Obama Foundation

Three things we learned in Africa

Email sent: Jul 24, 2019 2:22 pm

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Two weeks ago, 200 emerging leaders from 45 countries came together in Johannesburg for our second Leaders: Africa convening. It’s impossible, in just a few words, to convey the vitality of the convening—how the Leaders arrived as peers and left as friends; how they supported each other as they challenged themselves; how they left eager and able to make an even bigger impact than they had before. 

But even if we can’t take you back in time to Joburg, we can share three lessons we learned during the convening—as well as all the videos, photos, and social posts we captured.

You Don’t Have to Change the World Alone
Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya, an Africa Leader who is also a member of the 
Foundation’s Girls Opportunity Alliance, told us she was “moved beyond measure” to meet the many people working to empower girls on the continent. She met a young STEM educator in Botswana, a Leader who works to enrich girls through sports in Malawi, and several others who are opening doors for young girls across Africa. This is exactly what we hope to do through programs like Leaders: Africa—connect people with the same desire to improve their world and empower them to do it.

You Can Build a Toolkit for Success
Leaders participated in seven workshops that focused on sharpening ethical leadership skills and building their tools for success. They learned the elements of an effective narrative and how a strong personal story can improve their engagement with colleagues and partners. They refined their mission, vision, and action plans, and had space to review their personal leadership style and its effectiveness in helping them reach their goals. Leaders also bonded with their accountability groups, which will act as their peer-to-peer advisors as they return to their communities, test out new leadership skills, and continue the work of social impact over the next year and into the future. As one Leader said at the end of the convening, “I came with so many questions but these workshops have helped me to find the answers I was seeking.”

Success is Often Born Out of Failure
Fred Swaniker, when asked how to stay humble while displaying the fearlessness leadership demands, said “nothing teaches you humility more than failure.” Whether its hiring the wrong person for a role or making an errant decision, leadership comes with its share of failures. Fred talked about how important it was to learn from those failures and use them to grow. This wasn’t the first time during the convening Leaders heard that message—during an event earlier that week called FailureFest, brave volunteers stepped forward to share their past failings and to erase the stigma of making mistakes.

Take a moment to watch highlights from the powerful week these Leaders shared together. We bet it won’t be the last time you see some of their faces.


The Obama Foundation

P.S. If you want to help the Obama Foundation support even more regional Leaders, consider donating monthly to become a member today. New members will get a limited-edition sticker pack, designed by Osmond Tshuma, a Johannesburg-based artist who created the look and feel of our Leaders: Africa events.

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