Episode 43: African News Analysis with Kwesi Wilson

Kwesi Wilson, the Ghanaian-born social commentator and professor of communication, joins us for analysis of some of the recent news from Africa.

Kwesi Wilson. Photo by Edwin Okong’o

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 41: Meron Semedar spent years running for his life, now he’s running for election to the city council in Oakland, Calif.

Mr. Meron Semedar, a refugee from Eritrea, is seeking to become the first African-born person to be elected to the city council in Oakland, California. Semedar, who wants to represent District 3, has spent nearly two decades in community organizing, and advocating for immigrant, refugee, and human rights.

Now a proud U.S. citizen, he believes that he has something unique to offer Oakland. He’s also urging African immigrants across America to get more involved in the local politics of the community they now call home.

Meron Semedar protesting Muslim ban/refugee ban at the San Francisco International Airport. PHOTO CREDIT: Meron Semedar for Oakland City Council, District 3

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.

Episode 37: Immigration runs in the blood of this Ivorian lawyer

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.

Episode 36: How one of the fiercest critics of the Ethiopian government became its staunchest supporter

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. Alemayehu G. Mariam (in red shirt) accompanies Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (front, left) on a tour of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) construction site. Photo courtesy of @AlMariam1 on Twitter.

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.

Episode 34: Nigerian filmmaker Chike Nwoffiah on why Africans should own their narrative

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.”

Flags of African countries line the stage in 2019 during the celebration of Silicon Valley African Film Festival’s 10th anniversary. Photo courtesy of SVAFF.