The Policy Centre for African Peoples was represented at a recent TV debate on the education of girls in Africa by its Director, Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell.
Watch the TV debate
The Policy Centre for African Peoples was represented at a recent TV debate on the education of girls in Africa by its Director, Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell.
Watch the TV debate
The Policy Centre for African Peoples was represented by its Director, Ms Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell, at a recent TV debate on the 50 years of the African Union.
Watch the Debate
We are delighted that the Founder and Director of the Policy Centre for African Peoples, Ms Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell, was declared winner of the 2013 African Diaspora Award in the category of Community Hero on 2nd May 2013.
At the ceremony, hosted at the luxurious Intercontinental London Westminster Hotel, Ms Aboa-Bradwell thanked the jury for recognising not only her efforts, but above all, the work of the think tank Policy Centre for African Peoples.
Sylvie invited all African community members and all people interested in African topics to collaborate with PCAP in order to become agents of positive change in Africa and amongst all African communities. View picture gallery
The Director of the Policy Centre for African Peoples, Ms Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell, recently represented PCAP at a series of debates on topics of interest to African communities and key stakeholders.
These include: a Panel Discussion on Women and Humour around the World on 7th March 2013 at St James Theatre, London. The debate was chaired by The Guardian journalist Viv Groskop. Sylvie’s co-panellists were Andrea Mann, comedy editor of The Huffington Post UK, designer Amisha Ghadiali, and comedian Lynn Ruth Miller.
Sylvie eloquently told the packed room how, in almost all sub-Saharan African villages, there were court jesters for the village chief, and storytellers, called griots in West Africa. The criteria for being a court jester were to be funny and witty. For centuries, gender was never an issue. Anyone who fulfilled the above criteria could become either a court jester or a storyteller.
On 12th April 2013, Ms Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell represented PCAP at a TV debate on the current social, political and economic situation of African countries in general, and Francophone African countries in particilar. Her co-debater was the award-winning journalist Ayo Johnson. Watch the debate
On 23rd April 2013, the Pitching Africa in the City briefing of the Policy Centre for African Peoples and Developed Africa was reported on media including BBC World Service and Vox Africa TV. Watch TV report in English and in French.
On the morning of Wednesday 27th of March 2013, the Director of the Policy Centre for African Peoples, Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell, joined His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and many other guests of the Green Belt Movement (GBM) at Kew Gardens to celebrate the life and legacy of GBM founder and Nobel Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai.
The Vice Chair of GBM, Wanjira Maathai, paid a touching tribute to Wangari Maathai both as a mother and as a unique force for international conservation. Guests were treated to an enactment of Professor Maathai’s favourite fable, ‘The Hummingbird’, by pupils from Stoneygate College.
HRH the Prince of Wales spoke passionately about Professor Maathai. He expressed his admiration of her life’s work and the importance of her legacy through the work of the Green Belt Movement. HRH Prince Charles planted an oak in the grounds of Kew Gardens in memory of Professor Wangari Maathai.
The final tribute was given by Dr Shirin Ebadi who established the Nobel Women’s Initiative with Professor Maathai and other women Peace Laureates in 2006.
The day’s events concluded with the hugely successful Inaugural Wangari Maathai lecture given by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and recently elected Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa. Her lecture was introduced by Theo Sowa, CEO of the African Womens Development Fund.
Having worked closely with Professor Maathai, Mary Robinson spoke of her personal affection for “Prof” and the vital importance of her contributions to social and environmental justice:
“The first things that struck me about her were her brilliant smile, her spirituality and her indomitable spirit…May she continue to inspire millions more and encourage the political will for change that was at the heart of her mission.”
If you need Further information please contact Sylvie on sbradwell[@]apadvocacy.org or 07952051994
March 2013, London
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Prominent members of the African Diaspora will brief City investors about innovative and lucrative ideas for Africa’s development at Cass Business School on 23 April 2013.
