Richard Turere, 13, received a scholarship to Brookhouse International School at 11, for outsmarting lions with five flashlight bulbs, a car battery and a solar panel.
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“People did not believe in our ability to develop. Even we seemed to have lost faith in ourselves. But today we have seen what we are capable of. Looking at how far we have come must give us strength to do more. It has shown us what we are capable of achieving. We cannot turn back. Striving to do and be better must become part of who we are.”
- President Kagame speaking with thousands of residents of Niboye sector during Umuganda (monthly community service).
In 1985, the Sudanese government began destroying villages eventually leading to the rise of the People's Liberation Army. Two years later, six-year old Deng Thiak Adut was taken away from his family's banana farm in South Sudan and conscripted into the Army. After undergoing military training, several years of army service and witnessing numerous atrocities, Deng was still a boy when he was shot in the back while running through a village.
A further two years later, a chance meeting led to Deng reuniting with his brother who helped smuggle him out of the country by hiding him in a corn sack on the back of a truck. The two brothers befriended an Australian family and eventually arrived as refugees in 1998. After working at a local service station to learn English, Deng enrolled at TAFE and completed his Advanced Diploma in Accounting before deciding to study law. In 2005 he enrolled in a Bachelor of Laws at Western Sydney University and became the first person in his family to graduate with a law degree.
Deng now works as a lawyer in Bankstown, where he is determined to ensure that other Sudanese refugees have the legal advice and support they need before entering the court system.
Meet the man who built a plane using video tutorials
It’s difficult to believe, but Asmelash Zeferu has managed to build a plane mostly with the help of tutorial videos on YouTube.
It was the 35-year-old Ethiopian’s childhood dream to become a pilot but was rejected by the Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy. But he was so determined to take off that he decided to build a plane.
"I decided to build my own aircraft if I couldn't be a pilot," he told CNN. “Then I'd be able to fly high in the sky."
For the last 10 years, Zeferu has been working on his dream, salvaging spare parts from second-hand markets and handcrafting certain parts like the airplane’s wings. He then upgraded the 48 horsepower Volkswagen Beetle engine to 78 for his two-seater aircraft and settled for the wheelbase of a Suzuki motorcycle as his landing gear.
And he did this with the help of some aviation experts, aircraft manuals and YouTube tutorials, according to CNN.
While Zeferu was ready to fly his plane in June, he encountered some technical problems during the process. However, it didn’t deter him from pursuing his goal.
Almost five months later, he is ready to take off, again.
And this will not be the end to his quest – sky is the only limit for this ambitious amateur pilot.
"My dream is to become an aerospace engineer at NASA," he told CNN. "And I will be."
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A bright young programmer from Philadelphia recently unveiled a video game involving ballerinas, jewels and vampires — sure to be a hit with young girls. The programmer herself also happens to be seven years old.
Zora Ball, a first grader at the Harambee Institute of Science and Technology Charter School in Philadelphia, created the video game in a class focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics led by Tariq Al-Nasir, who heads the STEMnasium Learning Academy.
Clever Video Game Controls Curiosity on Mars
Al-Nasir’s organization uses open-source software called Bootstrap and Alice 2.0 that was originally developed for university-level coursework. While sixth and seventh graders are usually advanced enough to begin learning it, Al-Nasir told me he made the software more accessible with a programming language called Racket.
Once he got them into a this new programming environment, Al-Nasir was essentially teaching math to Ball and her classmates in a fun way. The students designed interactive games involving three elements: a player, a goal and something to avoid, all moving along X and Y coordinates. Then they picked a setting for the game.
For Zora Ball, that meant making the player a ballerina who’s searching for a jewel in a nail salon while trying to avoid a vampire — something she doesn’t like, Al-Nasir said. ”She was obviously very comfortable understanding that the danger is moving on the X and the player will be moving on the Y coordinate,” he added.
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Hakeem Belo Osagie holds an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School, a law degree from Cambridge University and an M.A. in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University. He is a member of the Nigerian Bar. He started his career as a petroleum economist and a lawyer. For over three decades, he has been a key player in the Nigerian economy through his participation in several businesses in the private sector particularly in the energy, finance and telecommunications sectors.
Belo-Osagie shared with the audience some of the lessons he has learnt in business.
1. Have a healthy scepticism of data
Belo-Osagie says much of the market data and information about Africa he has come across in his career had been incorrect.
One of his biggest mistakes in business was when he was part of a losing bid for the first mobile network licences in Nigeria. At the time some of the world’s most well-known consultancy firms advised that the Nigerian mobile phone market could not exceed 20m subscribers. Based on this figure, Belo-Osagie’s partners decided not to bid more than US$265m. The winning bids came in at $285m. Today Nigeria has more than 100m mobile phone subscribers, and in hindsight Belo-Osagie says the value of the licence was probably closer to $800m.
