IMG_0941_pp"Without mincing my words, I see myself in the highest office on the land, be it nationally in Zambia or in an international organisation. I think I could really effect change given what I have experienced and seen as a woman reporter from Africa....."

It's 1998 in the outskirts of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The commandant, who is now heavily intoxicated with drugs and cheap liquor, grabs Maureen Nkandu by the arm and tells her that he is ready to have a 'good time' with her. Victor, the cameraman, is in tears. He pleads with their aggressor to let her go claiming that Maureen has a terrible disease that makes her shake and sweat all the time. Miraculously, he backs down but minutes later they are locked up in a damp dark cell littered with human faeces.


Lee Kasumba: From Y to O

img_12003"I am based in South Africa purely for operational reasons but my work is largely within the entire continent and takes me to areas like East Africa which I feel I have a deep connection with."

Leslie 'Lee' Kasumba was appointed manager of the TV music portal Channel O Africa in April 2011. The Ugandan-born inspiration holds a BA in Dramatic Arts from Wits University and was previously a DJ at the youth station 99.2 Y FM as well as editor of Y Mag. We caught up with her before the December break for this interview at the MultiChoice offices in Randburg, South Africa.

What is your typical day at Channel O like?

I really do not have a typical day. For instance, when I joined the channel I was asked at short notice to pack and go to Nigeria and ended up spending a week there.


Harold Olukune: Accounting your blessings through Baraka Bora

IMG_7801"We are not your typical accountants who love to operate in a controlled environment; we thrive even where there are minimum controls to provide comprehensive financial reporting while assisting in improving processes."

Baraka Bora in Swahili means more or better blessings. This is the name conferred upon the medium size accounting and financial services company in Houghton founded by Harold Olukune.


Gerald Mahinda: CEO of Brandhouse South Africa

IMG_9593Gerald Mahinda is a busy man. It comes with the territory when you are charged with managing over a thousand employees at South Africa's second largest brewer – Brandhouse. I was therefore quite fortunate to secure a twenty minute conversation with him on his way to the Brandhouse sponsored Pitch and Polish Entrepreneurship competition at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg.


Ambassador S.S. Yusuf: New Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa

IMG_3505What was your career path leading up to your appointment?

I have spent 30 years in the Nigerian Foreign Service having joined in August 1981. My first posting was to Kuwait in 1982 where I stayed for four years before returning to Nigeria to act as first secretary in the Southern African department. Thereafter I pursued a Masters in International Relations and assumed various roles in foreign diplomatic missions in Burkina Faso, France and South Africa. At different stages in my career I was also the director in the inspectorate department, director of protocol to the president of senate and - before my appointment to this position - I was the director of the Middle East and Gulf division at the foreign affairs ministry.


Lindiwe Bungane: Zambian Star of Dreamgirls

LINDIWE_BUNGANE_Pink_halnd"When I read the script, it was like they had 'googled' my story and written it for me. It was seven years from the time Effie fell out of the limelight to the time she came back in a big way. That is the same period from the time I won Project Fame to the time I starred in Dreamgirls."

When my significant other asked me to take her to watch the musical "Dreamgirls", I had the perfect answer: "That's a dream, girl!"


African Leadership Academy Director Christopher Khaemba

Profile_PicThe gentleman ushered me into Mr. Christopher Khaemba's office and asked me to wait. Déjà vu. I had been in the exact same scenario fifteen years ago at Alliance High School. On that day he walked in and ordered me to "caress the floor". Then my posterior had an unfortunate engagement with his army trained forearm, a twenty inch rubber pipe acting as the biased interface.

But on this day, the school head walked in greeting everyone on his way in by name and seemed elated to see me. He ushered me to a comfortable chair and we reflected on what he had been up to since he delivered those unforgettable lashes on my adolescent behind. He was then deputy principal of Alliance and left soon after to head Friends School Kamusinga in Kenya's Western Province. On arrival, he discovered that Kamusinga was a very wayward institution.





Shikoh Gitau: First African to receive a Google Award

KayH20100617-IMG_7970When she first heard that she had won the Google Anita Borg award, Shikoh Gitau was convinced that the email was from some cheeky con artist looking to reel her in on some scam. But as it turned out, this was no scam but the making of history as she became the first recipient of the prestigious award in Sub Saharan Africa. Shikoh's proposal titled M-Ganga is a cellphone based application aimed at facilitating the use of traditional medicine. It was impressive enough to win her the award that is granted to exceptional female students in the field of computing by the technology giant. With the award comes seven thousand euros and a field trip to Google's Zurich centre.


Shikoh is a PHD student at the University of Cape Town and says she plans to use the funds to put her thesis into practice.

"Most PHD's end up on a shelf somewhere. I plan to spend the money setting up my project as a fully implemented product and donate it to two NGOs in SA fully serviced to run for at least three years. That is of course after I have tithed a portion of it and spent some of it on myself and my family," she says.






James Mwangi: Dalberg's Global Managing Partner

Quote: "As Dalberg concludes its tenth year in existence, we celebrate the creation of a distinctively strong brand in advisory, capital and research. We go into the next decade in the firm belief that all of the tools, ideas and discipline developed for the private sector can have application in a meaningful way to driving change for society at large."

