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Game Changer

Women’s Rights Activist Is Ethiopia’s First Female Supreme Court Chief

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 In Ethiopia’s latest move to empower women, the country’s Parliament on Thursday installed as Supreme Court president a women’s rights activist whose achievements were championed in a movie promoted by Hollywood star Angelina Jolie.

Meaza Ashenafi was a judge on Ethiopia’s High Court from 1989 to 1992 and then an adviser to a commission writing up its new constitution. She also founded the Ethio­pian Women Lawyers Association and helped start the first women’s bank in the country, Enat Bank.

Her most famous case, however, was turned into the 2014 Ethio­pian film “Difret,” which was promoted by Jolie as executive producer and went on to win the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

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Celebrities

10 Things Nipsey Hussle Did To Help Transform His Community

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Nipsey Hussle

Eritrean-American, Ermias Asghedom aka Nipsey Hussle was shot multiple times on the 31st of March in front of a strip mall he was developing. However, the motive is still unknown. The sudden demise of the 33-year old rapper and father of two threw LA community and his fans around the globe into mourning. But, his death also turned the focus on his community transformation works. Hussle was an entrepreneur and an activist but many did not realize up until his death. Fans are now calling for a continuation of his legacy. Below are ten ways Hussle was positively transforming his community.

#1 – Gun violence

Gun violence is a great problem in Los Angeles. However, Hussle was already working with the LA police department to find a solution to this menace. In fact, Steve Soboroff, the LA Police Commissioner revealed Hussle had scheduled a meeting with the LAPD to discuss gun violence on 1st of April. Sadly, he didn’t live to see that day.

In an interview in 2018, Nipsey Hussle described his experience living within a neighborhood terrorized by gun violence.

“It was like living in a war zone, where people die on these blocks and everybody is a little bit immune to it. I guess they call it post-traumatic stress, when you have people that have been at war for such a long time. I think L.A. suffers from that because it’s not normal yet we embrace it like it is after a while.”

#2 – Encouraging young students to learn

Hussle gave South LA’s 59th Elementary School money to get a new pair of shoes for every student. Hussle understood that education is the greatest gift that you can give any child. However, not every child understands the importance of education because of their limited experience and logic reasoning. Notwithstanding, incentives like a pair of shoes is what will keep some children longing for school.

#3 – Education Infrastructure

Nipsey Hussle partnered with Puma to renovate playgrounds and basketball courts in 59th Street Elementary School. In a 2018 interview with The Los Angeles Times Hussle explained his motivation for investing in educational infrastructure. He said,

“I remember being young and really having the best intentions and not being met on my efforts. You’re, like, ‘I’m going to really lock into my goals and my passion and my talents’ but you see no industry support. You see no structures or infrastructure built and you get a little frustrated.”

#4 – Music

The lyrics of Nipsey Hussle’s songs were mostly laden with his gang experiences. He didn’t gloat over these experiences. Rather, he paints a gory picture of how life was paper thin as a way of discouraging others from strolling that path. His lyrics were relatable among street hustlers and this made him a local hero. The lyrics to one of his songs in his album ‘Victory Lap’ was, “Damn right, I like the life I built / I’m from west side, 60 … I might got killed / Standin’ so tall, they think I might got stilts/ Legendary baller, like Mike, like Wilt.”

#5 – The Marathon Clothing


The Marathon Clothing is one of Nipsey Hussle’s investment in his neighborhood. It has now become a symbol of empowerment and commitment to a neighborhood famous for its violent penchants. It was in the same shop he sold 1,000 mixtapes at $100 each. People thought he was crazy until Jay-Z bought $10,000 worth of copies. This really helped him to launch his career. It was also in front of this store that his life was senselessly ended from gunshot wounds.

The flagship store had an overwhelming influx of orders after Hussle died. They closed their doors this week. However, their e-commerce site remains functional. They put out the following message on Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

Thank you 🏁

A post shared by The Marathon Clothing (@themarathonclothing) on

#6 – Jobs

Nipsey Hussle’s investments and entrepreneurship drive in his community also gave him the opportunity to become an employer. Within hours after his death, an elderly man was in a video praising the rapper for giving him a job. This might appear to be a lone case. However, several others are also direct beneficiaries of Hussle’s persistence to build wealth.

#7 – Vector90

Vector90 is a 4,700 square foot shared working space with a kitchen, hot desk, private conference rooms, and several other amenities. Nipsey Hussle was part of the building of Vector90 in Crenshaw District. The shared working space connects young talents in impoverished communities with Silicon Valley opportunities. With as little as $20 you get a day pass that gives you access to all the amenities except the conference room. However, students and locals get huge discounts to use the space. Vector90 gives a diverse group of people the opportunity to meet, network, and collaborate.

