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English • Oct 09

Aissatou SOW Digital Links

Helping bridge the digital gap


World Bank Launches Diaspora Firm Registration Drive


Mutombo a Luba warrior winning on the humanitarian front








Showcasing the accomplishments of the African Diaspora


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Ghana Black Stars qualify for 2010


Aissatou SOW, CEO Digital Links


World Bank Launches Diaspora Firm Registration Drive.


Fadela Amara : one woman fighting on several fronts Calestous Juma, an outstanding scientist from Kenya Dikembe Mutumbo, a Luba warrior winning on the humanitarian front


Russell Simmons Diamond Empowerment Fund


Great African reads African proverbs Aksanty fashion show Brussels


Kenya’s invention: Bike-powered cellphone charger They conquered Hollywood Did you know?


Discover Mali: The heart of Dogon country


Ethiopia: Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela


COVER PAGE: Photo by Erick-Christian AHOUNOU

CONTRIBUTORS: Alexandre Titiba Nafi Diouf Patricia Yumba

DESIGN Janine Britz

E Johannesburg – Republic of South Africa Email:

Nafi Diouf

Dear readers,

great families from the town.

having fun”. Dear readers, I am extremely excited

We also wish to share stories of extraordinary people

that we are already bringing you edition three of

in Africa who can inspire the young, give hope

Exodus Magazine, which proves indeed that time

and ambition to Africans. Among these awesome

flies when your attention is engaged.

achievers from Africa we have Dr Calestous Juma


Remember that old adage “time flies when you are

who hails from Kenya, an internationally recognized In this edition of Exodus Magazine, you will meet

Professor and Director of the Science, Technology

an extraordinary young lady, Aissatou Sow, CEO of

and Globalization Project at Harvard University.

Digital Links, an international NGO based in London.

Fadela Amara, born to Algerian Kabyle parents who Digital Links brings the best technology available

began her political life as an advocate for women in

worldwide to disadvantaged communities at an

the impoverished banlieues in France.

affordable cost. As we all know, technology can

Dikembe Mutombo, a retired Congolese American

provide incredible opportunities for improved

professional basketball player, leading the

health, education, and economic growth. Through

humanitarian front in his home country, the

partnership with multinationals, corporations,

Democratic Republic of Congo.

governments and civil society actors, Digital Links have provided over 65,000 computers to schools,

Find out many more extraordinary stories inside this

hospitals and NGOs across Africa, Asia and Eastern


Europe. On behalf of my generation and generations to In recognition to a unique African spot, we have

come, I am asking all of us to continue to nurture our

decided to take you to Mali and especially Timbuktu,

dear continent, celebrate our African heritage, and

home of the prestigious Koranic Sankore University

showcase the continent’s riches today. If not now,

and other Madrasas. The city was an intellectual


and spiritual capital and centre for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries. The most outstanding treasure at Timbuktu are the 100,000 manuscripts kept by the

Bonne lecture


Black Stars – qualify for 2010


Ghana became the first African nation to qualify for the 2010 World Cup as they defeated Sudan 2-0 in the Group D qualifiers in Accra.


The World Bank “E-Consultant” Database

The World Bank has launched a vast census of companies owned by members of the African Diaspora who are likely to be hired as consultants for projects in Africa. The database called « eConsultant » will have names, profiles and all the necessary information to enable the World Bank to contact potential consultants when it wants to canvass for specific expertise”. The Bank’s website indicates that all the “necessary expertise and information for the implementation of projects in Africa” are available in this database ( Dr Cheik Modibo Diarra, the famous American astrophysicist originally from Mali, supports this initiative. According to Diarra, a census of professionals in the African Diaspora would not cost more than $500 000. “Money is not the only key to success,” Diarra said in a recent interview, adding that this database would considerably contribute to the realisation of NEPAD’s goals, but also to all development projects in each and every country”. Millions of Africans today live outside the continent and there is a growing concern about this brain drain, whereby valuable human resources and African expertise go overseas to look for better opportunities. Africa’s brain drain, a serious issue The bank recently signed a 5-year agreement with the African Union for “mutual collaboration between the two institutions in order to improve relations with

