Oluwaseun Babalola is a Sierra Leonean-Nigerian-American filmmaker who founded DO Global Productions, a video production company specializing in documentaries and docuseries. Her focus is to create and collaborate on projects across the globe, while providing positive representation for people of color. She is a co-founder of BIAYA consulting, a consulting firm that bridges resource and knowledge gaps for African entrepreneurs in emerging industries. BIAYA’s first project was a convention in Lagos, Nigeria to help build a sustainable creative industry that can grow and export content.
NOTE: This article was originally published on The Huffington Post.
On what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday the world will revisit his extraordinary leadership after his 1990 release from twenty-seven years in prison. Yet, Mandela’s influence was far-ranging long before the 1990s when he pulled together the South Africa that we know today, negotiated a rainbow nation, and became its first black president. I want to honor Mandela’s early impact and emphasize the global involvement in South Africa’s apartheid government and in its demise. The role of international financial institutions in the Mandela story is key for me both historical and personal. Lobbying the banks to divest in South Africa was the catalyst for my involvement not only in the anti-apartheid movement, but in the advocacy of civil rights over a life time.
In 2009, I spent about two weeks in the tiny village of Dago, Kenya and came away determined to do what I could to improve the lives of these hard-working, incredibly kind but extremely poor people. I decided I wanted to make the world a better place, one child at a time. Most of us think about how we can make the world a better place but we all struggle with just how to do it. The challenge is daunting.
Dago is a village in southwestern Kenya of 3,000 people where the average family income is less than $2 per day. They live in tiny mud huts with no plumbing. There has been no electricity but this year the school, orphanage and a few homes have obtained limited electricity. AIDS is a major problem and most people will have little to no medical care in their life. Average life expectancy is early forties. Most clothes are hand-me-downs from charities and food insecurity is a major problem. The average person has only four years of education and few have ever gone to high school because the government does not pay any of the costs of high school.
I nearly cried for the lives of people I came across living in affected areas. But I just have to say we have a lot to do when it comes to climate change adaptation after my journey to one of Africa’s slums called MAKOKO. Located in Lagos, Makoko and its three neighboring communities are connected by a bridge over a canal of murky black water.
Many African leaders have used the term ‘We Africans’ in their speeches and statements. Subsequently, many researches and works based on findings in one African society have been deemed to be relevant elsewhere in Africa. For example there are books on African organizations, on the African management style, on African values…Those pieces of work are never based on empirical studies covering the entire continent.