The number one primary school student in the entire country of Kenya in 1991 would be elected to the position of number one partner in a reputable global strategic advisory firm 19 years later. In between those two number ones, James Mwangi was admitted to one of his native country's top high schools, Alliance, en route to the Ivy League institution of Harvard where he pursued a four year Economics degree.

In his final year at Harvard, he got his first real spell as a CEO when he was secretary general of the university's Model United Nations conference in Greece managing a budget of USD100, 000 with delegates from over 300 countries. In the same academic year he worked at Salomon Smith Barney (now part of Citigroup) as a trainee investment banker, a stint which convinced him that investment banking was not for him.

"On graduating in 2000, I joined consulting giant Mckinsey in New York as an analyst," he said when I interviewed him in Rosebank one sunny November afternoon. He struck a much calmer tone than the one I can recall him adopting as Deputy School Captain at Alliance when he once meted out harsh punishment on me and other errant form ones.

"Memorable projects at Mckinsey include advising an education start up as well as assisting a German bank in acquiring American assets. Towards the end of my second year I was introduced to Henrik Skovby who had just recently left the firm. He had been assigned some significant work at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and was looking to hire a few consultants to assist him."

Skovby started Dalberg whose early life as an advisory firm was attending to UNDP work. James joined the start up entity in 2002; involvement in impacting lives in the developing world appealed to him more than crafting strategies for corporate entities in the Big Apple.

"My plan was to work at Dalberg for a few years while waiting to join Harvard's Kennedy School of Government for their joint graduate programme with the Business School. But when I got admitted into the programme in 2005, I decided to defer for a year as I had just been promoted to manager. The following year the prospect of a partnership position was on the table so I deferred my admission for a further year. By the end of my second deferred year, I was now a partner and in a position to hire graduates of the programme so I opted to continue learning by doing."

The partnership has established itself as a preferred provider of development advice with a view of building an institution which pursues long term sustainability rather than a business that achieves short term profit.

"A typical project would be advising a multinational pharmaceutical manufacturer to develop business models and strategies to profitably serve lower income consumers who currently lack access to its products," James explained.

He initiated the move to open an office in Africa in 2007 favouring Johannesburg as a gateway to the rest of the continent. It was a difficult beginning as the firm was still very much a start up compared to much larger and more established consulting firms. Today they are very much part of the conversation as they are doing work for a number of African Heads of State and have a track record of servicing about 40 of the Fortune 500 companies.

"We are a global partnership of 15 partners in 11 locations on four continents. We recently celebrated our tenth anniversary and we have been growing in excess of 25% year on year since 2010."

While James is based in the Johannesburg office, he is frequently aboard a plane to the other locations including Mumbai, Copenhagen and New York for a few days at a time. He joked that he gets more sleep on a plane than he does at home given that he and his wife Sharmi had just celebrated the birth of their first son.
His high school classmate Edwin Macharia is head of the Nairobi office which is the best performing location as it achieves the highest contribution to the partnership bottom line. Edwin is the director of the Africa region which includes an office in Dakar. Other partners are drawn from more than ten countries on all continents. The team's track record includes more than 600 projects aimed at raising living standards in developing countries and addressing global challenges. The assignments affect over 90 countries in all regions of the world and they have done strategic work for nearly all of the world's significant multinational agencies.

The Dalberg group has an impressive set of case studies indicative of their ability to identify trends in international development and develop an "inclusive growth" strategy. This is demonstrated by their work which has included, charting a course to mobilise effective integration of mobile health technology into global health systems, assisting a global health advocate with strategic direction, assisting a large donor with gender assessment, transforming the Asian energy landscape, impacting investing in education and building global suppliers for a global energy leader.

On the African continent, one case study is the assistance given to The Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). The African Union's NEPAD engaged Dalberg in several defining initiatives in support of the CAADP at the national, regional and continental level. Their work resulted in a significant increase in country endorsements of the CAADP and key global initiatives and financiers in African agriculture now anchor their work in their agenda.

Another case study worth mentioning is the advice given to a global investment group on the small and growing business sector in Africa. Dalberg acted as an advisor/gatekeeper leading the marketing to potential funds and investors, the development of calls for proposals and the analysis and due diligence of fund managers. The due diligence led to the selection of four funds with a total investment of over USD150 million for new capital flows into Africa.

James concluded our interview by saying: "As Dalberg concludes its tenth year in existence, we celebrate the creation of a distinctively strong brand in advisory, capital and research. We go into the next decade in the firm belief that all of the tools, ideas and discipline developed for the private sector can have application in a meaningful way to driving change for society at large."


Kelly Kalumba: Senior Partner at Louis Karol Architects

Quote: "He has been the project architect for a number of well known structures such as the V & A Waterfront Extension in Cape Town, three Gautrain Stations, upmarket residential tower block 100 Crown Street in Glasgow, Birmingham International Airport terminal extension, Liberty Life Regional headquarters in Umhlanga, the Cape Town stadium for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, The Zone Shopping Centre in Rosebank (Johannesburg) and the Intercontinental Hotel at O.R. Tambo International Airport...."

