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.
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.
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.
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.”
When Evelyne Keomian was growing up in Côte d’Ivoire, she was told that there was no need for girls to go to school. She tells us how she refused to listen and went to school anyway — even when she wasn’t enrolled — and how her painful pursuit of education made her an advocate of quality education for every child.
Today, Keomian is an educator, and the founder of the Karat School Project, a direct service nonprofit organization with the mission to help break the cycle of poverty through education. Since it was founded in 2018, the organization has served over 1,000 children and women in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.