The briefing, titled ‘Pitching Africa in the City’, will mark a sharp departure from the points usually made about the African Diaspora’s contribution to Africa’s development through remittances. Instead, investors and business people will receive tips on practical steps they can take to boost their presence in the African market, and how they can engage with African Diaspora professionals to take advantage of on-going and forthcoming development opportunities in Africa.
The panellists include Ben Oguntala, CEO of DevelopedAfrica.com, an online resource which will allow international companies unprecedented access to commercial development opportunities in African countries. Mr Oguntala will outline the usefulness of this resource to companies already operating in Africa, and to those seeking to move into this expanding market.
Another speaker will be Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell, CEO of the UK-based think tank Policy Centre for African Peoples (PCAP). She will brief attendees about the documentary Leading Lions, which PCAP is currently producing. The documentary follows four outstanding members of the African Diaspora, including several panellists, as they work and implement their groundbreaking ideas in the City, London, Africa and elsewhere. Ms Aboa-Bradwell will discuss how investors and business people can position themselves at the forefront of the positive transformation of Africa by participating in the Leading Lions project.
There will also be interventions from Didier Meledje, president of Alpha Professional Network (APN), and Justine Lutterodt, ethical leadership consultant and co-founder of the Africa Women’s Circle. Mr Meledje will highlight the need for investors to engage with APN in order to gain invaluable insights into African as well as other emerging and frontiers markets. Ms Lutterodt will discuss the relevance of ethical leadership for investment in Africa, and the importance of empowering African women entrepreneurs.
Henry Bonsu, Colourful Radio director, and narrator of the Leading Lions documentary, will chair the briefing. ‘I am excited to preside over this unique mobilisation of the African Diaspora aimed at engaging businesses in order to boost Africa’s development,’ Mr Bonsu said.
The event will also feature an exhibition by businesses with services related to the African market; a showcasing of African Diaspora services to the City, and a drinks reception.
Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell, who is organising the briefing in collaboration with Ben Oguntala, said: ‘This is an unmissable opportunity for astute investors to get ahead of the game in Africa, and participate in the positive transformation of Africa in the 21st century.’
- ENDS -
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Event’s Details: April 23, 2013, 5.30pm – 9.30pm, Cass Business School, London EC1Y 8TZ
Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell is available for interview on (+44) (0) 7952 051994, and Ben Oguntala on (+44) (0) 7812 039 867
The Director of the Policy Centre for African Peoples (PCAP), Ms Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell, participated in a debate on global development hosted in London by The Guardian on 25th January 2013. The topic was the impact of migration on developing countries.
The debate was chaired by John Vidal, Guardian’s environment editor. The other panellists included Michael Clemens, from the Centre for Global Development, and Theodora Xenogiani, economist at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Listen to the debate
The Policy Centre for African Peoples (PCAP) was delighted to organise the inaugural African Diaspora New Year Lecture on 23rd January 2013 at University College, London.
PCAP’s vision in organising the lecture is to bring together outstanding members of the African Diaspora, partners and friends of Africa each January, so that they may exchange ideas on a specific theme and establish synergies for concrete action throughout the year.
For this 1st African Diaspora New Year Lecture, PCAP teamed up with Women4Africa and UCL through Dr Ben Page of the Department of Geography, who booked the beautiful Room LG04 from 6.30pm to 9.00pm.
The meeting, attended by nearly 150 people from African and other backgrounds, was superbly chaired by Mr Eric Chinje, Director for Strategic Communications at the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. He praised PCAP for the initiative, and said he was honoured to participate in such a historic event.
The keynote lecture was delivered by the writer, pan-African activist and founder of PCAP, Chantal Aboa (aka Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell). Ms Aboa stressed that what is important is not how people looked, whether they were black or white, or African or non-African. The important thing was the common interest in the theme ‘The Inspiring Power of Africa.’ It was crucial to discover how Africa has inspired other people, how it can inspire us so that we in turn can inspire and galvanise others into concrete action. She outlined many ways in which African could inspire all types of individuals, entrepreneurs, policy makers, diplomats and so on. Chantal said the twenty-first century is the ideal century for people to be inspired by a continent that is as diverse as Africa.
