While the biblical Tower of Babel project ended up an abandoned project, what is yet to be abandoned is man’s thirst to touch the skies. Man has stubbornly refused to be “grounded” by nature and has over the years reached for the heights, probing into the deepest privacy of the skies.
We have seen amazing architectural defiance in projects like the Burj Khalifa from which you could take a peep at what the angels are doing in heaven. Africa is not scared of heights either and is reaching to build its tallest structure too.
The New Dubai?
It is then no surprise that constructions has kicked off for a project slated to be the tallest building ever to don the African continent. From the plans on paper, the two elegant towers will grace the Kenyan skies springing forth from the Upper Hill. The taller building has been christened “The Pinnacle”. It would stand at an elegant height of 300m which makes it a distant cousin of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai with the latter standing enviably at a mouthwatering height of 828 meters.
Of the two buildings being constructed, one would accommodate a superclass hotel sprawling audaciously across 150 rooms. Things will get cozier as the possibility of a helipad is being touted to be constructed out of the roof. With this in place, top functionaries can boycott traffic encumbrances of the draining Nairobi traffic, softening their transit to the airport.
Kenya is not minimizing its architectural strides and Nairobi (its capital) is ambitiously buckling up its shoes to become the new Dubai. This is no longer a farfetched dream, with two gigantic Dubai-based investors, Hass Petroleum and White Lotus, now looking forward to make this a solid reality soonest.
Across the last ten years, investors have been reaping sizable returns from real estate investing. “Ten years ago, anything, honestly anything, would sell out,” says Sakina Hassanali of Hass Consult, a property agency not really connected to Hass Petroleum. House prices have subsequently taken a head from the vibrant development flourishing the Kenyan Real Estate sector even, going up.
Such gigantic towers illuminate the contemporary global urbanity of modern African cities today. When Questioned about their target residents for the new structure, Abdinasir Hassan, who occupies the position of the chairman of Hass Petroleum, explained that the building targets “the large number of expatriates” who ply their trade for an affluent private sector in Nairobi. Hassan is not curtailing his dreams as he anticipates that Nairobi would soon grow into a critical economic nerve of the continent as a whole.
Kenya’s Mega Projects
Kenya is already an infrastructure powerhouse of East Africa — but the next few years may see a quantum leap forward, with tens of billions of dollars to be spent on some of the world’s most spectacular transport, energy and technology projects.
Through a program entitled Kenya Vision 2030, the government hopes to transform Kenya into a newly industrializing, middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens by 2030 in a clean and secure environment. The Vision comprises of three key pillars: Economic; Social; and Political. The Economic Pillar aims to achieve an average economic growth rate of 10 per cent per annum and sustaining the same until 2030.
These are very welcome moves from Kenya. Having a Dubai in Africa is not born from alcoholic inspiration, it is very possible! Africa can truly reach for the skies not only literally but architecturally as well!
Scientists In Tanzania Discovers ‘Invisible’ Malaria Species
Malaria is one of the greatest threat to health in the tropics. Governments and organizations around the globe are making efforts to curb the spread of malaria. However, it appears there are hidden facts about the parasite. A group of researchers in Tanzania have discovered malaria species that can live for decades in the body without manifesting any clinical signs. However, it still contributes to the transmission of malaria.
According to the study recently published in Malaria Journal, two healthy men still tested positive to Plasmodium malariae. Consequently, it made the scientific community ponder on the possibility that this malaria species can live in the body for a long period of time. The men who hail from Bagamoyo were 20 and 22 years.
The men were part of the research testing the efficacy of a vaccine. To rule out any possibility of disease, the men underwent a battery test. Speaking about the ‘invisible’ malaria species, Dr. Tobias Schindler, the lead investigator from Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute’s Department of Medical Parasitology and Infection Biology in Switzerland said,
“It is not sure if asymptomatic cases of Plasmodium malariae infections ever will develop symptoms…there are cases where people lived for decades with this parasite without any reports of malaria-like symptoms.”
Malaria species in Tanzania
There are five malaria species that affect humans and you will find all of them in Tanzania. However, Plasmodium falciparum is the most common and deadliest in Africa. Majority of malaria deaths in Africa are due to Plasmodium falciparum. The second most common malaria species in Tanzania is Plasmodium vivax. It is believed that this malaria species was imported into the country during the First World War by Indian immigrants. The other three species are Plasmodium knowlesi, Plasmodium ovales and falciparum malariae.
The scientists found Plasmodium malariae was able to live alongside other species of malaria. According to the study, it has been observed in an average of 15 percent of all malaria infection cases. Distinguishing the different species will be difficult with just a microscope. Rather, Schindler said,
“It is important to use new and better technologies such as Polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR is an attractive addition to microscopy for confirmatory identification of Plasmodium spp. in clinical specimens, which are better at detecting disease, even when there are very few parasites in blood.”
Challenges to the fight of malaria
Tanzania has made great strides in combating malaria. For example, the incidence of malaria dropped from 18 million to 5.5 million annually between 2008 and 2017. Consequently, this has led to the prevention of 60,000 child deaths annually.
However, there are still lots of challenges that impede the fight against malaria. First, public health centers lack the facility to diagnose and differentiate the malaria species. Majority of the current techniques cannot detect malaria when they are in very low levels in the blood. Secondly, highlands are cooler and uninhabitable for malaria species. However, with global warming, these areas can become breeding grounds for the vectors. Dr. Fredros Okumu, the director for health at Ifakara Health Institute explains,
“Increasing temperatures, however, could transform many of these areas into stable malaria zones.”
Nigerian Teenager Sets New Academic Record
A Nigerian-born teenager is making waves with her academic achievement. Tobechukwu Phillips, a high school student of Alvin High School smashed a 125-year old academic history of the school. Phillips graduated with a 6.9 GPA after earning A’s throughout her stay.
Miss Phillips’ accomplishment breathes fresh air to the image of Nigeria, a country tainted by corruption. Consequently, she was the first Black valedictorian in the history of the school. Talking about her achievement Philips said,
“Maintaining the highest GPA in my class is a difficult task. It truly takes time management but more importantly acknowledging what you do it for. I know that I am no longer just representing myself.”
A brief history of Alvin High School
Alvin High School opened in 1894. However, it was not until 1965 before African-American students could enroll. Alvin High School was the only high school in Alvin Independent School District (ISD) until 2006 when Manvel High School was established. Besides academics, students of Alvin High School also participate in different sports including basketball, baseball, and football.
Alvin High School serves Liverpool and Alvin as well as unincorporated parts of Brazoria County. According to an online source, the school currently has approximately 2,800 out of which 86 are black students. Tobechukwu Phillips for a long time will be the face of Alvin High School.
What next for Tobechukwu Phillips?
There are other interesting aspects of Tobechukwu Philips worth talking about. She is a Rho Kappa Honor Society, a Sunday school teacher, an AP ambassador, and the president of the National Honor Society. Phillips also has tremendous achievements in volleyball and track events. Jennifer McGraw, Phillips’ track coach describes her as “an excellent student from a loving family”.
Tobechukwu Phillips will attend University of Texas’ Nursing School on full scholarship by Full-Ride Forty Acre Scholarship. There were about 4,000 applicants for the scholarship. However, only 16, including Phillips were selected. She hopes to one day own her own clinic as a pediatric practitioner. In a word of advice to other colored students, Tobechukwu Phillips said,
“My biggest advice to other scholars of color is to truly adopt the mindset of Rosa Parks — ‘No.’ Do not conform to the stereotypes that have held us under thumbs for so long. Do not be discouraged when someone speaks out against you, simply allow what they say to fuel your fire. But more than anything, do not remain tight-lipped. Stand up for what you believe in and take it upon yourself to be the change you’ve always wanted. Say ‘No’ to the ways of the world and stick out.”
The Njangi: An African Financial Support System
In tough financial times when banks are failing and the systems we trusted before are no longer reliable; in times when money is scarce and financial responsibility enormous, I reflect on an age-old African system of money management that is used to this day. A community-based system that has supported families through tough times, stretched meager incomes allowing parents to educate their children; giving others great opportunities to develop their lives without the total dependence on any banks or major regulatory system.
The Malians, Algerians, Moroccans and several other French-speaking African countries call it “pari”. Liberians and Ghanaians call it “sousou”. In Nigeria it is known by many names but “ajoh” and “family lottery” seem to be widely used. In Cameroon “tontine” and “njangi” carry the same meaning.
The variety of names conveys the diversity of the beautiful African continent, however, the underlying principles that have been handed down many generations to guide this process are not new.
How it works
In Cameroon as in other parts of Africa, the Njangi helps individuals save money. When done as a group it gives access to large amounts of cash loans with little or no hassle. With major institutions having stringent guidelines for borrowers, especially those who may have recently migrated into the United States, njangi, sousou, pari and tontine have stepped in to provide some much-needed financial relief.
Whether it is a group of friends, an alumni association or just a handful of family members, some Africans have historically pooled their resources together to help each other achieve financial dreams. The detailed requirements may differ across countries, ethnic or cultural groups but overall, the process is built on a high level of trust. Njangis also provide an avenue to meet friends or family members, socially.
Take the example of a group of 10 friends who have formed a social group and njangi with a monthly meeting. Every month they each decide to bring in $500. Members could increase their stakes. Two members decide to bring in $1000 each instead of $500. That means there are 12 ‘hands’ of $500 each. The group, therefore, has $6000 at each sitting. In some groups, members may cast ballots to decide the order in which they take home the funds.
In other cultures, the hosting member takes home the funds and hosting rotates to a different member’s home each month. On the day of the meeting, everyone brings in their contributions and the first member takes home a cash packet of $6000. This process will rotate each month for a year to consume the 12 ‘hands’ of the Njangi. Each time a member takes home money, the member is said to have ‘chopped the njangi’. The two members whose contributions are doubled will have two opportunities to take home money. They could negotiate with other members on the collection times. In some larger groups members “chop” or borrow funds on a bi-weekly or even a weekly basis. The Njangi term is consummated when all hands have been chopped and the group can start over.
How it is used
Some groups use Njangis as a support system or investment club. They require members to leave behind a token whenever they collect funds. For instance, instead of taking home $6000 as in our example, each member leaves behind $50 which will be saved in a group account and could be used to invest in a mutual fund, visit a sick or bereaved member or some other purpose.
In some variations of this process, all funds pooled together can be borrowed. Some situations warrant the borrower to present some form of collateral such as a car or a house especially when the stakes are higher. In other cases, one or two members will have to surety a potential borrower. Trust is the dominant factor in groups practicing the Njangi.
Njangi funds have helped Africans achieve the dream of owning a home. They have also been used to pay tuition bills, buy a car or relief an immediate financial crisis. It has helped many Africans save as it creates a level of discipline since the funds are actually a loan and must be repaid.
Some Njangi groups are actually set up for investment purposes. Every time the group meets, they put money down and when a project comes up, they all go into the project as a group. Njangis have helped some African Entrepreneurs thrive and has been the stepping stone to low or no interest borrowing that has propelled many African businessmen and women into much higher gains.
Njangis could be compared to a secure line of credit. It could also be likened to an investment club. There are many Africans in the Diaspora who will laud this process for their financial success today. Njangis have the added benefit of developing deep and lasting relationships while achieving financial growth and independence.
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