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ASA’s graduation crush: Nomzamo Mbatha and Njabulo Ntombela

Hi ASA fam

I decided it was the perfect timing in light of all the controversy around the University of Florida‘s incidents with black students during their graduation ceremony (here). It’s important to understand that graduation for Africans is NEVER a small thing! Not only because we all have a good dose of #Wakandamagic in us, but also it remains an achievement for our ourselves and families esp. if we put things in perspective and look at the stats of people with tertiary education in Sub-saharan Africa. Today’s post is inspired by Nomzamo Mbatha (South African actress) and Njabulo Ntombela (a graduate of the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal‘s faculty of Law) ‘s graduations. Everything about it was amazing, here’s why:

Their story

Nomzamo dropped out of the University of Cape Town (UCT) to pursue a career in acting after she lost close people in her family, which forced her to pursue her dream. Fast forward a few years later, she is 27 and definitely one of the top actresses in South Africa with a few international brands endorsements such as Neutrogena. This is #goals because despite her success, she decided to come back to finish what she started, her degree-a Bachelor in Commerce (BCom) in Accounting.

Njabulo comes from Nkandla (Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa) and was raised by his great-grandmother after both his parents and grandmother passed, in his interviews with News24 he says “he’ll live to honor her”.

Honoring their loved ones

Her dress had pictures of the loved ones she lost (one of whom she lost to suicide), and the depression & suicide helpline for South Africa. In her own words, “I wanted the pictures of my late baby sister, Carla, late older sister, Matu, my late father, Nicholas Nxumalo and the greatest love of my life, the woman who named me Nomzamo, my late grandmother, MamJoli. The many tragedies I had to survive.”

Nomzamo Mbatha in her Vanessa Gouden dress (a South African designer)

 

On the other hand, not only did Njabulo decided to wear his traditional attire to represent his cultural heritage; but he also decided to take his great-grandmother to the podium with him to be capped. His picture was a hit on social media and gave South Africa #thefeelsfordays! What a beautiful act of reverence to honor the person who supported him!  I must admit that I regret not doing this for my parents, and hope to make this up in future (guess I’d better get working on that Ph.D. and/or MBA,lol!).

Njuabulo walking with his great-grandmother to be capped (SowetanLive)

Honoring Ma’ Winnie Mandela

Nomzamo had mentioned in a previous interview that her icon was her namesake Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela (former ex-wife of late president Nelson Mandela) affectionately referred to as “the mother of the nation” by South Africans for her contribution and keeping the fight against apartheid alive while her then-husband was incarcerated. Her graduation happened to be at the same time of Ma’ Winnie’s passing and she chose to honor her during her ceremony. She shouted the very popular ” Amandla Awethu!” which means “power to us”-the slogan of the fight against apartheid. In Nomzamo’s own words, ” This was your dream…You fought for the marginalized and was immensely instrumental in the defeat of the brutal apartheid regime. Your resilience ensured that today, we, your children could walk on a graduation stage built off the backs of our fallen people… we assure you that we receive the BATON…”

Africa well represented i.e. Ululations on fleek

You can hear Nomzamo’s loved ones scream at the top of their lungs as she makes her way to the podium in this video (here). If you are African and/or have ever attended an African celebration ceremony, you will be familiar with ululations (those coordinated sounds/screams you hear people make…#thefeels). While these have variations depending on which part of the continent you are from…The fact remains the happier we are, the stronger we ululate!

 

I hope you enjoyed this post. I would love to hear from you about how you and family celebrated your graduation or are planning to celebrate your graduation this year. My own mother did not disappoint for my graduation when it came to ululating…she came VERY prepared with tools (so extra…lol!) but that’s a story for another day :).

Stay awesome until my next post

XxKenaya

Congolese bloggers ASA loves

Hi Everyone!

I hope this finds you well, it’s been a minute. One of the most attractive perks of being a blogger according to me is being part of a community: be it writers globally, in Africa and/or Congo more specifically. In today’s post, I thought I would share Congolese bloggers who have caught my eye in various ways.

KongoTravels

The first one is Tania, a tech entrepreneur based in Johannesburg (South Africa), mother and wife. She is the co-founder of Maxicash (a money transfer app targeting the remittance from the Congolese diaspora, I wrote about it here). Besides her jovial personality, her blog shares her love for travel and tips especially for those holding a Congolese passport.

NISSYTEE

Nissy is a Congolese blogger/presenter/Youtuber based in the UK and a graduate of Cambridge University. She started her Youtube channel as a student and shared much of her experience and challenges as a minority student. I may be wrong but believe the above was the motivation for starting her online magazine BEBBOnline which discusses issues relevant to minority students.

