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Akinyi: Okay, let’s start I’m like really nervous. You look so amazing. Thank you. Okay, let me begin. So Hello everyone, my name is Akinyi Obama-Manners and I’m 24 years old and I am a Youth:Present representative. I am passionate about working with children and young people to positively impact their lives by using art to allow for self-expression and creative thinking. For example, I’ve been working at Sauti Kuu Foundation in Kenya since 2019, where I helped develop the arts and creativity project activities and I work with toddlers and young people in an early childhood development program in a Nice Ju children’s village in Kenya. Today, I’m delighted to be speaking with Hafsat Abiola today and to learn more about her life, her work, and her engagement with the World Future Council. By way of introduction, Hafsat Abiola-Costello sorry, excuse me, is a human and civil rights campaigner and was appointed June 5, 2018, as the Executive President of Women in Africa Initiative. This initiative is dedicated to the economic development and support of leading and high potential African women. She is also the founder of the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy, which seeks to strengthen civil society and promote democracy in Nigeria. In 2008, she founded China Africa Bridge, an organization that seeks to ensure that growing African ties benefit between the continent and China. Hafsat received the Youth Peace and Justice Award from the Cambridge Peace Commission in 1997, the State of the World’s Forum Changemaker Award in 1998, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Leader of Tomorrow Award 2000. Since 2008, she has been a Council member of World Future Council. Welcome to The Good Council Hafsat. How have you been like, it’s so great to see you again.
Hafsat: I’ve been really I think, under a lot of stress. As of Monday, I just went for my final divorce court date. So huge, huge thing. It’s kind of sad to put to bed a dream of a wonderful marriage, but I think it’s also in inspiring, at least for me to put to bed, something that did not work, you know, sometimes you just have to do that because you don’t think something’s working you think that well, let’s keep trying to make it work. But if it’s not going to work, it’s sometimes a good idea to put it to rest so that you create space for other things.
Akinyi: Yeah, and I think also especially now since Corona, it’s definitely a time of New Age kind of like rebirth for everyone.
Hafsat: Yes, yeah. So, in a way that whole process has been on one hand, empowering. And the other it’s been stressful because I’m having to move physically from where I was living with my now ex-husband, to my new home. But it’s also been it’s also been a time for reflection. I really am thinking also about I’ve been thinking a lot about Virginia Woolf. And I’ve still never gotten around to reading the book “A room of one’s one”. But I began to realize how important it is that women have spaces of their own. I think that we do so many things differently. And the world needs the balance between the male and female energies. And when I say the balance between the male and female energies, I’m not talking about an institution like marriage, where oftentimes the female energy has been subsumed into a preexisting framework. I’m talking about real partnership, where both energies coexist in equal power, because I think that that then allows for the full expression of what’s positive.I’ve been thinking a lot about that even now, as we think of them. You now, there’s so much pressure and push for women to go into leadership. And what does this mean? I can eat? When I think of my you know, and my experience of my marriage is actually genuinely very positive, because I am married to an extremely progressive person, when I think of the institution of marriage, and the institution of government and power, and corporate power, and all the various forms of power. And we’re saying that women should go away, if we’re not careful, all they’ll do is just go and be submerged. When what the world needs, is the ability to go in and transform. And I think that we need to be thinking of how women create spaces, that allows us to hold on to our power, so that we have the full capacity to transform dysfunctional spaces, instead of just going into encouraging women to go into spaces, where then they’ll just be a number a quarter, and we’ll say we have 25% or 30%. But what’s still the outcome in terms of the allocation of resources and innovation, the appropriation of benefits? Is it more egalitarian? Is it more democratic? Is it more life sustaining or not? So, I think that I want us to begin, and especially, you know, in the end, it was because of your generation, that I was bullish around this question about divorce, not because of myself, because actually, the way that we’re raised in Nigeria, and particularly my culture, the Yoruba culture, from a very young age, girls are trained that way. So it was, you have to be like cool water. So even when you are in a hot situation, if you’re very, if you cool enough, you call the situation, you know, because we really trained to stay calm, and to absorb quite a lot. And I could have continued absorbing any number of things, when I thought of two children that I have my son and my daughter, but I want them to have the example of equal coexistence between male and female energy. And I want that given to them in such a clear and compelling way. Why do I say that? My mom died when she was 44 years old. I was at the time she died, I was about 21, I was going to turn 22. So, she has been that I’m going to be 50 very soon, in three years, I’ll be 50. So, she’s been dead for more than half of my life. And yet, I can tell you that whenever I have a question about anything, I feel my mother, I feel like voice. I just feel her like sitting beside me. And then we look at the problem together. And then I just realizing it’s just going to be this way. And you know, we’re Africans and Africans, we believe very much in the ancestors in the journey that I’ve taken just even in the last few months. So, find a new place to stay, or go to a place and they’ll say, you know, maybe they’d look at me and see this black African woman and they just wouldn’t give me the apartment. Finally, finally, if you see the place I finally found, it is so perfect in every way. The gentle children love it. It’s just walking distance from their school. It’s so perfect, and I don’t think I found it. I think the ancestors looked at the problem that I had. And they said have such as continue to conduct ourselves in the way in which we put her and so they went ahead, and I took care of everything. And so that’s why I want to make the example as compelling. Because who knows when you’re going to go in this era of COVID? People, you, you, you hear that somebody isn’t feeling well and 24 hours later that the person died. If anything were to happen, I would, no matter how long ago I left, at the gentle children, whenever they faced with a question, I should have a very clear understanding about what their mother would have wanted them to do. I think it’s so important that we live, that our lives be a clear message, that there should never be any confusion as to what our priorities are. And that we’re here, not for ourselves, but to really uphold the human spirit in the very, very best possible way.
Akinyi: Now, it’s so inspiring to me, how you talk about your mother and her role and her legacy in your life. So, what did you learn from your mother? And what might she have learned from us?
