Kenyans in Diaspora Launch Relief Effort for Garissa Attack Victims

Article Curtesy of  Mwakilishi News Media

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In the aftermath of the Garissa University attacks, Kenyans in the Diaspora have come together and launched a campaign to help victims of the attacks. The campaign, dubbed #MbaoFriday, is in partnership with the Kenya Red Cross, and encourages members of the Diaspora to donate at least $20 starting on Friday, April 24th.

In the aftermath of the attacks, the Kenya Red Cross has been the most visible relief agency and thus prompting this collaboration to facilitate a donation platform for Diasporans. The Kenya Red Cross Director of External Relations, Wariko Waita alongside the technology team worked diligently to provide Kenyans abroad a convenient and secure contribution channel via PayPal.

Efforts on the ground include assistance towards families of the deceased, medical services for the injured, among several other emergency response initiatives. Of great concern however are the hundreds of students who have returned to their rural homes without receiving adequate counseling after the traumatic ordeal.

The Kenya Red Cross estimates they will require anywhere between KSh5 Million to Ksh10 Million ($54,000 to $109,000) for current short term needs. The goal for #MbaoFriday is to have as many Diasporans and Friends of Kenya donate at least $20 starting this Friday, to boost the Kenya Red Cross relief efforts.

Donations will be channeled directly to the Kenya Red Cross, and will be applied towards a special fund for the Garissa Relief. The Finance team at the Kenya Red Cross will provide the Diaspora team with regular updates and a running tally. This will in turn be shared with the public for accountability and transparency.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

For further detail, visit and like the Diaspora4Garissa page on Facebook.

Questions or concerns that may arise can directly be addressed to the following contacts: 

  1. WARIKO WAITA (Director External Relations and Resource Mobilization)
    Email: waita.wariko@redcross.co.ke
    Phone: +254-703-037000
  2. PETER KERRE (Founder, CyberWasp CyberSecurity Consulting)
    Email: Peter.kerre@cyberwasp.com
    Phone: +1-646-250-9038
  3. NJERI THOMI KARIUKI (Founder, Karisan Media Radio)
    Email: editor@karisanmedia.com
    Phone: +1-214-597-4695
  4. HENRY PASHA (Presenter, Karisan Media)
    Email: pasha@karisanmedia.com
  5. ALI BADAWY (Co-Host, The One Mic Show)
    Email: alibadawy@onemicshow.com
  6. HUMPHREY MUTURI (Co-Host, The One Mic Show Radio)
    Email: onemic@onemicshow.com

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WE ARE THE ONES WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR- Rethinking African Investment and Engaging Africa’s Future

MIT Sloan Fellows (Africa Team) in partnership with The Pro-Niche Networks is convening an intimate gathering of entrepreneurs and investment-minded professionals for a forum on Africa  on April 3, 2015. 

Themed “Unlocking Africa’s Innovation Potential”, the 2015 MIT African Investment Forum is built around a cross-generational dialogue on the benefit of investing in youth, and on the role of the African Diaspora in driving innovation and change on the African continent.  Leading the roundtable discussions will be Funke Michaels, MIT Sloan Fellow and Edward Mason Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School of Government; and Farai Gundan, Forbes Africa Writer and Tech-Entrepreneur. The keynote address will be delivered by Vuyo Dunjwa, Executive Chairman of the Board at the Sub-Saharan Africa Chamber of Commerce.

Joining the conversation will be panelists such as:

  • Nduka Otiono, Professor of African Studies, Carleton University Canada;
  • Dr. Renee Dankerlin, President and CEO, Innovation-Clean Energy Economy Pathways (ICEP) Inc;
  • Loukman Lamany, Business Development Analyst National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC);
  • Phyllis Johnson, President and Co-founder of BD Imports Inc.;
  • Obiora Atuokwu, Co-Founder and Director of Marketing at Globalaccelerex;
  • Solome Lemma, Founder and Executive Director at Africans in the Diaspora;
  • Kelley Jibrell, Africa 2.0 Co-Chair, Washington, D.C.;
  •  Marshall Bizure, East Africa Regional Programs Manager at Econet Wireless Burundi-Higher Life Foundation.

The event will feature showcases by entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations working on projects in areas of youth empowerment, entrepreneurship training and education. Nigerian Singer-songwriter, Producer and Film maker, SIJI will also be performing an acoustic set from his upcoming cross-generational music film “Elders’ Corner”.

