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Tag: Africans in America

UC Berkeley needs to support African language programs

By Martha Saavedra and Leonardo Arriola

Every semester, UC Berkeley offers many new courses. The Amharic language course offered this spring is especially noteworthy. Except for a brief pilot program in 2006, this is the first semester students are able to take a course in Amharic, one of the languages of Ethiopia, which is spoken by nearly 26 million people worldwide. The course, which only opened for enrollment the week before the spring semester, was nearly full by the end of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, just before classes started.

Clearly, there was a pent-up demand for this language. Student motivations include plans for research, study, travel and work, as well as deepening cultural and familial connections. Amharic stands out as a new course at UC Berkeley with many motivated students.

Students studying African languages at UC Berkeley — currently, Arabic, Amharic, Chichewa and Swahili — are poised to participate in one of the most significant global developments unfolding in the 21st century: the increasing importance of Africa demographically, economically, socially and culturally.

Africa currently constitutes about 17 percent of the world’s population. It is the youngest continent in the world, and the youth population is only increasing. Significantly, this means that the world’s working age population will be largely African. Economically, overall growth rates on the continent are relatively high, with the International Monetary Fund reporting 3.76 percent real GDP growth. Ethiopia’s rate is an extraordinary 8.49 percent.

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Nigeria’s first supermodel, Yemi Fawaz, dies at 64 in New York

Nigeria’s first supermodel, Yemi Fawaz is dead at the age of 64.

Fawaz who pioneered professional modelling in Nigeria and became Nigeria’s first supermodel died, February 20th at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital.

Fawaz’s daughter, Magadelene Oluwatosin, broke the news on Facebook.

Ms Fawaz became a model in the late 70s. She also established a modeling school and did a lot for the fashion industry in Nigeria. She left Nigeria in 1997 and did not return until 2016.

Fawaz was born in Nigeria to a Lebanese father and a Nigerian mother.

For over 30 years, she had a successful career as a fashion and photographic model, beauty promoter/consultant, fashion designer, trade show organizer, chef and a restaurateur.

She opened the first modeling school and professional modeling agency in Nigeria and in West Africa.

She was diagnosed with enlarged heart, also known as congestive heart failure in 1999.

Fawaz is survived by her 33-year-old daughter.

Ghana-born power executive views heritage from both sides of the Atlantic

By Anna B. Mitchell

With an easygoing smile, Duke Energy executive Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe navigates effortlessly between the worlds of his parents and his children.

Ghartey-Tagoe, whose first name is pronounced “kojo,” grew up in Ghana on the west coast of Africa, the son of a renowned national television journalist.

His home nation won independence from the British on March 6, 1957, just six years before his own birth. For his three daughters, Independence Day is the Fourth of July.

One of his few regrets: Having traveled only once as a family with his wife, Phyllis, and all his girls to visit their parents and extended family in Africa. He met Phyllis in Washington D.C., but they are from the same part of Ghana.

“People who don’t know each other tend to fear each other,” he says. “And once you get to know them, you tend to find out there is nothing to fear and they are very much like you. They have families like you, they love their kids like you do.”

The 55-year-old power executive has risen quickly in corporate America since graduating from Duke University law school in 1988. He practiced privately in Washington, D.C., and Virginia for 14 years, mastering federal and state utility law and representing water companies, power companies, gas companies and phone companies before joining Duke Energy in 2002.

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Before basketball in Woodbury, Oturus were playing ping pong in Nigeria

Word is starting to spread across the Big Ten basketball scene this winter about Daniel Oturu. He’s making people notice, on and off the court.

The Gophers basketball team’s 6-foot-10 freshman center from Woodbury, Minn., and Cretin-Derham Hall made the short trip to the U as one of the nation’s top recruits in the 2018 class. And through 25 games, he has established himself as one of the most promising young players in the conference.

Oturu’s size, including a 7-foot-3 wingspan, comes from his 6-foot-1 mother Deborah, and his athleticism comes from his 5-foot-6 father Francis, who was a member of Nigeria’s top table tennis team in the 1980s.

He was born Akinfayose Daniel Oturu in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1999 to Nigerian immigrants who arrived in the U.S. in 1990.Daniel has shown a precocious poise around the basket in his first collegiate season, leading Big Ten freshmen in field goal percentage (56.5), as well as rebounds (7.3) and blocks (1.6) per game. But with a pingpong paddle in hand, he can’t hang with his 61-year-old dad.

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Meet Gilbert Mulamba: The Congolese musician who records with US luminaries

By Lins Honeyman

Last October saw the release of the long-awaited second album from Congo-born, Dallas-based pianist, arranger and producer Gilbert Mulamba.

