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USB staff share why they are ‘proudly African’ to celebrate Africa Day 2020

  • MAY 27
  • Tags Africa Day, heritage, African, African Union, community

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In these interviews staff members from Belpark Campus share where they are from, what makes them proud to be African, and leaders who they look up to.

Adwoa Opoku-Nyarko
Customer Experience Brand Manager: USB-ED
Lecturing on the Strategic Analysis module of USB’s MBA programme
South African with Ghanaian heritage

Q: What does ‘being African’ mean to you?
A: I feel privileged to identify as an African, as I believe that our continent holds so much potential. We may be the youngest continent, but our rich cultural heritage and respect for our fellow human beings is truly inspiring. I believe that each and every continent brings something special and unique to the global context, and Africa definitely promotes a sense of community and solidarity: The African spirit is one of deep interconnectedness.

Q: If we use COVID-19 as an opportunity for reform and we imagine positive futures for SA, what comes to mind?
A:
COVID-19 has had a severe impact on the South African economy and its people; we must acknowledge that the pandemic has not been without serious casualties. However, the resilience of both corporate and civil society has definitely come to the fore. Big corporates, individuals, and everything in between, have shown what is possible at the nexus of innovation and a desire to serve others. This considerate, empathetic and solution-driven mentality has the power to really elevate South Africa in the time of re-building that lies ahead.

 

Zelda Cottle
Office Manager: USB International Office
South African (from Cape Town)

Q: What makes South Africa unique?
A:
Our history represents a complex society and while we successfully entered into a democratic economic transformation, the country is still grappling with a legacy of the past. However, South Africa has a lot to celebrate and it is a country filled with many opportunities and a diverse group of people.

Q: What does ‘being African’ mean to you?
A:
“It is said that when you are born in Africa, Africa is also born in and so the love affair with your homeland begins”.
To act with humanity towards each other.
“Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu” or “I am, because you are” is how we describe the meaning of Ubuntu.

Q: If we use COVID-19 as an opportunity for reform and we imagine positive futures for South Africa, what comes to mind?
A: For the South African government to prioritise a sustainable strategy to address the horrific unemployment rate (in addition to the people who lost their jobs during this time). But the unemployment rate is linked to the bad state of our education system so this needs immediate attention.

MacDonald Chapwanya
Hybrid Learning Designer: USB
Zimbabwean
macdonald usb
Q: What makes Zimbabwe unique?
A:
What makes Zimbabwe unique is the resilience of the people. The country has gone through the best and worst seasons and yet through it all they have maintained their principles and values.

Q: What does ‘being African’ mean to you?
A: Being African to me means I derive and draw my identity from the African soil and I proudly embrace, embody, and espouse the African values, principles, and ethos.

Q: What African leader do you admire and why?
A:
Nelson Mandela. He unreservedly fought for peace and reconciliation at a time where most would seek revenge.

Q: Comments on the continent’s response to COVID-19?
A: Even though we were one of the last continents to be significantly affected, the proactive approach by our leaders was remarkable in slowing the spread and flattening the curve. Considering how poor our infrastructure is and how under-developed we are as a continent, we were expected to take the hardest knock. BIG UP to our leaders, our health frontline heroes, and every son of the African soil for being proactive and pro-health.

Dr Njeri Mwagiru
Senior futurist: IFR
Kenyan

Q: What makes Kenya unique?
A:
Kenya is well known for its welcoming culture, we often say ‘Karibu Kenya’ – which means ‘welcome to Kenya’ in Kiswahili, one of our national languages, and also one of the official languages of the African Union.

Q: What does ‘being African’ mean to you?
A: Being African means having a meaningful connection with, and rooting within, the culture, heritage, history, values, peoples, riches and potential of our beautiful continent. I resonate deeply with Africa both as a diverse geographic region – it is my home; but also as an idea and dynamic concept that is all encompassing of all of humanity – it is the birthplace of all of us, as far as we know.

Q: What African leader do you admire and why?
A:
I admire women’s community leadership in African contexts. A characteristic of this leadership is that it binds communities together, it is resilient and innovative in its response to community challenges, and it is inclusive and mindful of all community members’ needs. There are valuable lessons and insights to be gained from women’s community leadership styles across diverse African societies.

Q: If we use COVID-19 as an opportunity for reform and we imagine positive futures for Kenya what comes to mind?
A:
The current President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta has called for African countries to be perceived and engaged as equal partners and contributors to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, but also in general geopolitical and economic global configurations, and I agree with this commentary. In as much as we must recognise our shortcomings, the ongoing health crisis, and parallel economic and social crises as well as climate change, are an opportunity to imagine better futures. A focus on alternative narratives that celebrate our capabilities, strengths and advantages, may help to pivot the continent towards relevant reforms that not only address failings, but which are also innovative in driving positive change.

Q: What bought you to Cape Town?
A:
Higher education. Having received a scholarship to study my BA in Europe, I wanted to continue my higher education in Africa and to further my learning here. I was attracted by the high ranking and quality of universities in South Africa, as among the best in the continent. I undertook my doctoral programme in Cape Town. I continue to work in higher education and research in my role as Senior Futurist at the IFR, the only institute of its kind in Africa! I’m passionate about growing the futures studies network and strategic foresight community Africa-wide.

Q: What do you miss the most about Kenya?
A: My family and extended community. The equatorial warm weather. Kenyan tea!

Q: Tell us about a Kenyan tradition that you miss the most?
A:
Several traditions in South Africa are similar to traditions in Kenya, sometimes in ways that surprise me, as I was not aware of the many elements our different traditions share. I celebrate the way African cultures are similar in multiple ways regardless of region or country or language.

Q: During lockdown, how have you been staying connected with your friends and family who still live in Kenya?
A:
I’ve been staying connected online! This was the case pre-COVID-19 too, except with less travel currently, online connections are particularly important to maintain.

Sheena Maneveld
Logistical Coordinator: Incoming Programmes: USB International Office
South African (from Cape Town)

Q: What does ‘being African’ mean to you?
A:
Being African, I am very proud to be a part of a diverse, vibrant and innovative nation.

Q: What African leader do you admire and why?
A:
Nelson Mandela, he persevered and never stopped believing in his dream to unite South Africa.

Q: If we use COVID-19 as an opportunity for reform and we imagine positive futures for South Africa, what comes to mind?
A:
Technology during this time has become the most important tool of communication, education and work. For this reason, our country needs to invest more in upskilling people and making free internet available to LSM places. Also need to make IT devises more affordable and available at all schools.

Q: During lockdown, how have you been staying connected with your friends and family
A:
WhatsApp, FaceTime, House Party

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