Hafsat: So, when I was very young, I’m not just an introvert, which is kind of extrapolating as I said, I’m a learner. So, I am very, on this whole water thing. My Water is very cool, extremely cool. I remember one day, someone slapped me and someone younger than me. She was upset and she slapped me and my mother, so my mother came to hear about it. Now I didn’t do anything when the person did that, because I just thought clearly, she must be upset. And that’s why she’s done that. My mother blew a gasket. She could not believe that allowed someone to slap me that I allowed someone to slap me. I hadn’t even thought about retaliation in any way. In fact, I didn’t even want to do that. My by my nature is just very relaxed. In fact, I just think Oh, poor girl. She’s so upset. And I’m given a Maven to thinking how to help her not to be so upset. Yeah. Then I remember the tools actually very cool native as I work. In fact, I have low blood pressure. She used to have low blood pressure when she was alive. So, because we just we just take it just takes more energy more to happen for me to be Want to in order to get any otherwise, I’m just happy going through life. And my mother taught me something at that moment that it was important for me not to allow people to walk all over me. Because let myself I’m actually perfectly comfortable with that. I have no problem with that. Because I mean, if somebody is walking all over you, maybe the person needed something to walk on. I mean, it, that’s just kind of my mentality, I’m doing very well, because my mother taught me that. Essentially, she was teaching me to stand up for myself because she got upset. And she spoke to me and scolded me. And essentially said, you have to learn to stand up for yourself. So, I think that’s the big lesson I learned from my mother is that I have to stand up for myself. that’s my daughter, because we’re invading our bedroom actually, sorry. You know, she was, she was, she felt very much that I shouldn’t allow that to happen. And actually, that has really helped me in my life. Because I think, just because it doesn’t really matter to you, isn’t actually a good reason to allow somebody to do something that isn’t respectful of you. Just because you can take it and it doesn’t really bother you so much, doesn’t mean you should allow it because because it’s also not good for that person, for you to allow them to power in a way that is limiting for others. It’s not good for them. And maybe if they are, if you allow them and they go on to do it to someone else, the person’s reaction will be so balanced and so aggressive. Whereas you because you notice that they’ve crossed the line. And because you say you stay so even tempered, maybe you’re the best person to say to them that that you’ve crossed a line, you shouldn’t cross that kind of line, we shouldn’t do that. And so I learned that from my mom. And I’ve been learning to stand up for myself. And the other thing I learned about standing up for myself. I don’t know where I learned this at you want to say that? It wasn’t from my mom, I don’t know where it was. I don’t know. But I don’t want to say I learned that when you want to respond. Okay, two things. Number one, when you want to respond, it’s extremely important that you are not reacting, but you are responding. So when you react is like somebody still have to do to just slap the president back and you start you know, fighting, that’s a reaction. Yeah. I set the terms for your engagement, and you have gone along with the term that I’ve been sexually. Where does power lie? Sorry. So my daughter has to collect something from a room. So we’re sorry to have invaded your space? By Zoe by Bella. So um, you know, it’s something I’m not I lost my train of thought, if something happens and you, you are not, and you follow the framework that has been created. You remember this quotation? Oh, I haven’t shared the quotation with you that slavery is not African history, slavery, interrupted African history. So it’s as if you’ve allowed yourself to be interrupted. And you’re now going with the narrative from the person that has interrupted you? Well, when somebody is interrupted, you often don’t want to take you off course, maybe you are going in this particular direction, and it’s not in their best interest, that you continue in that direction. So they try to derail you push you off course. And you when you then get sidetracked, you’ve that you’ve allowed them to win, essentially. So it’s important not to do that. Yes, you don’t want to be taken advantage of by others. But in when you say that somebody is taking advantage of you, you have to be careful to give a complete response that is, but you must act in a way that advances your own cause. You’ll act in a way that furthers their cause, you know, somebody has slapped you, maybe that person is actually physically stronger. When you slap them that they’ll end up beating you up.
Akinyi: Yeah, exactly.
Hafsat: You know, what you’ve allowed them to set the terms of engagement along the terms that best events. But when you didn’t do that, when you just step back, and you look at what the person has done, when you consider what your options are, how to respond, there’s you holding on to your power, and then applying your power in the most responsible way. Because then you could come up with a solution that at least is good for you, at the minimum. And at the maximum, ideally is good for both of you. So you could have a conversation with that person. And then the person says, you know, I don’t know why I did that, I’m sorry, I’m going to check myself in the future, and you have a better understanding. So that I think is better, especially if you’re not physically as strong. Something else I wanted to say about that which is connected. It’s always better in any engagement. Wherever possible, the strongest power is in action. Not so much in words. So, if there’s something that we don’t like, like, we don’t like the way Africa is positioned in the global economy, but Africans spend so much time talking about the poverty in Africa, the challenges, I just think that that’s not what we should be doing. We should be spending as much time connecting me, Hafsat connecting to Akinyi, and seeing and doing research, how do we change that situation? That’s what our audience is not just an exhausting yourself, lamenting limitation. Now, what is it going to do for anybody? What is it ever done? But it’s the innovation, always holding on to hope, and always trusting that the God that made Caucasians and Asians is the same color that has made Africans and is not a God as much as found in us to poverty and misery. So that is a challenge that he has set before us, he has set because he knows we can meet the challenge, then we work to meet it. So, I think that, and when we move in that way, we then engage all the potential allies and say, here’s where we’re at what Africans are doing. We would love for you to partner with us. You know, when you look at the history of the world, we look at the audacity of British companies going to take over pretty much the subcontinent of India and run it as their own private system. Before it was actually a British company, not even the British state that did that the East India Company. Yeah, you know, and, and those people acted and then mobilized alliances to concrete concretize, that action? We are not doing that. And I think that’s the problem is not that they did it, is the fact that we don’t have enough belief in ourselves to also take action.
Akinyi: And I think it’s about like because I think power comes from within. So, it’s how you harness that power?
Hafsat: Completely agree.
Akinyi: I think that’s so important. And I think also with how like the pandemic has happened, and how things have slowed down, I think especially as like black women, we’re always taught, like, we’re so strong, you know, we fail through whatever adversity or whatever happens to us. And I think it’s important for us to, like, be able to, like, be soft, to be able to be sad, if we need to be sad, you know, to be able to, like, be, we don’t have to be strong all the time. And I think that’s also important in like getting into those leadership roles. Because I think, as well as like being a strong woman, you also need to like have, you need to have emotions, you need to be like emotional in the sense that you can like slow down, you can see things for what they really are not just like hard as that’s what like the word expects women to be because we’re strong, you know.