The release’s inlay card describes the project as “a mosaic of cultures, sounds and grooves for the ultimate worship experience” and, with recording having taken place in the US, Congo, France, South Africa, Mexico, Haiti, Israel, China and as many more countries, it’s a truly international affair.

Impressively, Gilbert secured cameos from big name artists such as Joel Kibble of Take 6 fame and Grammy-winning saxophonist Eric Marienthal whilst Dove-nominated pianist Ben Tankard and CeCe Winans’ bass player Thaddaeus Tribbett also lent their substantial talents – all of which adds to the rich tapestry of sound contained within the album’s 13 mostly instrumental tracks.

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Philadelphia’s many African students need culturally inclusive education 

By Aminata Sy

Immigrants are a force in Philadelphia, but their educational needs are neglected. As of 2016, Philadelphia’s immigrant population had increased by 69 percent since 2000, accounting for more than 232,000 residents.

by 69 percent since 2000, accounting for more than 232,000 residents.

An estimated 1 in 4 children in the city immigrated themselves or were born to immigrants, and Philadelphia’s labor force has about 1 in 5 immigrants.

Africans make up the fastest-growing segment of this immigrant population, yet belong to a marginalized group.

In the School District of Philadelphia, immigrants and native-born students of African backgrounds rarely see themselves reflected in curricula. What message does this absence of their people, their histories, their cultures send to children? “You don’t belong — Philadelphia isn’t your city, America isn’t your country.”

Students of African immigrant backgrounds endure bullying for being African, “too black,” or speaking English with an accent.

Historically in America, Africans have been viewed through a stereotypical lens of wildlife and backwardness. These perceptions persist and continue to hurt Philadelphia children.

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Nigerian-born Dr. Wendy Okolo is “The Most Promising Engineer in the US Government”

Dr. Wendy Okolo’s career has taken flight at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. agency responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

She received Black Engineer’s Most Promising Engineer in Government Award during the BEYA STEM Conference in Washington D. C. recently.

Okolo is an aerospace research engineer at the Ames Research Center, a major NASA research center in California’s Silicon Valley.

She was only 26 years old when she became the first black woman to obtain a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington. She earned both undergraduate and doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering from UT Arlington.

Her previous research has been recognized and funded by the Department of Defense through the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship; Zonta International, through the Amelia Earhart Fellowship; and the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics through the John Leland Atwood Graduate Fellowship.

Currently, Okolo is a Special Emphasis Programs Manager in the Intelligent Systems Division of NASA’s Ames Research Center.

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Meet J.S Ondara: The next big musical export from Kenya to the world

You might hear his voice and wonder why you’ve never heard of J.S Ondara but that is set to change because we are going to introduce you to the silky-voiced crooner.

Ondara is a Kenyan who moved to the United States of America six years ago after winning a Green Card lottery that allowed him to settle down there, where he picked up guitar playing from scratch.

The interesting thing about his artistic journey is that it all started with a bet gone wrong!

He had bet with a friend that the song Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door was written by the band, Guns N’ Roses, his favourite band and not by the legendary musician Bob Dylan.

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After 20 year sojourn in America, kenyan band, Jabali Afrika, returns home

Nimetembea sijamuona msichana kama Aoko…

imetembea sijamuona msichana kama Aoko…

This is one of the most famous lines in arguably Jabali Afrika’s greatest song of all time, Aoko.

Teenage Kenyan music fans — and most certainly those in their early 20s — may not resonate with songs by one of the continent’s most iconic Afro-rock jam bands, but the journey by the legendary ensemble reads like a fairytale.

Teenage Kenyan music fans — and most certainly those in their early 20s — may not resonate with songs by one of the continent’s most iconic Afro-rock jam bands, but the journey by the legendary ensemble reads like a fairytale.

After bolting out due to unresolvable differences, former members of Kenya National Theatre (KNT) Dance Troupe formed Jabali Afrika on February 12, 1993.

Justo Asikoye, Peter Mutua, Josek Asikoye, Evans Chagala, Victor Savana Elolo and Robert Owino threw in the towel to chart their own way, but one would wonder why this powerful troupe split even after making a serious musical impact in the country and beyond.

Justo Asikoye, Peter Mutua, Josek Asikoye, Evans Chagala, Victor Savana Elolo and Robert Owino threw in the towel to chart their own way, but one would wonder why this powerful troupe split even after making a serious musical impact in the country and beyond.

“We wanted independence, freedom and space to express our creativity in a more profound manner. Our decision to break away wasn’t that easy because we had already established ourselves at KNT, but we had to make a decision anyway,” says Justo Asikoye, 48, one of the most recognisable faces of Jabali Afrika.

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PhilAesthetic: AAMP celebrates the African Diaspora in Philadelphia

Three new exhibitions and over a dozen programs will take place from February through May

PhilAesthetic returns to the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) to celebrate the African Diaspora.

