"Kenyan Actress Lupita Nyong’o has made her Hollywood debut, acting alongside award winning actor Brad Pitt in the movie 12 Years a Slave.The movie is about slavery and Lupita acts as Patesy, one of the slave girls.Born in Mexico and raised in Kenya, Lupita is the daughter of Kisumu senator Anyang’ Nyong’o.Lupita acts with some of the big names in the industry, including Pitt, who is also the producer of the movie set to be released in October. It also features Benedict Cumberbatch and actress Alfre Woodard.The first trailer made its debut online this week and the Kenyan actress is seen working on a plantation picking cotton with other slaves and at one point coming to the defense of the main character, Solomon Northup, acted by UK-based Chiwetel Ejiofor.It’s a movie adapted from the autobiography by Solomon Northup, who was a free man but was lured to a well-paying job in the US, kidnapped and sold as a slave in Washington DC in 1841.He worked on plantations in Louisiana, where he met Canadian carpenter Bass — acted by Pitt. The movie tells the story of how Solomon, his family in Canada and how he ended up being a slave.With the help of Bass, Solomon is able to send word to his wife who goes to court, leading to his freedom, 12 years after he had been sold and worked as a slave in the cruel plantation owned by Edwin Epps, acted by Michael Fassbender.The movie is directed by 44-year-old Steve McQueen, a London-based filmmaker."
"Move over Oprah, Nigerian oil tycoon Folorunsho Alakija is now the richest black woman in the world with an estimated fortune of $7.3 billion.
Africa boasts 55 billionaires - far more than previously thought - and they're worth a staggering $143.88 billion in total, according to pan-African magazine Ventures Africa.
Starting her career as a secretary in a bank in the mid 1970s, Alakija, 62, then studied fashion in London and returned to Nigeria to start a label, Supreme Stitches. But her biggest break came in oil.
In 1993, her company, Famfa Oil, was awarded an oil prospecting license, which later became OML 127, one of the country's most prolific oil blocks, by then-president Ibrahim Babangida.
The company owned a 60 per cent stake in the block until 2000 when the Nigerian government unconstitutionally acquired a 50 per cent interest without duly compensating Alakija or Famda Oil.
In May 2012, Alakija, a married mother-of-four, challenged the acquisition and the Nigerian Supreme Court reinstated the 50 per cent stake to her company.
She also has a charity called the Rose of Sharon foundation that helps widows and orphans by empowering them through scholarships and business grants.
Often they are important public figures who made a big difference to changing the world, but there are also millions of individuals making a difference who are not rich or famous. This month is for that unheralded community – “to honor the decency and courage and selflessness that surround us. Their contributions may be less powerful and influential but I wanted a list which selected people who have really made a difference to improving Africa.
Khanyisile Motsa - Read her story
Tony O. Elumelu is the Chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited, an African proprietary investment firm that focuses on creating economic and social value in Africa. Several books by Jeffrey Archer feature prominently among 7 books that Elumelu has singled outlined 7 books that have had the most impact on his business and personal success. Each of them is worth a read.
Kane & Abel by Jeffrey Archer- The book tells the story of the rivalry between William Kane (a brilliant son of a wealthy banking dynasty) and Abel Rosnovski. According to Elumelu, “This is the book that, very early on, opened my eyes to the value of creating a stellar legacy that shines long after one is no longer around.”
Prodigal Daughter by Jeffrey Archer
Shall We Tell The President by Jeffrey Archer-These are the sequels to Kane & Abel. They focus on the character Florentyna who later becomes the first female president of the United States when the President dies in office.
How much Land does a man need? by Leo Tolstoy –The book teaches the importance of contentment through the story of a man who lost everything in his insatiable lust for land.
Outliers: The Story Of Success by Malcolm Gladwell– A book about poeple who have stuck out from others in their field, people who have been extraordinary. “The book lays emphasis on hard work and excellence-two of my
most treasured values,” Elumelu says.
Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence by Ben Carson –“Dr. Carson’s story affirms my belief that no challenge is insurmountable once one has the right attitude.”
The Creation of Wealth: The Tatas From 19th to 21st Century by R.M. Lala- This epic book is on the Tata
Group in India and the group’s focus on ensuring the economic and social development of India. “This book helped fuel my desire to build economic prosperity whilst creating the social wealth that accrues to the larger society in the long term,” says Elumelu.