Hafsat: You know, to be honest with you, I think it even goes deeper than that, I think, you know, first we’re women, and that’s a big issue that we need to unpack. And we’re also black people, that’s also I think, and the world that we live in, in a way bigger. Consider, you know, there was one day, I went to the very first trip to another West African country, Cote d’Ivoire. And its sister of mine from my yacht. One of the French departments in that is an island of African, the African post. She convened so many of us together in this case. And there was this exhibition that she organized that a friend of hers had done, where they looked at the way in which story where they looked at the way in which they looked at the way in which black people have been presented over centuries. Actually, women followed that exhibition, it started playing. I didn’t know when they looked at was wanting to child, I think I need to go in a zoo in a pen in a zoo, and all these people around her looking at her, like the way we look at monkey, you go to the zoo and over a banana. Then there was even another woman with a child that she was carrying and another child standing beside her and we’re going looking at this family, then the woman that they took from South Africa, Lucy I think she had a very big one. And I think that took her to France. And she was on a tour, she was put on a circuit, and people would come from all over to local, especially because of our bond, because he had a very big gun. You know, when she death, she wasn’t giving any dignity because they now did this effort to find out, you know, to call her up to study our body. When President Mandela will go to South Africa to France, when he became president of South Africa, immediate requests that remains should begin Even back to the people of South Africa. So she could be probably very. I think you, you know, there was another time I read about the Second World War. And Winston Churchill in England, you know, he, you know, Africans as colonial subjects that being part of that war as soldiers, Nigeria, in many countries, Kenya. But at the end, when they were doing the march into England, the victory march into England, Winston Churchill made the decision that the Africans should come in last, so that by this time, most of the crowd would have gone and then they wouldn’t have to acknowledge that Africans had contributed to helping them win that war. We think it’s always interesting for us, when you hear about things like this, we think, well, how could that have happened? And that’s wrong? I think we should think differently, I think, you know, how are those kinds of things happening even today? In what ways are Africans being continually objectified? In what ways? Are we not getting the rewards of our labor? Because I think sometimes, those kinds of practices, we think are colonization, it went on. And in the, from 1958, when Ghana secured independence, the countries in Africa became started to become independent. But we don’t think of the kind of mindset that shaped those kinds of political systems, and the fact that those mindsets still exist. So I think you know, that we need to realize that colonization or frameworks are like the tip of the iceberg that we can see below the iceberg is even a larger body of values, ideas, beliefs about other people. So that even if you take care of the colonization as a framework, and say, we let’s get this country to be independent, you will continually have the children, the offspring of that kind of mindset, that would also be degrading, dehumanizing for the people affected. So, I want us to take that approach. And because if we take that approach, we become more critical, less accepting, more insistent on evidence, more insistent on data, more insistent on looking at actual results, and not to be overwhelmed and overtaken by pronouncements, you know. I’m here in Belgium, which is just a wonderful country. But you know, one of their stories was when they came at the colony, in very hot continents. And he wanted to meet a certain quota for rubber. So to make sure that the Africans could deliver this quarter, their hands were cut their feet, my car, if they fail to deliver even that of their children. Now, when you think about that, and then you think about how the country gained its independence, and what happened right after that to the first democratically elected president, and the fact that till today, Congo is the poorest black, poorest country in Africa. Even though they have coltan, which is an essential and strategic resource used for every mobile phone, then you can see the long history and how we continue the has an impact. So what I don’t want is for us to feel like oh, we’re all looking at us were victims. Woe is us, everybody is against us. Because that’s not true. From the experience of slavery, through the experience of colonization, through the experience of neoliberal economics on our different countries and economies. We’ve had allies in the rest of the world will stood with us. But I think also that my challenge actually is that within the continent, so few realize that we need allies. So few realize that we’re still in a battle. They still Besant to say, Oh, it’s all about our governments now and the governments to do what they need to do, but it’s more than our governments. It’s always been more than the continent, because the continent and the people of the continent are considered to be special reserves of others. And I think this is where we need to begin to address a lack of true sovereignty, then I think that we need to recognize that as Africans, There was this beautiful quote from Toni Morrison, where she said, the big, the big, the big motive of racism is distraction. So they tell you, you don’t have a history and you start doing research to prove you have a history, when they tell you don’t have a language show to prove that you were done there, you exist in all this. And I think we need to remember that our goal as Africans is not to prove our humanity to anyone. Our goal, as Africans is to be present in the world, on equal terms with others. And so we should keep our eye on that prize. That what does the world need to have expressed today that we as Africans can also support the expression of and not get distracted by all these efforts, many centuries in the making to dehumanize and degrade us.
Akinyi: That was really, like, incredible to listen to. Like I’ve just like lost for words. Like I can listen to you all day. So now I want to know more about you. And so, my first question is, what did you want to be when you were a child?
Hafsat: When I was young, I wanted to be a diplomat. And I told my dad, that I want to be a diplomat, because I had gotten into Georgetown School of Foreign Service. I applied early from high school. And I said to my dad, but I want to go there because I want to be a diplomat. And my father paused. And he said, what kind of husband will you marry gallivanting around the world? The funny thing is that, if not for COVID, I would still be gallivanting around the world, because when he won the political presidential election in Nigeria, and this was decades ago, in 1993, and then the military put him in jail. And my mother had to begin to lead the pro-democracy efforts. At that moment, I became an activist, I started traveling, to speak for a cause for democracy, I was traveling all over the United States, through Canada, through the United Kingdom, everywhere we went to Germany, to price our case. And then afterwards, I became involved, I created an organization in Nigeria to empower women and young people to participate in that democracy, and kept traveling because of that., because I’ll be invited to Sweden, I’ve been invited. I was working on a youth employment campaign to help generate millions of jobs for young people around the world. So, we would be holding a summit in Egypt would all the summit in India, you know, so I was always traveling. And I always remember that my father said, you know, what kind of husband because I did find your husband over now. My ex husband, but also, because I think that’s ultimately the worst. I mean, I don’t represent any government. But oh, it’s saying that my internet is unstable, I hope returned to conversation. But it doesn’t, you know, I don’t represent any government. But as president of women in Africa, I represent African women. And I’m having to travel, engage with partners, engage with sponsors, and advocate for women’s economic empowerment. So, I think I ended up doing actually exactly what I wanted to do.
Akinyi: Yeah, for sure. And I think also, because through your work, you’re promoting the development of women, as initiators of change through leadership and awareness programs, for examples through founding the Kudirat initiative for democracy, which is named after your mother. Why did you name after your mother?
Hafsat: I liked that woman so much. Yeah, in my brain, great human being. And when the military gunned her, down on the streets of Lagos, because she was organizing the democratic effort, I wanted to let the military know that they had not silenced that voice. So created, because she’s a very kind lady. I just needed the acronym kind of starts with a case of I made it easier, and that I could write initiative for Nigerian democracy. And then I thought to myself, well, maybe if he hadn’t been killed, she would have gone global. So right, why restricted because she was killed. So, I really could not imagine it for democracy. And what I’ve learned, what I’ve learned in the decades of working very hard, fostering democracy can in Nigeria, especially is that you cannot really have political democracy, if you don’t also have the sovereignty to define your economic path, the autonomy to define your economic path. And a lot of the African countries, the reason why we have so much wealth, and yet, graduates without jobs, is because we’re in a global economic system that is very restrictive, and extremely extracted of the African continent, and exploitative of the African continent, and is not given us enough resources to solve those issues of actually really, of unemployment. And because that the issue of unemployment is connected to infrastructure, especially power, and so many other costs a huge amount of money to put in place. But Africa is a generator, it’s just not enough generator for Africans. And if Africa were able to be in a position to generate the wealth for Africans, then we will be able to begin to put in place those the necessary ecosystem for prosperity. And that’s where we, we have to go. And I mean it when I say that Africa is a wealth generator, because there was this study that was done by the Soros Foundation, and also, has been confirmed by the UN Economic Commission on Africa, where they look at the economies of Africa. And they ask the question, is the world helping Africa? Is Africa helping the world? like looking at capital flows? Money, the flow of money? Is the world being the net benefit of the flows between Africa and the rest of the world net positive for Africa? Or is it Africa, that is that sends out wealth into the world. And when they look at going direct investments from all the global players, and then looked at investment, they looked at eight, which we often hear about when the g7 meets, and they make this pronouncement. And they look at all of those things. And they look at all the money that flows out of Africa. They found that Africa powers the world to the tune of about $50 billion a year. Africa is net negative. Africa is being sucked dry on behalf of wealthier parts of the world. So, when not so much poor, we were being impoverished, there’s a difference. We are poor because we are being impoverished. And we can need to change that. Because in a way, we’ve been doing that net negative for 400 years, first with people, and now with our critical resources. And it’s time for the world to feed the continent, the mother continent, actually, so that we can actually have 1.2 billion people.