Funded through The PNC Foundation through the PNC Arts Alive initiative, and curated by AAMP, PhilAesthetic shines a light on the vastness, depth and impact of diasporic arts and culture here in Philadelphia, and worldwide.

This year marks the 400-year anniversary of the arrival of Africans to British colonies of 1619. These individuals brought with them a rich cultural tapestry that would shape the foundations of our country, and go on to influence creative expression around the globe.

Honoring the cultural contributions of diasporic communities past and present, this year’s PhilAesthetic celebration includes three new exhibitions at AAMP, including “AAMP on Paper: Selections from the Permanent Collection,” along with “Baye Fall: Roots in Spirituality, Fashion” and “Resistance and The Sacred Star of Isis and Other Stories,” which include photographs by MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora founders Laylah Amatullah Barrayn Adama and Delphine Fawundu. In addition to these exhibitions, PhilAesthetic includes more than a dozen programs held both at the museum and with partnering institutions around Philadelphia through May.

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Pan African Festival Connects African Diaspora Through the Arts

More than 100 artisans and 170 films from around the world are being showcased at the 27th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival in Los Angeles.

The multiday event in the largely African American neighborhood of Baldwin Hills aims to connect Africans to people of African descent from around the world.

“As a result of the slave trade and colonization, African people are spread all over the planet, so we get a chance through this festival, get a chance to know each other,” said the festival’s executive director, Ayuko Babu.

Film, fine art, fashion and jewelry with Africa as inspiration are all featured at the festival.

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West African Students host annual African week to highlight diversity

From Feb. 17-23, the Wellesley African Students’ Association (WASA) invites the Wellesley College community to take part in Africa Week.

Originally called the African Film Festival when it was established in 2004, the event as a chance for the community to focus on different African perspectives through film.

Africa Week is put on during Black History Month and focuses on having the community engage with various aspects of different African cultures. Aside from solely screening films, Africa Week allows WASA to invite different organizations on campus to showcase their talents in order to highlight the diversity of African culture.

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NBA and FIBA announce plan to launch professional basketball league in Africa

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) on Saturday announced their plan to launch the Basketball Africa League (BAL), a new professional league featuring 12 club teams from across Africa.

The BAL will be built on the foundation of current club competitions FIBA is organizing in Africa. Scheduled to begin play in January 2020, the BAL would mark the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America.

The NBA also announced its plan to introduce a re-imagined direct-to-consumer offering of NBA games for fans in Africa by the start of the 2019-20 NBA season. The offering would include new packages, features and localized content, with additional details to be announced at a later date.

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Nigerian diaspora remitted $25 billion home in 2018

By BUKOLA IDOWU

With an estimated inflow of $25 billion remitted by Nigerians abroad in 2018, chief economist at PriceWaterCoopers (PwC) Nigeria, Prof Andrew Nevin, said Nigeria’s citizens living outside the country are its biggest export.

Nigerians had remitted $22 billion in 2017 making it the highest in the Sub-Saharan Africa region followed by Senegal and Ghana with $2.2 billion each for the year. Currently, the country is in the top five nations in global remittances.

PwC’s Chief Economist, in a report titled, “Nigeria Economic Outlook: Top 10 Themes For 2019”, noted that remittances remitted to Nigeria represent 6.1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and translate to 83 per cent of the Federal Government budget in 2018.

He said Nigeria’s migrant remittance inflows was also seven times larger than the net official development assistance (foreign aid) received in 2017 of $3.359 billion, stating that, “Nigeria’s biggest export is not oil; it is actually people, because of the remittances coming in.”

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Interviews form basis of new play about the legacy of Sudan in Iowa City

On Friday, Feb. 15 from 4:30-6 p.m. in the Senate Chambers of the Old Capital Museum, the African Studies Program and the Office of Outreach and Engagement at the University of Iowa presented My Daughters Are My Writings, a new play based on oral histories of seven Iowa City residents from Sudan compiled by two UI graduate students, followed by a talk by Steve Howard, a scholar visiting from Ohio University (Athens), about Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, a Sudanese Muslim social reformer whose work initiated the Republican Brotherhood before and after Sudan’s independence from Britain.

The play is a truly interdisciplinary affair: Written by UI alum Margot Connolly, based on excerpts from Howard’s book and interviews by graduate students from the history department, it is directed by UI theater graduate student Britny Horton, who acts in the play alongside three fellow graduate students.

Taha is best known for the Second Message of Islam, which distinguishes the verses in the Koran revealed in Medina (the basis of Sharia law) from those initially revealed in Mecca. The latter, from Taha’s perspective, would provide the basis of an ideal religion based on freedom and equality — including the equality of men and women.

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Telling the story of native-born Africans living in the Americas
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