AlaWaiki

I cannot remember how I found Waiki online, but I really LOVE her! She runs both a lifestyle blog and Youtube channel called AlaWaiki. It’s effortless and beautifully structured,  and anything she shares from restaurants reviews, recipes, home decors is very relatable. She is a mother of three and has recently launched her business-an online store for baby clothes (CeriseIndigo). I have personally used a few of her home decor ideas & like to think of her as my online friend :).

Let’s Cook with Elle

Confession time: while I can make good food (so I am told by a few generous friends…lol!), making Congolese food is not my strength based on a number of factors (help at home, boarding school, generous aunts & parents that valued education as a core family value,etc). Based on a few people I have spoken to, I am definitely not alone…If like me, you aspire to change that: No need to panic, Youtube has solved that for ALL of us.  Princesse is a Congolese food blogger and Youtuber based in the UK, her lovely personality makes it impossible not to enjoy her tutorials. Her videos are also short & to the point. Very easy to follow regardless of what you plan to make be it pondu (cassava leaves), ndunda (spinach), makayabu (salted fish), fumbwa, oxtail, ntaba (goat meat),etc.

Young Professional Congolese (YPC)

This is more an association than a blog, started a few years ago by Gradi Tomene and Michael Otadende. YPC is the first UK based platform for young Congolese professionals which aims to build a visible and active network; leveraging the knowledge, skills and experiences of young Congolese professionals across the country.

Coungolese and Fabulous (YCFNOW)

This is an Instagram page & helps me stay connected with the other young Congolese across the world on a mission to do their best wherever/whatever they are doing. I had the pleasure of engaging with one of the funders, and here’s why they started the blog. “It was created in 2011at the peak of DRC elections; a pivotal period within The DR Congo‘s history. During this time, there was a lot of tension amongst Congolese people on various social media platforms both in DRC and within its Diaspora – a safe haven had to be created to rear off all of the negativity. We needed and felt our fellow Congolesepeers needed it. So Young Congolese and Fabulous was born“. I could have never put everything I feel/felt as a young Congolese in better words.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Is there any other Congolese blogger who has caught your eye? If yes, do share with me.

Stay amazing

XxKenaya

 

 

10 Mistakes I made as a first time blogger

Hi ASA fam

Greetings and I hope are enjoying your week-end. As I have decided to be more committed to my blogging journey this year, I thought I would reflect on some of the mistakes I have made thus far. Hopefully this might help some of you thinking about embarking on this scary journey of sharing your views on the big wild and scary  world of internet.

Social Media Presence (or lack thereof)

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Picture taken from here

It took me 2 years to get an #Instagram account and despite creating it last year [Do check it out @africanstudentssbroad(ASA)], it is not linked to my blog just yet. This is a BIG no no. Many of the views and readers are in fact gained through social media be it Pinterest, Instagram and/or Facebook. I am working on fixing this before the end of this month.

Blog Name

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Picture from here

This changed at least twice, while the account was already created: eek! While it is perfectly understandable to change your mind, watch out for your contact details and email addresses as these might no longer be accessible. I am currently experiencing this issue and plan to resolve it shortly

Contact Page

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First of all, I would like to apologize to all my followers/readers for the inconvenience caused on this one as I know a few people tried to reach me unsuccessfully. For some reason, the registered email addresss stopped working as my contact page is currently linked to the old email address which was deactivated.

Blog Theme (i.e. Look & Feel)

This will probably take you SO much time and end up being a timewaster as well. An

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Picture from here

article I read suggested selecting a theme in the beginning knowing it will change and improve in future. Do not get paralised with going through the 100s of WordPress themes without selecting a theme that works. I also decided to updrade my suscription as I have access to more themes. I am in the process of changing my theme based on the blogs I admire i.e. A little bit of Lacquer, Hayet Rida, Opportunities for Africans

Not being tech savvy (or committing to becoming)

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When I started ASA, the goal was only “to start” and I unfortunately did not put much more thought into what would be required and how to run a blog successfully. I focused on creating content (i.e. writing) and not so much on becoming WordPress savvy (e.g. what pluggins would be requires, how to improve the traffic to my blog, what plans would work better based on my goals,etc.). I have now decided to upgrade my blog from the WordPress Personal to Premium Plan. Last year, I also decided to do a Blogging Course offered by WordPressTraining Johannesburg which really helped me increase my knowledge about WordPress.  Do watch out for all the upcoming plans and changes:)

Not writing directly into WordPress

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At the beginning, I would write in MS Word and then copy/paste the content onto WordPress: what a nightmare and absolute waste of time! The format would change, and I would have to spend an extra 1 hr editing the content on WordPress. I then read an article suggesting writing directly onto WordPress as one can save drafts which has now simplified the editing process.