She concluded her speech by stating that though people usually see the African continent and African communities in terms of challenges facing them, for her, these are not challenges. These are circumstances full of potential and opportunities: the opportunity to be the leader that will unite a divided nation if you are coming from a country recently at war; or the opportunity to be the country’s first billionaire if you are an entrepreneur, and so on. All the people present had the potential and opportunity to participate in the building and consolidation of the first ever African-led think tank in the UK: African Peoples Advocacy. But to fulfil this potential, they should not wait for tomorrow or for someone else. They must be prepared to start working and collaborating with APA so that we all become agents of positive change, and whatever change you want to achieve, always ask yourself, if not me who, and if not now when?
Special guest of honour was journalist and Filmmaker Sorious Samura. In his intervention, Mr Samura stressed the need for Africans not to wait for others to define them, to define how they are perceived, or to determine what they should do in the future.
Africans must be prepared to use their skills as story tellers to tell their own stories, and determine their destiny. Mr Samura took the example of Mali, where French soldiers were operating, to highlight the fact that Africans must strive to find appropriate solutions to the crises confronting their nations.
Mr Sam Onigbanjo, CEO of Women4Africa, and Ms Samara Hammond, CEO of AMREF UK, also spoke. They highlighted the role of their respective organisations in terms of promoting African women’s rights and welfare.
The event ended with a lively question and answer session, and the promise from several attendees to take concrete action and collaborate with PCAP to implement projects that are of relevance to African communities.
My short-listing as ‘Author of the Year’ for the 2013 Women4Africa Awards has come as a huge shock to me. I have also been short-listed as ‘Career Woman of the Year’ and ‘Role Model of the Year’. But that did not surprise me. Maybe because, over the years, I have had many tangible achievements as an advocate and campaigner for African communities, I did anticipate that these accomplishments would, sooner or later, be acknowledged by fellow Africans.
When it comes to my writing, however, I have always felt that it was not good enough. Any author I met or studied, African or otherwise, seemed far better than me. My recognition by Women4Africa has made me suspect that I might have been experiencing some sort of impostor syndrome. It has also prompted me to examine my journey as a writer, in order to determine my achievements in all objectivity.
Chantal Aboa is one of my two pen names, the other being Susan Akono. My birth certificate states that I was born in 1975 in Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital. However, since my grandfather, who had it made, is now dead, I can reveal that some of the information contained in that document must be taken with a pinch of salt. For instance, I have irrefutable proof that my birthplace is, in fact, the tiny town of Atega. It is located about 60 kilometres south east of Yaoundé, and some 3 kilometres east of Mindassi, my grandfather’s village.
My mother often boasts that I produced my first piece of creative writing –a poem written in French- when I was aged 4. But I recall neither a single line, nor the theme of that poem, and I do not know whether this story is true. I do, however, remember that I decided to become a writer at the age of 8. I was no more than 14 when I had an article published in Cameroon Tribune, the most widely read Cameroonian newspaper. Aged 16, I won a creative writing competition organised by the French Institute with a play titled Notre Amour Triumphera (Our Love Will Win).
As Cameroon was shaken by economic crisis and socio-political unrest in the 1990s, I left my homeland at the age of 19 to settle in Spain with my mother, who was married to a Spanish citizen. I had to contend with many problems, including cultural shock, crude racism (because African migration to Spain was just starting in the 1990s, and Spanish people had lots of difficulties accepting it), and the linguistic barrier, as I could barely speak or understand Spanish. However, instead of giving up my dream to become a writer, I learnt Spanish, and soon mastered it well enough to continue writing in this new language. I had essays, research papers and a short story, ‘Carta a Clara’ (Letter to Clara) published by several local Spanish newspapers and magazines between 1998 and 2001.
