On Wednesday 22 February King’s hosted the inaugural ceremony of the African Achievers Awards, established to recognize the work of individuals who have strived for progress and development on the African continent. Distinguished guests from African nations, including Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Chief (Mrs) Fifi Ekanem Ejindu, and students from across the UK, came together for an evening of celebration… The event took place as part of KCLSU’s One World Week which celebrated faith, culture and diversity from across the globe and the vibrant student community at King’s.
Founded by former President for Nigerian Students in Scotland, Tonye Rex Idaminabo, and organised by a group of recent graduates from across the UK, including King’s alumna and current KCLSU Vice President Simisola Smith, the theme of this year’s awards was ‘Leadership and Africa Rising’; a topic in close parallel with the College’s recent foundation with the University of Nairobi of the African Leadership Centre (ALC) in Kenya. Founding Director of the ALC, Dr Funmi Olonisakin commented on the importance of harnessing the talent of Africa and spoke of the way young Africans are ‘driving peace, security and change’ through their studies in programmes such as the MA in Conflict, Security and Development at King’s.
Founded by former President for Nigerian Students in Scotland, Tonye Rex Idaminabo, and organised by a group of recent graduates from across the UK, including King’s alumna and current KCLSU Vice President Simisola Smith, the theme of this year’s awards was ‘Leadership and Africa Rising
Nigerian-born event organiser Simisola, who was named by the Mayor of London as one of Britain’s 100 most Outstanding Black Graduates and a future Leader in 2011, reflected on the significance of holding the event at King’s: ‘I am proud of King’s and the diverse community and I was happy that the College took a keen interest (in the event). I saw it as a way for the College to tighten their links with the African community. The King’s students that were present felt inspired and I am happy that I could make my own little contribution to life here at King’s!’
Hosted by renowned comedian Julius Agwu and Nollywood actress Joke Silva-Jacobs, the ceremony venue (Tutu’s nightclub) was a fitting tribute to King’s alumnus Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday at the KCLSU club named in his honour. In October 2011, Archbishop Tutu was awarded the first ever African Achievers Award by Simisola Smith, in recognition of his fight for human rights, justice and peace. The Archbishop’s close links to the College have continued with a new undergraduate scholarship scheme, available to African nationals and named in his honour, to compliment other funding opportunities, such as the Canon Collins Scholarship.
The African Achievers Awards honour distinguished individuals, charities, institutions, entrepreneurs and philanthropists from across the globe who have invested in building a stronger Africa. In front of dignitaries, including the Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Chief (Mrs) Fifi Ekanem Ejindu, Lagos State Deputy Governor Hon. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire and Richard Taylor OBE, the father of Damilola Taylor, awards were bestowed in categories ranging from ‘Excellence in Leadership’, awarded to his Excellency Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State, to ‘African Woman of the Year’, won by Justina Mutale, whose organisation Positive Runway raises awareness about the spread of HIV and AIDS.
The youngest award winner of the evening was rising sports star and British Under 10s Tennis Champion Michael Mhangani who won the ‘Young Achiever’ category, whilst the Children of Songea Trust were awarded ‘Charity Organisation of the Year’ for their work with communities in Tanzania to deliver education, health and livelihoods programmes. The Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Rt. Hon. Thokozani Khuphe, commented during her acceptance speech for the award for ‘Women Empowerment and Democracy’ that the accolade was ‘a strong statement to the world about women’s contribution’ to society and leadership and it was a ‘true celebration of women in every aspect of life, as mothers, workers and leaders’.