Dignitaries recently gathered at 583 Park Avenue in New York City to honor achievements and support a noteworthy cause. This year, the Africa-America Institute (AAI) held its first AAI Future Leaders Legacy Fund Awards Gala and received donations to support university education for African students. The Legacy Fund will be a multi-year scholarship opportunity for African students who have excelled academically in secondary school and wish to continue their academic success in a selected tertiary institution.
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According to the President and Chief Executive Officer of AAI, Amini Kajunju (pictured below), the fund is important to the future of Africa and it will certainly transform young lives. With Africa having the most youth in the world, there are more than 830 million Africans living in Africa and nearly 50 percent of the aforementioned number are persons below the age of 15.
And according to AAI, “Only 1 in 20 young people are enrolled in higher education institutions in Africa, compared to 1 in 4 in the United States.”
Furthermore, according to Zain Asher, an anchor with CNN International who served as the Gala’s Mistress of Ceremonies, most scholarship recipients of the AAI Future Leaders Legacy Fund “will be the first person in their family to attend a university.”
Therefore, the fund is a significant positive step toward supporting African youth and building a better future for Africans and Africa.
In addition to raising funds for scholarship, the gala presented an opportunity to honor the excellent achievements of those who have both distinguished themselves and had a positive impact in the community they serve.
The AAI Lifetime Achievement and Distinguished Alumnus Award was received by H.E. Dr. Hage G. Geingob (pictured top), president of the Republic of Namibia and an alumnus of the Africa-America Institute for “the cumulative impact of his leadership in pursuing Namibia’s independence, ensuring the country’s socio-economic progress, and strengthening and transforming Namibia’s education system.”
President Geingob shared that when he came to the United States as a student many years ago, it was a difficult adjustment for him. Still he insisted, “Do not take your education for granted [for while] the roots of education might be bitter, the fruit is sweet.”
The AAI Business Leader Award was presented to Zimbabwe-born Strive Masiyiwa, the founder and executive chairman of Econet Wireless, whom AAI described as “one of the world’s foremost business leaders and philanthropists.”
Finally, the Corporate Responsibility Award was presented to International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) “for its outstanding global service initiatives to improve the communities where it operates.”
Face2Face Africa congratulates H.E. Dr. Hage G. Geingob, Strive Masiyiwa, IBM, as well as the Africa-America Institute.