Blogging schedule

This is probably still my biggest downfall. I mean 2 things here: (i) a schedule of blogging time required (i.e. a paricular day of the week and time either before and/or after work) and (ii) a blog post schedule for your readers (e.g. Sunday evening). Furthermore, you

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Picture taken from here

need you plan your content as well. Based on the articles I have read , you need to have at least 2-4 content posts already lined up. This allows you to keep a strict posting schedule during these very busy period, especially if you are working full time. Although I still need a strict both blogging & posting schedule, I believe I have improved from my early days. I now save all my blog ideas/drafts on WordPress and get to edit/finalise them when planning to post. I have committed to uploaded at least 1 blog post per week this year.

Not being focused (audience & content)

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Those who know me well are used to me sometimes jumping very quickly from one idea to the next-blame the Luminary in me. I have many opinions & I like many things :D. My original mistake was to want to write/post about anything that went through my mind. This did not work for 2 main reasons (i) it was not necessarily serving the purpose of why I started the blog (i.e. empower African students abroad) and (ii) not every idea is a blog post-here is why…Trying to force an idea into a blog post is a COLOSSAL waste of time because it would take me much longer to create a story line out of what should have just been a brief status update on my personal social media account. I still struggle with this at times, but I am now better. I am only committed to sharing content relevant for my intended audience i.e. African students abroad/students abroad.

Fear

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This is probably my biggest struggle as fear has held me back. I started ASA with many doubts about whether or not (i) I could be a successful blogger and (ii) the content would actually be valuable for my readers. That fear is still there but thanks to your comments and a good support system I have decided to forge on. Plus most of the bloggers I look up to have been at it for 4-5 years before their big break, so if my content can help 1 person at a time… that would still be worth it.

Underestimating the time it requires for a post

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I see all sorts of “how to write a blog post under 1 hour”. Not sure about who these amazing bloggers are, but it takes me a anytime between 3-6 hours per post depending on the content (sometimes more for post that require some research). I believe I will get better at this with time, but it still takes time before posting something just like writing an essay in school. Knowing how much time is required per post has also helped schedule better.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post and it helps anyone who is going through this and/or thinking of starting their own blog. I am sure I will keep making a few mistakes, but am excited about the journey to correct the ones I have learnt from.

XxKenaya

P.S: All Gifs were taken from giphy.com

11 Inspirational TEDx talks by Africans

Hi ASA fam

(Belated) Happy February! We always need a bit of motivation once in a while as we can lose focus when life gets busy… Not sure about you but I am expecting this quarter to be mad busy work wise and have been on the lookout for motivational messages. Since February is the #monthoflove, #Blackhistorymonth and the epic month of the release of #Blackpanter. I thought I’d bring out my inner #Wakanda warrior self and share with you a few the TEDx I’ve enjoyed, and as a cherry on top- it’s all by motherland moguls.

  1. Afu Ose, Co-founder of She Leads Africa (SLA)-How do we go beyond 30%

She is hilarious, check her IG page (@afua_osei). This talk makes such a valid point wrt to women quotas in the work place. If we would not consider 30% a pass/acceptable from our strict #Africanparents, why must it be the case for women in leadership positions?

2. Zain Asher, CNN News Anchor-Trust your struggles

I have watched this video more than 5 times, and it simply never gets old. Zain Asher is a household name in her own right as news anchor, but also happens to be Chiwetel Ejiofor ‘s sister (nominated for an Oscar for his performance in 12 years a slave) talks about how she managed to land her dream job, the importance of preparation and trusting your struggles.

3. Fred Swaniker, Co-founder of the African Leadership Academy  (ALA) and University (ALU)-The leaders who ruined Africa and the generation that can change it.

Those who know me closely know that Fred Swaniker is my #mancrusheverydayall. Why? His life mission is to build African leaders in the hope they will make better decisions and steer the continent in the right direction. He resigned from a very cosy job at McKinsey & Company to pursue his dream and later founded both through the African Leadership Academy and also African Leadership University.

4. The late Komla Dumor, CNN News Anchor-Telling the African Story

I am sad to admit that I only got to know more about this man post his passing. This video just shows how much passion he had both for his job and his continent. Definitely gone too soon, but his spirit lives on! May his soul rest in peace and his family be comforted on his tragic loss.

5. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (writer), We should all be feminists

The famous Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi is not shy to talk about 2 things: (i) she is African (Nigerian to be specific) and proudly so, and (ii) she is a feminist. She’s been quoted by Beyonce and has won multiple awards. One of her books got turned into an award-winning movie, half of a yellow sun. In this video, she explains why we should all be feminists.

6. Lindiwe Mazibuko-There is no one waiting to save us, we must save ourselves

Once very popular for being the youngest female member of parliament in the main opposition political party in South Africa, The Democratic Alliance. She later graduated from the Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and decided to come back to her home country. She is currently writing a book, amongst other responsibilities.

7. Monica Musona, Don’t be  a spectator in your own economy

She was mentored by and worked for Africa’s richest man i.e. Aliko Dangote and decided to return to her home country Zambia to start a food processing company (Java Foods)

8. Vusi Thembekwayo, founder of my GrowthFund-the big lie of small businesses

A business mogul, with many titles to his name. Vusi Thembakweyo is redefining the entrepreneurial eco-system in South Africa. His main mission is to scale-up black-owned small businesses to multi-billion enterprises through his latest venture, my GrowthFrund.