Born in Luanshya, Zambia in 1970, Kelly Kalumba is the partner at Louis Karol Architects charged with replicating in Gauteng the success that the 60 year old firm has achieved from its base in Cape Town. 

"We moved in a year ago," he informs me as we settle down in the office boardroom on the 2nd floor of the Rosebank Mews building. "It is a challenge for me to head a new office but one that I am embracing. We are a firm of over 100 professional employees and have done a lot of work in South Africa and internationally in the UK, Israel, Dubai and other parts of Africa. We decided that we should open this office given the fact that we have missed out in the past on a couple of opportunities in Gauteng from clients who preferred competitors with a physical presence in the province."

Kalumba is one of ten partners at the reputable organisation having been appointed to the position in 2003. He had only been at the firm for five years at the time and by-passed the associate level by leaping into partnership on the strength of his work. It is the enviable consequence of a hard worker pursuing a career he was cut out for from an early age.

"I was placed second in my lower secondary school class at Kabulonga Boys and the government determined that I should go to either Hillcrest in Livingstone or David Kaunda in Lusaka. These were number one and two respectively of the technical high schools in the country that taught building drawing, a subject that offered a good introduction to architecture. I left Lusaka for Hillcrest but only spent a year there because I contracted malaria."

Kalumba's parents insisted that he return to Lusaka and he therefore completed his studies at David Kaunda and joined Copperbelt University (CBU) in 1990 for a five year architecture degree. In his third year, he got the opportunity to travel to SA as one of four representatives of CBU at a competition in Pretoria. He fell in love with the country and therefore did not need much convincing to return. He joined Louis Karol in 1998 after a three year stint with Lisulo and Bwalya architects in Lusaka.

"The construction industry in Zambia had declined at the time and I therefore decided to leave to seek greener pastures with the aim of building my exposure and experience in modern building design and detailed construction techniques. My plan was to come to SA and use it as a gateway to living and working in the west in a country like England. But through Louis Karol, I got the opportunity to travel to London and witnessed the lifestyle of my peers from Zambia based there. They lived in small houses and used the subway everyday in a congested city. I decided that Africa was definitely the place to be."

When I ask what projects he has been involved in, he gives me his business card which is designed to open like a folding door to reveal a number of high profile designs. He has been the project architect for well known structures such as the V & A Waterfront Extension, three Gautrain Stations (Pretoria, Midrand & Centurion), the up-market residential tower block 100 Crown Street in Glasgow, Birmingham International Airport terminal extension, The Zone in Rosebank and Intercontinental Hotel at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg and more recently the Liberty Life headquarters and Hotel in Umhlanga.

"I was also involved in the Greenpoint Stadium project which we did with a German firm we had enlisted to assist us. I recall when I made the presentation; I was convinced that we had no chance from the hostile reception we received. It was quite a surprise when we got the call confirming that we were one of two firms appointed to work on the project."

More recently, Kalumba has been involved in the design of the Society House Mixed Use Building in Lusaka, a 98 million dollar contract that includes a hotel, retail park, commercial offices and parkade. This adds to many other projects Louis Karol have completed in Zambia. He is also working on ECO Towers in Accra (Ghana).

"If you ask around in Zambia, you will find that a significant number of buildings there were designed by South African firms. Some of these firms are quite small such that their biggest jobs are their Zambian projects. That means we have the potential to do a significant amount of work there. We are also doing work in Ghana and Nigeria. With the construction industry having dipped in SA since the World Cup, we are keen now more than ever to expand our African footprint."

Kalumba says he is inspired by Louis Karol himself, who at the age of 84, is still involved in the business as Chairman alongside his son Dr. Eitan who is the company CEO and daughter Simone who is the partner charged with marketing.

After over a decade in SA, Kalumba has permanent residency status but his loyalties continue to lie in his native Zambia. He donned the black, red and green colours of his country to visit the FNB stadium recently to watch the Chipolopolo beat Bafana Bafana in the Nelson Mandela challenge.

"I am a staunch supporter. I recall during the early rounds of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, I flew into Zambia wearing the team jersey and a South African sitting next to me thought I was a football player. A few Zambian friends asked me why I was clad in the colours of a team that keeps losing and I bet them a new shirt for every win they got in the tournament. They owe me quite a few shirts today!"

I remark that I can see how he could be confused for a footballer given that he has the physique of a man in his twenties. He reveals that he jogs frequently and other than keeping fit, he also enjoys attending business networking functions.


Omotoso’s Man on Ground – A-Keen Sense of Artistic Responsibility

"We actually shot the film in the Alexandria Township where incidences of xenophobic violence began and the discussions that are coming out of the film reveal that this is a disturbing issue globally not just in SA......"

Akin Omotoso (born 1974) is a Nigerian-born South African actor, writer and director best known for his role as Khaya Motene in the SABC 1 soap opera Generations. His family moved to SA in 1992 when his father Bankole Omotoso - best known for his role in Vodacom's yebo gogo ads - accepted a lectureship at a local university. We sat down with him in August during the premier of his political thriller Man on Ground (M.O.G) at The Bioscope theatre in downtown Johannesburg. 

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