the Diaspora”. Even though it is difficult to get reliable statistics, it has emerged from studies carried out in the last few years that the science, technology, education and health sectors suffer the most from this brain drain. Ghana trains between 120 to 150 doctors each year, but almost the same number of doctors emigrate each year. Some 1 227 health professionals left the country in 2003 to work overseas. The African Union Commission received a grant from the Bank through its initiative dubbed “Mobilising the African Diaspora for Development” launched in 2007. The World Bank is also working with the African Development Bank for the creation of an investment fund dedicated to transfers originating from the Diaspora. A study carried out in 2004 by the EU revealed that money transfers from the EU to sub-Saharan Africa was estimated at €3,2 billion. This represents 12% of the total amount of money transfers from the EU. Figures show that sub-Saharan African countries could gain between 1 and 2 billion USD if transfer commissions were removed and between 5 and $10 billion by issuing Diaspora bonds. Incentives needs to be created in the form of tax exemptions, higher salaries for expatriates, subsidies, multiple entry visas, work contracts, national awards, etc. – for members of the African Diaspora returning or investing in their home countries.







– Chief Executive of Digital Links

Young, beautiful and fully aware of challenges awaiting her continent, Aïssatou Sow from Senegal is a member of the African Diaspora with undeniable talent that earns her the status of a role model. The Executive Director of London-based Digital Links International is working relentlessly to help bridge the digital gap between the African continent and the rest of the world. We caught up with her during a recent visit to her hometown of Dakar, Senegal.

How did you arrive in London? I was born in Senegal where I graduated from High School. I have always been interested in International Affairs in general, as well as development issues in Africa because I’ve always wondered why the continent was in such a state. I’ve also always wanted to know the continent better. In my family, I am the only who decided not to go to Europe to further my studies. Instead, I decided to study in Niger and Nigeria. At that time, my main concern was to learn and exchange with other Africans on issues such as pan-Africanism and so; in fact I have always been against nationalism as I consider myself an African citizen. I had the opportunity to travel around the continent before I returned to Senegal to work. I then left Senegal to continue my studies in London where I graduated with the Masters Degree. I was approached by an extraordinary man, Cheikh Modibo Diarra to work with him on an education project in Kenya. After four years there, I opted for an international career and returned to England, with my family’s full support especially my husband. He accepted to resign from his posts and follow me whenever I had an offer abroad (laughers). It is not common, is it? He always says that being in the finance industry, he can work anywhere. Today, even though I am in England, I focus all my attention on Africa. I now work with an organisation that seeks to reduce the digital gap in Africa, making information technology available to all Africans. This organisation is called Digital Links International. We supply top quality IT equipment to African governments at a very competitive price. We buy our stocks from large manufacturers and big brands, and then, sell them on to these governments at a low price. We also have second hand equipment but we are more cautious when it comes to this because we want to make

sure that we only provide the best. When we have secondhand equipment of good quality, it can cost ten times less than the going market price. Primary and secondary schools can thereby have access to their first IT tools. What are your achievements so far? In just six years, Digital Links has allowed more than 1.5 million people to have access to information technology. We work in Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia. This year, we launched a very important program that integrates national and financial policies with the development of IT in Africa. We approach governments and banks and say: “If you want computers for your teachers, and if the banks have the funds, we can make arrangements to the benefit of the teachers. This will enable the teacher to pay off his or her computer over 12 or 24 months”. Governments are happy because they are then able to supply their teachers with computers for their research work at a low cost. On their side, the banks are also happy because they have new clients. Is it difficult to be an African and hold such a position? It’s quite easy. The fact that I am African has never been a disadvantage. To the contrary, it has always been an asset. When I have to go and defend these kinds of projects with financial institutions or the British government, I am always more convincing because I know what I am talking about. Concerning this particular project, I have an advantage compared to others doing the same thing in London and who don’t necessarily always understand the African context. And I think being in London puts me in a better place to campaign for aid projects in Africa.


