the United States of America, with the twenty million Negroes of the West Indies, the forty million Negroes of South and Central America, with the two hundred and eighty million Negroes of Africa, for the purpose of bettering our industrial, commercial, educational, social, and political conditions.

As you are aware, the world in which we live today is divided into separate race groups and distinct nationalities. Each race and each nationality is endeavoring to work out its own destiny, to the exclusion of other races and other nationalities. We hear the cry of “England for the Englishman,” of “France for the Frenchman,” of “Germany for the German,” of “Ireland for the Irish,” of “Palestine for the Jew,” of “Japan for the Japanese,” of “China for the Chinese.” We of the Universal Negro Improvement Association are raising the cry of “Africa for the Africans,” those at home and those abroad.

There are 400 million Africans in the world who have Negro blood coursing through their veins, and we believe that the time has come to unite these 400 million people toward the one common purpose of bettering their condition. The great problem of the Negro for the last 500 years has been that of disunity. No one or no organization ever succeeded in uniting the Negro race. But within the last four years, the Universal Negro Improvement Association has worked wonders. It is bringing together in one fold four million organized Negroes who are scattered in all parts of the world. Here in the 48 States of the American Union, all the West Indies islands, and the countries of South and Central America and Africa. These four million people are working to convert the rest of the four hundred million that are all over the world, and it is for this purpose, that we are asking you to join our land and to do the best you can to help us to bring about an emancipated race. If anything stateworthy is to be done, it must be done through unity, and it is for that reason that the Universal Negro Improvement Association calls upon every Negro in the United States to rally to this standard. We want to unite the Negro race in this country.

We want every Negro to work for one common object, that of building a nation of his own on the great continent of Africa. That all Negroes all over the world are working for the establishment of a government in Africa, means that it will be realized in another few years. We want the moral and financial support of every Negro to make this dream a possibility. Our race, this organization, has established itself in Nigeria, West Africa, and it endeavors to do all possible to develop that Negro country to become a great industrial and commercial commonwealth. Pioneers have been sent by this organization to Nigeria, and they are now laying the foundations upon which the four hundred million Negroes of the world will build.

If you believe that the Negro has a soul, if you believe that the Negro is a man, if you believe the Negro was endowed with the senses commonly given to other men by the Creator, then you must acknowledge that what other men have done, Negroes can do. We want to build up cities, nations, governments, industries of our own in Africa, so that we will be able to have a chance to rise from the lowest to the highest position in the African Commonwealth.


Pioneers of Television

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Tune in tonight to PBS to watch the newest Pioneers of Television episode as they feature the cast of Root and discuss what the miniseries brought to light.

In 1977 ABC aired Roots, a miniseries based on the best-selling novel by Alex Haley. Unfortunately, it was during that time ABC was worried no one would watch, however, the eight-night epic became one of the most watched dramas in history.

Roots defiantly played a huge role in the African-American community. The television show made a monumental impact as it educated and grabbed the attention many Americans. As a result of the show, Black people were interested in retracing their own history, debating about race issues. What I love most about Roots is that the storyline is told from a black perspective with a predominantly African-American cast. This bold choose helped change the face of television.

 So again please tune into PBS to watch the cast of Roots talk about their ground breaking miniseries and being part of an iconic film.


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