An Interview with Bolanle Austen-Peters, the Woman Behind West End’s First Nigerian Musical (OKAYAFRICA)

After a high-flying career as an international lawyer, Bolanle Austen-Peters returned home to her native Nigeria to pursue her passion for art. In 2003, she founded Terra Kulture, Lagos’ premier arts and culture center, to celebrate Nigeria’s rich cultural traditions.

Over a decade later, Austen-Peters is now one of Nigeria’s foremost producers whose theatrical productions have received critical acclaim from Lagos to London. OkayAfrica spoke to Austen-Peters about her journey to success as she prepares to take her latest musical, Saro!, to London’s famed West End.

Check out my interview with Bolanle on OkayAfrica's website. 

Francophone Africa Should Follow France’s Lead in Creating Start-up Nations

While I will continue to use this blog as a repository for all my writing  — published work, haphazard thoughts and, of course, recipes — I'll be publishing a lot more on Medium in the future. I've been mulling over this decision for some time, but my friend Emmanuel Quartey over at The Flint is the one who cinched it for me with this point: Medium stories get a lot of reach because it works hard to surface stories to the people who are most likely to enjoy it.

My recent Medium piece takes a look at how Francophone Africa can cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship and attract more investment. I've been following Emmanuel Macron's blueprint for making France the next start-up nation with some interest. As always, I have been thinking about what lessons can be garnered for Africa. In this case, particularly for Francophone Africa. 

You can find my thoughts here, which center on 5 key propositions:

  1. Leverage fiscal and regulatory synergies
  2. Position Abidjan as a regional finance hub
  3. Manage perception of risk
  4. Ensure access to Internet
  5. Developed a skilled workforce

Anything else you would add? Comment on my article, or shoot me a message. 

The world’s two largest cocoa producers want you to buy their chocolate, not just their beans (Quartz)

I care about many things, but chief among them are food and all things Africa. With that, I share my first piece for Quartz Africa on Ghana and Ivory Coast's growing local chocolate industries.

Image courtesy of Midunu Chocolates

Image courtesy of Midunu Chocolates

In a bid to meet the budget shortfall of their struggling economies, Ivory Coast and Ghana have accelerated efforts to support local grinders and producers of finished producers. Instead of selling raw materials for export, both countries now hope to make their chocolate just as iconic as their cocoa. New policies and initiatives aimed at local entrepreneurs may help them move up the value chain.

A few of the Ghanaian and Ivorian chocolatiers mentioned in this piece: Instant Chocolat, Midunu Chocolates, and '57 Chocolate. If you find yourself in Abidjan or Accra, be sure to check them out and let me know what you think.

Image courtesy of '57 Chocolate

Image courtesy of '57 Chocolate



Why American Sikhs Think They Need A Publicity Campaign (NPR)

I wrote this piece for National Public Radio (NPR) on the National Sikh Coalition's new campaign, "We Are Sikhs." 

"Nearly 60 percent of Americans admit knowing nothing at all about Sikhs. That lack of knowledge comes at a deadly cost. In the wake of recent incidents from the 2012 Oak Creek Massacre to a shooting of a Sikh man in Washington this March, the Sikh community is taking a more vocal stand against hate.

This month, the National Sikh Campaign, an advocacy group led by former political strategists, launched a $1.3 million awareness campaign, "We are Sikhs." Funded entirely by grass-roots donations, the campaign's ads will air nationally on CNN and Fox News as well as on TV channels in central California — home to nearly 50 percent of the Sikh American population — and online."

You can find the full piece here on NPR's website.

Black-Jewish Relations Intensified And Tested By Current Political Climate (NPR)

I wrote this piece for National Public Radio (NPR) on how black and Jewish are working together with renewed vigor as both groups face racist and religious discrimination in today's fraught political climate.

"With hate crimes on the rise, old coalitions between blacks and Jews are being rekindled and tested. According to a recent survey by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), 57 percent of Jews support Black Lives Matter, the second highest percentage of any faith group following Muslims. Although blacks and Jews worked closely to advance social justice during the Civil Rights Movement, the strong ties between the two groups have waned since the end of Jim Crow.

But the election of President Trump has contributed to a marked increase in hate crimes, while racist and anti-Semitic attacks had already been on the rise for years."

You can find the full piece here on NPR's website.