What impact does Digital Links have on Africa? The impact is huge. Today, in the 21st century, the world is divided into two, a fast-track society with access to technology and another group with no access to technology that is completely lagging behind but trying to emerge. International trade is highly dependent on information and how swiftly you can provide that information. The banking system and relations between countries are based on communication. The previous generation missed out on this opportunity and if the current one does not bridge this gap, Africa will not be able to emerge. In the United States, for example, 95% of children in kindergarten have access to information technology while, in Africa, only 4% of high school graduates have had access to a computer. You see, there is a gap. And yet in most African countries the Internet is widely available. So what are the issues? There is a problem in terms of access to financing and training because many still don’t know how to use computers. We tried to overcome the financial issues with the arrangements I mentioned earlier. We also provide training to teachers and students. For organisations specialized in training we can offer them additional support.


On a more private note, what does Aissatou Sow think about the following saying “Be beautiful and shut up!” (Laughter) Today you can beautiful and yet have a voice. In fact, I think that there are still steps to be taken regarding women and leadership. Personally, I perfectly juggle my professional and family life. Women attend school just like men; we do the same studies, therefore it would be a pity to leave half of the population behind. From an economic point of view, if 50% of the population cannot contribute, I don’t know where we would be headed. How do you see the future of the African woman? Brighter and brighter. Women are more educated. However, the root of the problem is the way girls are raised in today’s society. In your opinion, does the Diaspora contribute as it should to the development of Africa? The Diaspora does contribute but the approach is too personal and actions too scattered. We need to organise African Diaspora and create a platform where Africans can voice their opinions on issues affecting the continent.

Is energy shortage on the continent an obstacle to the development of Information technology in Africa? Indeed. A legitimate question we might ask ourselves is what is the use of having computers when there is no electricity? In our approach we take this factor into consideration. We are the only organisation that provides computers with low energy consumption levels. In areas without electricity, we have battery-powered computers that can last up to 9 hours. We just don’t bring any technology but we make sure that it is adapted to the local context.

Interview by Alexandre Titiba

How many children does Aïssatou Sow have? Two children, a boy and a girl. How would you describe yourself in three words? Commitment, Leadership and Values. And I especially mean Leadership with a capital “L” because in Africa today we have all kinds of talent but we are still short of real Leadership. Which qualities do you appreciate in other people? Honesty, but also the ability to take a position and be able to defend it. What three objects could you not live without? My computer because it links me to the world. My Faith and lastly, my wedding ring. What is your favourite dish? Yassa viande (a Senegalese dish with lemon and onions). I often prepare this dish when I have English guests. What are your favourite colours? Brown and grey because those are the colours of Africa.


By Alexandre TITIBA

D ikembe Mutombo a Luba warrior winning on the humanitarian front


Born in the capital city of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mutombo is the seventh of ten children born to Samuel and the late Biamba Marie Mutombo. He arrived in the United States in 1987 on an academic scholarship to attend Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. As a pre-med major, his dream was to become a medical doctor and return to the Congo to practice medicine. In his second year at Georgetown, Coach John Thompson invited the 7’2” Mutombo to try out for the university’s renowned basketball team. After joining the team, Mutombo re-directed his academic ambitions and graduated from Georgetown with dual degrees in Linguistics and Diplomacy. Mutombo is fluent in nine languages, including five African languages. The Denver Nuggets drafted Mutombo after his graduation from Georgetown and, in 1996, Mutombo signed a five-year free agent contract with the Atlanta Hawks. On February 22, 2001, Mutombo joined the Philadelphia 76ers where the team advanced to the 2001 NBA Finals for the first time since 1983. Mutombo is a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and ranks 1st in NBA rebounds per game. In August 2002, he joined the New Jersey Nets and that team advanced to the Finals in 2003. In late 2004, Mutombo joined the Houston Rockets. During the off-season, Mutombo, his wife Rose (also


