The celebration of African Women that is the Women 4 Africa Awards was held on the evening of the 10th of May at the Great Hall in Kensington. If there is one thing that Women 4 Africa does well, it is gathering great women under one roof. I managed to mix in and mingle with a few of the nominees before the event actually started but the highlight for me was walking up to my seat to realise that I was sat right next to Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo, International African Woman of The Year. She was my favourite to win in her category and she attended the event with her son who I wished the best of luck as it is quite obvious that he has really big boots to fill.
Not all of my favourites won though. Understandably so as some of the categories were closely contested. Regardless, it was great to see phenomenal woman after phenomenal woman walk up to receive their awards followed by a few words of appreciation. I felt I had the upper hand as I knew all their stories. The moment the people around me realised this, I became the go to person for information on the nominees and winners. I think it was a missed opportunity that this information was not readily available for all on the night. The presenters could have read a brief citation on each winner as they walked up to receive their award rather than have the DJ play music for them to dance to. For what Women 4 Africa is about, it is important and would have been good for people to leave fully aware of what greatness they had been in the midst of.
I have to give my own special recognition award to comedian, radio presenter and host for the night Lolo who kept the jokes coming and tied everything together seamlessly. In between the awards we were entertained by a fashion show by Eyato and musical performances of which the most memorable were SheAdores, Vicky Sola and Sona probably because they actually performed original material rather than cover versions. Having said that I really didn’t think the performances were altogether necessary. I do understand the organisers need to break up the awards with entertainment but it all became a bit too much, made the night seem much longer than it actually was and some of the momentum for what we were actually there to do was lost. But then again it wouldn’t have been necessary if there weren’t so many categories. I personally went there not necessarily to be entertained but to proudly celebrate the nominees and the winners. I do wish they had remained the focus. To my right I had popular Nollywood film director Lancelot Imasuen who suggested one headlining act. Preferably a female recognition awardee for Artist of the Year? I say yes to that!
Reminding us of what we were there for were the speeches from previous winners like Clare Eluka of Premae Skincare and Adebisi Osundeko of Joy & Joe Ltd. Short and sweet should be the buzzwords for speeches at such events, and it was Betty Makoni who left me almost moved to tears. Understandably children especially the girl child remained the central focus of her speech. She talked about her childhood and the children she has successfully empowered through her organisation the Girl Child Network, one of whom is on her way to an Ivy League university in the United States. Something that this young girl could only dream of at a point in her life has now become a reality. She also touched on the challenges that the girl child still faces highlighting the plight of the young girls abducted from their school in Nigeria.
The #BringBackOurGirls campaign was a running theme throughout the night with most of the winners lending their voices and dedicating their awards to the campaign. Betty Makoni urged that we must take back our girls rather than wait for intervention for them to be brought back to us. Sounds unrealistic but there is a lot to be said for what she actually meant by that. What are we doing to ensure that this never happens again? Is the #BringBackOurGirls campaign just another short frenzied outburst on our part? What will we do when hopefully these children are returned to their families? Will we go back to business as usual or will we push to ensure that the lives of our young girls are just as valid and valuable as our young boys? I believe it was Adlai Stevenson who said that “Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” What Africa needs now more than ever is that kind of lifetime dedication, especially from us women. And I believe that is what Betty Makoni was trying to inspire in us on the night.
Also noticeably in attendance were Dr Mary Okello, the first female Bank Manager in Kenya, Captain Irene Mutungi, the first African and female Boeing 787 captain in the world and Superintendent Mrs Patience Naa Ashorkor Quaye, recognised for her work to end human trafficking. All in all it was the perfect place to meet African women whose life stories remain untold but who really should be gracing the covers of magazines all over the world. The Women 4 Africa vision and mission are much needed and so brilliant that I look forward to watching the event get better each year and seeing the most deserving of our African women in the spotlight.
AND THE WINNERS ARE:
Creseldah Ndlovu (South Africa)
Uju Ifejika (Nigeria)
Betty Makoni (Zimbabwe)
Senator Daisy Ehanire Danjuma (Nigeria)
Dr. Evelyn Ndali Oputa (Nigeria)
Salha Kaitesi (Rwanda)
Dr. K S Maluleke (South Africa)
Superintendent Mrs Patience Naa Ashorkor Quaye (Ghana)
Ambassador Sefa Boakye (Ghana)
Elizabeth Uwaifo (Nigeria)
Dentaa Amoateng (Ghana)
Priscilla Nwikpo (Nigeria)
Sarah Owusu (Ghana)
Maryanne jemide (Nigeria)
Kanika Mayi Wotherspoon (Ghana)
Dr Fiona Bartels Ellis (OBE) (Ghana)
Nana Amoa Buahin (Ghana)
Fatima Khouchoua (Morocco)
Edith Parker (Malawi)
Omenesa Oruma Akomolafe (Nigeria)
Mary Olushoga (Nigeria)
Tina Ugo (Nigeria)
Bode Elizabeth Jikiemi
Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo (Nigeria)
East Africa Ambassador Dr Mary Okello (Kenya)
Captain Irene Koki (Kenya)
IN OTHER WOMEN 4 AFRICA NEWS…
2012 Outstanding Mother, Roucheon Iloyi, enters the charts with Love Royelle…
I finally got to meet the beautiful Roucheon Iloyi. She was so graceful and looked very regal in her red attire. You may remember her son Khaliyl who became a YouTube sensation after a video of him rapping with his uncle Alim Kamara went viral. Even Ellen Degeneres was impressed. Roucheon performed at the inaugural Women 4 Africa Awards in 2012 and she also won the award for Outstanding Mother. I have been following her ever since and I am happy that she finally made it into the charts… INDEPENDENTLY. Hard work and dedication do pay off! Check out my favourite below and you can purchase Love Royelle HERE.
Women 4 Africa Founder Tola Onigbanjo nominated for UK National Diversity Awards…
I have always wondered who awards the awardees… There are not many platforms out there that celebrate African women the way that Women 4 Africa does. Most are obsessed with celebrity. Women 4 Africa is about bringing to light those we know little about. This takes a lot more work and requires passion, commitment and dedication, three things that Tola has in abundance. I know that Women 4 Africa can be so much more and can DO so much more and this is why I voted for her with the hopes that this kind of recognition will help build the dream and make it grow. The category is Positive Role Model – Gender. We wish her all the best. You too can vote for her HERE.
Photo credits: Facebook: Women 4 Africa