Impacting the Continent from Abroad – GAT Summer Event 2022
On June 13th, the AAI graduate association, in collaboration with the Graduate Alumni Team, held an online event titled “Impacting the Continent from Abroad.” The event featured three keynote speakers from Ghana and Zimbabwe who are active in different fields but share a common goal of contributing to the continent’s development.
The first speaker was Dr. Benjamin Bonsu, Satellite Engineer and co-founder of the All Nations University Space Systems Technology Laboratory in Ghana. Next was Mr. Farai Munjoma, CEO and Founder of ShaSha Network, an online career program for African youth. Finally, a familiar face at Ashinaga, Mr. Sena Vancujovi, who recently graduated from the University of Beijing in African studies and is now working as a development consultant and a traditional healer.
The event started with a presentation by Dr. Bonsu, who is now based in Edogawa, Tokyo, and working on nanosatellite development. The space journey of Dr. Bonsu started during his early university years, with the ambition of building the first Ghanian satellite. “At the time,” he recalled, “nobody believed Ghana could build a satellite.’’
Students were curious about what kept him going against all odds when working on his projects in Ghana. “Initially, I wanted to prove my professors wrong,” he said jokingly, “but the more I worked, the more I understood that there was an actual need for satellites in my country. Satellites can be used for many things, from internet access to weather forecasting and even disaster management. This experience inspired me to work harder. My advice for you is to never lose sight of your dreams; as the journey gets tougher, remember that you are on the right path.”
The AAI Scholars and Graduates then heard from Mr. Munjoma about his creation, ShaSha network. At ShaSha, short for “champion” in the Shona language, the mission is simple: to empower young people and train them to become the next generation of African leaders, providing them with tools to uplift their communities.
“African culture tells you to be humble,” said Mr. Munjoma. “When you are good at something, you are taught that there is no need to tell others. But it is important for young people to know how to own their voice. With ShaSha, we want to build an ecosystem of people and a philosophy of doing things. We believe that even if we can reach a small percentage of African youth, these people will then go back to their own communities and be the changemakers the continent needs.”
Mr. Monjuma urged the AAI Graduates to think deeply about the idea of Kokorozashi and often reflect on their purpose. He also mentioned the importance of developing the mindset to go for what gives you the most joy: ‘’I realized my Kokorozashi is unlocking human potential across Africa and around the world.”
Finally, Mr. Vancujovi talked about his engagement in the field of Western African spiritual practices. He is currently working as an analyst at Development Reimagined, a consulting firm specializing in global health, Africa-Japan relations, and Africa-China relations. He also works part-time as a traditional healer, keeping up a family tradition that his father passed down to him.
Mr. Vancujovi also started an organization, Revodution, to digitally preserve and demystify the traditions of Ewe Vodu (commonly referred to as Voodoo). His mission is to educate the world about West African spiritual practices. Mr. Vancujovi recently graduated from Peking University, where he studied the modernized traditional Chinese medicine industry. With his knowledge, he hopes to learn how African countries can integrate traditional medicine and healers into their health care systems.
Drawing from his personal experience, Mr. Vancujovi advised AAI Graduates and students to never give up on their ambitions: “You will encounter a lot of failures. It’s important to think of whom you surround yourself with; if you listen to the narrative saying that what you do is impossible, then that is what you will believe. However, if you put yourself into a supporting environment, it will push you forward.”
In addition to their remarkable accomplishments and powerful impact on their communities, all three speakers shared another unique component: They are currently based outside the continent, respectively, in Japan and the UK. In sharing their journeys and ongoing projects, the speakers provided guidance and inspiration to the AAI Scholars about how to make an impact starting now, even while they are studying or working abroad.
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