Akinyi: And how do you think we can even do that? Because of course, like, I’ve like read things where, even like the former French colonies, like a majority, like a percentage of their GDP goes to France. And if they do, and it’s even, like, I think a law, there’s like a colonial law where they still have to pay and if they don’t pay, they get into problems with France, and things like that. So it’s like, how do we say no, because I guess it’s like, maybe our leaders aren’t saying no, they’re just kind of like seeing it as a bet because it benefits them. But then like for us to now say no.
Hafsat: Well, no. Problem. Okay. Okay. So I think that first, we have to remember that we’ve been down this road before we went down this word during that period of trying to have a global movement on slavery, we went down the same road on colonization. And know it needs to go down that road again. You need to continually expand the space for African people to be full people and full participants in the global system. And not just feeding the system and not able to benefit from it. You know, because that’s not right. So we we just have to start building that movement for that, and follow that movement is speaking about that reality. We don’t do enough. We speak about national governments, or the country Kenya, because the truth is that this issue is across the 54 countries of the continent. So and I think it’s the overarching issue that we need to be speaking about. And as we speak about it, we’ll be able to gather allies. And you know, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, spoke at the UN food summit recently about a month ago. And the talk he gave, which is along the same lines, as gone viral, people are listening, people are beginning to pay attention because before they were told that it’s the African leaders that grew up but in that study that I mentioned to you from the solid foundation, and from the Economic Commission for Africa, it shows that less than 5% of the corruption is from the African leaders. So it’s not really from that and that another 20 something percent is from On the criminal underworld, I think the mafia, which we almost pray to them, the majority of it is the multinationals doing something they call pricing mis invoicing, so that they can claim less money, they can claim less money than they actually make in a place. So they don’t have to pay taxes. And so the current US, US president who is showing a lot of dynamics and President Biden, as pushed for a minimum multinational tax of 15%. He actually was proposing 21%. And or, yeah, I think it was around 21% and the other partners pushed down for 15%. But the truth is that it’s going to benefit the countries of Africa, it has to be around 21 to 25%. Otherwise, the minimum tax will go to benefit in already well, for countries, which is now what it’s looking like it’s going to do. So that’s another issue that we shouldn’t leave to President Biden, we should have a whole momentum that should be we should organize, we should organize with churches in the US, African American organizations in the US, the Black Lives Matter movement, others all over the world. with India, they have many progressive platforms for things like this, and push on this issue. And we should work to create alternatives. You know, because people, people say, Yeah, but can it be different. And it’s always better, instead of talking about how it could be different to show how it’s different. So with the world future council constantly, consistently looking for ways in which some countries are doing things differently, that’s powerful, because it shows that it can be done differently. There’s nothing more impactful than the power of an idea that works. So we should, we should constantly be raising the profile of these ideas, because everybody in the world can see that the way we’re currently organizing things doesn’t work. But we’re just not doing enough to show that there are other ways that are possible.
Akinyi: Yeah, I think so too. And what is the most important piece of advice that you live by?
Hafsat :I think the most important piece of advice that has become crystal clear to me now is that we must never forget the power of signaling the world we want. You know, so there’s a lot of information and people that people that can share a lot of information that tells you that there’s a crisis and all of that, but we have to always remember that human beings are social beings. And as social beings, human beings are so open to influence, but they are most susceptible to the loudest or maybe the most consistent influence. And I think those of us who want the world shaped in a different way, as so rode by the status quo. And we just keep looking and saying but look at this and look at that. And yet if we keep signaling, that the world is ready for change, you know, even the status quo that we think is so powerful, all of a sudden, we’ll start to make small changes and then bigger changes. So, I think that we have to begin to we have to realize another thing that connected to this, this, this Ava DuVernay, she has a great quote the filmmaker, she has this great. She says the world is not impressed by potential; the world is impressed by momentum. And it goes to that signaling issue. So, if we start to build momentum around, the issues we care about, people start to pay attention to start influence their thinking and shape their thinking, and then we will change the world. So, in fact, it might seem very small, whatever it is that we decide to do. But if we actually do those things, then we can actually shape a different reality.
Akinyi: Yeah, for sure. And like you mentioned that in Africa, you believe in the power of community over the power of individuals? How has that shaped your life?
Hafsat: No, that’s okay. In terms of my, my philosophy of life, that’s the key one. So, I want to tell you the story, and it’s on my Twitter, I pinned it on my Twitter page with anthropologists to come in met some African children in a village. And he told them that he had a basket of fruits. And he set up a game, he said that the, whichever of them would get to a tree First, will get back the basket of fruits, and the children looked at each other. And then they held hands and then walked to the tree. So, all of them won. And he asked them, you know, why do you play that game in that way? And they said, how can we be happy? How can one of us be happy if all the others are sad? And I think that that’s a call to humanity, that we’re all here together, you know, and so we should look out for one another, you should always try to take care of each other. And then the world becomes a much better place. And so, you know, that’s very, that’s about the power of community. I remember when the Uber driver was bringing me to my, my new place. And it’s not as the neighborhood is not as elite, even though it’s where the king of Belgium lives. where I used to live, but the taxi driver, the Uber driver said something very interesting. Sorry, can you hear the noise?
Akinyi: Oh, yeah, I can hear.
Hafsat: Very good and allow them to pass. Yeah, the Uber driver said something very interesting. He said, you know, so he had driven me from where I used to live and was taken to where I live now. And we’re live now is a more diverse community, with Moroccans, Africans and a lot of Europeans. And he said to me, hey, you have a community, you’re not just by yourself here. That’s what he said. And I already feel that, but I only have maybe I feel that because I act like because I have to say, my old community, I acted like I was in a company in a community, like, I know the name of the person at the corner shop. I know, I know, you know, I know the name of the person at the car for the person. I just, I just always approached life as if, as if I’m in a community, but apparently in this new neighborhood. Other people also behave the same way. Because then we don’t feel so alone. I feel like you can’t take on big things when you feel completely alone because the universe of a prayer along with Masami Do you call any conscious show because it’s like, Don’t make me into one person says Please, God, don’t make me to one person now and it’s because we all have anything that is important to do. We need to do it with others.
