Episode 49: One Man Defying the Odds to Teach Ghana’s Kids Coding

Ebenezer Obeng-Nyarkoh. Photo: Courtesy.

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.

Episode 48: Meet Nzambi Matee, the Kenyan Woman Turning Plastic Waste Into Building Materials

Kenyan environmentalist and social entrepreneur, Nzambi Matee, (second from left) and her team at Gjenge Makers, where they turn plastic waste into building materials. Photo: Courtesy.

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.

Episode 47: Jerry Rawlings’s Legacy, and Ghana’s Long Road to Democracy

Jerry Rawlings visits AMISOM 04
Former President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana visits the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in 2004. Photo: AMISOM Public Information used under CC0 1.0

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.

Continue reading “Episode 47: Jerry Rawlings’s Legacy, and Ghana’s Long Road to Democracy”

Episode 46: Uganda’s Museveni Shows Trump How a Real Dictator Conducts Elections

President Museveni welcomes President Kagame to Uganda | Kampala, 25 March 2018
“President Yoweri Museveni welcomes President Kagame of Rwanda to Uganda | Kampala, 25 March 2018” by Paul Kagame is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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.

Episode 45: An African Perspective on the U.S. Presidential Election

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.

Photo by funky fat girl is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Episode 44: Meet the South African Woman Who Unknowingly Swapped one Racist Country for Another

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.

Episode 42: How Yema Khalif, the Kenyan-born owner of the only black-owned business in a small California town, stood up to racist cops and triggered a movement that ended their careers

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.

Yema Khalif. Photo: Courtesy.

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.

Episode 40: How Marco Senghor’s quest to create a life outside his famous Senegalese family’s nearly killed him

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.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Senegalese-born Marco Senghor’s bar and restaurant, Bissap Baobab, served as a multicultural entertainment venue in San Francisco’s Mission District. Photo used under Creative Commons license from sfmission.com.
Continue reading “Episode 40: How Marco Senghor’s quest to create a life outside his famous Senegalese family’s nearly killed him”

Episode 39: How musicians from the tiny islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique invented the Zouk music that led to a dance craze in the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and Asia in the ’80s. The story of Kassav’ as told by Jocelyne Béroard

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.

Jocelyne Béroard performing with Kassav’ in 2016. Photo by Kmeron under Creative Commons license.

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.  

Continue reading “Episode 39: How musicians from the tiny islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique invented the Zouk music that led to a dance craze in the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and Asia in the ’80s. The story of Kassav’ as told by Jocelyne Béroard”

Episode 38: Big Oil asks Trump to make Africa a plastic sh*t hole, and other stories

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.

Women and children sift through garbage to collect metals and plastics from a dumpsite outside Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa. PHOTO: StarsFoundation via Creative Commons.