“We all know that there are big ideas coming out of Africa and developed by Africans. With this forum, our goal is to create a concrete platform where we can showcase, support,  and uplift the everyday people who are behind these big ideas,” said the organizers. “We want to rally the investment community in the Diaspora and in Africa to support these ideas, and help realize these dreams and aspirations for a better continent. That task is borne by this generation of entrepreneurs and change-makers. We are the solution that Africa needs.”

For registration and more information on the forum visit: http://www.africainvestforum.com

 

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SPECIAL PERFORMANCE:

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E-ROCK: Ghana’s Rising Star

E-Rock -2Hailing from Accra, Ghana, Enoch Ofori Boamah, artistically known as ‘E-Rock’ is an emerging contemporary-gospel artiste. Gaining a strong underground following with his single “Church Dey Sweet,” E-Rock was nominated for Christian Community Music Awards. In 2014, he won a Future Africa Leaders Award which is an initiative aimed at exploring and expanding the leadership potential in Africa and for Africa.

With a debut solo album under his belt E-Rock seeks to push the boundaries and break stereotypes within the Ghanaian gospel music industry and beyond. He has already received support from credible Ghanaian media like Sunny FM, Sweet Melodies FM, Live FM, YFM, GH One TV, amongst others.

Alongside his artistic work, E-Rock is an active choir leader who doubles as a youth leader at Christ Embassy Church in Accra, Ghana. He pursued Mass Communication at Ghana Institute of Journalism and looks forward to studying law also. The young and dynamic singer has purposed in his heart to explore his passion for music by expressing forth his love for God.

E-Rock desires to push boundaries and break the monotony and stereotypes within gospel music. The lyricist has a global mindset as he believes he has a message that must be heard, thus a message of faith, hope, love and positivity in the word of God. The budding star has captivating vocal ability which ignites joy and admiration in the hearts of many.

“Music was always a childhood passion. I loved the guitar, the microphone, the keyboard, music intrigued me. I will say I was born with musical ears and a voice that could sing so I’ve been writing music since I was 8 years old. The Holy Spirit inspires my music and everyday life but you will find one word in almost all my songs – Love. I love Jesus with all my heart. He is amazing. I speak of his love as I have experienced it.”

“I met Jesus at 17 and he gave me a fresh musical focus. Glorifying him with my talent.  That’s how I got into music. I have one album so far. An album of 11 anointed songs titled “The Necessity Project”. And I am currently working on my next album “Love Songs Project”

E-Rock is passionate about impacting his world. He has organized several success motivation and Leadership training programs with over 6,000 youths in attendance.
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Follow him on Twitter: @Erock_official

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Celebrating Fashion Through Storytelling

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On December 20, 2014 54 Kingdoms, an apparel and accessory company, hosted their 3rd annual Storytellers in Fashion in grand style at Farafina café and lounge. Hosted by Fatima Sesay of Sahara TV, the event began on a spirited note with powerful poetry performance by Frank E. Brady. Frank’s high vocal projection, animation and poetic consciousness captured the audience attention and set the tone for songwriter and pop-artist, Chris Akinyemi who serenaded the crowd with both pop and soulful classics. The event featured the live painting of Alfajo Jallow.  A multi-colored painting with the African continent split into different pieces, Alfajo described the painting as depicting, “Africa in its current state is not unified, and until we start discussing our unity, we will not achieve this dream”. The painting auctioned for $400, of which 30% was donated to 54 Kingdoms to support its Community Outreach Initiatives.

The lively Ghanaian duo, Nana Poku (CEO) and Kwaku Awuah (President) started off their set in tradition by pouring libation to pay homage to the higher spirit and ancestors followed by a ‘jamming session’.  During their presentation, 54 Kingdoms  presented the creative process and inspiration behind their Score For Unity (SFU) collection; a merge of history, culture and creativity, this part was an experience.

The night concluded with a performance by Congolese-born songwriter and songstress Rafiya.

Storytellers in Fashion 2014 was sponsored by Vita Coco, Applause Africa, African Youth Excellence (AYE), The Council of Young African Leaders (CYAL), Broken Limits, Primo Supremo, Farafina Café and Lounge, Lux Shea Organics, Amariya’s Kitchen and 413 Management.

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About Storytellers in Fashion 

Launched in 2012, Storytellers in Fashion (STF) brings to light the creative experience and inspiration behind various 54 Kingdoms designs. Accompanied by a live band providing background music, STF involves an oral and visual presentation to attendees in addition to performances from other emerging artists sharing their stories through diverse creative outlets.

Ticket sales from every Storytellers in Fashion event goes to support 54 Kingdoms’ Community Outreach Initiatives (COI), which has benefited non-profit partners such as African Youth Excellence (AYE) and African Youth Network (AYONET).