#8 – Real Estate

Nipsey Hussle invested millions of dollars on a strip mall property on Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue in a bid to bring jobs and black-owned businesses to South LA. Hussle and his business partner, Dave Gross were working on an initiative, ‘Our Opportunity’. Hussle told Forbes in February 2019 he wants to work with black community leaders across all the U.S. cities to create real estate hub and small businesses to benefit the black community.

#9 – Destination Crenshaw

Destination Crenshaw

Destination Crenshaw Initiative

Hussle was working hard to revamp the image of his neighborhood. Consequently, he was part of the Destination Crenshaw, an initiative with a 1.3-mile open-air museum for the exhibition of rotating and permanent art design reveling black culture and history. Furthermore, the project on Crenshaw Boulevard was to promote cultural experiences.

#10 – “Dropping the Rope”

Nipsey Hussle was not only a rapper, or an Entrepreneur. He was a man determined to improve the situation of the community that he grew up in.

In what is perhaps his first on-camera interview, at the Russell Simmons’ Get Your Money Right summit in 2006, hip-hop journalist Davey D asked Hussle

“How come you not blingin’ and having all kind of crazy diamonds and all that?” To which Hussle replied, “I’d rather invest in some real estate”.
“So you trying to get land?” Davey D asked. “Exactly, homie, a real asset to take care of my people,” Hussle said matter-of-factly.

He had stayed focused in his short life, on a simple mission which he shared with Foxla in an interview that was published November 2018.

“We playing the long game. We don’t want the money to stop when we go. When we can’t work no more. We want it to outlive us, we want it to be generational,” Hussle said to FOX 11 reporter Leah Uk.

“I call it ‘dropping the rope’. You’ve got to drop a rope. Everybody got to climb up, but you gotta drop the rope.”

'I call it ‘dropping the rope’. You’ve got to drop a rope. Everybody got to climb up, but you gotta drop the rope.' - Nipsey Hussle Click To Tweet

His legacy was founded on this idea of pulling the community up by the bootstraps. He was determined to transform his community for the better and he put his money where his heart was.

EDITOR’S NOTE

When I first heard of Nipsey Hussle’s passing, I had no idea who he was. Then the news persisted and I started learning about the guy and I could not help but admire a man who was determined to ‘drop the rope’ and pull up his community. It is my hope that we are all inspired to drop the rope so others can climb whenever and wherever the opportunity arises. May his legacy live on in all of us who have been inspired by a young man gone too soon.

— Belle Niba, Editorial Director

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Game Changer

Nigerian Makes History At NASA

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Wendy Okolo

Every now and then a genius emerges from Africa and stuns the world. This time it is Wendy Okolo making history as the first black woman to bag a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at NASA. However, this is not the first time Wendy Okolo is making history.

At the age of 26 back in 2015, Wendy Okolo became the first black woman to bag a doctorate degree in aerospace engineering. She obtained both her BSc and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Arlington. During her undergraduate days, she was a member of the African Student Society at the University of Texas at Arlington. While in the university, Wendy Okolo also served as the president of the society of women engineers.

Wendy Okolo’s Family And Career

Nigerian Wendy Okolo

Wendy Okolo is one of the six children of a family whose origin goes back to southeastern Nigeria. She regards her sisters Phyllis and Jennifer as her heroes. According to Wendy, they used their day-to-day experiences to teach her biology and other sciences.

Her first stint with NASA’s Orion spacecraft was during her undergraduate days as an intern with Lockheed Martin. As a graduate student from 2010 to 2012, she worked as a summer researcher at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). At this time she was part of the Control Design and Analysis Branch. During this period Wendy Okolo said she had to fight imposter’s syndrome. She felt she was not good enough to work with such an elite team.

I was like I am sure these guys are so smart, what am I going to bring in.

Her first impact on the team was fixing a system error code. According to her, “that fixed the imposter syndrome for a while”. Today, Wendy Okolo works at Ames Research Center as an aerospace engineer. This is one of the major research center belonging to NASA in California’s Silicon Valley.

Black Engineer Of The Year Award 2019

In February 2019, Wendy Okolo won the “Most Promising Engineer” at the BEYA Global Competitiveness Conference Award. The award from the U.S. government is a recognition for her contributions in aerospace engineering. Today, Wendy Okolo uses her position to inspire young girls to pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). She shared the award on her Twitter handle with the caption, “#beya #beya2019 @BlackEngineer thank you for the honor!”