from Congo) and their children reside in Atlanta, GA. Honored with USA Weekend Magazine’s “Most Caring Athlete Award,” and from as the most generous athlete in the world, NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutombo of the Houston Rockets has long been dedicated to improving the health, education and quality of life for the people in his birthplace, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Created in Atlanta, Georgia 1997, the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation is attempting to eradicate many childhood diseases that have virtually disappeared in developed countries while those diseases are still life threatening to children in the Congo everyday. In August 1999, Mutombo and his delegation which included the CBS News Senior Correspondent for 60 Minutes, the late Ed Bradley travelled to Kinshasa, DR Congo on a medical fact-finding mission. As part of the Polio Eradication Campaign in the Congo, Mutombo administered oral polio vaccine to newborns at the Kalembe-Lembe Pediatric hospital and distributed t-shirts with a written personal message encouraging parents to get their children immunized. Despite civil unrest and electricity cuts during the two weeks of the National Immunizations Days, 8.2 million children under the age of five were successfully vaccinated against polio in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Calestous Juma An outstanding scientist from Kenya

Calestous Juma (b. June 9, 1953), is a Kenyan professor of the practice of international development at the Harvard Kennedy School and director of the Belfer Center’s Science, Technology, and Globalization Project,. Calestous Juma is an internationally recognized authority in the application of science and technology to sustainable development. He is a former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Nairobi-based Founding Director of the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS). He holds a PhD in science and technology policy studies and has been elected to several scientific academies including the Royal Society of London, the US National Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World and the UK Royal Academy of Engineering. In addition to his academic work, he provides high-level policy advice to organizations such as the African Union, the United Nations and individual governments. His report, Freedom to Innovate, was prepared for the African Union. Prof. Juma has made significant contributions to understanding the dynamic role of technological innovation in economic transformation in developing countries.Prof. Juma’s contributions to science and technology policy have focused on the role of technological innovation in sustainable development. In 1988 Prof. Juma founded the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), Africa’s first independent policy research institution designed to advance research on technology in development.

Prof. Juma established himself as a world leader in policy research on biotechnology and directed the International Diffusion of Biotechnology Programme of the International Federation of Institutes of Advanced Studies. He continues to provide international leadership in research, training and outreach through Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Prof. Juma led international experts in outlining ways to apply science and technology to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals arising from the UN Millennium Summit in the year 2000. Innovation: Applying Knowledge in Development (Earthscan, 2005), the report of the Task Force on Science, Technology and Innovation of the UN Millennium Project, was released in early 2005 and its recommendations have been adopted by development agencies and governments around the world. The report has become a standard reference against which governments assess their policies and programmes on the role of technological innovation in development. Prof. Juma’s research has helped to improve understanding on the role of property rights in conservation (under the rubric of “ecological jurisprudence” as outlined in the volume, In Land We Trust (Zed, 1996). His work guided international negotiations on the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity as documented in Biodiplomacy (ACTS, 1994).






One woman on several fronts

Involvement at an early age Trained as an accountant, Fadela was still very young when she embarked on a crusade against all forms of social injustice that she or any other person could face. Fadela was particularly concerned with issues affecting women, mothers, girls as well as the youth living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in France. The commitment of this “defender of justice” is linked to her upbringing and life experiences. She took part in the first civic demonstration in Clermont- Ferrand for the registration of the youth on electoral lists. Her entourage recalled how, at the age of 16, when the municipality of Clermont-Ferrand decided to demolish her neighbourhood, Fadela went door-to-door to overturn this decision. In 1978, at just 14, Fadela witnessed “a dramatic life changing event”, when her brother Malik was run over and killed by a car. After that, she says she was “appalled by the attitude of the police” who, according to her, “defended the driver”. She became increasingly involved in militant activities with her participation in 1983 in the mass demonstration of the Beurs (French citizens of North African origin) and in the “SOS Racism” movement from 1986. 14 years later, in 2000, she was elected president of Federation Nationale des Maisions des Potes, a national network of community associations.