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Going Back To Your Roots: What Will You Find?

It is all the rage now: Finding your roots!  This is even more so with Africans in the Diaspora.

In his article for the Huffington post, Greg Archer begun with three questions:
1. Who are we-really?
2. Where do we come from?
3. What happened before us?

and now we add one more question to this: Does it matter?

We have come so far in history that our identities are more fluid that two decades ago.  One has to wonder if unraveling the myths of our past really matters. Does it make us better? Does it improve on our contribution to the world?

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Have We Won the Battle Against Ebola?

In my morning routine, I browsed the news in efforts to update myself on what is going on in Africa. One of the most important updates I always look for is the current state of the Ebola Crisis.  Thats where I saw that we have hit a 20K mark in Ebola cases. Frustratingly so, it seems that the zeal we saw in the African Diaspora’s response to the crisis has died with the lack of media interest in what is going on with this crisis.  It was tempting to just revert to my previous article on this issue. 

I am unapologetically a critique, but an eternal optimist at heart- a rather interesting combination.  Therefore I am taking step towards my optimistic side with hopes that I can offer insights as to what the African Diaspora should be doing right now in regards to the Ebola Crisis.

It has been clear that while #AfricaAgainstEbola is a great initiative we must engage multilateral action- with Africans taking lead. This is a point that we aught to pose and reflect on. How does Africa take lead? To be fair, Africans on the ground are taking lead, but the African Diaspora is still lagging behind.

The Ebola Crisis in West Africa

The Ebola Crisis in West Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally posted in ElleAfrique, here are 4 things that the African Diaspora should be doing to combat the Ebola crisis.

1 ADVOCATE:

Partnership with US agencies engaged in the response and the African Union is critical. 

USA: The US has made a significant investment- I believe it is up to $175 million to stop Ebola along with committing logistical support to build health capacity. We should consider leading initiatives that would partner with U.S. agencies engaged in the response, including the State Department and the USAID, CDC, FDA etc.  In their recent report, USAID is looking for Diaspora groups that they can work with.  While we are an extension of Africa, we have a responsibility to make sure that these agencies work in Africa is representative of the needs in the continent.  The critical point in this partnership is that Africans on the ground, and in the Diaspora be at the forefront of the actions being taken.  

Furthermore, take advantage of the ability to lobby your senators and congressmen and ask them to pass relevant legislation whether it in increasing funding, providing immigration relief for citizens from the countries affected, or making sure that the commitments made are honored. Examples of groups leading legislative efforts are Believe in Africa and US-Africa Ebola Working Group

AFRICA: Importantly, a partnership with the African Union is critical as well. the African Union has committed technical resources to affected countries  and an initiative to support the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA). In the first week of December 2014,  an Private-Public partnership was launched with several businesses/corporations joining the fight against Ebola. Whether you believe that the African union is effective or not, they still play a role in linking the diaspora to efforts taking place in Africa. ASEOWA is going to be a great way for the Diaspora to join in the efforts, with Africans at the forefront of the fight. 

2 Be Organized

African Diaspora communities and professional organizations should organize better and mobilize more effectively to supplement ongoing efforts.  If you believe everything the media says, you would have thought that  Africans were unresponsive to the ebola crisis.  However, if we all did our research, we would have found that the greatest need was not that Africa needed to respond, but that Africans needed to be organized.  Because Africans were responding- just not in the Diaspora.

If the diaspora is to be effective, we need to take the time to come up with proper strategies that will galvanize our communities into action. While the crisis is time bound, planning events for the sake of planning events, starting campaigns for the sake of having Africans respond will yield little results. Meanwhile, we will keep complaining about the efforts of the others, while watching ourselves scatter in different directions, aiming for the same goal. We need to critique our efforts- and challenge ourselves to do better. We should not accept poor organization, and pass it off as African, or keep patting each other’s back  because they are “atleast doing something”.  Lets keep ourselves accountable.  Ebola is no longer a West African crisis- it is an African crisis.

We are stronger in numbers. We are stronger united. However, all our efforts thus far have been anything but united. Some of the places to start might be joining  the African Diaspora Response taskforce whose mission is to gather the efforts of the Diaspora on one platform- making it easier for people to identify with different initiatives and see how they can lend their skills, time, or money to initiatives taking place in areas affected by Ebola.

3 Stay Ahead of the Curve

Much of what is being discussed right now deals with stopping Ebola. The root causes of the epidemic still abide in systems that have largely failed to build proper infrastructure that would have normally equipped health workers and care center with emergency response training and adequate resources. 

 Therefore, while looking at the ways and means of mitigating effects of the virus,  We need to start thinking about emerging situations and come together to project future scenarios- then come up with effective ways to handle these scenarios and provide training.

So far, we have seen that the crisis has bred other problems, or possibly magnified other problems in the communities that are affected.  We are possibly witnessing a shift in demographics if the death rates increase. Hospitals are overrun while local health workers remain under resourced. This is not to mention that there is an increased neglect of other health needs.

So how do we rebuild the cities and the villages after Ebola? We need to ask ourselves: Long After Ebola is gone, and our news are back to the “Africa Needs A Savior” Archetypes,  what will the African Diaspora do to assure that we do not have a repeat of this Crisis?  What happens after the cameras stop rolling?

4 Lead New Efforts in PPP ( Public-private Partnerships)

This partnership should be with the intent of building better health systems in the continent. African Diaspora communities can organize for bilateral agencies, NGOs, private sector, Academia, and civil society in partnership with governments to build infrastructures that can absolve crises such as this in the future. It is undeniable that we need fresh and innovating thinking anchored on easy access to amenities such as affordable health care, sanitation, water and continued medical research. This is still an area that needs more research and more thought, but if we can organize ourselves, and start working on this right now- we will be able to stay ahead of the curve.

Africans in the Diaspora have a critical role in coordinating a comprehensive response to the Ebola outbreak and mitigating health crisis in the future. More importantly, the Diaspora is well situated to foster an international public-private partnership that would enable the building of infrastructures such as health care systems in Africa, which would enable our the governments to better and efficiently handle such crises were they to rise again.

However, this means that the Diaspora needs to move beyond small-scale efforts and organize themselves better.  We need to think beyond- “Doing something”- to- ” Acting Effectively and Strategically”. This means a greater partnership with already existing structures and platforms dedicated to eradicating the disease and building sustainable health systems throughout Africa.

Africans on the ground are resilient in their work to fight their disease. They are doing everything in their power and mobilizing communities, gathering resources to combat this crisis. The Diaspora, with all their resources should do better.

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Why the African Diaspora is Failing Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone

(This is being reposted from its original publication on ElleAfrique.com

 Do You Know its Christmas?”

When Bob Geldof announced that he was coming out with the Band Aid 30 song to raise funds for Ebola, it was like seating in a theater and watching history repeat itself. It was not surprising that #bandaid30 brought in a shrew of critics and the African Diaspora found a new enemy. cd-artworkFor weeks, I have watched, listened, and participated in some very interesting discussions on Ebola. Mostly, it has been on the Diaspora’s response to the disease. So one day, while minding my business and doing the usual daily social media check-in, I got a message that truly disturbed me because it called me to question whether I should engage myself into all the social media battles over who is right and wrong with fundraising for Ebola. So here is a two-part article on the African Diaspora’s response to Ebola.

Note: in reference to the African Diaspora, I  am referring to the Diaspora that is not from Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia (this will be explained clearly in article 2).

As I watched via social media and blogosphere I seemed to have more questions than answers. For what I saw was frustrating, and frightening. In our efforts of trying to do better that Geldof, and multi-lateral organizations, we have resulted to poor tactics of exalting individualism rather than collectivism in this response to a virus that has no eye for color, nationality, nor socio-economic status. I started to wonder if the likes of Bob Geldof were really the enemy of our progress. While we are trying to keep the West accountable (which is important), I wonder who is keeping us accountable.

Band Aid 30 is an awful song. You don’t have to look hard to find its condescending tone albeit much better than its previous versions. Yes, it is a Band-Aid solution for what is a gaping wound, but let’s be serious for a minute; did we really expect Bob Geldof to come to African Artist and say “here, let’s do this together?” This is Bob Geldof we are speaking about. He doesn’t care. He recorded the song, made his own donation, and then let iTunes do the rest, with the help of course from all of us. Controversy sells and I bet Geldof in his calculations expected it and spun it to his benefit. You can’t blame famous people for manipulating the culture of celebrity adoration that we’ve created. This is the same reason that there was a FIFA #11againstebola campaign. Should we fault them for this?

In regards to songs like #BandAid30, or other global band-aid campaigns, have we thought about saying, yes, its bloody awful but its a start. Lets see if we can improve on these efforts, and do better. For example, trying to bring our African celebrities together to do a campaign?  Or maybe learning the marketing and branding nuances in such campaigns that are raising money for Ebola?

In many ways, the response of the African Diaspora to the release of the #bandaid30 was reflective of just how much work is in store for us. We follow. We do not lead. And for us African critics and revolutionaries, we tell them (the “West”) – “we don’t need you”, and then turn around and say “ you need to do better, fix the structural issues.” Even I get confused, because it seems we don’t really know what we want from the West. On one hand, we invite them in, while the other hand tells them to shoo away. Oh the joys of mixed signals!

How the Diaspora responded…481844255-staff-of-the-doctors-without-borders-medical-aid.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlarge When we finally caught on to what was going on in West Africa, the communities in the US, and to my experience in NYC acted by hosting forums, fundraisers. These efforts are to be applauded. These efforts continue today. But lets face it, we were late! Whether it was in our action to send money, resources, hold forums, raise awareness we waited until Ebola made headlines for us to wake up to the fact that we had responsibility to act. We waited at least three months before we truly rallied in Diaspora to act upon the crisis. The attitude of most was that this was going to pass. Until July when the two missionaries came to the US to be treated, the diaspora was still acting in pockets. Special exception is to be made for the diasporans from the countries affected. They were, first responders whether it was by sending resources in medical supplies, money or holding forums to properly access the situation. When the rest of the diaspora caught on, it was in the most unorganized manner that it was hard to follow any of the efforts or know how to contribute in funds. At times, you would find three events in the same zip code, at the same time. We were, and are still scattered.

However, we applaud the  Diaspora standing up…

We did not allow media to box us in. One of the best examples was the episode of the two Senegalese students who were bullied over Ebola in New York City. Not only did the community band together to speak out against such behavior, the leaders made sure that the media told the story correctly. Another example has been the success story in Nigeria. While the metanarrative would have been that WHO, and UNICEF were key players in making the country Ebola-free, Nigerians used mediums such as social media and blogs to correct this misconception by owning their success. It is thanks to new media that we have also seen Africans play a role in telling the stories, with first hand accounts, and call to action.

However, let us not pat ourselves on the back…at least not just yet.during-the-ebola-scare-be-sure-to-avoid-direct-contact-with-tv-and-social-media-fd1d2

We let our voices be heard, but seem to be failing in adequately providing the necessary support. We are caught in a perpetual circle of blaming the Western entities for what they are doing, while refusing to come together and collaborate on providing ample support and resources on the ground.

To this, I will borrow the words of Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainana as he put it best

If diaspora and Afropolitan Africans were to be taken seriously, I wonder what it does to your and our place in the world, and the past month many of you have spent your best time social-mediaring how ignorant Americans are about Ebola. It is almost as if being concerned about Ebola, raising money for Ebola, volunteering your time for Ebola in Africa, promoting efforts to eradicate it are less important than feeling good because you are smarter than a white American who will never read your innovative map. There are things to do for our continent than seek fairness from those whose very power and existence was about debasing you. Post much more about building ourselves – otherwise some may think you have no confidence in our possibilities. Some of this is starting to feel like a dance of approval: Like me! Like us!

We are not there yet…..

I applaud our efforts. However, we sVidUpdateeriously need to consider the quality of our output. We in the diaspora have access to top academicians, marketing/branding professionals, videographers, campaign experts, fundraising experts, grant writers, and a very skilled labor force. Yet, the majority of the campaigns and events we are producing do not reflect this at all. In fact, the look on my social media walls is sad because it seems with Ebola no longer being a problem in the USA, the diaspora has already forgotten the original zeal of Africa responding to this crisis. Yet in Sierra Leone, the infected numbers are rising. So what happened?

Ebola is not just an African issue, it is a humanity issue. It is obvious that the countries that are affected cannot work on this alone. At this point, with the slow mobilization of the communities, and campaigns, maybe Bob Geldof needs to come back to remind the African Diaspora to respond to this crisis.

If we can put ego aside, recognize the efforts of each other, and form a true Africa-African Diaspora partnership we might never have to call on Bob Geldof, or Bono to come to our rescue. But there is a catch, we have to do better than we are doing right now. We have to use our skills collectively and effectively in order to meet the challenges and crisis that arise. We need to take charge of the tools available to us, and make sure our strategies are good enough to make an impact. But we are not there yet. Until then, lets focus on the big picture.  Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf President of Liberia in her Letter to the World pointed out well:

From governments to international organizations, financial institutions to NGOs, politicians to ordinary people on the street in any corner of the world, we all have a stake in the battle against Ebola. It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves against an enemy that they do not know, and against whom they have little defense.

– See more at: http://elleafrique.com/ebola-we-are-failing-our-fellow-africans#sthash.SnWuwlxX.dpuf

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