Episode 73: Guinea pig Alpha Condé finally overthrown

Guinea’s President Alpha Condé, 83, under arrest after the Sept. 5 coup.

On Sept. 5, the Guinean military rolled into the Guinean presidential palace, overthrew the government, and arrested President Alpha Condé, who had been in power since 2010. The country is now under the military rule of Col. Mamady Doumbouya. The colonel has promised to hand over power to civilians soon. Will he, or is this another story of an African military dictatorship in the making?

Episode 69: Does Africa have the right to blame brain drain?

Stop brain drain.” Illustration by theps.net.

Whenever African leaders are asked why the continent lags behind in terms of development, they blame braid drain — the exodus of its most intelligent people. But are they right, or are they to blame for frustrating young people so much that they have to go looking of a dignified life elsewhere?

Our guest is Joseph Makokha, an engineer who  studies and conducts research on engineering design with the goal of understanding how to design Artificial Intelligence to augments humans on thinking tasks. He is currently helping the Turkish Ministry of Education develop an Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning curriculum for its schools. 

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Episode 68: Meet Wamkanganise naGaadza, Zimbabwean mbira maker, teacher, and cultural ambassador

Salani Wamkanganise naGaadza (center) with his wife Kelly Takunda Orphan playing mbira during a virtual live concert that was organized by the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester. Photo: Mosquito Media.

We speak with Salani Wamkanganise naGaadza, and Kelly Takunda Orphan, a husband and wife who are ambassadors of African music and culture. Salani, a Zimbabwean-born virtuoso, doesn’t just make music and teach people how to play mbira; he makes the instruments himself in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lives.

Since 2017, Salani has performed and recorded with various mbira ensembles and bands. In 2020, UNESCO inscribed the mbira to be on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and Salani was one of two featured cultural ambassadors during the filming of the project in Zimbabwe.

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Episode 66: This is what is wrong with (South) Africa

Former South African President Jacob Zuma’s jailing for contempt of court has led to riots that have killed 276 people. Photo: GovernmentZA.

In this episode, we look at how the politics of ethnicity holds Africa back. Why are poor Africans willing to kill or die for wealthy corrupt goons like former S. African President Jacob Zuma, whose jailing for contempt of court has led to riots that have killed 276 people? Can we simultaneously fight corruption and support tribal kingpins like Zuma?

Episode 65: Meet the Ghanaian sisters challenging Europe’s dominance in chocolate making

The Addison sisters, founders of Ghana’s pioneer bean-to-bar company ’57 Chocolate, enjoying their treats. Photo: 57chocolategh.com

We speak with the Addison sisters, Kimberly and Priscilla, who set out to challenge the stereotypical belief that premium chocolate can only be made in Europe. Five years ago, they founded ’57 Chocolate, a pioneer bean-to-bar chocolate company that uses beans grown within Ghana to create delicious treats.

Episode 56: What power do African-born mayors like Mike Elliot have in cities dominated by white people?

Protest against police violence - Justice for George Floyd
A man protests against police violence after the murder of George FLoyd in May 2020. Photo: Fibonacci Blue.

Following the murder of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minn., Tom Gitaa of Mshale, the Minneapolis-based African community newspaper, joins us to discuss what it means for African immigrants like Mayor Mike Elliot, who have ventured into political leadership positions traditionally held by white people.

Elliot, who was born in Liberia and was elected mayor of Brooklyn Center in 2018, has found himself having to walk the thin line between supporting Black Lives Matter protests against racist policing and standing with the institution of white supremacy he supposedly commands.

Episode 55: Meet Byb Bibene, the African jack of all trades

Byb Bibene in action. Photo: Robbie Sweeny.

Byb Bibene has toured the world as a professional dance educator, choreographer, and cultural organizer. He is also a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and has taught at many other colleges, high schools, and arts institutions across the United States. Bibene is also an independent financial professional and strategist helping families, individuals, and students in the African and African-American communities close the wealth gap and plan for their future.

Born in the Republic of the Congo, Bibene completed his Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a Master’s degree in Finance at the Marien Ngouabi University before moving to France, and eventually to the United States. To contact him, follow this link to his LinkedIn profile.

Episode 54: Will Africa learn any lessons from Magufuli’s death?

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses nation on developments in South Africa’s strategy to control he spread of COVID-19. Photo: GovernmentZA is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Whenever anyone in the west tries to express concern over the state of affairs in our continent, our leaders often begin chanting the “African solution for African problems” mantra. Now that President John Magufuli of Tanzania tried the African solution of prayers and failed miserably by dying of suspected of Covid-19, will our leaders start looking for real practical solutions?

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Episode 53: How creating music has helped Ivorian songbird Fely Tchaco deal with trauma

Fely Tchaco and band at the Freight and Salvege in Berkeley California

Fely Tchaco performing at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, California. Photo: Courtesy of Felymusic.com.

Ivorian-American singer, songwriter performer and visual artist, Fely Tchaco, shares a remarkable story of resilience and how making music helped her deal with trauma from a violent childhood, and from the abusive relationships she got into as an adult.

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

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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.