9. Patrick Awuah, Founder of Asheshi University. Educating a new generation of leaders in Africa

Safe to say that my eye is easily caught by anyone in the education space on the continent. Patrick resigned from the lucrative position in a top tech company in the US to return to his home country Ghana where he founded Asheshi University, one of the top leading private universities on the continent.

10. Jason Njoku, founder and CEO of Iroko Partners-Failing all the way to success.

If you are in the tech and entertainment space on the continent, it is almost impossible not to know about Jason Njoku. He founded IrokoPartners (his 11th venture after many failed attempts), the first online distribution platform for Nigerian movies, an industry worth billions. We owe Iroko for being able to access African movies/Nollywood while on international planes. In his TEDx talk, Jason talks about his difficult journey to success.

11. Farai Mubaiwa (co-founder of Africa Matters)-We are the ones we have been waiting for

Difficult not be inspired by Farai, I have been following Africa Matters almost since day 1 and always find their articles super informative. I can relate SO much to what she says i.e. as a Congolese, I often felt very hopeless in the face of all the horror, corruption, war and rapes, ignorance I often encountered when it came to the DRCongo. My coping mechanism was to become a professional #Keyboardwarrior as she calls it but felt even more helpless when I realised that my words did not change the No. of people that died daily and/or the women raped. At only 23, she decided to stop waiting and decided to do something about it. She’s managed to build a platform with thousands of views and was awarded the prestigious The Queens Young Leader Award in 2017. Africa Matters is also having their first ambassador’s programme, check it out if interested and do apply by 5 March 2018, here.

I hope you enjoyed this and wishing you an excellent week ahead. Please share the love if there are any additional TEDx videos that has caught your eyes: sharing is caring 🙂

XxKenaya

 

 

 

 

 

Surviving Valentines’ day as a student abroad

Hey ASA fam

Since it’s almost Valentines Day (Vday), I thought I would write to all those students who are nervous about the fact that you may not have someone to celebrate Vday with you. Depending on which part of the world you find yourself in, Valentines Day might be a bigger deal compared to others. South Africa definitely takes Vday seriously: In my matric class, girls would be delivered roses , chocolates and teddy bears. And later at university, there was all sorts of Vday bashes and dinners being organised. But Kinshasa is worst…lol!

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As a self-confessed hopeless romantic, you can imagine that not being able to have someone/celebrate Vday was torture for most of my 20s. I had even convinced myself that I would be able to know that someone is “the one”if he showed up at Valentines’Day and we were able to celebrate it together…. Looking back, I can safely say to the old me “Babes, take a chill pill, sit down and chillax…It’s not that serious”. Here’s why:

Be gentle on yourself

Don’t force yourself into a lifeless/emotionless robot…It is okay to wish celebrating the day with someone, perfectly normal to miss an ex especially freshly out of a relationship. Or even secretly hope that your crush might reciprocate your feelings and come clean on Vday. Those thoughts have crossed us a lot more than we would ever like to admit it…Don’t beat yourself up for feeling this way, you’re not a weak: just human… 🙂

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It is truly just a day (mainly driven by a BIG commercial agenda)

Most of the couples I know, actually do not celebrate valentines day. Even though it took much convincing from the guy’s side (most of the time), this decision ended up being a mutual one between both. Their reason makes loads of sense… they do like/love each other and do not need to display their love/like for each other on a day with a big commercial agenda. Each to their own I guess 🙂

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Get over it, it is all in your own head

There is nothing wrong with you, millions other people will be celebrating Vday alone and/or simply not celebrating. Confession time: I have actually never celebrated Valentines day (well sort of). I was either in long distance relationship with a shoe string budget which did not allow for any fancy romantic getaways (a few years ago, a long phone call was the best you could hope for) and/or out of a relationship by the time Vday came around. I survived with no bruises/broken bones,etc. So have millions others and so will you 🙂

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Choose something to do

There will be loads of events being organised either in favor of and/or against Vday. A few ideas:

  • Evening of pampering yourself indoors with a great movie/bookgiphy (3)
  • A Singles Vday event, or anti-valentine party (these are usually so much fun)
  • Girls/Boys’ evening hanging out
  • Work on your tutorial/project due

Studying/Work has always been my (almost) perfect escape/response to anything. If unsure what to do, decide to work on that tutorial and/or project due that evening. Go to the library and/or the lab before you know the evening will be done and tomorrow will be back to normal :).

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and happy valentines day to all readers who will be celebratings!

XxKenaya

P.S: All the gifs were taken from www.giphy.com

 

What 2017 taught me

Hi Asa fam!

