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Monthly Archives: February 2013

The need for ownership of African problems and solutions

This is a guest post by Zainab Usman, a DPhil candidate in International Development at Oxford University. Her research focus is on the political economy of economic diversification in Sub-Saharan Africa. The post was originally posted on her successful blog Zainab’s musings which has over 5000 followers. 

“Africa’s story has been written by others; we need to own our problems and solutions and write our story.”  Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda

With these words, Paul Kagame did two things simultaneously: he earned a spot in the top-10 memorable quotes from the recently concluded World Economic Forum (WEF) Summit 2013 at Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. More importantly, his remark implied that Sub-Saharan Africa today is underscored by a profound failure of African ownership of lingering problems and potential solutions – a failure of an African conceptualisation of these problems and their solutions and consequently a failure of taking responsibility for successes and failures.

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Exhibition banner Congo Connect

Photo Credit: Congo Connect

Congo Connect‘s I dream of Congo exhibition is shown in London till the end of February. A panel discussion on Valentine’s day held amidst the images centered around the ongoing violence with a focus on the mass rape of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The discussion aimed to show hope by bringing the voices of Congolese women to the London audience. Further to that the event raised the questions for me whether these issues can be presented in a balanced manner or whether NGOs and activists need to simplify in order to get their message across.

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The Sunday Times describes it as the worlds fastest interview. 15 questions and answers with a maximum of 140 characters. I have taken up the challenge to interview Ben Ringo, previously investment banker in New York and now entrepreneur in Tanzania. Ben  is known amongst his friends for detailed, diplomatic and long winded conversations.

BUT here it is: Ben in 140 characters about dinner with Michelle Obama, superpowers and his new life.

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