In 1989, she creates the first Maison des Potes center as well as the “Women’s commission” which carried out a census of women from poor neighbourhoods in order to give them a platform to express their demands. Against the “instrumentalization” of immigration In March 2001 she was elected on the Socialist Party list at the municipal council of Clermont-Ferrand. After the 2002, murder of 17 years old Sohanne Benziane, she organized a march from the murder site beneath a banner declaring the women Ni Putes, Ni Soumises (neither whores, nor submissives). The motto stuck and became the name of the resulting organization, of which she became the president. In 2002 she organized a “women’s parliament” in the Sorbonne with over 250 participants, drew up a petition which gained almost 20,000 signatures, and organized a nationwide tour of Ni Putes ni Soumises, which ended in Paris on March 8th 2003 In 2004, she is appointed member of the Consultative Human Rights Commission and in January 2005 she becomes a member of the High Authority Against Discrimination and for Equality. She can also be found on the immigration front. In 2007, she openly opposed the use of DNA testing for family reunification, which she considered « instrumentalization of immigration » Fadela Amara has been awarded several distinctions such as Docteur Honoris Causa from l’Université Libre de Bruxelles in 2005 and an honorary degree from Manchester Metropolitan University for French civil rights campaigner.


When she joined the government of French Prime Minister Fillon on 19 June 2007 as a cabinet minister in charge of urban policy, Fadela Amara was given the opportunity to work in an environment where she could express herself and pursue her mission against social injustice. At 45, (she was born on 25 April 1964 in ClermontFerrand), Fadela Amara can definitely be described as a woman committed to combat all forms of social injustice. This highly committed Algerian born French woman comes from a family of ten children (4 girls and 6 boys). Her father was a construction worker during the week and in the markets on weekends while her mother was a housewife.

She co-published with Silvia Zappi a book entitled Ni Putes, Ni Soumises in 2003 and three years later she co-published with Mohamed Abdi “La Racaille de la Republique” (The Rabble of the Republic).



R ussel Simmons

Diamond Empowerment empowerment with diamond proceeds

American entrepreneur Russell Simmons is widely known for his clothing line Phat Farm and ex wife Kimora Lee Simmons. Through the creation of the Diamond Empowerment Fund, the fashion mogul has now joined others to help empower Africans and make a difference on the continent. Founded in 2007, The Diamond Empowerment Fund™ (D.E.F.) is a non-profit international organization with the mission to raise money to support education initiatives that develop and empower economically disadvantaged people in African nations where diamonds are a natural resource. In a recent interview, asked if commerce and charity can coexist Russell said that for him “ giving back isn’t about charity. It’s about empowerment.” “It’s better to hand someone a fishing pole than a fish. That’s the difference between helping someone


lead a healthy lifestyle and just helping him survive,” he added. After touring diamond mines and factories in South Africa and Botswana in 2006, Simmons announced the “Green Initiative” Jewelry, manufactured and designed by Simmons Jewelry Co. Simmons said twenty-five percent of proceeds from sales would go toward the Diamond Empowerment Fund, which will support institutions, like schools and colleges, in South Africa and Botswana and help boost economic development. DEF focuses on the most disadvantaged in African nations where diamonds are a natural resource. The organization funds projects that have proven success in providing African youth with high-quality educational experiences, including skill-building and vocational training initiatives.

“For our people in Botswana every diamond you buy means food on the table, better living conditions, better health care, safe drinking water, more roads and much, much more. It means that we can build new power stations and expand our electricity network in the country” One of the Patrons, Former President of Botswana, President F.G. Mogae

Hollywood Socialite Kim Kardashian throws her weight behind DEF On July 13, 2009, media personality Kim Kardashian, professional football player Reggie Bush, former professional football player Ray Crockett and members of their family traveled to South Africa on behalf of DEF. Kim, Reggie and Ray especially gained insight on D.E.F.’s mission to empower through education when they visited CIDA City Campus, the first virtually free college in Africa, support by D.E.F. They also visited the Maharishi Institute and met with students from the African Leadership Academy. They saw firsthand how programs like these give children the chance to further their education gain employment once finished with their education. “My first trip to Africa was filled with so many incredible experiences. I am excited to have seen how diamonds help empower the people of Botswana and South Africa, especially the wonderful students deserving of an education,” says Kim Kardashian. ”I am truly happy to be a part of the Diamond Empowerment Fund family.”