Happy & blessed 2018 everyone! I hope you had a wonderful festive season and used it to catch up with family and/or loved ones (whether you could travel back home or not. I know the struggle can be extra real for students abroad). I thought a reflection on 2017 would be appropriate as the very first post of the year. Find out what I wrote about 2014 (here) and 2016 (here).

new years eve 2017

My faith: Cornerstone of my strength

This remains something that needs LOADS of work on my side…but I can safely say that my faith in God took me through our most difficult times last year as a family (multiple sicknesses & deaths, feuds, accidents, heartbreak to name a few, etc).

Appreciate & value my loved ones

Also, work in progress as I am not great at making times for loved ones.  Moving cities helped me re-connect with a few friends from home as well as many of my cousins. I went through some drama towards the end of the year, and I was a mess emotionally-my loved ones took over & saved the day. I remain SO grateful for my friends and family & promise myself to do better at letting them know so as life is indeed short (#YOLO).

Make that jump & take a leap of faith

After various (very anxious) talks with a few close friends (sending mad love to y’all as you know who you are), I moved cities and started a new job in 2017. The move remains a journey of personal growth for me with its ups and down, but one I do not necessarily regret making.

To go fast go alone, but to go far go together

Not sure about the rest of you, but I prefer going far over going fast :). Probably the most important lesson of last year from work.

Invest in yourself

I am that weird & extra friend with access to all sorts of self-help books, podcasts, articles around…lol! Having a routine that involved feeding my soul kept me sane, positive & motivated when I felt down. I intend to keep doing so :).

Goals: a long & windy road, commit to starting and starting all over again

The blog is not where I would like it to be….but I am to blame here mostly. I would like to express my gratitude to you ASA fam for not giving up on me despite my inconsistency: you guys rock! I got loads in store for 2018 and am excited about this journey with you.

Thank you for support

Based on the stats, you guys are mainly based in South Africa (<3), Nigeria, India, USA, Canada, France, China, Spain, Netherlands and Germany. Here’s to growing us even more in 2018 🙂

 

#Fitfam aspirations: consistency is key!

I have been overweight all my life with LOADS of fad/quick diets in between (and even became slightly anorexic in my teens at some point). I decided to commit to fitness for the rest of my life (to the best of my ability and) rather than just because of a weightloss goal. The gym was just working too well for me, so I cancelled my membership. Adventure Bootcamps has been great help to keep me motivated as it is a group of women with a number of outdoors classes. You can also read more about completing my very first goal for 2017 (*insert happy dance) i.e. running my first 21km, here.

Living alone: it is pretty awesome!

Read more about the previous post I wrote on this (here)

The D word: the struggle remains real…lol!

I ditched the men bashing a while back (as I am far from perfect myself) and watched out for it in 2017 more closely: Despite all the bad people and things around us, good men still exist, period! I remain a hopeless romantic (but an impatient one as well…). Still loads to learn :). Read more about what I learnt in my students years (here).

After watching Patricia Bright‘s reflection on 2017 (here), I decided to add these two [thank you Patricia :)!]

Mental health matters

This is a hard one: We lost someone in my close circle (may their soul RIP and family be comforted). It was a hard & heartbreaking wake-up call for me as not enough attention is given to this in the African community. Let’s be our brothers/sisters’ keepers & where required, support seeking professional help.

Walking away is okay

I let go of a few people throughout the year for various reasons. The one I remember most is when I decided to officially “break up” with a girlfriend after some hard thinking. We had lived apart for many years after varsity but remained in touch. I realised we grew apart: were in completely different spaces mentally, had a different outlook on life and our conversations were often very negative. I had to take action and wished her well which was unheard of for me (those closest to me know why). In Patricia’s own words, “Delete. Block” when it comes to negativity.

Wishing you all a fantabulous 2018, may all that you wish to achieve, your hopes/dreams come true and more.

XxKenaya

 

Favorites quotes from the #LionessesofAfrica 2017 Annual conference

Hi Everyone

Apologies for the silence on my part. These last few months have been rather full…But I also believe I was definitely suffering from writers’ block (with 36 draft posts and none quite complete…lol!).  I decided to stop hiding and share with you one of the highlights of my year as we are preparing to bid farewell to #2017: I attended the #LionessesofAfricaconference2017 in September!

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Melanie Hawkens (founder of Lionesses of Africa)

I have been stalking Lionesses of Africa (LoA) for like EVER…so I was over the moon and nearly fell off my chair when I received the invitation to their 2017 conference. Not attending was not an option, so I re-arranged my schedule at work and cleared the day so I could attend. Looking back, it was probably one of the best investment of my time this year. There is just something about being around a group of African women on a mission to improving their continent through their businesses. Their passion, determination, grace, resilience, strength and beauty: how can one not be inspired? There are loads I could probably say but decided to share with you some of the favourites quotes and pictures of the event.

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A panel of women in the finance space. From left to right: Polo Leteka (IDF Capital) , Andrea Bohmer (KNF Ventures and Knife Capital), Juliana Rotish (Africa Technologies Ventures), Puti Mahanyele (Sigma Capital)

 

” A lack of belief in themselves is what is holding women back” M. Hawkens

“A community of women” M. Hawkens

“There is nothing more beautiful than steel manufacturing” M. Kyster

“shy about our achievements because we are afraid to fail” M. Kyster

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“We need to teach our girls to be brave” M. Kyster

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure” J. Rotish

“Embrace who you are” J. Rotish

 

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A panel of women in male dominated sectors. From left to right: Melanie Hawken (Lionesses of Africa), Kofo Akinkugbe (Secure ID), Kate Quartey-Papafio (ReRoy Cables), Mayleen Kyster (Africa Steel Holdings), Ally Angula (Leap Namibia Group), Flora Mutahi (Melvin Mash Intentional & Manufacturers Association Kenya)

 

“With all due respect sir, if my husband had come to ask for a loan…would you have asked him to  come see me for a loan” T. Durotoye

“Let’s start by celebrating the men who support us” T. Dorotoye

“I wanted to build up a world-class make-up brand from Africa and stuck to my vision” T. Durotoye

“Tell the African stories” T. Durotoye

 

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Tara Fela-Durotoye (House of Tara) being the boss that she is!

 

“I strongly believe in a better Africa where Africans are integral to solving Africa’s problems” C. Ukonu

“If not you, who…If not now, when?” V. Shaba

“It is important to understand what type of financing you are looking for”

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“The world’s best councillors are those who have been healed themselves” R. Droganis

“You just need to worry about your now…God brings people to you when you are ready” R. Droganis

“We have a 100 year plan” V. Shaba

“I don’t know what is unsocial about entrepreneurship”

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The ever so beautiful & business mogul Phuti Mahanyele

“Technology is just a means to an end” J. Rotish

“First of all, you are enough” J. Rotish

“Someone once told me that the only reason you got invited to this high profile conference is because you are a black woman in tech” J. Rotish

“You do not need to wait for some people to validate your value” J. Rotish

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“I knew as I was meeting the MD of the bank that I was not going to ask for 0.5 millions, I asked for 20 millions loan instead…and I repaid it fully” T. Durotoye

 A young lady far wiser beyond her years…Currently a student but aspiring entrepreneur, she decided to stalk Melanie & scored a ticket to expand her network as she refines her business idea #Congogirlmagic.

You can have a more detailed summary of the event here. I hope you enjoyed this post & wishing you the best with these last few productive days before the festive season

XxKenaya

 

P.S: Please note that credit for most of the pictures (except the last one) goes to Lionesses of Africa. See more pictures here

 

A letter to the young African professional

Hey all 🙂

I hope you are enjoying your week-end whatever your plans are. Someone I admire once said, “when there is an elephant in the room, you must introduce it”…Today’s post is something we all know about especially in Joburg i.e. the social pressure to

Photo taken from FundsforNGOs (https://www2.fundsforngos.org)

“try keep up with the Joneses”, be seen, constantly be and/or have more… I see too many people drowning in debt (and sometimes even depression)-this age of social media does not help either where we tend to compare ourselves to people’s best angles/moments…This phenomenon is not only applicable to South Africa, I have seen it with the Congolese/Angolan/Namibian/Nigerian community as well…but at what cost and when/how does one stop it?

  • It’s okay to be you and progress at your own pace
  • It’s okay to purposely choose an entry level car to maximize your savings. A bigger car does not mean success: most of the time it is just a bigger debt
  • It’s okay to skip the Friday drinks at that fancy pub if trying to cut down on your own expenses
  • It’s okay to bootstrap your bonus and/or savings and invest this into a degree and/or side hustle/business
  • It’s okay to re-evaluate your friendships if you feel the need to constantly keep up appearances to fit-in
  • It’s okay to skip the latest/hottest festivals in town
  • It’s okay to split the bills as guys/girls friends especially if everyone is working (unless of course it’s the first date: then guy must pay, i’m old school like that…lol!)
  • It’s okay to live below your means (& not incur extra debt) to finish paying off a bond/help with your parents with your siblings’ school fees and/or buy your parents a house (depending on your family financial status)
  • It’s okay not to wear designer clothes and skip the latest trends
  • It’s okay not to be the boss (just yet) and learn as much as you can while still young
  • It’s perfectly okay to be content pursuing a career in the private/public sector and not be an entrepreneur
  • It’s okay to fail a number of times (and go through financial difficulties) before establishing your company (most successful entrepreneurs failed at least once in their lives)
  • It’s okay to skip the holidays to Paris/London/Dubai/Thailand/Zanzibar if you cannot afford it
  • It’s okay to ask for help (included mental) when not coping
Photo taken from Jobberman (http://blog.jobberman.com.gh)

What sometimes helps me is that I come from a country whose economy collapsed a number of times, and saving for rainy days (when you had a bit extra) became a way of life for us as loans from the bank were just not an option. This has stopped me from taking unnecessary debts such as clothing account stores, etc. The other reality check is always being grateful for what I have/where I am wrt to the rest of the continent.

To conclude, never be ashamed to live within your means & stop the comparison game.

Until my next post

XxKenaya

 

Maxicash: THE hottest money transfer app for the diaspora

Hi Everyone!

I hope all of you are doing fabulously well and are preparing to #finish2017strong. Today’s topic is something VERY relevant for all African students recalling from my own experience: money transfers. This probably has caused MANY headaches, screams and sometimes tears for many. The struggles of sending/receiving money home affordably, quickly and reliably were SUPER real especially for Africans-so you can imagine my joy when I found out about Maxicash.

Maxicash

When I left Congo 13 years ago, the country was in a bad shape and very few people had a local bank accounts (my parents included). Just like everyone else, hard cash was mostly how we went about our business… So when I first came to SA, I travelled with enough cash to last me about 1 year (school fees, rent and pocket money) and you can imagine the stress I had knowing very well that if I lost that money and/or it got stolen I would be screwed literally!

Fast forward a few years, Money Gram (through Standard Bank in South Africa) and/or Western Union made it easier to send money abroad. However, besides the fact that the transaction fees are relatively high-I can count on my one hand out of the MANY times I received money, when it was a pleasant experience…bleh! Their approach is very simple: everyone is a suspect of fraud and they make sure you run around for your own damn money (or your parents’: Same difference, we are Africans…lol!).

Picture credit-The African Exponent
Picture credit-The African Exponent

One thing that almost ALWAYS got me was the fact that most Congolese people have 3 names (I actually have 4) and you needed to ensure that the first and last name were the same… And if for some reason the person who helped your parents back home got it wrong (bear in mind French vs. English): abeg, you were screwed! I remembered this one time my dad had to go back to the Money Gram agency 3 times on the same day! Courtesy of a not so great till clerk at Standard Bank.  Fast forward a few years, things got easier when the DRC Goverment made it mandatory for everyone to be paid electronically. After that, my parents started transfering money from their Congolese accounts. While this became the cheapest option, it came with its own challenges as it requires a 3-7 days delay (and the money has sometimes gone awol in the system a few times, lol!) .

The good news is that this needs not be the case for you anymore in you are  a Congolese in South Africa: you almost NEVER have to go through that again. How? Well, Maxicash MAxicash-Phoneis a mobile transfer money app developed by a group of Congolese techpreneurs that facilitate transfers between South Africa and DRCongo. All you have to do is download the app  (available in your app store) and register your bank account. Even sweeter is the fact that they cap their transaction fees at R70 (plus a minor commission, ~$5) regardless of the amount of monies sent. I might be wrong, but you simply cannot beat these rates currently esp. since the money is available immediately and it is all VERY discreet (super important for us Congolese folks…lol!).

So what yáll waiting for? Call up your folks, let them know about Maxicash and let the download begin!

 

 

I hope you found this useful & stay awesome until my next post 🙂

XxKenaya

Challenges faced by African students while abroad

Hey y’all

Today’s post is exactly about why I started this blog: sharing our experiences as African students abroad and the challenges we face on a daily basis. I came across this article on World University News (here) about a Nigerian student (Adeagbo Oluwafemi)’s experience while trying to enrol for his Master in South Africa. The main challenges he encountered were:

Raising finance through scholarship

He deferred his registration by one year in the hope of securing a scholarship. A year later he was encouraged to apply for a Scholarship 2scholarship knowing very well that as a non-SADC he would not qualify and later encouraged to come to South Africa as it would be easiest to access funding opportunities

Being promised he would secure a scholarship upon his arrival in South Africa which did not materialise

Upon his arrival, his supervisor relocated and he was left to Scholarship picture_GMfend for himself. As a true hustler with good grades, he secured a scholarship which could finally cover the tuition fees halfway through that year. Alas, his troubles were not over.

International student fees over and/above tuition fees

Non-Southern African Development Community (SADC) students (Africans or not) are expected to pay international feesSupport required for ASA (~$2000 additional on a yearly basis), and off course this is something he was never told through his dealings with the university.

I thank his courage for sharing his story: Adeagbo was fortunate enough to later secure a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) scholarship which covered all his fees and allowed him to finish his masters. However, this is not the case for everyone and I have seen this happen to at least 2-3/5 African students doing their postgraduate studies in South Africa, and sadly not everyone gets a happy ending.

I hope you found this post helpful ( know that you are not alone and can overcome this if going through something similar. Alternatively know what to watch out for if you are planning to enrol in a postgraduate degree).  See below the full article.

Do share your story and/or send this to someone going through a tough time. Until the next post :).