Akinyi: Yeah, for sure. And I think also like hopefully now, there’s I think now people are getting this sense of like that we actually need to be a community to make things happen. But yes, I think it comes from like the individual like mindset, the mentality but like for us to be able to, like really execute it. We need others to assist us. And I think this is where also this conversation is so important because it’s like having these intergenerational conversations. Yeah, for us to like, move forward, because we need to know like, how it was happening in the past. And also, like speaking to someone like you who like, has lived it, who has, you know, has been in it for most of your life. So, yeah, I think
Hafsat: Everything that I’m learning from people like you and my children, I think you guys are better than us, I think you have better values that you’re more, you know, in my time, people were so they should so much prejudice towards homosexuals. Now, they just whether they don’t see anything unusual about homosexuality, they don’t see anything unusual about people that are transgender, they’re more accepting of so much. And so, in a way, I also find that I learned from the younger people, you know, I learned so much about making space. So, I feel that in a way, because I was born black, I was born African female. And in a Muslim family, although I would say I’m not particularly religious. I think that, in many respects, I understand the experience of prejudice, because I’m so mad, I’m all those inventions, people, you have a lot of discrimination that women people can encounter. But I think, you know, even those groups of people sometimes then are discriminatory towards others. You know, I mean, maybe if I were not black, I would be racist, but the other so I am actually sexual, but our mind making the world safe for homosexuals. You know, how am I making the world safe? For people that are transgender? You know, I’ve been struggling with this pronouns thing, you know, that many people put my pronouns are so stupid if I did that, actually, I need to do that, because that tells transgender people that we respect them. You know, it’s so easy to say, Oh, don’t be racist towards Africans. Don’t be racist towards black people, because I’m black and an African and it’s in my interest that you’re not racist and discriminate. But in what ways Am I applying what I know about discrimination to being a better person myself?
Akinyi: Yeah. And I think that also the sense of community comes into that too. Because it’s like, if you are a community, then you’re able to do that.
Hafsat: I think that’s a superpower that we Africans have. Definitely, the Western countries have very strong markets and companies, and Asian countries have very strong state, and the Africans are superpower is that the strength of our communities. Look at Gemma in Kenya, how, through that collective community, we’ve been able to educate millions of people, millions of poor children who’ve gone on to build careers, you know, that same kind of dynamic is across the continent, I think that we’re Africans. What Africa needs to do next is take that same impetus into all the other foreign imposed systems that we have in our economy and in politics, in the African sense of community to those are the following things and, in that way, actually adapt those foreign things. So that they to pass, because those following structures and institutions haven’t been working for, like, I don’t know, 50 60 years. And it’s time for us to actually have the confidence to shape them differently to shape them in a way that is meant to work for us, instead of trying to for the Africans, to contort themselves to fit institutions that were created for another, other people based on their history and culture. We should actually define institutions that that work for us given the way we are.
Akinyi: Definitely. Yes, we’re working with them. So, it’s really about like our culture.
Hafsat: Yeah, about also confidence and going to, I think we’ll probably end in a minute, so low. That if there’s anything I’ve learned, and I’ve lived, I’ve lived in England, in the United States, in China, I’ve been to maybe easily, I don’t know, at least 30 plus countries. And if there’s anything I’ve learned is that I don’t think that we Africans need to continue to feel inferior to anybody, there’s no way I’ve been to where I think I thought these people are more than me, or yes, when I’ve been to China, I felt that this was a lot more organized than we would have been to the United States, I thought this was our most innovative. But actually, we also have very strong organization, organizational strengths. We also have very strong innovation capacity, but we’re just not nurturing all of that. So, I think that we just have to become more confident we as Africans, but also all of humanity has to become more confident that a new way is possible. And as we can bring this new, we’re about, I think that’s really what the message I want to make sure that I leave you with. Because when we look at the status quo, we’re always very good at saying how it doesn’t work, until we come to the point of how we can change it. And then we all direct have ideas, and everybody’s acting as if well, we just have to continue with it as it is no, we don’t, we can change it. You know, when they created the democratic system that the United States had about over 300 years ago, those people were confident, and they came up with something, I don’t think that there’s anything that they were able to, that they were endowed with that we lack, maybe accept the confidence. So we need to start being more confident and more audacious and really pushed to make our mark on the world and design something that makes sense for the world we live in.
Hafsat: You know, I think one of the big challenges is that, to my mind, the African countries have adopted a political system that is not really about the welfare and wellbeing of the majority of the people in their countries, the political system, and the Sudan political economy that we’ve generally all of us adopted this to allow us to participate in a global economic structure. And in just the same way that the Africans participated in the Second World War II call turns died in equal proportion, or maybe even more, in proportion to the rest of the soldiers that were relegated to the back. end of the war, known as a political economy, that is structured to benefit from Africa, without really benefiting the Africans. Before they have a great joke, he said that the world wants Africa. We just don’t want the Africans in it. And I think that, you know, it’s the only way you can understand and rationalize the way in which we have so much of the world’s gold, so much of the world’s copper, so much of the world’s diamonds, so much of the world’s cobalt and so much of the world’s remaining arable land. And yet, people are in the way that you just you just scraped, we really need to engage, and we negotiate on a need to be empowering young people for that. Because, you know, for me, it’s a 400-year-old story. And I think that we can all agree 1.2 million Africans can all agree. But that story as done as done whatever good is, which was never any good for us. And it’s time for a new one. And we should signal consistently, and clearly that it’s time for a new story. And even if I don’t get to live in that new story, I think if we start now working together, across generations, I can you can live in that new story and your children and live in that new story.
Akinyi: Yeah, that’s what I’m praying for. So that’s what I think, why do I do so I want to make sure that happens. My next question actually goes into that so. So, you’ve experienced and gone through some hard strokes of fate. So how has this shaped your life and your decisions?
Hafsat: So, this, I don’t remember the court exactly where it says women do not know that they are strong until being strong, the only choice they have. And maybe because as I was saying, I’m from 22 years old, my mom was killed, I wasn’t even 22, I was going to turn 22. And my father was still in jail. And our second oldest child, with five younger siblings, the youngest of whom was seven years old. And the one after me was nine to do it quite young. And I had to take responsibility right away. So, I had to find a home, make a haven of the home, and start working to raise children and raise a family get a job. Luckily, I was just graduated from university when mom was killed, so I was able to take my degree and get us get a job so I could feed the family. And so I think, you know, because there was no choice. There wasn’t I just had to get on with it and do it. So, I did the best I could. And luckily, you know, my, my seven-year-old brother is now he was telling me, how does he now is? He just turned 35. Yeah, now and, and so he calls me pretty much every day, spent an hour and is doing is extremely successful as an audit accountant. But I think his social skills needs work. You know, he’s a loner, and I’m a loner, I’m okay, being a loner, you know, I love reading, but he doesn’t even like reading. So it’s anyway. Because family, so family and speaking to us for a long time, because I’m really lucky, because we’re seven children. So, he has a lot of people to call.
Akinyi: I guess it takes up his whole day.