He did not make the mistake of relying too much on expert data when he bought United Bank for Africa (UBA) in the late 90s. The Nigerian lender was for sale for $15m. Many advised him that buying the bank was a bad idea, but Belo-Osagie felt it was an undervalued asset and stuck to his guns. He approached a large South African bank to put in $8m for a 51% stake in UBA, but this was deemed too risky an investment. Belo-Osagie however went through with the transaction. A few years later the same South African bank made him an offer that valued UBA at $300m.
“So when I tell you to have a healthy scepticism [or] disrespect for data, I mean what I say.”
2. Don’t exaggerate political risk in Africa
Many foreign investors are scared to invest in Africa due to the perceived political risks. Belo-Osagie says companies however need to look beyond only political risk, and take into account all the other risks that could be a threat to a business.
While there may be greater political risk in some African countries, firms in the west have higher “technological risk” with their business models constantly under threat from new disruptive technologies being introduced by companies like Google.
“The risks that you face in a lot of other countries are far higher than you imagine, and they often, in my view, outweigh the lower political risks that you have in the western world. Therefore, success in Africa needs a correct appreciation of political risk, not exaggerating it [and] not unduly worrying about it.”
3. The right team is essential
Belo-Osagie says winning teams are critical to the success of any business. “Teams are crucial because they combine the differing talents of different individuals, and they make the whole better than the part.”
He notes large companies operating in Africa today typically have a mix of expat and local employees.
In terms of expat workers, Belo-Osagie says those with a need for structure, certainty and clear procedure often don’t do well in Africa. It is therefore important to appoint someone with “a spirit of adventure, a hunger for new things”.
“When the light packs up or the washing machine stops working, he or she doesn’t throw their hands up and head for the airport… That eagerness and desire to experience something new, is more important than functional intelligence.”
When it comes to local staff, there are broadly two kinds of people: the foreign educated MBA with an understanding of “what life could be”, and those who have lived in a country like Nigeria all their lives.
He says a winning team is a combination of those with international experience and streetwise locals who know how to work the system.
4. Relationships need to be nurtured
Weaker institutions and legal systems make personal relationships more important when doing business in emerging markets such as Africa. Belo-Osagie says these relationships need to be nurtured.
“You may not want to go [to] the CEO’s daughter’s naming ceremony. You may not want to go [to] his daughter’s wedding, but I’ll strongly advise you to go, in your own interest. These relationships are fundamental and they do not stop at five o’clock in the afternoon… they go round the clock,” he explains.
5. Be bold despite uncertainty
Drawing from The Fog of War, a 2003 documentary film on the life of former US Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara, Belo-Osagie compares the uncertainty of business with warfare.
“When you go into war, it is like walking into fog, you cannot see very clearly precisely what there is on the other side. I love that analogy because I think that one of the key factors for success in business is you must have that mental attitude to walk boldly through the fog of uncertainty that is an inevitable part of business,” he says.
“There are some individuals who cannot make a decision until every fact is in, who cannot live with uncertainty. By the time every single fact is in, you are inevitably too late for the opportunity.”
6. Don’t sacrifice your personal life for business success
Belo-Osagie urged the audience not to neglect their personal lives in the pursuit of business success.
“Your relationship with another human being, whether that be a wife or a partner or with your parents or with your family, is very important. I know many businessmen that are on the pages of newspapers and on the front pages of magazines, who return to their lives and their houses, who are deeply unhappy. In your desire to be great successes, I want to urge you not to lose yourself. It is far easier to change a job, to change an industry and to improve a business, than it is to change an unhappy life.”
HE DREAMED of owning a fast car . . . And he didn't let his money problems stand in his way.
Samuel Ngubeni (37) from Siluma View in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni got clever and built his own sports car.
The qualified mechanic has so far spent R60 000 on his car which he calls The Cat.
It is covered in funky denim fabric and uses a combination of original and home-made parts.
The car looks like a miniature BMW. When asked if his car can move, Samuel opened the bonnet and proudly displayed the car's six cylinder engine.
He then jumped in behind the steering-wheel and drove his car up and down the driveway. He started building his car two years ago as a present for Nelson Mandela.
"I drive my car around the streets ekasi. I wanted to thank Madiba for his contribution to Mzansi and the world. Unfortunately he died before I finished it," he said.
Samuel now wants to become a professional car designer.
"We don't have cars designed in Mzansi. I believe if I was given a platform by car companies, I could show them what I can do," he said.
Samuel did all the work on the car himself. He did the interior of the car, including the gauges, the steering-wheel, as well as the wheels and body panels.
"People said I'd never do it but I never listened to them," said Samuel.
Interview - Mahmud Johnson is founder and chief executive of J-Palm Liberia, an oil palm processing business he founded in 2013. He is one of a new group of young Liberians who attended university in the United States but returned to their country rather than settling abroad. Their contributions are essential elements in Liberia's attempt to regain momentum towards peace and prosperity after a quarter century of conflict and unrest, followed by the devastation of Ebola. He talked to AllAfrica.com about his work and his goal that it will be a tool to address Liberia's social problems and to create jobs.
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