XxKenaya

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High numbers of postgraduate and international students in a university are major requirements for successful evaluation and ranking. African universities are now preaching ‘internationalisation’ and collaboration with foreign institutions through various programmes, for both research purposes and international recognition.

South African universities are leading other African universities and this can be seen in collaboration between South Africa’s universities and those in Europe and America. This is a welcome development. However, internationalisation is putting other African citizens studying in South Africa under pressure. 

Another major role of internationalisation is to create an environment for South African students to learn the cultures of other countries – particularly from African students who come from nations north of the Southern African Development Community, SADC.

But this internationalisation is being undermined by exorbitant international student fees. Non-SADC students struggle to access postgraduate scholarships despite all kinds of funding – local and international – available for postgraduate study in South Africa.

But without further ado, let me briefly narrate my experience as an international student in one of South Africa’s top universities.

My experience

I was in the final stage of an honours programme in Nigeria when one of my lecturers, who had gone to South Africa for his PhD, sent me an email suggesting that I apply for a masters at a South African university. He said there were several postgraduate funding opportunities that could cover my studies.

I graduated with a good result and applied for a masters at a leading South African university (which I will not name), with the intention of getting funded. I was working for an international company in Nigeria when the outcome of my application came – and it was positive.

I was very happy, having always dreamed of new experiences. But it turned out that this was a mirage. I was supposed to start my masters that year but could not because I had no money to fund myself, so I deferred my admission to the following academic year.

During this period, my prospective department sent all applicants a form to apply for a particular scholarship that is attached to the department. I did a lot of spiritual vigil, fasting and praying, because I discovered from the application form that the scholarship was restricted to South African students and those from SADC and that it was rare for students from other African countries to be awarded.

It was a bright Monday morning when I got an email saying I had been accepted for the masters a second time, and that this placed me in a competitive position for the scholarship because admission to the programme was a prerequisite.

I started preparing myself for the great journey ahead, having made up my mind to make use of the second opportunity, come what may.

I immediately contacted someone to help with medical aid and other required documentation in order for the South African high commission in my country to issue a study permit. My permit application was successful, though not without hassles.

While in the middle of preparing I received an email on the outcome of the scholarship, and almost fainted when I read that I had been unsuccessful. But something in me kept me going.

My former lecturer said I should find my way to South Africa and would surely get a scholarship once there. I gathered the little money I could from friends and family. On arriving I discovered that the lecturer was no longer in South Africa to accommodate me, and after staying with his friends for three weeks, I was sent on my way.

I could not register at the university because I could not pay the fees. I went to the department for help but nothing came of it. I kept going back and praying for a miracle.

The scholarship and financial aid office said all available scholarships were for South Africans but I could apply for a university merit award due to my excellent result. I applied and was lucky to get it in the middle of the year. I went immediately to the registration centre – I couldn’t wait to finally be a masters student.

Shocking international fees

But I got the shock of my life when I was told to pay an international student fee of more than R16,000 (US$2,000), over and above a tuition fee of almost R35,000 (US$4,500). I was so stressed that I nearly developed psychological problems. I thought of returning to Nigeria, because at no point had anybody told me about the exorbitant international student fee. 

The international fee had been jacked up from R2,500 to R16,000 – and it keeps rising every year. In 2012 the international fee at the university, payable by all international students including Africans from outside SADC, is around R21,000.

I was incredibly lucky eventually to receive an international scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD, which paid all my fees – one lucky person among very many foreign students in South Africa who are struggling to complete their studies.

I finished my masters but was then faced with the problem of funding PhD studies as an international student.

More help needed for African postgraduate students

What is interesting is that there are large numbers of international postgraduate students from African countries north of SADC, but they pay the same fees as students from rich countries.

What is happening with internationalisation when African students must pay such high fees on their own continent? Students leaving one European country for another are treated as home students.

It is also interesting to note that some universities with such fee discrimination are also collecting substantial government subsidies based on their numbers of postgraduate students. 

Many African students have landed on the streets due to the discriminatory policies of some institutions in South Africa, and have lost completely. I know a lot of students from Nigeria and other non-SADC nations who have had to drop out of university because of this problem.

I tried, in my capacity as an executive member of an international students’ association, to discuss this with my university, but the international office and management were dismissive. And most annoying was that the international fees have kept increasing by more than 10% a year.

I sincerely appreciate the scholarship that was awarded to me during my masters, but I was just lucky.

I write this story not to blame anyone or any institution, but to show that international students from the non-SADC region of Africa are finding it really hard to survive, and to argue that they should not be made to pay what non-Africans are paying in South African universities.

I believe South African and international funders should increase scholarships for international postgraduate students and should include non-SADC African students in their funding schemes – because these students are contributing positively to development in South Africa and Africa through their skills, research and publications.

Adeagbo Oluwafemi is now a PhD student in a South African university that charges lower international student fees.

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