In my last post I mentioned that I went to Nigeria with a certain stereotype in my head, only to learn from the engaged citizens in attendance at SHAPE Africa that my preconception was incomplete. This reminded me of a quote from Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk:

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

(Side comment – I just read Adichie’s latest book, Americanah, and it was brilliant, highly recommend it to all.)

Africa as a continent is plagued by the curse of the single story. AFRICA conjures up images of hopelessness, poverty, and despair when in fact the continent is made up of 54 countries, thousands of different cultures, and infinite stories of resilience, ingenuity, and love that bring vibrant color, hope, and life to the continent. Yes, there are steep challenges, accountability issues, and the never-ending blame game. However, more than anything, my week in Nigeria taught me that Africans have the power within themselves to change their continent for the better. SHAPE Africa helped me hear powerful stories of hope and innovation from the very people who bring the continent to life. For example…

Mostafa El Feky, at just 29, is a junior judge in Giza, working to help a build a better, stronger Egypt.

Mostafa Pic

Nde Ndifonka went from being a reality star to using his visibility to popularize important issues around the content as Africa’s Media Manager for the ONE Campaign.

Deborah Ahenkorah started Golden Baobab to fuel the global imagination through African children’s literature by inspiring the creation, ensuring the production, and facilitating the distribution of enthralling, high quality, culturally relevant literary content by African writers and illustrators for African children.


Japheth Omojuwa is a Digital Media Specialist, African Blogger and socio-economic and political commentator. His blog, Omojuwa, has become a tool of expression for many Nigerians with over 100,000 followers on social media.

As Dr. Ngozi stated last week, “Africa is rising for its youth!” Enough talk, Millennials are acting on their own bold solutions.

Ngozi Pic

As a result of the most recent abduction of over 200 Chibok schoolgirls in Nigeria, the Nigerian Business Leaders group launched Safe Schools Initiative together with the Global Business Coalition for Education. This will provide reinforced school infrastructure, student and teacher housing, armed guards, and a security plan with safety officers and counselors and will contribute to a rapid response system for rebuilding schools that have been attacked. This came out of the #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS social media call to action. Beyond that, as part of SHAPE Africa, the  Abuja Hub brought to life the numbers of girls abducted and put a face to it by creating That isn’t just sitting around waiting for someone else to do something – that’s being BOLD and taking action.

Amina Mohammed, Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning pointed out to those in attendance the need to “stop agonizing! Let’s organize!”. The Arab Spring in North Africa is a great lesson learned about the power of self-organization and using our voices

Africans are thinking and strategizing for growth.

New Solutions - Africa Online

At SHAPE Africa, I also learned about The U Report and how Ugandans are using it to hold their government accountable. In response to the creeping unemployment on the continent a group developed The Dream Big Diary, a tool to inspire and empower students to explore career opportunities. The diary introduces 52 different career options and helps children understand what is involved in making various career choices. Mr. Wale Tinubu, Group CEO of Oando told a room of us in Abuja that you change peoples lives by giving them a choice. I’d think this is a good start to doing just that!

When I say #BOLDSOLUTIONS and action oriented and talk about lessons learned from Abuja, THIS is what I am talking about. This is what energizes me and gives me hope. What are your #BOLDSOLUTIONS? Dare to share….

SHapers Abuja

We are saddened that violence persists Nigeria; however, hope still rises. I saw firsthand the #BOLDSOLUTIONS at work and met some of the people behind them.