Hafsat: Yes. So, when I’m, in this new phase of my life, I feel like, you know, I already know that I’m strong. I already know because I’ve done so much that signal to me that I am strong. But if I have learned anything in that whole process, it’s also you must always give people the opportunity, opportunity to start again. So, if somebody gets something right, you should always give them the opportunity to try again. So, when I was when my, my father was in jail, and my mom had been killed, I had an older brother, I have an older brother I still had, and he became so traumatized by the whole experience, and then became pretty much fundamentalist Muslim. Then he had certain ideas about how the household should run. And so then, you would try to have the children praying, every, you know, all this, you know, and where our ethnic group in Nigeria is yoga, but very laid-back people. But my brother became one when he became very fundamentalist was the completely opposite of laid back is extremely rigid. And the children, it was very difficult for them. And I was trying to be like a buffer between children and my older brother, my younger siblings and him. Then one day, he just wanted to, I guess, teach me a lesson. And he tried to hit me on and call the police and the police took him and arrested him, but only for a few hours, and then they let him if I knew now, all that is happening in the us because we’re in the US at the time. Yeah, he’s a black man. I don’t think I would even have called the police, but I didn’t know him, but just help. And then they release them. Now, first of all, many years. Now we’re very close, my brother and I and my children. And it’s just the I think one of the best expressions of being a human being that I know, even if he has very little money, whatever he has, he wants to share it. Always be as the strong thing that there is going to be that there’s abundance in the universe, and that whenever money flows through you like water, it should like a healthy stream, you should just also fly out, you know, and you should share, so he’s always helping others and it’s a pleasure to see, but there was a time there was armed robbers came to my home. In my family home in labels, the young 1am and I’m telling you all the bad habits of my siblings, but this particular brother never sleeps before, like 2am. And he was with his best friend playing table tennis in the outside the house when the armed robbers came, and then the armed robbers held and held him and said, If you cooperate with us, we won’t harm you. And yeah, my brother said, and this is the good side of fundamentalism, we have this belief, very strong thing. My brother said, You’ve come to the wrong house, and he pushed them, then you run and so that calling for the reason and alarm that there were thieves in the, on the premises, and his best friend that was left there, who if you see him, you wouldn’t be terrified, he’s not, it’s like a lanky Hill, he grabbed a stick, and he hit one of them. What because what both of them are very religious people. So, in the end, they kind of save the whole house. Because yeah, under was realized that that to the house of crazy people trying to escape, you know, because one of them had been hit by a state, the others had run been realized that the one that we hit was down, so they had to,
Akinyi: oh, my God
Hafsat: think about that, you know, I just really Marvel because at the thief’s entered the house, the first bedroom that would have come to would have been my bedroom. So, I’m saying is, if you fast forward, like three decades, the person that pretty much saved my life was the same brother that I had, had had issues with, when we were in our 20s. And, and I think you must always give people the opportunity to start over because people are learning every day. And as I said, you know, the iceberg is what you see, but the values attitudes, beliefs are under, and they’re so large and very hard to move. So, if you The more you engage people Oh, yeah, can you? I don’t know.
Akinyi: That’s okay. Because it’s, oh, it’s a wedding.
Hafsat:He was able to stand outside of the cars and good night. Give them a minute to get past my street. Yeah, that can pass now. So, you know, so I think you must always try, no matter what experience you’ve had, I think first we must take ourselves seriously. So, when we have experiences, we must act to protect integrity, and to protect us and make sure we’re safe. But we must always leave the door open for people, we must always engage with people as if just as we are they’re redesigning that we, that the artists painting their life, and they could change that picture at any time. I think that that’s kind of because that kind of permission is what we’re asking of the creative force that guides the universe, to help us to design a different life. So, we must always be open to allowing others to do the same in dance as well.
Akinyi: No. So we can move on to a bit about the World Future Council and now. So, you’re one of the earliest counselors who have joined, so please tell us about how you joined and the early days.
Hafsat: So I was in San Francisco, there was this event was organized where it was no longer organized. It used to be organized in the 90s. And in the early nineties, organized by Jim Garisson, called the State of the World Forum. And it was organized in partnership with the Gorbachev Foundation of Mikhail Gorbachev, the idea with of convening people to look at the state of the world and build for different kinds of roles. And, yeah, Jakob, so the founder of the World Future Council used to attend I used to attend as well. And we became very day game good friends. So, I like him a lot is one of those brilliant, hyper brilliant minds. And those are the kind of people I like most, you know, the way things of the world and the way he engages is very powerful and inspiring. So, he came to me a few years after the state of the world forum ended and said he was creating the World Future Council. And he wanted me to be part of it. Of course, I said yes, because actually opportunity to be around him because I like brilliant people. And I’d like to be around them. And so, because I was one of the early people, our big task was to raise secure support, financing for the kind of work that the World Future Council was doing. So, we used to go and have meetings with philanthropists like Anita Roddick, who was the founder of the Body Shop, and some royalty from, from the Gulf states of the Arab world, and all kinds of very major personalities, even some major movie stars, musicians, it was so challenging, securing the support. And I think in some ways, that story for the World Future Council remains true. I mean, it’s, it’s been able to get support over the years and some support consistently. But it’s always a major challenge. And I think that, and I think that that’s, that’s to be expected, because what it does, is so different. What the World Future Council does, is exactly what we’ve been saying we need in this conversation, they’re not looking at a problem. They look at solutions, what solutions have been proven to work. And then they do a lot of systemic analysis about the solution. And then offer to the world to say if you’re looking for how you can encourage renewable energy in your country, has the feeling tariffs that was adopted in Germany has how it was adopted in these other countries, habit, you can use legislation and other policies to get it adopted in your country. In the world, me, the world that is, is hungry and thirsty for that. They don’t, they’re not used to paying for that. What the world is used to before is control a crisis. You know, now there’s the issue of what’s going on in Afghanistan, then there’ll be a lot of momentum and energy about, about that. The crisis in Afghanistan and money going in that and people documenting the problem. But it’s not enough. There’s not enough awareness that there is no logic to what we’re doing as a human family, when we keep paying so much attention to the problems and not enough to the solutions. I think that maybe we need a kind of PR campaign to get like a one of these publicity companies, very big ones to help in this regard to push this understanding that we need to reallocate resources. It’s not enough to complain, because when we complain to 7 billion people around the planet, they’re thinking that Oh, yes, it’s so bad and look at how so many challenges. But the truth is that only to throw up their hands in frustration, there are solutions. World future Council has been identifying solutions to so many different challenges. And we need to just support the democratization of those solutions. And we begin to change the world that way.
Aykini: Yeah. And as the World Future Council is founded on a commitment to future generations. Do you think that it’s made that impact since you’ve joined and like what does that mean to you?
Hafsat: I think you’ve tried because they’ve been you know, they’ve been some major projects that we’ve done with there’s a guy at the world future council that has been really a leader in this Agha German guy who is not particularly young I mean, he’s younger. But he comes up with really innovative fun things like there was a time in Brazil there was a project that they did where the big a tank an army tank or you know one of this war tanks the big it with the made us bread today one empty, we just ate it because essentially they were trying to make the point that we need to be reallocating resources from weapons and war to taking care of each other. Yeah, and he’s done a lot too. I think there’s a letter writing campaign involving young people, but I think we need to do more. We need to do now and and maybe even to to have a youth council, you know, become the same as when we first when you first called in. I think that the earlier we can get young people taking responsibility Engaging on some of these critical global issues, the farther they’ll go. Because there are some things that are so entrenched that it takes time to solve. And we can use, we can use, we can bank on young john, your long lifespan, because you have, what, eight, nine decades ahead. So imagine if you know, okay, even if we’re only making a tiny bit of difference every year, what kind of difference? Are we making? 90 8090 years?
Akinyi: Yeah, exactly.