Gilbert Gatore’s debut novel The Past Ahead, Oct 2012, (Le passé devant, 2008) has literally taken my breath away while reading and for quite some time afterwards. Without ever mentioning either the country by name or the concept of genocide, the author brings the reader intimately close to the emotional turmoil of his two protagonists as they, from their very dissimilar post-trauma reality struggle to re-adjust to life after theirs was forever changed. They stand, without doubt as representatives for many. Two Rwandans, Isaro and Niko, their destinies intimately linked, are both survivors of the horrors of the massacres in their country. Distinct in their voices, complete opposites in the reflecting on their experiences, their combined stories, told in parallel, create a deeply affecting portrayal of the limits of human endurance in times of greatest traumas. They are the two sides of a tragedy that is difficult to comprehend even now, almost twenty years later.
Isaro was saved as a young child by a French couple and grew up within a caring and protective family, the past more or less banned to the farthest recesses of her brain. Until that is, listening to the radio, she hears that the prosecution of the perpetrators of the massacres in her country would take several lifetimes to complete. What shocks her more than anything is the reaction of people around her: “It’s terrible, but what can you do…?” For her, the only response is to return to the country of her birth and to bring the different voices – of victims and perpetrators – into the open – to confront and to heal?
Niko, disfigured and mute since birth and rejected by all in his village, has retreated to an island that is rich in mythology and void of human beings. His mind wanders between haunting memories of the past and foreshadowing dreams. His life story emerges through his re-imagining, as revealing for the reader as to himself. Niko’s contemplations often return to self-questioning: Is he victim as well as perpetrator? Could or should he have acted differently? Did he have a choice?
These fundamental questions haunt Isaro as she embarks on her quest to “comprehend the incomprehensible”, to help herself and others, she hopes, to go on living beyond the trauma. And of course, they increasingly preoccupy the reader. Despite exploring such profound questions the narrative remains intimately engaged in the personal story. Nonetheless, comparisons to other human tragedies may come to mind.
Not surprisingly, The Past Ahead is anything but an “easy read”, despite the author’s careful use of language and, where possible, oblique references to the devastating details. What does it take for an author to enter so deeply into the conflicting mind of his anti-hero without destroying him totally in the mind of the reader? Gatore deserves more than praise for succeeding so admirably. There is poetry in Niko’s dreams; his description of his disabilities that are offset by his special sensitivities: “His ears discern the subtlest movements. His eyes pick up the most distant sounds. His nose embraces invisible shapes. His hands detect odors beyond the trace of a hint. As for his tongue, it tracks down indescribable feelings in the air he breathes.” Isaro may be the more real-to-life, down-to-earth character: Strong at times, yet also overwhelmed at times, emotional and sensitive to her environment and her re-assessment of her life’s challenges.
The Past Ahead is not only a powerful book, exquisitely crafted and now, finally, translated into English by Marjolijn de Jager, it is an important book that deserves a wide readership. It may be the first fictional treatment of the Rwandan Genocide by a Rwandan national. While Gil Courtemanche’s A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali, may come to mind, Gatore’s book stands out in treating the tragedy in a very different kind of literary form and from a very intimate perspective.
Gilbert Gatore was born in Rwanda and escaped with his family in 1994, the year of the massacres. He was twelve years old and very much aware of the events unfolding around him, without comprehending the broader context or meaning. Absorbed by the Diary of Anne Frank that his father had given to him, he embarked on keeping his own diary. It only exists in his memory now; it was taken away by border guards during the family’s flight in Africa.
The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement by Taylor Branch (Simon & Schuster, 2013): Taylor Branch has cemented his place in sharing the historical narrative of our times with books like “The Clinton Tapes,” “The Cartel,” and “The King Era.” With his latest installment, “The King Years,” Branch identifies essential moments in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. This history provides a comprehensive and captivating account of one of the most pivotal periods in the African American fight for equality.
Combined Destinies: Whites Sharing Grief About Racism by Ann Todd Jealous and Caroline T. Haskell (Potomac Books Inc. February, 2013): Does racism against people of color hurt white Americans? My mother and a fellow family therapist edited this anthology of 52 white Americans’ stories of how racism impacted them as adults and children. “Combined Destinies” is a worthy read for teachers, students, counselors, and anyone interested in healing our nation’s oldest wounds. It includes a forward by Julian Bond and his wife Pam Horowitz, as well as a guide to facilitate conversation and reflection.
I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Random House Children’s Books. 2012): There are no others speeches more poignant and iconic than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech made during the 1963 March on Washington. Kadir Nelson’s paintings take readers across generations through inspirational imagery and words of Dr. Martin Luther King. Fifty years later, the words of equality and peace spoken at the Lincoln Memorial will resonate with adults and children and inspire all of us to overcome the epic struggles of our time.
By Benjamin Todd Jealous
Benjamin Todd Jealous is the President and CEO of the NAACP.