In 2002, I left Spain to settle in the UK with my British partner. I had to overcome challenges similar to those that had confronted me in Spain, as English was neither my first, nor second, nor even third language. Furthermore, in addition to the need to learn English and adapt to a new country, I had to look after my son Anthony, born in 2002, and my daughter Priscielle, born in 2005. I also worked as consultant on African topics and interpreter for several UK, US and African institutions from 2002 to 2007; International Office Co-ordinator of the Centre for Democracy and Development between 2007 and 2010, and I am currently serving as Executive Director of the think tank African Peoples Advocacy (APA), which I founded in 2008.
At the risk of behaving like the proverbial pig praising its own fat, I dare say a less determined person than me would have given up writing. But I did not. My essay, ‘An Unfinished Business’, a critique of the re-colonisation of Africa proposed by Professor Niall Ferguson, was published by Brunel University’s EnterText in 2003. My book, WMD: The Weapons of My Disappointment, published in 2004, provides an analysis of Western wars from an African perspective. My essay ‘From Utopia to Dystopia: The Legacy of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in Liberia and Sierra Leone’ and my short story ‘The Murderous Archipelago’ were published by EnterText in 2006. My book, Cuentos africanos, was the first collection of stories by an African writer released by the Spanish publishers Laberinto in 2007.
My short story, ‘Letter to Clara’, was included in the anthology African Women Writing Resistance: Contemporary Voices published by the University of Wisconsin in 2010. I had many research papers, essays and short stories published between 2011 and 2012, including: ‘An Unsung African Marvel: The Case for Somaliland’s Recognition’, ‘The Demophile Deal for Africa: Blueprint for a New Western Policy towards Africa’, ‘The Democratic Nature of African Societies’, ‘Think Africa: The Case for an African-Led Think Tank’, ‘The Rain Flower’, and ‘The African Union and The Battle for Africa’s Soul in the 21st Century’. My latest creative writing projects include an historical African fiction series dubbed the “African Dr Who”, whose first book, Bala in the Mali Kingdom, was published in October 2012. In addition, I have published pieces and provided comments for APA’s blog and newsletter, and media including The New Londoner, The Observer, The Guardian, Vox Africa TV, Colourful Radio, Ben TV, Press TV, BBC Radio 4, and BBC World Service.
While I am aware that I still have a long way to go as a writer, I believe I have already achieved a lot. Do you think this is an objective assessment?
By Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell/ Chantal Aboa/ Susan Akono
A friend of mine, a public relations professional, once gave me the following advice: if you have an issue whose public knowledge could undermine the message you intend to convey to your service users, audience, community, voters, followers or simply friends, never wait for it to become public in a way you cannot control. You should, preferably, reveal it yourself in the way you want it to be perceived, or if you cannot do that, have in place a carefully prepared strategy to minimise the fallout once this issue is disclosed.
With the recent PR disasters of Sally Bercow, the Speaker’s wife, despite her background in public relations, I am not sure that all the recommendations of PR professionals should be taken seriously. There is also quite a considerable shortcoming in my friend’s advice, which is that you cannot always anticipate what could, ultimately, undermine your message.
I had the opportunity to experience this at a symposium a few days ago. Unbeknown to me, a group of participants, who had read some of my fiercest anti-imperialist pieces, and attended some of my pan-African lectures, had decided to transform me into an anti-imperialist and pan-African ideal. What’s wrong with that? I can hear you ask. The problem is that, more often than not, the way people expect you to be, think and behave once they have chosen to transform you into an ideal rarely corresponds to the way you are in reality.