Hafsat: So, I think that the one of the things we should probably be working on as a World Future Council is to have a World Future council that is just made up of young people. And people like me. And the other members of the current Council can be mentors and champions, too. I think that this is not a bad idea, because the world is for young people anyway. And especially in the country, we are from the African continent in another few decades, 50% of the world’s youth will be from the continent of Africa.
Akinyi: Yeah, exactly. It’s just, we’re a generation of young people here, like it’s all young people in Africa.
Hafsat: He actually does know that there is hope, and that the hope is embodied in you. And the earlier we’ll give you support and get you started, then you must take on, because you know, you’re going to build, you’re going to need to succeed in order to succeed, you’re going to need to build the networks, you need to build the knowledge, the depth of knowledge, you would need, you would also need to take power. And this you can do, because, you know, many of the African countries are predominantly young people that over 60%, under 30. And, you know, so to get people elected to office, it’s the young people that are deciding, it’s just that so far, they’re not deciding for young people. But that can change. And then we can, I think, a whole new lease of life.
Akinyi: Yeah, and I think we’ll say like, especially like for Kenyan youth, I mean, I can’t speak for all of them. But like, it’s clear, you can see like, so many Kenyan youth are so disillusioned, because they go to university, they study, they finish their degree, and has no jobs that the ones like in my in the city center in Nairobi, are pulling like incoco Jenny, it’s like these carts. And they probably have a degree in law or a dog, or they’re like a doctor or something. And it’s like, there’s nothing for them. They’ve just like been forgotten and left behind. And then it’s like they’re being even like being targeted by the police constantly, every day. So, it’s really just, like, a mess here in Kenya. Like it’s just and I think now people are starting to look more and like there’s definitely activists who are like speaking up to change in Kenya, at least. So
Akinyi: Yeah. And the World Future Council is also pursuing the goal of involving young people more in the decisions of the Council and the foundation. And they established the Youth Forum youth present, of which I am a member, what would you advise youth forums like us, but also political institutions more generally, who wish to integrate young people in political decision making?
Hafsat: So, I’m so glad that you are part of that I can. Yeah. And I think how old are you?
Hafsat: That’s power. That’s very powerful. Now, here’s what I think. I think we need a strategic plan, what you guys are going to do, it can be a five-year plan, a 10, year 10-, or 15-year plan, ideally, should be minimum 20 year plan. And then we get started, and all that our group of elders should do is, every year we should meet with you guys, and say, where are we on this plan? And then you guys will advise us what you’ve achieved, what are the challenges, and then we act like we’re not too aware, Disney, or Microsoft were one of those global companies. You know, we do strategy sessions, we call in experts. And look at the challenges you’re having come up with some ideas, and the new young people sit down, and formulate, again, based on the ideas, a one-year plan for the next year. And then at the end of it again, we gather, and we sit with you in a supportive circle, and we say Where are you? What have you done? What are the obstacles you’re facing, and we start that whole process again, and I and I promise you by the end of 20 years, you will not believe what you would have accomplished? We should take a big issue and tackle it. Now the people of Botswana, one of our greatest of the African people, they’re so quiet, but so effective and so full of integrity. They have a saying they say to eat an elephant, you take one bite at a time. I hope no one ever eats an elephant because of all the animals in the jungle. There must I love them. You know, they’re so peaceful and gentle, and so giant. But I think we just want to make the point that when you want to tackle a very big project, we just taught very with just a small bite and small bite and a small bite. Put in 20 years. You’d have completely you know, the whole one hour with a big it is, you should have completely wiped it out. Whatever the challenges. So that’s what.
Akinyi: And I think also, as I like work with young children to empower them, I learn a lot from them actually, like every day even as that my peers, like I learn something new every day. So what are your children teaching you?
Hafsat: Hmm, I just adore my children? I don’t know, I don’t know how to say what they’re teaching me. But I think you know, no, they just they just teach me the going up. No, I’m just wanting you to show up.
Akinyi: So what would you say your legacy for future generations is?
Hafsat: I want to make sure that we build democracy in all dimensions, not just as a political frame, and not the way it was built by the Greeks where the citizens had the right and the slaves carried the society but had no rights. And I think, what we’ve replicated in the rest of the world where we’ve built democracy, but in the end, the people have very little power in how things are done, how benefits are shared. I want us to build democracy, that is not just political democracy, or democracy in economics, democracy in our society, there will be more slaves. There’ll be no group of people upon whom. So, prosperity has been built and will get nothing. We will do away with that. And that’s the legacy will leave for those that will come after.
Akinyi: You know, and then, because you named your first child Khalil, after the poet Khalil Gibran he wrote yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream. What do those words mean to you such a beautiful quote, like, I’d never read it heard of it before, but I love it. So what are those words mean to you?
Hafsat: So, we’ve been talking a lot about history. I think that what that quote says to me is, what is your dream? No, because what your dream today, that’s what will live tomorrow. And you and I think it’s a very important quote because we can talk about what this person did that person did, at the end of the day, that those are not the things that are important. What will we do? What do we dream that we now bring about, and then we leave that as a gift, you know, for the future for the descendants that are coming. That’s actually how I think and now I want to shape my life, because I think, you know, at the end of the day, if we’re not careful, you will find that you’re surrounded by everyone. And they’re saying that, oh, we have to do this this way. And it has to be that way, and you so you’re all conforming, but if you actually take a moment and step back, like World Future Council does it and sit in the circle of those that are still coming the future generations and think, you know, how can we be fair to them, you will shape a different reality we will not be so you know, if we if we stay with our current with the current the peer pressure we have and the current circles that we interact in, we will build a world that is more of the same. So, I would say that we should not ignore the current the people in the world today, but you should not allow them to become tyrants you should balance them with the world that is coming. And all that we in our generation as custodians have to do is to make that world as large as possible for those that are coming, not by the actions that we take, cause the resources to be so depleted, that those that are coming will have less options, that evil, we should conduct ourselves in such a way as to leave the biggest, most expansive planet that we can. And if we have that consciousness, when, whenever, you know, the current circles, our tears are all telling us. Well, if you do it this way, you’re going to sacrifice all your goodwill, you will lose out, we will actually be in a position to say and so be it better to lose out for this generation in the in the game of winning the next. Why not? You know when I do. My time when I was at Harvard as an undergrad, I used to walk through cobblestones. Much of this university was built by slaves. They never were paid. But they paved the way from the building of the University of the buildings to the civil rights movement when the African Americans took the fight with liberal Americans to the establishment of a country to change the laws. And it was all these people acting in that way, some of them paying the price with their lives. That allowed me a Nigerian girl from a Muslim polygamous home, to come into Harvard and walk in Harvard. They open the way for me. What way do I open for those that are going to come in the future I want us to think in this way and acting this way, because it makes for a better world for everyone. And yet, we might pay a price because sometimes when you act in this way, you’re acting ahead of your time. But there’s no way to call the future into the present without some people acting ahead of that time.
Akinyi: And you are hopeful as you look towards the future?
Hafsat: Yes. My father’s campaign with a presidential election was hope. 93. He believed in the power of openness, and I do as well, I think with hope you can really shape the world, but what can you do with hopelessness? Very little.