Great African Reads


Aksanty Fashion Show

African Proverbs

Patricia Yumba

“We are happy to bring you this cultural mosaic. Next time you go to your book store make sure you pick up a copy of our selection of great African reads. Our choice of African proverbs will certainly provide you with great insight on the continent and inspiration. In September, African design was showcased at the Aksanty Fashion show in Belgium, and it is a pleasure for us to share the beautiful designs from Yolande Van Muylem, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo.�

Great African Reads Find these African books at any good book store or order online.

Aké: The Years of Childhood, Wole Soyinka - 1983 When he was 4 years old, spurred by insatiable curiosity and the beat of a marching drum, Wole Soyinka slipped silently through the gate of his parents’ yard and followed a police band to a distant village. This was his first journey beyond Aké, Nigeria, and reading his account is akin to witnessing a child’s epiphany: The parsonage wall had vanished forever but it no longer mattered. Those token bits and pieces of Aké which had entered our home on occasions, or which gave off hints of their nature in those Sunday encounters at church, were beginning to emerge in their proper shapes and sizes. Nobel laureate Soyinka is a prolific playwright, poet, novelist, and critic, but seems to have found his purest voice as an autobiographer. Aké: The Years of Childhood is a memoir of stunning beauty, humor, and perception--a lyrical account of one boy’s attempt to grasp the often irrational and hypocritical world of adults that equally repels and seduces him. Soyinka elevates brief anecdotes into history lessons, conversations into morality plays, memories into awakenings. Various cultures, religions, and languages mingled freely in the Aké of his youth, fostering endless contradictions and personalized hybrids, particularly when it comes to religion. Christian teachings, the wisdom of the ogboni, or ruling elders, and the power of ancestral spirits--who alternately terrify and inspire him--all carried equal metaphysical weight. Surrounded by such a collage, he notes that “God had a habit of either not answering one’s prayers at all, or answering them in a way that was not straightforward.”

Segou: Les Murailles De Terre (Chemins d’identite) by Maryse Conde 1984 It is late 18th-century Africa, and change, in the form of slave traders from the west and Islam from the east, is coming to the tribal societies. In Segu, a kingdom near present-day Mali, the family of nobleman Dousika Traore is torn apart by the actions of his four sons: One fights for the old pagan ways, one becomes a Moslem, one is taken to Brazil on a slaver, and one is a mercenary. The customs and beliefs of Segu’s Bambara tribe are skillfully woven into the story, and the descriptions of slavery and the slave trade are both compelling and horrifying. As in many sagas with as broad a canvas, the characters are somewhat flat, but fascination with the background will carry the reader.

Leopold Sedar Senghor: The Collected Poetry Leopold Sedar Senghor was not only president of the Republic of Senegal from 1960 to 1981, he is also Africa’s most famous poet. A cofounder of the Negritude cultural movement, he is recognized as one of the most significant figures in African literature. This bilingual edition of Senghor’s complete poems made his work available for the first time to English-speaking audiences. His poetry, alive with sensual imagery, contrasts the lushness and wonder of Africa’s past with the alienation and loss associated with assimilation into European culture.



A frican proverbs nt ir judgeme fa a t e g r eve goat will n e h t e g d e ju ard is mad p o le e h t Where . an old gorilla to t s e r fo e th of ch the paths a te t o n o d You

One falsehood spoils a thousand truths

What an old man can see while seated a young man cannot see s tanding Wood may rema in ten years in the wate r, but it wil l nev er be come a cro codil e.


Showcasing Yolande Van Muylem designs, from the Democratic Republic of Congo Photos by Philippe Rikir

A ksanty Fashion Fashion Show - Held in Belgium


They Conquered Hollywood


Charlize Theron


Profession: Actress Origin: South Africa Date and place of birth: August 7th 1975, Benoni (South Africa) Debut : Charlize grew up on a small farm in a rural area called Benoni ( not too far from the city of Johannesburg). In her early years, she developed a passion for artistic dance. At 6, she takes ballet lessons. At 12, she is sent to a boarding school in Johannesburg to further her artistic education and pursue her dream of becoming a ballerina. Few years later, at 16, she wins a beauty pageant. She travels to Milan then New York and tries to launch a modeling career. In New York, she resumes ballets lesson, hoping to revive her ballerina dream. Unfortunately a recurrent knee injury forces her to let go of her passion. Career Highlights:  She decides to move to Los Angeles and become an actress instead. She did her debut in 1995, in the movie « Children of the corn III». She is offered more important roles in movies such as “The Devil’s advocate” with Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves in 1997. The recognition comes with her role in 2003 in the thriller “Monster”, for which she won an Oscar and a Golden Globe.