Thus, I inadvertently disappointed many of these participants when, in my intervention, I proudly referred to my family as a “microcosmic UN”. Our hues and physical characteristics vary widely from the coal-skinned type found in, say parts of Southern Sudan, to the dark-haired and green-eyed Iberian specimen, banana-skinned Asian type and blond-haired, blue-eyed Scandinavian specimen. One of the participants asked me how a true pan-Africanist could feel comfortable living in such an environment, and another was applauded by several attendees when he called me a hypocrite.
I am a passionate advocate of race equality, and I will never tolerate racism. For I firmly believe that it is the cornerstone of evils such as imperialism and slavery that have wrecked Africa. I am also utterly convinced of the un-African nature of racism for two reasons. First, if, as scientific evidence shows, human life began in Africa, it is, in my view, absurd for an African who accepts this evidence to indulge in racism. Second, as we have suffered, and are still suffering so much from this evil, we Africans have a moral duty to combat racism, not validate the misdeeds of our tormentors by fomenting them as well, and becoming co-perpetrators.
Despite this, I will never ever criticise anybody who makes the personal choice of not having close relationships with people of a different race. For I know all about the feelings of pain, humiliation and resentment that can lead one to take such a stance.
I too have been overwhelmed by these feelings on countless occasions. I have experienced them when, in a crowded supermarket in London, Paris or Ottawa, the security guards would leave other people alone, but follow me wherever I would go. Or when, in a packed train, nobody would sit beside me. Or when, as I strolled around Madrid, people would make monkey gestures and noises. Or when some Asian shopkeepers would refuse to serve me. Or when I would call BBC Radio 4’s Any Answers? to express my views on an issue debated on Any Questions?, but they would not allow me to go on air like people with British accents. Or when I would send letters or article proposals to allegedly left wing newspapers to discuss an African topic, they would ignore them and give a platform to an often male, middle-aged, Western “Africa analyst” with a racist outlook on African affairs. Or when, back in my native Cameroon, Western priests would tell me that as descendants of Ham, I and all black people were cursed and damned to servitude. Or when I watched Roots and read Maryse Condé’s Moi, Tituba for the first time. Or when I stumbled upon Cheikh Anta Diop’s writings in my late teens and realised that I had been brought up on a daily diet of denigration and misrepresentation of African history and culture.
But despite all the above, and many other things that I will not enumerate here for the sake of concision, I have been able to transcend my pain, humiliation and resentment. Not because I am a better person, or more intelligent, or more forgiving than people who cannot, or do not want to, overcome such feelings. It is simply that I have been fortunate enough to experience the best antidotes to these feelings: the realisation that evil is human and not the preserve of one group or race; love, and courage.
Before leaving Cameroon, I saw how prejudice, discrimination, abuse of power and dreadful evil acts were perpetrated by people who looked and spoke like me. I was sometimes at the receiving end of these acts. For being left-handed; or a girl/ woman; or a love child (‘bâtarde’, they would call me); or poor, or too nerdy. I would love to say that I have never committed these or similarly evil acts. But I have. Sometimes to survive; but others simply because I could. And this is why organisations like African Peoples Advocacy exist to guide all of us regardless of our race, gender or background.
I have been fortunate enough to experience the love of people like my Spanish stepfather. Despite coming from a right wing environment, he nurtured, protected, respected and cherished me once he realised that my mother was the love of his life. I have benefited from the love of people from a wide variety of races and backgrounds who have supported and advised me throughout my existence. Remembering or seeing them has shielded and is still shielding me from the negative feelings triggered in me by racism.
I have had the fortune to experience the extraordinary, Mandela-like courage of people who, having suffered from racism far more than me, have been able to forgive their former tormentors, and reach out to them. Whenever I think about such people, I know that without being as great, brave or courageous as them, I can and should, at least, honour them by aspiring to follow their example.
Of course, I am aware that there will always be people who will never be able to reconcile my ideas and work with some of my private decisions. Why should they do so when they do not have a PhD in my inner demons? But I will always ask them to have the basic common sense and decency to respect my personal choices just as I respect theirs.
By Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell