Thursday, 20 July 2017

James Kofi Anan - Rescuing Ghanaian children from a life of slavery

Two thousand. That’s the number of children who are saved or prevented from being trafficked into labour every year thanks to James Kofi Annan’s organization – Challenging Heights.

Part school, part recovery Centre, and part advocacy, education and skills-generating organization, Challenging Heights is changing the lives of thousands of children in Ghana, who are at risk of being sold into slavery. James who is a Change leader in the Reach for Change Incubator Program, runs an organization equips vulnerable children and formerly enslaved children with the knowledge, education and skills they need to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and sets them on a path where there is no need for a parent to sell their child to ruthless child traffickers.

21,000 children are engaged in hazardous child labour on Lake Volta, many of who have been victims of child trafficking. An estimated 181,000 Ghanaians are living in modern slavery today. He has made great progress on several fronts but most of all in terms of System Change and Social Impact. He has been invited to the Vatican in Rome to advise and participate in an effort to drive awareness of child trafficking globally. At a national level, Challenging Heights joined forces with the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of Ghana Police Service to conduct screening of vehicles on roads at road blocks.

In just one night this resulted in the rescue of 33 children. Further investigations revealed that, 4 were actually being trafficked whilst the other 29 children were at risk of exploitation. In addition, James is also engaging actively with the Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection to work towards implementing child protection policy across the country.

In terms of Social Impact, not only does James rescue hundreds of children every year from slavery but he ensures that these children receive an education and are reintegrated back into society. Last year 100% of rehabilitated (previously trafficked) children passed their Junior High School (JHS) exams. This is phenomenal in a context where many regions are suffering from 0% Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) pass rate. His program is making a difference, not only by rescuing children from traffickers, but by rehabilitating them so that they can reintegrate into society as productive individuals who have healed from months – or even years – of enduring brutal abuse. James is a recipient of multiple awards for his work, including the 2008 Freedom Awards, the World’s Children‘s Prize in 2013 and the 2014 C10 Awards.

Read more about the social entrepreneurs supported by Reach for Change by visiting 

Story originally published by Reach for Change Africa  in the Reach for Change Africa 2014 Social Impact Report. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


One of the stories that I personally draw some serious inspiration from is that of this lady called Tererai Trent. The fact that she is a Zimbabwean African woman adds onto the inspiration. There are so many life lessons we can draw from this woman, who in any situation, was not supposed to have reached where she reached today! She had nothing going for her. She was given off in an arranged marriage at 11 years old! At 11 years old I was still playing with my dolls! She became a mother of 3 children by 18 and she was physically abused by her husband. But she had a dream. She was resilient, she was a fighter and she didnt give up. Some of the women I know today who are in a better position than she was in think just because they are mothers, they cant do anything anymore but just take care of their kids. That is not true! Tererai grew up in utter poverty in the rural areas of Zimbabwe in Matau in a mud-thatched house. She was bound to follow the path of many women in Africa: illiteracy, early marriage and poverty. Today she is evaluator and international public speaker.

Oprah Winfrey named Dr. Trent her “favorite guest of all time” in 2010. In 2013, she was named one of 26 women in the Power List of O, the Oprah Magazine SA
Let me share a little more about Tererai. Her father did not allow her to go to school as a child mainly due to poverty but also he believed that the boy child is the one that deserved going to school so instead he sent her brother Tinashe. For Tererai he had other plans. According to Tererai, when she was sharing about her childhood experiences, she remembers the men in her village "pointing to the boys in the village and saying 'These are the breadwinners of tomorrow. We need to educate them. We need to send them to school. The girls will get married.'" She taught herself to read and write from her brother's school books. When her teacher discovered this as she did better that her brother in school, he begged Tererai's father to allow her to attend school. She then attended school for a short period, and as is the custom, her father accepted a brideprice of a cow and married her off at the age of 11. She had three children by age 18 and without a high school diploma. Tererai Trent wanted to go to America and get a bachelor's degree, a master's, and eventually a PhD. Encouraged by her mother, Tererai wrote down these dreams, put the paper in a scrap of tin, and buried it. 
Original Dream Can Tererai's dreams of education were buried in this can

But Tererai was undeterred. One day, Tererai met a woman named Jo Luck, CEO of Heifer International who would profoundly impact and inspired the young mother with these words, if you desire your dreams they are achievable.”The meeting with a stranger and words that would ultimately change Tererai’s life!
With very little education, and only her mother’s encouragement to break the cycle of poverty, Tererai wrote down her five dreams on a scrap of paper; to go to America, to achieve a bachelor’s, a master’s and a doctorate degree along with the seemingly insurmountable goal of giving back to her community. Sealed the list of dreams in a tin can, and buried the tin under a rock.