A first : 2004: first time two African actors are nom

Djimon Hounsou Profession : Actor Origin: Benin Date and place of birth: April 24th 1964, Cotonou ( Bénin) Debut : Djimon spent his childhood in Benin. As a teenager, he is sent to France to join family members. Few years later, he is scouted by a modeling agent from the French designer house Thierry Mugler. This is the beginning of Djimon’s international modelling career. His professional life takes a new direction, when he is invited to appear in Madonna’s music video « Express Yourself ». After that, he features in music videos of celebrities such as Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul. Djimon also appears as an extra in several movies. Career Highlights:  In 1997, Djimon’s acting career is launched with a role in « Amistad » directed and produced by cinema guru Steven Spielberg. He receives a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.  In 2004, he plays in the movie “In America” and receives an Academy Award nomination for his role. His second Golden Globe nomination come with his latest movie “Blood Diamonds”, an action movie denouncing diamond trafficking in Africa’s conflict areas.

minated for an “Academy Award” the same year.





Bike Charger

Changing lives through imagination and ingenuity

Travelling long distances to charge a cell phone for many Africans living in remote rural areas could soon become a thing of the past. Two Kenyans students, Jeremiah Murimi, 24, and Pascal Katana, 22, have unveiled a small device which allows cell phone users in areas without electricity to recharge their batteries while pedalling their bikes. The pocket-sized, bicycle-powered charger will certainly make a huge difference in the lives of many who have to travel long distance to charge their cell phone batteries usually at a very high cost. In Kenya and other parts of Africa, the mobile phone is more than an accessory or voice communication device; it is used for a wide variety of tasks, from sending money to family members to buying a fish from the market.

Interesting Facts

The “smart charger” will help change the lives of many in Kenya where In June of 1999, there were only 15,000 mobile phone subscribers. By the end of 2004 the country had 3.4 million subscribers, and this number has grown to over 5.6 million, despite the fact that only 200,000 Kenyan households have electricity.

• Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt are the fastest growing markets

The engineering students from Nairobi University plan to sell their chargers for $4.50, roughly the cost of two charges. Kenya’s National Council for Science and Technology has backed the project, and the students hope they will find a way of massproducing the chargers


• Africa has 300 million mobile phone subscribers

• Africa has become the fastest growing mobile market in the world with mobile penetration in the region ranging from 100% to 30% • Pre-paid subscriptions account for nearly 95 percent of total mobile subscriptions in the region • The mobile penetration rate in South Africa is 84%


id you know?

Africa, second-largest of the Earth’s seven continents - covering about 30,330,000 sq km (11,699,000 sq mi), which makes up about 22 per cent of the world’s total land area.

Largest Country Sudan, republic in north-eastern Africa, the largest country of the African continent. Sudan has a total area of 2,505,800 sq km (967,490 sq mi). Smallest Country The smallest African country is The Seychelles covering an area of 453 sq km but Gambia is the smallest of the mainland African states, covering an area of 11,300 sq km (4,363 sq mi).

Lake Tana in Ethiopia, and the White Nile, which originates at Lake Victoria. Namib Desert The Namib is the world’s oldest desert, and the only desert in Africa inhabited by elephant, rhino, giraffe and lion Namibia - Fish River Canyon The Fish River canyon is the second largest canyon in the world.

Largest City Egypt’s capital city, Cairo, is the largest city in Africa with an estimated 9.2 million population

The Sahara Desert The Sahara Desert alone is expanding southwards at an average of 0.8 km (½ mile) a month.