Aykini:Very little. Do you have any questions for me or my peers? Before we come to an end?
Hafsat: I want to know what your dreams are, and how you want us to be supportive. Because I think it’s important, you know, this conversation, I’ve been doing so much of the talking and that to me, I mean, it’s okay to do, but we want to give you guys the space to grow into who you can be. And I’m looking forward to the experience of just sitting down, having opportunities to hear from you, where you want to go, who you want to become, and then supporting you to get there.
Akinyi: Well, I think for me, my dream is really to be an educator. Because how I see it is that like, I think the education is key, especially for like the world we want to live in this community, this harmony. And for us to like to get there. I think it starts from the minute you come out of the womb, literally like that you start educating the child then like, even if you look at like the SDGs, like, I’ll be honest, like not like, maybe before even I started working at such concern. I didn’t know what STDs were, like, even a lot of my friends, we don’t know. So, and now I’m like, I know what they are like, I hear about them a lot, especially in the work I’m doing. But it’s like those are things that they’re really like incredible, amazing things that I think everyone should live by. But why is it that like, we’re not being taught that from the minute we start school, because I think if like we’re educated on these things, from like, the kindergarten, up to like high school, even college, then already you, you have this mindset of harmony of community of like being caring to one another of like wanting as you grow and become great, you also want the person next to you to also grow and become great. But I think because we don’t know, these, we aren’t taught about these things we don’t know about them. Like I think a lot of the time, we end up being selfish and all these things go wrong. And then it’s like now later it’s like we’re picking up the pieces. Like we realized like even now maybe with the pandemic, everything slowed down. So, people now are realizing Oh, we need to Okay, we need to go back and like see how we can help others like it’s like it’s kind of forced us to like, look at those things. So, I think it’s really like education is key and like my one dream is like where Sauti Kuu is based it’s like where my family comes from in Kenya. And yesterday we had because we’ve been doing like a project the whole week. We built like the traditional heart and an energy saver. So, it was a pilot project that we’re going to now do in like for 25 families in their homesteads because they use like the coal stove and then also like to stop like the felling of the trees. So, we did this and like Traditionally, it’s like when you build the traditional house, it’s like the whole community comes together you, everyone helps. And we had this amazing conversation at the end yesterday when we finished and they were talking about, like the things that aren’t working in the communities. And this one man, he said she was an older parent, he said that, where he comes from his village, does no school, and there’s no hospital. And it’s like to get to that. It’s like, you have to kind of go far. So, we’re kind of talking about, like, what can we do move forward? What How do they want their area to change in the next five years? And we have a children’s learning center that’s just been like built recently, and it’s going to be for four- to 12-year-olds. And it’s going to be all about, like competency-based learning. And they were saying, like, oh, it should be changed into like, a primary school or something. But for us at the moment, we just kind of, we don’t really want it to be like a school, it’s more about like, the children will come, and they’ll do tuition, and they’ll like learn things, but it won’t be like a school. So, I said, I said, because I’m moving to Ghana in January to study. So, I said that, oh, don’t worry, that will come because I want to build that because especially as it couldn’t see the schools in the area, it’s like the teachers sometimes don’t come to school, they have like, let like half the amount of teachers they need for how many kids they have. And even the kids that come to such come with the children, young people, they do much better, because we do tuition with them. So that performing better than the other kids in the community. So, I want and then the thing is, the school system in Kenya is so academic, that it’s like, if you’re not academic, if you’re not someone who is like book smart, you’re left behind. So, for me, I want to create like a system where it like, because we have all these great creative systems like 123 Waldorf, you know, all these different systems, but I feel like they’re very much it’s kind of, like exclusive, it’s like, if you’re privileged, you have the opportunity to like, learn that way, this creative learning. And like, because of maybe like the schools I went to, I was able to, like, have such exposure to that. But like these kids, they don’t say I want to create a system where even if it doesn’t mean I because I think changing the Kenyan education system, that’s like the long term dream, but that one I have to the Minister of Education, that will take a while, but like, for now I want to, like create a system that can be go to into with the current system. So, it’s like, also about training the teachers how to handle the kids, if you’re with a child that’s maybe, like, has a bit of a temper, like how to deal with that child, not to just be like, Okay, this one isn’t listening, let me just like, you know, send him out of class or something. And so that’s my dream, literally, to like, educate, and like, you know, teach this community. Like, mentality that like this whole, it takes a village that we have, but to continue that because I think it’s being forgotten. And also then also, I’d love for it to be like in many different countries, and then I’ll also learn about your culture. So, you have obviously English and maybe like other languages you learned but then because the school is in Yang, or Miko gala, which is where we are now in western Kenya, the language spoken here is newer. So, it’s like one of the languages you learn is newer, as well as other languages. So, it’s like you learn the culture of where you are. But then also you’re learning about everywhere else, too. So, it’s this kind of, like, worldwide community. And like, That’s the dream for me. I get excited, I talk about it, because I’m actually starting to happen as I’m moving to Ghana, so.
Hafsat: I can see and it’s a beautiful thing. And it’s gonna reality. Yeah, one step at a time. Yeah, that’s definitely so
Akinyi: and it took me a while to get there. Because before that, I was very much going down the creative route of like, fine art, fashion design, and then life got in the way. And then I realized, actually, I’m like, so good. Working with kids sounds like, this is my calling. I found that. So, for me, it’s like, now I know what I need to do.
Hafsat: And I love the fact that you’ve said that, you know, because all what you’ve described as always been available for welfare kids. Yeah. And we just have to make sure it’s available for all kids.
Akinyi: Yeah, exactly. So, and it needs to be accessible. And I think even like having these conversations, it’s very much like, even as I say, like, you know, it’s like, great, but I think everyone needs to be part of that conversation. Like I see like there’s people probably 10 times smarter than me that probably should even be like having this conversation but because they don’t get the exposure, they don’t have the opportunity to because they don’t know this person. They don’t know that person. And of course, okay, nepotism, I think it’s okay if like, you’re smart, and you’re like good at what you do. And maybe you need the opportunity. But then a lot of the time, and I also think that’s the thing. Also in Kenya, it’s like, nepotism has become so big that like, you don’t know anything about what the job that you’ve been given, but just because so, you know, so and so. So, it’s like, so many people aren’t getting the opportunities they need. And like, because I’ve been given so many opportunities, I want to, like, give space to people that deserve those opportunities. Even like how like be, and I’m really, I’m a champion of that. Because like, if I’m like, given an opportunity, and I know okay, I’m not, it’s not my specialty. I’m not like an expert in that. Let me give it to one of my friends who I know is someone who’s good at that, or someone I know, let me tell them about it. And I want to create.
Hafsat: That’s responsible. Don’t do we don’t behave that way. We can start to teach people how, but I have to go because I have to go and get eight minutes. That about the youth bar and I want to really help with that. Okay, and I can you I want too definitely. I have friends in Kenya, in Ghana. So, when you go.
Akinyi: Yeah, perfect. I’ll let you know. Yeah.
Hafsat: Thank you. So, bye