Jo Luck, CEO of Heifer International sitting in a circle with Tererai and women in her village

In 1998, she moved to Oklahoma with her husband and their five children. Three years later, she earned a bachelor's degree and then earned her master's degree after her husband was deported for abuse. After earning each degree, she returned to Zimbabwe, unearthed her tin and checked off each goal she accomplished, one by one. In December 2009, she earned her doctorate degree. Today, Tererai is happily remarried and holds a PhD!

After reaching all her academic aspirations, she realized the need to achieve her last dream-giving back to her community. She founded Tinogona Foundation to help build schools in rural Zimbabwe and introduce quality education to thousands of girls and boys. It was a dream that became a reality when Oprah Winfrey named her “favorite guest ever” and donated $1.5 million in her honor to rebuild the Matau Primary School, the school she briefly attended as a child.

As an evaluator and a public speaker, Dr. Tererai Trent has gained international recognition as one of the most compelling voices for education and women’s empowerment.

Today Dr. Trent holds multiple degrees: a Bachelor’s degree and a Masters degree in Plant Pathology from Oklahoma State University; a Masters degree in Public Health from UC Berkeley; and a PhD degree in Evaluation from Western Michigan University.


Visit her page and learn more:

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Kudzai Sevenzo: What’s New and What’s Next?

There is no such thing as a great talent without great will power. Honore De Balzac

I believe that Kudzai Sevenzo has been blessed with both, great will power and great talent! I have had the amazing privilege of working alongside the sensational singer and actress Kudzai Sevenzo, as a flautist in her band and I must say, it has been one of the best experiences I have ever had. Working with Kudzi was always interesting, challenging and a lot of fun, and being a part of her band was one of the highlights of my life.

I decided to do a Skype interview with Kudzai Sevenzo, a one-on-one with her, touch base and see the plans she has in the future. For those of you who do not know Kudzi, she is a Zimbabwean singer and actress who has played an important role in the local and international music, film and art scene, through composing, singing, writing and acting. The result is a determined woman producing musical and artistic wonders, driven by a strong will power and character, great singing talent and a well harmonized voice backed by rich afro-jazz sounds and fusions of a talented band. The captivating singer/songwriter and actress discovered her talent at an early age and began participating in singing contests and talent shows then. Since then, she has grown tremendously in her career. 

Kudzi has accolades as an African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) nominee, National Arts Merits Awards (Nama) nominee, NEA nominee, M-Net’s Project Fame contestant, M-Net’s Studio 53 presenter and Zi-FM radio presenter.

Talking to Kudzi was an ideal interview experience, an enjoyable one, and one I will remember for time to come.

Me (Q): When was your first desire to become involved in music & from whom have you have learned the most secrets about music?
Kudzi (K) I loved music since I was in creche, I just always loved singing. I have had great mentors in my life such as Oliver Mtukudzi, Ringo Madlingozi, I look up to Judith Sephuma and my producer Andrew Baird, played a huge role in my development as a singer.

(Q): How/where do you get inspiration for your songs & what do you think is the main characteristic of your personality that made you a songwriter?(K) I am inspired by my own experiences, as well as those of others close to me. 

(Q): Which has been the best moment of your career and which was the worst?(K) Best career moment is always on stage, I have had many. Worst I haven’t had yet.

(Q): What are you thinking when you are on stage, how would you describe your contact with your audience when you are on stage? What compliment do you appreciate the most after a performance?(K) I sing like it’s my last performance. Like I’ll never sing again. So I give it my absolute all. It’s a real gift to be able to do what you love, and I can never take an opportunity to sing for granted.

(Q): Who are some of your role models and why?(K) I am weary of putting any human being on a pedestal, because, inevitably there will be disappointment. So I see different qualities in different people that I admire and I celebrate that. God is the only constant really, He is consistent.

(Q): Who is the one artist you would want to do a duo with?(K) Ringo Madlingozi 

(Q): What other Zimbabwean musicians do you admire? Rest of Africa and Internationally?(K) ASA from Nigeria
Angelique Kidjo
And Sade (yes I am a bit biased towards women)

(Q): You are actively involved in a number of community development projects. Would you like to mention a few, why you are passionate about these and if you have some upcoming community events?(K) I am brand ambassador to PROUDLY ZIMBABWEAN FOUNDATION that has done extensive clean up campaigns across the city called Bin-It, eliminating litter and instilling a sense of ownership of infrastructure in local communities. Its YOUR STREET, so keep it clean. We realised that litter was a mindset issue. So we are fighting against litter in towns across the nation.

(Q): How has been your experience with your acting career?(K) Fantastic. My first movie Playing warriors, earned me an AMAA nomination, which was great encouragement for me.

(Q): How would you compare acting to singing?(K) Acting is HARDER. It requires much more of you. Singing is second more second nature. But they somehow compliment each other, because its all performance.

(Q): Is there one you enjoy more than the other?(K) I love a challenge, so I have my eyes on Acting right now, but Singing will always be my first love.

(Q): What do you enjoy most about your career? (K) It’s versatility. I am a singer, songwriter, radio and tv presenter, voice over artist as well as an actress. It’s exciting how many dimensions I can explore of entertainment.

(Q): You recently traveled to Denmark. What did this experience mean to you? 
(K) It was my first date with a European audience, and I was so well received, it was special. It started a bit of a domino effect, will be in Switzerland in September again, so am really excited and looking forward to it.

(Q): Where do you see yourself in the next five years? (K) Happy with an adoring hubby, happy babies and a healthy furry dog.

(Q): How do you cope with all the success, demanding career and fame? Does it ever get stressful? (K) I just try to live my life the best way I know how. I am a private person who happens to be a public figure because of the career I chose. When it’s time to work, I work. When it’s time to shut out and enjoy time with loved ones and family alone, I do just that. Life is too short to waste getting too caught up in what people think about you, because chances are: they aren’t thinking about you. Lol!

(Q): What do you think has kept you grounded as an artist?(K) Relationship with God, Anchors like my family, close friends and spiritual mentors in my life.

(Q): What role has your family played in your career?(K) They are honest with me. That’s important to have people you are accountable to.

(Q): Why do you feel it’s important to be a role model? (K) Not everybody chooses to be a role model. But once you are, you have an obligation to your fans and the people that look up to you. You try to make a positive impact.
Onto something much more light-hearted :-)

(Q): What can you not travel without? (K) WET WIPES, LIP BALM AND MOISTURISER

(Q): What is the weirdest fan experience you have had? (K) Signing someone’s boxers after a concert(he was wearing them)

(Q): How long does it take you to get ready for an event or a show? (K) An hour on a good day

(Q): What do you do when you have some time off? (K) I spend the day in my pyjamas and read a good book

(Q): What message do you have for African girls pursuing their dreams?(K) You CAN do it! You don’t need a sugar daddy to finance you. Build your dreams, go to school, work hard, you can do it! When you are empowered, you will make the right choices in life and in love.

(Q): What can your fans look forward to in the next coming months?(K) Some great performances. A new single.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Sarah Bosha: A compelling story about the determination and ambition of a wife and mother of two

An inspirational Story of how a determined Zimbabwean wife and mother of two achieved her long awaited dream to get a Masters Degree at a world renowned University when she was awarded a fully paid scholarship. It got me inspired so I hope it inspires you too!
Sarah Bosha, with her husband, Otis Bosha and her two kids, Jonathan and Ruvarashe.
 “You are never too old to dream or pursue your passions; it’s never too late no matter what; hope should never die; one must never give up.”  Those were just some of the things I told myself when I was nursing my unfulfilled desire to pursue a masters in international human rights law.  I thought to myself, “I believe in a big God able to do impossible things, so eventually, no matter what, this Master’s will come my way.”

Sarah Bosha

Lo and behold there it was in front of my eyes; an email from the University of Notre Dame accepting me into their international human rights law scholarship program for 2013. I was stunned. I was breathless. I read it over and over again savoring every word, especially “pleased to offer you.” I, a wife, mother of two energetic toddlers and public prosecutor, was about journey across the globe to fulfill a seven-year-old dream!

But first I had to get there.
Step one was easy: accept the offer by email and relish in telling friends and family, especially my mom who was living vicariously through me, that finally it had happened and what a prestigious university I had been accepted to.

Step two however, getting the visas, was something of a mission.  All the spook stories I heard of people being turned down for some unattainable unidentifiable reason loomed large as my family and I waited for our interviews to come. Would they allow us to go together, or would they decide that I didn’t need my family to be with me on this journey?

Will my family be allowed to join me?
I agonized at 2 a.m. over how to respond to difficult questions  I might be asked, like why the whole family should go instead of just me. My husband, on the other hand, slept like a baby and every answer to me was, “It will be fine.”

Finally, the day came and my family and I got bundled up against the cold and assembled outside the U.S. Embassy in Harare.  We handed in our papers and waited outside patiently.  Then, our first encounter with bad luck. I hadn’t booked interviews for my toddlers, and each and every applicant, yes even the 15-month-old, needed to have an appointment.  So here was the choice: either go in alone or come back with your whole family on another day. I chose to go in alone.

After being ushered through security, I started questioning my decision.  What if the immigration officer thought that if I could go to the interview alone I could certainly go to America alone? I figured they had some expert psychology training that would make them reach such conclusions – watching too much 24 was making me paranoid!

As I sat and waited with other visa hopefuls, we discussed in hushed tones what could lead to a denial.  I had my I-20 form, full tuition and a living allowance, but the horror stories being exchanged started to fray my nerves.  Finally my turn came, and to my surprise the officer spoke in a friendly tone while asking what I was to study and my plans after that, and looking at my papers.  This was not the interrogation I had been anticipating all week.  I was a little thrown off but relieved.  After a few other personal questions, and furious typing of my responses into his computer, he took my passport, gave me a yellow receipt, and told me to come and collect my passport the following day. I was elated! But what about my family?

My husband and children’s interview day came about 10 days later, and I wasn’t allowed into the embassy with them – a fact that was communicated to me by a lady sitting behind a glass window – so I went to attend my pre-departure orientation and switched off my phone. As soon as it was lunchtime, I called my husband. It had all gone well; they had visas. A wave of relief swept over me.

Sarah Bosha at her Graduation with her Family and Friends

So we all got our visas, mine and the children’s expiring in May 2013, and my husband’s visa expiring in July 2014.  Why his visa is longer than mine when his was only issued because I had one is some inexplicable outcome that I just couldn’t fathom, except that God has a great sense of humor.

Small children on a plane

It was the third step to getting to the U.S. that I was most dreading – getting two small children 1,000 km on a combination of buses and planes.

I packed “teddy” and a multitude of snacks for the first leg of the trip, a bus journey to Johannesburg.  Twelve hours later when we finally made it to Johannesburg (thanks to a seven-hour delay on the border because immigration officials were on a “go slow” protest), I had run out of snacks, it was stifling hot, “teddy” was no longer an interesting distraction and my 15-month-old had gained at least 5 kg in my arms standing in that long, winding queue at the border!

Now it was on to a grueling 18-hour flight. This time I would pack a double multitude of snacks; I wasn’t going to be caught unawares! Sadly, “teddy” was forgotten on the bus and was not to accompany us to America.

The Johannesburg-to-London flight was uneventful, with my precious children obediently falling asleep upon take off and sleeping all the way through. As we took our seats for the Heathrow-to-Chicago flight, an unassuming woman in her mid-forties was ushered to a seat next to ours.   When she beheld my 15-month-old daughter and three-year-old son, her face morphed into a mixture of pain and absolute horror at the idea of spending eight hours on a plane next to two screaming toddlers. They were angels now but surely they would scream, and soon.

She immediately, gruffly and quietly, though not quietly enough, told the flight attendant, “You have to find me somewhere else to sit. I am not sitting here.” Once her seat was moved and her anger had subsided, embarrassment began to creep in and she apologetically told me, “You know, I am a mother too and I have children. It’s just that I can’t really deal with this today.” I smiled coolly and told her I understood, but when my two children fell peacefully asleep on takeoff, I smugly thought, “Take that you rude American woman!”

Would all Americans say the first thing that came into their minds without considering the listener’s feelings? I certainly hoped not.  Sadly, my smug victory was short-lived, as after a power nap of 30 minutes, my two woke up and became a riotous pair of uncomfortable crying babies.

We eventually made it safely to O’Hare Airport, but not without one final adventure. Just as the fasten seatbelt sign had been turned on for landing, my daughter decided this was the perfect time for her to have a long overdue bowel movement that was punctuated with loud passing of wind and a stench to match, which left me absolutely sinking in my seat with shame! All I can say is that was the longest descent and landing of all time.

After changing my daughter in the plane’s lavatory and going safely through immigration and passport control, I felt a sense of excitement and relief. I had arrived into the United States of America and my path to a long unfulfilled dream was on its way to realization – a Master’s degree from Notre Dame and a better future as a human rights lawyer.  But for now I was pretty pleased with just surviving my journey across the globe.

Sarah Bosha graduated with a Masters in Human Rights Law from the University of Notre Dam, USA

Friday, 8 March 2013


Women in different countries celebrate International Women's Day (IWD) differently. Last week in Dar es Salaam, I attended an event in celebration of IWD at the Diamond Jubilee Hall in town. Women came dressed to impress and the theme was African prints or attire. One thing I realized is that African women LOVE to dress in different colours and love to look bright and attractive. All kinds of Swahili Fashion came out and I must say I was very impressed indeed.

Me and and the ladies from Exim Bank.

