Policy Centre for African Peoples
Centre d'Idées pour les Peuples Africains

The platform for African visions

Category: Articles

African Union at 50 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


Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell Wins 2013 African Diaspora Award


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.

African Diaspora Award

Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell with The Guardian journalist Joseph Harker

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

PCAP at Media Debates

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.

7 March Funny Women

7 March 2020 panel discussion

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.

PCAP Joins HRH Prince Charles in Celebration of Prof Maathai


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 Prince Charles Planting an Oak

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.

Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson giving the Memorial Lecture

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.”



1st African Diaspora New Year Lecture


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.


Eric Chinje

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.

Chantal Aboa/ Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell

Chantal Aboa/ Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell

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?

Sorious Samura

Sorious Samura

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 Journey as a Writer


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

Bala in the Mali Kingdom -A Review

Bala in the Mali Kingdom is an entertaining and adventurous novel, which combines fiction and magic with real historical and cultural African heritage. Not only is this a historic novel but also one that introduces us to the need of love and trust in our lives through the unexpected adventures of Bala in a fictional world.

Plot Summary

Bala is the main character, an eleven-year old boy, who travels to Cameroon to visit his mum’s side of the family in a small village called Mindassi. There, he suffers as small accident that impedes him to live his trip as he wished to. However, his grandfather lends him a beautiful and magical green stone ring that allows Bala to live plenty of adventures.

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Protected: Thoughts on African Identity

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Evidence to House of Lords

By Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell

We are delighted to announced that the House of Lords EU Committed acknowledged receipt of our evidence on 27th April 2011. Our evidence contains recommendations for a new Western policy towards Africa.

The Demophile Deal for Africa, pdf

You can now read our April-May 2011 policy paper, The Demophile Deal for Africa, which advocates a new Western policy towards Africa on which the evidence is based. It was written by the PCAP director Sylvie Aboa-Bradwell. We hope you enjoy it.

Galvanising Younger Africans into Action


I believe a lot in being inspired and galvanised into action by somebody, as this happened to me. I was meant to be a boring, conventional academic, but I abandoned academia and became a campaigner/ educator for African communities after hearing the late Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem speak on a BBC Radio 4 programme –Any Questions?

I was electrified when I listened to him. I had the weird impression that he was expressing everything I had been craving to say about Africa, African communities and the relationships between Africa and African communities with the West and the world for years. But he was doing it with so much vivacity, confidence and directness that I realised that he was so powerful because he was free. He was working for a think tank –Justice Africa- that gave him the freedom to speak up his mind, instead of restricting him as most academic institutions do.

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