Highest Point Mount Kilimanjaro - Uhuru Point - (5895m/19,340 ft) in Tanzania

Diamonds The world’s largest diamond was the Cullinan, found in South Africa in 1905. It weighed 3,106.75 carats uncut. It was cut into the Great Star of Africa, weighing 530.2 carats, the Lesser Star of Africa, which weighs 317.40 carats, and 104 other diamonds of nearly flawless colour and clarity. They now form part of the British crown jewels.

Lowest Point the lowest is Lake ‘Asal (153 m/502 ft below sea level) in Djibouti Longest River The River Nile drains north-eastern Africa, and, at 6,650 km (4,132 miles), is the longest river in Africa and in the world. It is formed from the Blue Nile, which originates at

Windmills Did you know there are about 280 000 windmills on farms across South Africa, second in number only to Australia?



elcome to


the Dogon country

Also referred to as the jewel in the crown of West Africa, Mali has an extremely rich culture and history. DOGON COUNTRY


Dogon country is home of one of the most fascinating cultures in Africa. The Dogon people have retained much of their original culture and still practice their traditional beliefs. Funerary mask dances are still performed at the end of mourning periods, to encourage the spirit of a loved one to depart the village and join the ancestors. The Dogon people fled their original homeland to escape the spread of Islam, and settled in and around the cliffs of the Bandiagara escarpment. Hardworking and proud of their culture, the Dogon are wellknown for their art. Carved wooden sculptures, masks, and doors are highly sought after by collectors.

Djenne or the mud-bricked city was named a World Heritage Site in 1988. The city has taken great care to preserve the mud architecture, including the world-famous mosque, the largest mud-brick building in the world, originally built in the XVIIIth century. Mopti was and remains a commercial center. It is the melting pot of Mali, where many ethnic groups come to trade: Bambara, Malinke, Fulani, Bobo, Bozo, Dogon, Songhai, Tuareg and Hausa cultures.

TIMBUKTU The city of legend truly exists, on the fringes of the Sahara Desert, in Mali. Timbuktu was once a world-renowned center of Islamic culture, as well as an important terminus of the trans-Saharan caravan trade—salt from the north, arriving on the azalaïs, exchanged for gold and slaves from the south. One of Unesco’s World Heritage sites, Timbuktu is still worth a visit for its ancient mosques (former universities) or for the austere beauty of the surrounding desert


THE NIGER RIGER The Niger river is one of the great rivers of the world. It marks an approximate boundary between the Sahara desert and the Sahel, and it provides a livelihood to thousands of fishermen. Even though it is a landlocked country, Mali is Africa’s thirdranking fish producer. The Bozo people are the predominant cultural group along the Niger, and any river trip will be with them, in a traditional wooden pinnace powered by poling, by sail, or by outboard motor.

THE ANCIENT MANUSCRIPT OF TIMBUKTU The first constructions in Timbuktu were designed by African architects from Djenne and later on, by Muslim architects from North Africa. It was at this time that the King of Sosso invaded the empire of Ghana, thus causing the exodus of the scholars of Walata to Timbuktu. By the 12th century, Timbuktu became a celebrated center of Islamic learning and a commercial establishment. Timbuktu had three universities and 180 Qur’anic schools. These universities were the Sankore University, Jingaray Ber University and Sidi Yahya University. Timbuktu was one of the great centers of learning in the Islamic world. Scholars and students travelled from as far away as Cairo, Baghdad, and elsewhere in Persia to study from the noted manuscripts found in Timbuktu. At its peak, over 25,000 students attended the University of Timbuktu. The private collections of the sacred manuscripts that date back over some 600 years cover diverse subjects: mathematics, chemistry, physics, optics, astronomy, medicine, history, geography, Islamic sciences and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), government legislation and treaties, jurisprudence and much more. The Ahmed Baba Research Center houses the largest collection. Some scholars estimate that there are over 700,000 manuscripts housed throughout collections in Timbuktu


U nesco

world heritage site


The 11 medieval monolithic cave churches of this 13th-century ‘New Jerusalem’ are situated in a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia near a traditional village with circular-shaped dwellings. Lalibela is a high place of Ethiopian Christianity, still today a place of pilmigrage and devotion.

Exodus Magazine  

Celebrating Africa and showcasing the accomplishments of the African Diaspora

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