Currently, in NASA’s Ames Research Center Okolo works in the Intelligence Systems Division as a special emphasis programs manager. Okolo’s other major achievements include predicting GPS faults in drones. Wendy Okolo, through STMD-ECI project, is also working on improving spacecraft’s maneuverability during entry, descent, and landing. The STMD-ECI project is worth $2.5 million dollars.

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Game Changer

Top 10 Current African Heads of State

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Africa battles hunger, poverty, lack of basic infrastructure, corruption, and a host of other challenges. Of all these problems, corruption seems to be the most endemic that is sapping the life out of the continent. Many believe corruption and lack of sincerity of the leaders is the bane of Africa. However, there are few African leaders that are redefining leadership in Africa. These leaders are taking steps towards transforming the condition of their people for the better.

From economic policies to fighting corruption to infrastructural development, these leaders are matching words with action. The top 10 current African Heads of State are ranked based on Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI), safety and rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity, and human development. Since corruption is considered the bane of Africa, ranking emphasis will be on Transparency International CPI.

Paul Kagame (Rwanda)

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda

President Paul Kagame gets the number one spot on our list of Top 10 Current African Heads of State. Rwanda does not have the lowest corruption rating in Africa, however, in just under two decades of Kagame’s leadership, a country that was divided and poor is now growing at a rate comparable to emerging economies like China.

Before assuming office as the president, Paul Kagame was the commander of the rebel forces that ended the 1994 genocide. 6 years later, Kagame was sworn in as President to a country that was as divided as ever with mounting challenges. In addition to poverty, revenge killings were going on unchecked and corruption was rampant. Rwanda had lost its way and needed direction. Kagame prioritized two main objectives – one was to unify his country and the second was to pull his country out of poverty. He invested time in understanding how other emerging economies such as China, Thailand, and Singapore had transformed their economies. Based on what he learned, he put together a government development plan for Rwanda called Vision 2020 with a goal to transform Rwanda into a robust middle-class economy by 2020. The Vision 2020 serves as a roadmap with 44 clear measurable objectives tracked by the government and private consultancy firms.

Rwanda now has a CPI score of 56% which places the country 48/180 as compared to other countries in the world. Similarly, IMF/ADB estimates that her economy will grow by 7.8% by 2019/2020. Safety and rule of law, as well as human development, has increased tremendously since the genocide to 64.2% and 69.9% respectively in 2017. Additionally, Rwanda has an IIAG good governance score of 64.3% which places them at 8th on the continent. President Paul Kagame gets the number one spot on our list of Top 10 Current African Heads of State for his efforts in transforming Rwanda’s trajectory in less than two decades – restoring peace and fostering economic and infrastructural growth.

Danny Faure (Seychelles)

Seychelles has the best CPI score in Africa (66%) which makes them the least corrupt country in Africa. This score ranks Seychelles 28 out of 180 countries in the world. Seychelles President Faure came into power on October 16, 2016. Before then he served as the country’s vice president between 2010 and 2016. Seychelles has an overall governance score of 73.2. This ranks the country 2nd in Africa. Safety and rule of law and human development stands at 74.8% and 83.8% respectively. There is also high participation and respect of human rights in Seychelles (70.5%). Investors and job seekers will also meet a high sustainable economic opportunity (63.5%).

Mokgweetsi Masisi (Botswana)

President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana

Botswana defies all the negative indices peculiar to many African countries. The BBC described Botswana as the most stable country in Africa. Before becoming the nation’s 5th president on April 1, 2018, President Mokgweetsi served as the education minister. Botswana has the second least corrupt public sector in Africa with a score of 61% on CPI. Compared to other countries in the world, Botswana ranks 34/180. This is not only the second best in Africa but also trumps prominent Asian and South American countries. In terms of security and rule of law and human development, Botswana scores 79.6% and 72.5% respectively. This is also one of the highest scores on the continent. Respect for human rights is also high (63.3%). According to the IIAG, Botswana has an overall governance score of 68.5%. Botswana’s economy has remained fairly stable. The nation has also moved away from the mono-diamond economy to explore other sectors including tourism.

Hage Geingob (Namibia)

President Hage Geingob of Namibia

There are only three African countries that score above 50 on CPI and Namibia is the third. Namibia has a score of 53% which ranks it 52/180 on global transparency index. It also ranks 4th out of 54 on IIAG’s governance index.

Prior to becoming the president on March 21, 2015, President Hage Gottfried Geingob served as the country’s first Prime Minister from 1990 to 2002. Geingob has virtually been on the corridors of power since 1990 and his experience is evident in Namibia’s high safety and rule of law and human development rating of 77.1% and 63%b respectively. Namibia is also one of the top-ranked African countries in terms of human rights (74.9%).

