Edwin Okong’o is not your typical, stereotypical African. He is a storyteller by any medium necessary™. Okong'o is an award-winning journalist, humorist, satirist and memoirist. He received his master’s degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied radio, newspaper, magazine, and online multimedia storytelling and editing. Okong’o’s journalistic work, provocative commentaries, and stand-up comedy performances have appeared in numerous media across the world. He is the winner of several honors, including a Webby Award for his short documentary, "Kenya: Sweet Home, Obama", which he made for the PBS program, Frontline.
One of the most successful protests against police brutality following the killing George Floyd happened in Tiburon, Calif., where a police officer resigned and the police chief was forced to retire early. We speak with Yema Khalif, the owner of YEMA, the only black business in the town of 9,000, whose harassment by cops led to outrage from the community.
Khalif’s is the ultimate story of resilience. He was born and raised in one of the largest slums in Africa, Kibera, which is located in Nairobi, Kenya. After struggling to graduate from high school because of his parents’ lack of funds to pay for his education, Khalif got a rare opportunity to come to the United States to study at Dominican University of California, where he graduated from in 2015, before continuing to earn a master’s degree from the same university.
Rather than follow the traditional route of seeking a white-collar job, he decided to become an entrepreneur, fashion designer, and philanthropist. With his Ethiopian-born wife Hawi Awash, they founded YEMA, an African clothing store in Tiburon, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.
Perhaps only a handful of people born in Africa can say they had a diplomatic plane when they were children. And we are willing to bet you that no man in the world has been awoken by the legendary Stevie Wonder crawling into bed next to him — mistakenly, of course. But that was Marco Senghor‘s life before he decided to leave and chart his own path in life — a move that nearly cost him his life in San Francisco.
When Jocelyne Béroard realized that there were not enough people in her native Caribbean island of Martinique to sustain her ambition to be a musical superstar, she decided to join hands with others and conquer the world.
The singer and songwriter joined hands with artists from neighboring Guadeloupe to form Kassav’, the seminal group that created the popular Zouk style of music, which fueled a dance craze that spread from the islands to the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
In this episode, we discuss some of the most interesting recent stories out of Africa, including the American oil industry’s effort to keep Africa the “sh*t hole” Trump believes it is by exporting waste to the continent. And what do we think about Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangawa’s promise to compensate white farmers for losses they incurred when his late predecessor, Robert Mugabe, drove them out of the land they took from Africans during colonial rule? Finally, in Egypt, the Africa Cup of Nation trophy is missing. EPISODE CONTAINS SOME EXPLICIT LANGUAGE.
When she was 6, Emma Sophie Amoussou traveled by plane unaccompanied. She turned what could have been a scary journey for a child into a love of international travel and migration. Today, she is an immigration lawyer who helps Africans immigrate to Canada.
Born in Côte d’Ivoire, Amoussou lived in France before moving to Canada, where she studied law and the founded eSoph Immigration Canada, an immigration consulting firm. She spoke with us from Abidjan.
Prof. Alemayehu G. Mariam spent decades criticizing dictatorial regimes in Ethiopia, his country of birth. Today, he is one of the staunchest supporters of the Ethiopian government, something he says happened “overnight,” when Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister. An attorney by profession, Prof. Mariam teaches political science, American constitutional law, civil rights law, judicial process, federal and California state government, and African politics at California State University, San Bernardino.
Prof. Mariam has argued cases in the California Supreme Court, and was instrumental in the passing of Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 in the U.S. House of Representatives, which made it official U.S. policy to support — among other things — human rights, democracy, independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press, and the release of political prisoners in Ethiopia. Read his commentaries at www.almariam.com.
Nigerian-born actor, director, educator, and award-winning filmmaker, Chike Nwoffiah, talks about why it is important for Africans to take control of their history though storytelling. Nwoffiah is the founder and CEO of the Silicon Valley African Film Festival (SVAFF). The 11th year of SVAFF kicks off in October but will be online because of the the COVID-19 pandemic. We even managed get Nwoffiah riled up by bringing up Beyoncé’s “Black is King.”
Dr. Chris Wachira has a job most people would envy, but it’s not enough for her. Dr. Wachira, who is a fellow at Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health, is also the founder and executive director of the Institute of Clinical Excellence-Africa, (ICE-Africa), a nonprofit she founded to enhance the quality and delivery of healthcare through technology. But that’s not all. Dr. Wachira is also an entrepreneur, one of the few black winemakers in the San Francisco Bay Area. She speaks to us about her journey from central Kenya to Stanford, and how she manages to juggle her many roles.
In a world where the dominant use of European languages has eroded the prominence of indigenous ones, Dr. Sam Mchombo still believes that African languages can play a critical role in determining the continent’s future. Mchombo, an associate professor at the University of California at Berkeley, has spent his entire career of nearly half a century teaching linguistics, Swahili, and Chichewa. He tells us how, during his university studies a call from Kamuzu Banda, the first president of Malawi, sabotaged his ambition of becoming a mathematician, but made him an ardent believer in the use of African languages in decolonizing education.
Most African immigrants go to graduate school hoping to land a great white-collar job. Not Simileoluwa Adebajo. The 24-year-old Nigerian woman quit her job as financial analyst to open a restaurant and bring her country’s food and culture to Americans. Opened in 2018, Eko Kitchen is San Francisco’s first Nigerian restaurant and catering company. We spoke with her about her passion for food, and how her young business is navigating these unpredictable times of the coronavirus pandemic.