The sponsors for the event were Oxfam and EXIM Bank among others. Oxfam gave a good brief on how women are creating livelihoods for the families and ultimately for the nation. The role of the woman remains of crucial importance especially for African women who have been placed within stereotype roles for a long time. Oxfam also highlighted the importance of eating healthy as women and how we play an important role of building the nations nutrition through the way we feed our families.

Overall it was a great event and a very culturally enriching experience. Women danced to the entertaining traditional Tanzanian Taarab music. After that a delicious lunch was made consisting of some of Tanzania's popular dishes, pilau and biriani (spicy rice and meat dishes), popular throughout all of East Africa.

Over time and distance, the equal rights of women have progressed. We celebrate the achievements of women while remaining vigilant and tenacious for further sustainable change. There is global momentum for championing women's equality.

Each year around the world, International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. Thousands of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women's groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day. Many groups around the world choose different themes each year relevant to global and local gender issues.


Saturday, 9 February 2013

Is the musical genre and expression of Hip Hop, African?

I, for some reason, have grown to have an increased curiosity in the musical expression called Hip Hop. It’s mainly because I see a lot of young African people singing in this style of music nowadays on TV. You won’t go past channels such as Channel O and Trace without seeing one of these young people singing one of these hip hop lullabies. Apparently the musical expression called Hip hop, started as a musical culture in New York in the 1970s and was an expression of everyday inner city life and has historically been the voice of the African-American youth. To my surprise, I discovered that it also has deep Jamaican and African roots, seen in the rawness of its beats and the rhythm of its lyrics. It also has origins from the Caribbean that later gave birth to reggae in Jamaica. Looking back in history, West Africa in particular also has had some influence in the creation of hip hop, as the style borrows from African traditions evident in the lyrics and the delivery of the music.

It is believed that hip hop music and culture came to Africa between the 1980s and early 1990s. Since then it has spread with the energy and passion of a musical and cultural revolution. History has come full circle and rap music and hip hop culture are increasingly becoming popular among African youth in particular, who have added a new African twist to the genre. Of particular interest is that the word "hip" has been associated to the Wolof word "hepi" or "hipi" which means "to see" or "to open one's eyes". Wolof is a language of Senegal, the Gambia, and Mauritania, and the native language of the Wolof people. Wolof also refers to the Wolof Empire, a medieval West African state. Philosophers and scholars alike have debated whether the word "hip" is actually derived from Wolof or whether its usage is simply a coincidence.

Senegalese/Gambian woman

The spirit and passion which young African American rappers express transforms their minds and those of millions of their peers who related to the messages and stories being told through the music.
Tales of love, friendship, crime, politics and violence were also the stories of countless urban African youth. American rapper 2Pac became a legend across the continent precisely because of the social importance of his lyrics. There was no major city in Africa one could go to in the late 1990s and not see images of 2Pac or hear his music being played.

Hip hop was more than just another form of music -- the fact that it was also its own subculture and a transmitter of political and social commentary was absorbed by African youth who related to all aspects of this new musical revolution. Many young artists who would have once entered the music scene through the Afro-pop or traditional music genres have become hip hop artists and have contributed to the evolution of the musical form in Africa.

Alesh hip hop singer from DRC
Alesh, perfoming in front of fans and African youth

Of special note is that African hip-hop artists have remained true to their identity and culture through the music whereas others have lost that identity completely and adopted the style, tone and regalia of the American hip-hop singers. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, that remains subjective. However, hip hop remains an artistic form and should still be appreciated as it carries a lot of cultural and social themes. One thing for sure is that the musical expression and its growth is a sign that the youth in Africa are becoming more empowered and are using their talents to motivate and inspire their peers.

Akua Naru Hip hop artist and poet

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

UPEACE launches a free app to spread Peace Knowledge

Non-governmental organisations and non-profit organisations are also catching up with the ever-changing environment of communications by developing innovative and creative ways of keeping in touch with audiences and spreading knowledge about peace to the rest of the world.

For instance, UPEACE announced the first APP developed for Windows 8 or Windows RT.   “A Glossary of Peace and Conflict Terms”  includes the most commonly used terms in this specific area, and provides, for those interested in the subject, a good understanding of the terminology commonly used in a simple manner. More than 100 terms are described.
The Glossary is very easy to use since the terms are organized in alphabetical order. The author Christopher Miller and editor Mary E. King are both well-renown intellectuals in the field.
The application is FREE!

Characteristics are:
• More than 100 terms fully described
• App includes search
• Developed by experts in the area
• Descriptions updated recently  

Here is the link to download it!

All the best and Enjoy!