Macky Sall (Senegal)

President Macky Sall of Senegal

Senegal has a CPI score of 45/100 and ranks 67/180. Macky Sall has displayed a transformational leadership since coming into office in April 2012. Based on IMF projection, Senegal shows all the signs that it will become the sixth fastest growing economy in Africa before Q4, 2019, pegging its economic growth rate at 6.7%. President Sall has also raised Senegal’s safety and rule of law to 67.1% while human rights and human development are pegged at 67.8% and 59.5% respectively. Senegal now has an overall governance score of 63.3% and ranks 10th in Africa based on IIAG.

Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa)

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa

Since the end of apartheid on April 27th, 1994, South Africa has become a model for other Africa countries in many spheres. On February 2018, Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn into office after his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, was indicted for corruption. However, South Africa has a CPI score of 43% which ranks the nation 73/180. Upon assuming office, Ramaphosa pledged to prioritize land reforms and economy. South Africa’s economy remains the second largest after Nigeria’s economy. The country also has an impressive safety and rule of law score if 66.7% which is close behind Senegal. South Africa has the second highest human rights score after Namibia (74.4%). The country’s sustainable economic opportunity and human development are 65.1 and 65.6 respectively. It is ranked 7th in Africa for good governance by IIAG.

Beji Caid Essebsi (Tunisia)

President Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia

President Essebsi is a product of Tunisia’s December 21, 2014 revolution. Since his swearing into power on 31st December 2014, President Essebsi has taken bold steps to restore the people’s lost government confidence. In terms of public sector transparency, Tunisia scores 43% occupying position 73/180 in the world. Tunisia is generally safe (62.0%). The country also has a high human rights participation score of 67.3% and human development of 65.4%. In overall governance, Tunisia occupies the 9th position in Africa with a score of 63.5% by IIAG. With a more stable society, Tunisia’s tourism sector has grown tremendously. However, a recent increase in taxes has brought protests back to the streets.

Saadeddine Othmani (Morocco)

President Saadeddine Othmani of Morocco

Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani was appointed a prime minister in April 2017. In collaboration with King Mohammed VI and parliament, Morocco has become a reference point for a classic example of good leadership—particularly in Northern Africa. Like South Africa and Tunisia, Morocco has a CPI score of 43% and shares the same position with the other two countries. However, Morocco ranks lower in safety and rule of law and human development (61.9% and 61.6% respectively) compared to the other two countries. But Morocco has better sustainable economic opportunities than the other two (68.3%). According to reports, Morocco retains a place as one of the biggest economies on the continent with FDI hitting 36.75% in November 2018. Sadly, Morocco still has one of the worst human rights participation in Africa (41.8%). In spite of that, it claimed IIAG’s 15th spot out of 54 countries in Africa for good governance.

Nana Akufo-Addo (Ghana)

President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana

The only reason Nana Akufo-Addo is not among the top three on the list of top 10 current African Heads of State is that Ghana is still struggling with a corrupt public system. Ghana scores 41% on CPI and ranks 78/180. After coming into power in January 2017, President Akufo-Addo left no one in doubt that he is taking leadership in Ghana to the next frontier. Today, key good governance statistics tilt in his favor. Take, for instance, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in conjunction with the African Development Bank (ADB) is projecting a growth rate of 7.6% in 2019/2020. In terms of overall governance, Ghana is 6th in Africa with an overall score of 68.1% by IIAG. Ghana scores high in safety and rule of law (70.7%), human rights participation (73.0%) and human development (69.9%).

Roch Marc Christian Kabore (Burkina Faso)

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso

Like many of the Top 10 African Heads of State, President Kabore was courting absolute power before becoming president. Kabore served as the country’s Prime Minister between 1994 and 1996. The banker also served as the president of the country’s National Assembly between 2002 and 2012. Since becoming the president in 2015, Kabore has made sweeping changes. Burkina Faso now has a CPI score of 41% and occupies position 78 out of 180 countries. Burkina Faso enjoys good safety and rule of law (59.1%) as well as human development (54.8%). However, Burkinabe has to face the reality of below average sustainable economic opportunity (49.6%). As far as IIAG governance ranking goes, the country ranked 16th out of 54.

Final Thoughts

Like every other continent in the world, Africa has myriads of challenges. However, these courageous African leaders are taking bold steps to address them. Obviously, the list of top 10 current African Heads of State can change drastically if the focus key indicator changes. However, which other African leader do you think deserves to be on the list? Let us know your reasons in the comment box below.

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