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.
Adoubou Traore, an Ivorian-born educator, activist, and community organizer, has dedicated his life to helping African immigrants to navigate the complex U.S. immigration system. He minces no words in challenging successful African immigrants to do more for the new arrivals in their community. Traore is the co-founder and executive director of African Advocacy Network (AAN), a non-profit organization that collaborates with community partners, individuals, faith-based groups, and immigration advocates to serve refugees and immigrants in Northern California.
AAN is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that relies on grants and donations to provide services. To make a tax-deductible donation click here.
Some people have told Ebenezer Obeng-Nyarkoh that his mission to teach coding to kids in Ghana will fail. He is not listening. Obeng-Nyarkoh, a data scientist and co-founder of Kids Coding, talks about his vision for Ghana’s children, and how he’s navigating around various obstacles. The program teaches children aged between 6 and 17 to explore basic coding concepts with engaging activities in an all hands-on learning environment to give them an early start in learning useful technological skills.
Prior to working as a data scientist, Obeng-Nyarkoh was a reporter with the Ghana News Agency in Takoradi and Tema. He holds an MA in international and development economics from the University of San Francisco, and BA in international affairs (economics) and new media from the University of Maine.
When Nzambi Matee sees plastic waste, she sees gold. And she’s on a quest to pave the streets and sidewalks of Kenya with it. Matee is the founder of Gjenge Makers, a Nairobi-based startup that is working to reverse environmental pollution by turning plastic waste into building materials. Matee has received numerous honors for her innovation, including Young Champion of the Earth, an award given by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to young entrepreneurs who are solving the world’s most difficult environmental problems.
Matee speaks with us about her upbringing in Kenya, and the obstacles African entrepreneurs like her run into when they try to innovate.
Kwesi Wilson, a Ghanaian-born news analyst and professor of communication, joins Africa Straight Talk to explain the complicated legacy of former President Jerry John Rawlings, who died in November. A former Ghana Air Force fighter pilot, Rawlings navigated the country’s bloody coup-ridden early decades of independence to become head of state in 1981.
In the first episode of our second season, we discuss America’s wannabe dictator, Donald Trump, and how his “regime” emboldened real African despots like Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni. After Trump’s supporters launched a murderous terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the Ugandan strongman showed how a true dictator should conduct elections. After Jan. 14 election which the opposition rejected, Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, placed Bobi Wine under house arrest for 11 days by surrounding his house with heavily armed soldiers.
In our last episode of the year, we’re joined by Liberian-born journalist and educator, Joe Kappia, for an African perspective on the presidential elections in the United States, and in Africa. Kappia is the editor in chief and publisher of the West African Journal, a monthly news bulletin for the African communities throughout the United States. He is currently a teacher at the Abraham Lincoln High School in San Jose, California.
We’d also like to thank you, our dear listeners, for the support you’ve given us in the first year of our podcast. We’re talking couple months off to rejuvenate ourselves and reflect on what we’ve learned in order to make our podcast better. Until the, as Emmanuel Nado would say, be well.
When Tebogo left South Africa for the United States to escape rampant racism in the banking industry she worked in, it didn’t occur to her that she would be swapping one racist country for another. Tebogo is a community organizer, poet, house music enthusiast and part-time deejay . She is a founding member of the Afrika Moja, a San Francisco Bay Area collective that advocates for the unity of Africans in the Diaspora.
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.